God’s slipper

“Tell me the story of the snake,” you’d say. You say that right after you shout, “Bible time!” Bible reading, right after Disney Junior’s Word World, is one of your favorite times of the day.

That “snake” is the one in the story of creation. When we’d start with, “In the beginning, there was nothing and there was nobody,” you’d close your eyes and squeal, “I can’t see anything, Mommy/Daddy.” You go ahead of us, complete our sentences, and eventually take over the telling. And when you’d lose steam, you’d sigh as if from the weight of your words, “Mommy/Daddy, you say it.”

Sometimes we’d tell you the story by asking questions. When you’ve had enough of the questions, you’d pinch our cheeks and say, “No, tell me. Tell me.”

Then we’d get to the snake, the one you pronounced as bad, even as we tell you that there are good snakes and there are bad snakes (just as there are good sharks and bad sharks, but you disagree, your imagination working overtime, which is why you love the beach but not the sea).

Tonight you got upset at the snake that kept tempting Eve, so you told us, “I will palo (spank) the snake.” You say this in a solemn voice full of gravitas. I told you, “No, let God be the one to take care of the snake.” You nodded, “Yes, I’ll tell God to palo the snake. He can use his slipper.”

I wonder where you get these ideas of palo.

We hardly spank you. In the few times we had to, it was to rap your hand with a ruler. You listen to reason most of the time and respond positively to a kick-kiss discipline (which is to tell you what you did wrong, why it is wrong, what its consequences are, ask you to repeat what we said, then affirm our love for you), so spanking was hardly needed. But when you saw a scary, luminous mask at the Halloween Trick or Treat, you cried and screamed for your father to pick up a hammer and palo the mask. A hammer! Your dad smiled, but I was unnerved by the violence.

I guess yours is the age when we can’t entirely shield you from what the world will feed your mind. Our accountability to you has leveled up: we need to now help you filter and process all the information you will receive.


Why I read

It takes a village to raise a mother. My latest post for Mothering Heights.

Today Anna asked me five why’s in quick succession. When I ran out of answers, I had to do the only quick survival tactic available to tired mothers: I pointed out the window and shouted, “Look!” (So what if every slapstick comedian does that? It worked this afternoon.)

One day Anna is going to ask us, why is the sky blue? My first thought is, “Because it doesn’t look good in red.” It might make her laugh, perhaps make her think out of the box, maybe exercise her imagination, but in the end it won’t help her much.

So this is what it also means to raise a mother—I have to read.

The rest of the post is here.


The Truth, and Nothing But

May I share my latest post on my column, Mothering Heights.

There is a term for an answer too late in the coming. The French call it l’esprit de l’escalier—literally, “stairwell wit”—a comeback given too late, a retort thought of only after the moment had ended, perhaps when one is on the stairs, leaving the event that required the rejoinder.

Read the rest of the post here.


I greeted Anna, “Hello, sugar!”, mimicking the lush Southern accent of Loretta Devine’s Hallie the Hippo (Disney Junior’s Doc McStuffins).

“Mommy!” Anna frowned. “I’m not sugar!”

“Sugar is like ‘sweetheart’ and ‘darling,’ Anna,” I said.

She took only a second to think about it and ran toward me for a hug. “OK, sugar Mommy!”


The Coach walks into the room where Anna and I are playing, and he hollers, “Where’s my wife? I wanna hug my wife!” I jump into his arms, engulfed in the bigness and fuzziness of him.

Anna looks up from where she sits and says, “Ewwww. That’s yucky.”

Reasons for breathing

May I share my recent post on my column Mothering Heights.

I learn much from other mothers. I learn love and unselfishness from my sister, Naomi. I learn about creativity from Rhea. I learn about wellness from Richelle. I learn about defying the odds from Rachel Santos.

