What I Will Tell My Daughter About The “Perfect Body”

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Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

A quarter century on this earth and nearly two years postpartum, I fear I am sometimes dissatisfied with my own body. I feel more active than I’ve ever been with the addition of an exuberant little explorer who keeps me running and squatting for a good portion of each day. Yet my postpartum baby flab still hangs like a loose tire around my waist, and I struggle to find myself physically attractive. However, while I envy my best friend’s long, slender legs, she wants my child-bearing hips. We never fail to find imperfection in our natural physical traits.

Yet for my daughter, her body is perfect. Less than two years on this earth and every limb in her tiny body moves with great enthusiasm. Her buoyant spirit is evident in the way she hops around with happiness emanating from the balls of her feet past the tips of her fingers. It’s winsome how she treats her tiny vessel as a means for exploring the world, untouched by society’s standards of physical beauty.

I see my daughter and how she’s incognizant of society’s flawed perception of physical beauty. My heart aches for her future self in a world where body shaming is nearly inescapable. I wish I could leave her unscathed by the criticisms of others, to bottle up her blissful spirit and protect her from the hurtful comments and images that have left me scarred.

I can’t control what others say, or how the media portrays physical beauty. But I can encourage my daughter, and even model, how to love your body and feel positive in your own skin.

These are the things I will tell her:

Your body is beautiful. Your body was stitched to perfection in my womb for over nine months and houses a resilient spirit that will continue to grow and sustain life. Love your body from every unique bend in your fingers to every individual thread of your fine, dark hair, because you are the only one on this earth who possesses this vessel.

As you push your own physical boundaries and venture out into this diverse world, you might begin to question your body — Why am I not tall enough? Slender enough? Graceful enough? Strong enough? You might even draw comparisons between your body and others. The answer to these questions is and always will be, you are enough. Your genetics might hinder you from reaching staggering heights, but don’t be discouraged because strength is built from the inside out. As long as you keep in mind that you are enough, the peace and patience that follows will help your body meet your spirit and take you further than you could imagine.

So I ask you, please respect your body. This is the only one you are given in this life, so don’t let anyone ever try to tell you how you should feel about your body. Only consume things that are life-giving so your body can continue to sustain you through the various seasons this life will bring, from extravagant youth to tranquil old age.

And It may be hard to conceive now, but as the years pass by your body will inevitably wear and tear. Decades of gravity and experience will stretch and retract the skin on your bones and you may be surprised at the wrinkles that will one day greet you in the mirror. It is then that you will know your body has treaded through deep waters and scaled enormous mountains, bringing you through a life full of splendid memories. In this moment, love your body just a little bit more as it continues to bring you through this fleeting life.

As for me, I have almost healed from years of relentless body shaming. Having you to model that people of all shapes, sizes, colors and histories are beautiful the way they are has restored my faith that one day body shaming will no longer be a powerful source of self-hate. My hope is that you won’t be phased by the comments and images that have affected me; that you will love yourself shamelessly. That when others see body-shaming no longer has a foothold on us, we’ll all stop talking about the perfect physical appearance and see the beauty in every single one of us. That day begins today.

21 Months

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Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

I always knew children grew fast. I just never knew how fast until I had my own child blossoming every which way before my eyes. Lately I’ve been scurrying to find the words to describe Josephine’s developmental leaps and bounds before I forget. And that’s exactly it — words, so many words. Her constant chattering and singing is captivating; my parents and older siblings tell me she’s every ounce of gab and song as I was at her age. It’s as if she sees the words stringing out of everyone’s mouths, and she catches them and stores them in her memory without hesitation.

She says, “Mommy fix it!” “Mommy, help!” “Mommy, read it!” and “What are you doing?” every morning before I can pour coffee into my mug.

Her memory is pin sharp, admittedly sharper than my own at times. She’ll recount recent events with great detail, such as the time that “Jojo went to Disney store. Jojo want Elsa doll. Jojo stop crying. Auntie Erin buy it!”; or when she went to “Elmo beach. Jojo saw a big Elmo. Lots of people there.” (And yes, there was indeed a tall man dressed in a bright red Elmo costume at the beach.)

