Monday, September 27, 2004


Last Friday I was late for work.

Well, my mom needed a ride to her meeting in Pandacan. Not along my route but not really out of the way to Makati either. I told her, if she ever needed a ride in the morning, I'd rather drive her than have her take a cab.

Maybe I just want to spoil her. Or maybe it's just a case of "do unto others...."

Flashback. One recurring image forever burned into my mind is of my mom rushing off to work in the morning. Day after day after day. From the time I was in grade school, until high school, I'd be sitting in the dining room having breakfast while she'd be hurrying out the door.

And I'd ask myself, "Why's she in such a hurry to get away from us?'' I guess as personnel director for a large university, she had to set an example by being always on time. But I did question her priorities. And I did feel rejected, even by as simple an act as going out the door.

Don't get me wrong; she is probably the best mother anyone can have. I actually have a couple of friends who would trade mine for theirs. My mom is so calm, so patient, so giving, so selfless, so prayerful. The best compliment I can ever give her is that she's a true Christian, a living saint. I even said that if I can have one-tenth of her goodness I would be happy. (If I had one-tenth of my dad's charm I'd be happy too.) All our past disagreements notwithstanding, she is my idol. I wouldn't know what I'd do without her now.

So what happened? How did I change from hate to love? I guess one day I finally realized that in spite of all her shortcomings, she is a good person, and she did what she believed was best in bringing us up. That she is who she is and that I could never change her. So I just changed my attitude towards her. It's amazing how much we clicked after that.

But about being late for work. There are several reasons why I might be late for work. Sometimes I want to blow-dry my hair. Sometimes I decide to change my outfit. Sometimes I just want to eat the champorado and tuyo rather then munch a sandwich in the car. So many trivial reasons for being late. (Usually 30 minutes, so I try to stay an extra 30 afterwards.) So in my hierarchy of reasons, driving her to gritty Pandacan is just so worth it.

Yeah, sometimes I'm late because when I'm on my way out, Miguel will ask me if I had breakfast. When I answer yes, he'd say "You have to eat 2 times, one on your own and one with me." So I go down with him, get him settled at the table, give him his vitamins, then wait for him to get started. By which time he'd be willing to kiss me and let me out the door. Don't worry, when I have a meeting I always make it clear to him, and he understands that I have to go. But I don't want him to feel rejected just because he remembers me always rushing out the door. I don't want him to have that same kind of memory. In my hierarchy of reasons that too is so worth it.

Well maybe someday I'll figure out a way to manage my time better. But for now you can sue me, 'cause I'm a mom.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Closet feminist

This morning I took down about 20 books from my son's shelf. Disney books. Actually they're hand-me-downs from my cousin, and I'm always glad to get free books cause Miguel devours them like crazy. But a few from the Disney series made me raise my eyebrows. Let me quote from one called "The Ugly Stepsisters":

The Prince watched them and wondered. How could his kind, beautiful Cinderella have such mean and ugly stepsisters?

And two pages later:

"I wonder how long they will stay," said the Prince. "They don't seem to be very happy, even here."
"If only they each had a husband as nice as you," said Cinderella. "Then they would be as happy as I am!"

Hello! Calling Margaret Sanger! Gloria Steinem!

Well what did I expect; it's based on a fairy tale, isn't it? But then this book has so many ridiculous stereotypes that I had to explain to Miguel that it wasn't the right thing to print in a book. I was actually bothered.

Of course, of course. Don't blame the cousin who gave the books. After all she did give the seemingly inexhaustible "365 Bedtime Stories," a lifesaver when your child negotiates for 5 stories before bedding down every night. And don't forget "Richard Scarry's Best Year Ever," everybody's all-time favorite, guaranteed to elicit more questions than answers because of the details in the illustration.

But because of a politically incorrect Disney book, circa 1986, this feminist is coming out of the closet. Uh, just for a while. Long enough to explain to my son that just because a woman is ugly, it doesn't mean that she's mean as well. Well the part about needing a husband to be happy I didn't even want to discuss.

So at 4 am there I was, closet feminist slash neurotic mom quietly stashing Disney books into a box, hoping to protect my son's mind from misguided thinking. Not to mention that it was a lot of bad writing.

Which leads me to the question: Do you know what your child is reading? Sometimes we're so quick to accept something because it has some "seal" of approval. So mommies and daddies, beware of Disney Corp, purveyors of wrong thinking and bad taste! What bugs me is that they had the cheek to call those books "educational." (Oh well, at least they've improved in the last 18 years.)

So does that mean that I don't intend bring Miguel to Hong Kong Disneyland someday? Oh hogwash, of course I'll bring him!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Ang saguise, banagnag

When Miguel was about 2 he made up his own lyrics to the song "London Bridge is Falling Down," and it goes like this:

Ang saguise banagnag,
banagnag, banagnag
Ang saguise banagnag
Bunda, banda!

Ang baleleng baleleng,
baleleng baleleng,
Ang baleleng baleleng,
Bunda, banda!