I visited Rachel in 2006 to interview he­r for Working Mom. She talked almost non-stop, with a mouth primed for laughing and eyes built for smiling. She had just finished her licensure exams for teaching, her dream job since she was a little girl. “I am just so excited to start teaching,” she said. “But who would hire me?” She pointed to her arm, “They’d look at this and think I tried to commit suicide.”

Her right forearm was pocked with needle marks, bruises, veins, and a noticeable bump on her wrist that vibrated when you laid a finger on it. It resembled a battlefield, for that was what it was, with scars of Rachel’s crusade for her life and that of her son’s.

Read the rest of the post here.


Is there a pill to make me better at imposing discipline?

Yesterday Anna was pumped high and hyper, trying to scale Lola Purita’s stairs at warp speed. I asked her to stop. She didn’t. So I used my Momster voice, “Anna, please don’t go up the stairs. Wait for Ate Mae.” She stopped and checked if I was serious. I was. So she put her hands together as if praying and said, “I’m waiting.” I didn’t smile (oh, but I wanted to). Then she sat, put her hands on her lap and said, “Mom, look, I’m waiting.” I didn’t answer–she can’t win me with cutesy-patootsie.

Then she said very solemnly, “Mom, everybody make mistake.”

Please forgive me, but I laughed.


Anna’s name comes from the Hebrew word hanan, which means “grace, to favor, to grant mercy.” I pray that indeed she would find favor in God’s eyes and in those whose lives she will touch.

Genesis 6:8–But Noah found grace (favor) in the eyes of the Lord.

Genesis 19:19a–Behold now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your kindness and mercy to me in saving my life.

Ruth 2:10–Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, Why have I found favor in your eyes that you should notice me, when I am a foreigner?

Slow down, child working

Dear Anna,

The Socratic method is alive and well. I’ve learned that the best way to talk to you is to walk you through the logic of the do’s and don’ts. It wasn’t enough to tell you not to stand on chairs: we had to first explain what chairs are for, show you how you will fall if you lose your footing, identify which body part will hurt, and then point out one by one that neither Dad, Mom or Ate stand on chairs. Quite the logical person, you needed to discover the reasons for yourself. “This one?” you asked, pointing to your shoulder. Yes, we said, your shoulder will hurt if you fall. “This one?” you pointed to your head. Yes, and the butt and the legs too.

When you were just two years old, you saw me standing on a chair, trying to reach for a pitcher in the cabinet above the refrigerator. You were righteously indignant.

“Mommy! No stand up chair,” you said, looking up at me.


When your Lola (grandmother) banned you from sitting on her fancy chairs, we had to support her decision–it is her house, after all–and told you that only “big people” could sit on the fancy chairs. That since you are only a big girl (not a small baby, you insisted), you could sit only on the sofa. To help you, neither I nor your Dad sit on Lola’s fancy chairs even when you conceded we were big people. It is the same logic we applied to the beverage dichotomy on our dining table: you drink water, we drink Coke.

Regrettably, we failed to apply the same reasoning to standing on chairs.

“Uhm,” I said, trying to think fast. (You, by the way, have adopted my uhms. When we ask you something, you always start with an uhm–even when you know the answer.)

“Uhm,” I said again. “Big people can stand on chairs when they need to get something. See?” And I tiptoed to get the pitcher. “The pitcher’s too high. I wouldn’t have been able to get it if I didn’t stand on this chair.”

You thought about it, much faster than I could, and then you grasped my ankle with both hands. “Hold you, mommy, hold you. Careful.”

Mothering Heights: Like Magic

This is my fifth post for my column Mothering Heights:

A few nights ago, while I was journaling, I thought: Nothing remarkable happened to me today. But that’s the thing: nothing has to. Writing isn’t just about recording the fantastic; it’s recognizing that the very ordinariness of our days are worth writing about, are worth being grateful for. Each day is carved into its own space, separated from the gush of time—each day is sacred and each day’s delights are sanctified. What we do with that grace is our gift, but also our accountability.

Read the rest of the post here.