Even her ability to express her emotions through words takes me by surprise. Just the other night, she squealed halfway through dinner and began to cry unexpectedly. After shedding a few tears, she meekly confessed, “Jojo saw bug. Jojo got scared.” I am afraid she gets that from me.

I see many verbal compromising sessions in our future. As she grows, I grow too — hopefully a very strong backbone. Happy 21 months to us.

The Things I Appreciate About My Mother Now That I’m a Mother

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Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

You never really understand the weight of motherhood until you live it yourself. It’s thousands of little things and millions of big things that make up the love of a mom, and it’s never ending. I was thankful for my mom and all she did long before my own motherhood. Yet when I became a mother less than 2 years ago, I suddenly relived all the quiet moments and sweeping gestures that occurred between me and my mother through her eyes and saw her love in its entirety. I understood the way she cared for us with her whole being and found a deeper admiration for everything she ever did and continues to do.

I appreciate the way she stroked my hair to lull me to sleep, staving off childhood nightmares as I snuggled close to her.

I appreciate that on her days off, I’d awake to the smell of scrambled eggs and the sound of rice crackling in the wok to find that she made us a homemade breakfast instead of sleeping in.

I appreciate how she’d rush home from work to change out of her scrubs and drive me to piano lessons or drama rehearsal or take me shopping because she knew it was important to me.

I appreciate how she would help me finish the dishes after dinner, rubbing her elbows with mine while she rinsed and I scrubbed just so we’d have an extra minute to talk before I rushed off to study.

I appreciate that she always expected the best from me, whether it be excellent grades or stellar performances, because she pushed me to exceed the limits I set for myself.

I appreciate when she expresses her relentless faith in my ability when I am failing my classes, unemployed and job-searching, or just plagued by self-doubt.

I appreciate how she told me I was doing a good job in my first month of motherhood after I broke down in tears over my colicky baby who refused to breastfeed despite doctor’s visits and numerous ointments.

I appreciate how she’ll happily take my early riser child out of my bed to give me an extra hour or two when I visit so I can get a rare chance to sleep in.

I appreciate that she shoves forever stamps into my bag whenever I see her because she knows I always forget to buy stamps for myself.

I appreciate that she always returns my calls and answers my ridiculous questions, like what types of antibiotic creams work best for what wounds and whether or not I need stitches.

I appreciate my mother for always being my mom, for knowing me inside and out, and for generously stretching that inexhaustible love to my own daughter.

Love your mom and mom’s mom today and everyday because of the countless big and little things they do for you. Happy Mother’s Day!

The Exaggerated Life As a Mother

Exaggeration
Photo Source: StockSnap.io

Life sometimes feels like an exaggeration. When I open my mouth or write about something regarding motherhood, I think and look back on it and wonder if it’s actually believable. Life happens rather dramatically at times, at least in a mother’s eyes. When you feel like you carry somebody else’s world on your shoulders and you’re trying to keep a balance (whatever that means) to shape a wholesome upbringing, your own body can grow stiff and even brittle until you crack.

I’d like to think most days I’m even keeled, and that I have healthy habits like exercise and writing to ease my woes. Yet sometimes the troubles I feel, however seemingly mundane, are also immense. They grow larger until I lose my balance and I tip over, causing bouts of stress to spill outwards in uncharacteristic, maybe even irrational ways.

I have not slept in a week.

This house is always a mess. 

I can never finish the endless loads of laundry.

My kid keeps getting sick.

Exaggerated. So exaggerated.

Yet the weight of it all remains heavy and inescapable, even in the brevity that is childhood. I find myself cracking in places I thought I’ve meticulously caulked in an effort to keep it all together. I begin to question my role as a mother and if the toll it takes on me is typical of motherhood —

Am I the only one who’s ever cried in the shower due to the building tension of motherhood? 

Am I the only one who goes from feelings of “this is awesome” to “what the hell am I doing?” in a matter of seconds? 

Am I the only one who relishes the sound of silence now that it is scarce? 

