When they stared (we exchanged smiles)

During high school, I was one of four Filipinos.
It made sense that we were two of the “exotic friends” 
at a (high school) friend’s wedding.
When they stared, I squeezed your hand
(we exchanged smiles).
Birmingham is (perpetually) decades behind.
People claim,
“I’m not racist — I prefer that folks
stick to their own kind.”
Upon returning to Atlanta,
I breathed a sigh (of relief)
because here, when they stare,
(we exchange smiles)
and brush off comments like,
“Y’all will have the most beautiful children!”

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Fortune cookies are my favorite reminders.

I got this fortune from Brie’s birthday dinner. I lost the actual fortune, but kept this photo for inspiration on bad days and as a reminder on good ones.

Fortune cookie wisdom. 07.25.13.

Fortune cookie wisdom. 07.24.13.

Children aren’t the “next step” for everyone.

I’ve reached the age where a lot of people I know are getting married and having kids.

Many people believe that the ideal way to live your life is to follow the American dream. Graduate high school. Go to college. Get a job. Get married. Settle in the suburbs. Have kids. Your life path has a trajectory that you can’t change, nor should you want to based on societal norms. I fully support those who actually wants to do this, but I don’t think that everyone should.

Three of my coworkers are married men under 40. Until last week, only one of them was a dad. However, another became a dad to a little baby girl. During his wife’s pregnancy, the dads in the office joked with him about the “joys” of fatherhood.

“You won’t sleep for two years.”

“Baby spit-up will stain all of your favorite shirts.”

“Pray that you don’t drop the baby first, or you’ll hear about it for the rest of your life.”

I’ve seen too many people have kids because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do. My friend Angela is my only close friend who’s a mom. (She’s the only one who should be a mom at this point in our lives.) Between everything Ange has told me and Dean’s blog, it’s evident that parenthood is rewarding, yet hard work. Ange is a nurturing person who has always been great with kids. Dean’s blog showcases the highs, lows, and magical moments with her toddler. Ange and Dean make raising their daughters seem easier than it is.

None of my male coworkers have said that they had kids because they wanted to — most of them indicated that they were going along with what their wives wanted. According to them, their wives wanted to have kids once their friends started having kids. I cringe at the thought of babies as accessories — “I want one because my friends have one.”

There are also the parents who hate how “expensive” kids are. There are the parents who complain that they have to go to Little League games and dance recitals. My boss will stay at the office until he knows that his kids are in bed, so he won’t have to play with them.

Why do those people have children? Their kids grow up knowing that their parents resent them. Those parents feel unfulfilled because they consider their children to be shackles. These people should have figured out that their ideal life didn’t include milestones that society determined.

If (when) the day comes that I get to be a mom, I’m going to remember this list — the promises I made to my future daughter. I want to have kids someday. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the childless life. I’m not racing to the “next steps.” Those will come when the time is right — when we’re ready.

Seven promises to my future daughter

Seven promises to my future daughter (who is currently nonexistent)

1. I promise not to use you as an extension of my vanity.

I will never push you to pursue my interests. When you’re a baby, I will not dress you as a mini me. As you grow older, the way you cut your hair is your decision. I will not constantly insist that it looked better long if it’s short or short if it’s long. If you aren’t super girly like me, I will not harass you to wear more makeup or own more pink clothes.

2. I promise to laud your accomplishments, big and small.

This isn’t limited to grades, standardized test scores, the number of soccer goals scored, or perfectly played piano pieces. Not all achievements are quantifiable. I will be as proud of you when you’ve mastered potty training as when you can make and stick to a budget (which you’ll learn from your dad).

3. I promise to be there for you, if you need nonjudgmental and unbiased advice.

Unless you are in a situation that is exactly the same as one I had experienced, I will never dispense advice based on what I would do. I will remove my worldview lens in order to help you decide what’s best in your circumstances. I will never project the outcome I want onto you as what you want.

4. I promise to respect that your career choices are just that — yours.

I will support those choices so long as you’re happy, healthy, and self-sustaining. If you never want to work a corporate job, that’s your prerogative. I will never think I’ve failed as a parent if you don’t want to work in an office, if you’re innovative and can do what you enjoy for work.

5. I promise to be an example of how to be in a loving, committed relationship.

You will never question whether you’re genetically wired to love and to be loved, for fear that extreme dysfunction is hereditary. You will never wonder if your parents were together for your sake, or because they wanted to be. You will see what a relationship rooted in reciprocated affection, respect, and values looks like.

6. I promise that while I may not be your friend, I will always be your mom.

I will never overstep boundaries and pry for details about your life, only to criticize you later. I will take for granted that in college, you’ll party (and probably have sex, much to your dad’s dismay), but you should talk to your friends about those events. In turn, I will never rely on you to solve my problems; I will always confide in your dad and my friends, so you will never have to worry about those things.

7. Most of all, I promise to love you at every stage of your life.

As a tiny baby, as little girl, and as the young woman you grow up to be. I will never make you feel guilty for leaving the nest (though you are always welcome to visit). I will never psychologically beat you down so that you doubt the strength of your wings. Instead, I will look forward to our dynamic changing as you get older. I will never treat you as your grandmother treated me.

Composites

There will be a little girl with
your dark eyes and my small feet,
who will be the best striker on her soccer team.

There will be a little boy with
your naturally straight teeth and my unruly hair,
who will play “Für Elise” on the piano.

There will be an adolescent girl who
will sigh in exasperation when she is
suspended for punching a racist classmate.

There will be a teenage boy who
will wreck your motorcycle after
sneaking out for a midnight joyride.

There will be two (grown) kids who
reluctantly admit that they learned how
to survive in the real world with our help.