This song even came with matching actions, and I've already shared it with his Senior Nursery teacher.

Well last night he and Ninang were playing with the Busy Beetles set, an M.C. Escher type of click-and-lock toy. They made an elaborate design, after which he declared, "that's a banagnag!"

So ladies and gentlemen, we proudly present to you...banagnag!

Don't ask me what saguise and baleleng are, 'coz he hasn't decided yet.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Over breakfast

So this was how our morning conversation went.

Miguel: Mommy, when are we going to get a new monitor?
(for the computer)
Me: (Silent, coz it's supposed to be a birthday gift to me)
Ninang: We still have to order it. I think it costs (PhP thousands).
Will you help us buy it?
Miguel: (Excited) I can buy it. I have lots of coins
in my piggy bank!
Ninang: (Laughs)
Miguel: But I don't have enough.

Miguel: I only need one more coin.

I love this kid.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

How to eat

Let me tell you the perfect way to end a food binge. It's called High and Mighty Pie, from Chili's:

"Heath candy pieces in creamy vanilla ice cream piled high
on a crushed Oreo cookie crust and drizzled with chocolate
and caramel sauce."

Must've been 6 inches high and 4 inches wide. Took four of us to finish it.

My binge started on Friday night and ended on Monday. Puttanesca, barbecue, hungarian sausage with blue cheese pasta, lengua, beef pastel, Uva salad, assorted cheeses, red wine, four kinds of chocolate cake, Becky's brownies, mandarin brownie-meringue, nachos with cheese dip, calamares, crispy chicken salad, corn dog, and of course my high and mighty pie.
Nothing beats a four-day birthday celebration.

Have been eating a lot the past few weeks because of frequent overtime. (My theory is, if you have to work hard, you should at least eat well.) Gained 3 pounds in the process. Then yesterday I conveniently forgot to take my anti-thyroid pill and guess what, I'm down two pounds.

Life is sweet.

Sunday, September 05, 2004


title or description These are my new frou-frou slippers. Orange, sequined, and beaded. Given by Lisa. The last time I had flowery slippers I must have been 6 years old. So I felt out-of-character when I tried them on this morning. Miguel was watching.

Miguel: Cool.
Me: You like it?
Miguel, with feeling: I like it.
Me: Why do you like it?
I prefer that for girls.

So my son has an opinion.

What gets me is that he has this concept of femininity, although I'm not so sure where he got it from. I may be kikay at times, but I'm certainly not feminine.

Like the time that I put on a dress so I that can have it altered. He said, "Mommy don't wear that, you look fat." Then I tried on a dress my size and he said, "Mommy, you look sexy." Bravo, anak, bravo!

Sometimes I wonder when it'll be time for me to put a bit of physical distance from him. Potential issues about sexuality, young as he is, also crop up now and then. Like when he hugs me just a bit too tight, or kisses me just a bit too long or too hard. And don't forget that he wakes up every morning with an erection. I don't know how many times I've explained heart rate and blood flow to my 4-year-old.

I asked other mums about these sort of things, and it seems that all their boys go through such an Oedipus complex. I guess I'm just more uptight about it since I'm a single mom.

Funny how a pair of frou-frou slippers can get you thinking.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Ode to instant noodles

Three-thirty in the morning I found myself in front of the stove. If you ever find me cooking at a time like this, it means that I'm pretty desperate. Only a hopeless case of hay fever can make me do this. It's something I've resorted to since I was a teenager.

I find comfort in this ritual. The house is dark and quiet, and ghosts could be lurking in the shadows. Everyone else is dead to my presence. I may as well be the ghost. But every inch of my sinuses is clogged and I'm totally miserable; I just need to get my fix. Antihistamines are a weak alternative to my stovetop solution: hot instant soup, and lots of it.

You can't make me eat additive-, preservative-, msg-laden instant noodles on an ordinary day. But this morning, I'd never opened a pack of instant soup with so much eagerness. I pore over every detail of the empty pack as if it were the front page of the newspaper while I wait for the water to boil. URC-Nissin, it says. May they live forever.

The water boils and I pour in the noodles. Add a packet of oil and dried flavorings. Then I count to 180, too impatient to look at the clock.

Finally I pour the steaming broth into a large bowl. There's so much anticipation as I breathe in the vapors, as though they were a mentholated mist from a humidifier. At that moment you can put me on that billboard for Lucky Me Instant Noodles. There's nothing else in this world except me and my soup. Talk about consumer insight.

The soup is warm and savory, and the noodles equally so - except that they're slippery-wet. Quite a pleasant feel on the mouth. Warm, wet, and slippery. Almost as pleasurable as kissing.

All too soon the pleasure is over; the bowl is empty. I sit back in the armchair and draw in a breath. I can taste beef mami all over my sinuses. The vapors cling to my face - I can even smell them. But again, I don't care. I just breathe in and savor the relief.

That, my friend, is comfort food.