I just want to feel normal — to feel okay that laundry and sleeplessness has gotten the best of me. To know that shedding tears once in a while — perhaps even daily — during my only alone time in the shower is okay. To admit that the tight ship I try to run sometimes goes astray, and I allow my limp body to flow with the currents as my head barely bobs above the water. To confess that sometimes I need a lifesaver, a moment to circle back, gasp for air and regenerate. To know that it’s okay to feel these things.

I’ve learned that where there is life involved, it is not an exaggeration. Motherhood, fatherhood, child-rearing, none of it is an exaggeration. It is utterly demanding, all-consuming, heart-wrenching and back-breaking. It is a labor of inexhaustible love coming from human beings.

So I’ll say it, from one mama to another: it is okay. When you lose your balance and you need to cry, it’s okay. When your brain is clouded with too many thoughts and you begin to question yourself, it’s okay. When you admit, as difficult as it is, that you simply need a break from the work that is being a mother, it is more than okay.

It’s normal.


Thanks for following my blog! Check back every Tuesday (and sometimes other days of the week) for new posts.

xo,

Loreann

25, A Quarter Century Reflection

I turned 25 last week. I expected myself to have a set of words that I was eager to share here… Something something enlightening something or other. Yet, between the dizzying mornings of entertaining a toddler and meandering through Los Angeles, the afternoons are beginning to weigh down on me and once the evening rolls around and I’m able to get a reprieve, I just want to sit. I want to sit and bask in silence and shed all the worries of motherly expectations and simply be.

So instead of a wordy reflection, I bring you a series of portraits. I usually abhor taking selfies; if you ever see my Instagram account it’s mostly Josephine, food, and sometimes Chris — the people and things I endear so much in this world. Rarely do I feel comfortable posting a picture of myself (minus a beverage). I think the discomfort of seeing my own image stems from knowing that I often neglect caring for myself. If I’m being honest, I feel like the most striking feature I wear are the bags underneath my eyes.

I’m realizing more as a mother that caring for myself is becoming increasingly crucial as the demands of others take precedent in my life. I’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, that taking intentional and meaningful time for myself is essential to be able to love and care for my small family to the best of my ability.

In a personal exercise of self-love, awareness, and growth, I decided to set up my camera on self timer over the changing table and take advantage of the subtle morning light that pours into the bedroom every morning.

So here’s me at my quarter century best. No makeup, bedhead, tired bones, and a smile with my little sidekick. I want to remember this next year as being somewhat restful. I want to care for myself more and rest my muscles so I can take us all further.
Solo 1
Joj and mommy 2 Jojo and mommy 1 Jojo and mommy 3 Jojo 25

Thanks for all the greetings and for celebrating with me. Cheers to another year!

Chicken Arroz Caldo Recipe

Chicken Arroz Caldo finished copy

The lingering ghost of a cold/cough/flu still resides in our household. We’ve tried everything to evict it, from prescribed antibiotics to essential oils. Nothing seems to work. So I turn to the one thing I know for a fact will make me feel better: chicken arroz caldo.

Much like Chinese congee or Korean juk, chicken arroz caldo (literally translates as chicken rice soup) is the cure-all, hodgepodge bowl of comfort . If you grew up in a Filipino household, you know what I’m talking about. That glutinous sweet rice with tender chicken falling off the bone. The way your lola shoves a giant, steaming bowl in front of your congested face. The gingery warmth that coats your throat a few degrees too hot, which is actually the perfect temperature to will that infection away. We whip it up for any ailment, whether it be heartbreak, bronchitis, or even a funky rash. It’s made with heaps of love and browned garlic. Lots of browned garlic.

Since I can’t go crawling to my dad with my sick puppy face and plead for his special arroz caldo — he always obliges — I had to call him and inquire about his specific recipe. It was absolutely pertinent that I make it the exact way he does to unleash it’s true healing potential.


Chicken Arroz Caldo, Serves 4-6 | breakfast, lunch, dinner, or merienda (basically whenever you feel like it.)

Ingredients:
1 head of garlic, minced
~ 2.5 lbs chicken parts*
1 cup sweet glutinous rice
1 onion, diced
~ 2 inches of fresh ginger, sliced and smashed
1 tbs fish sauce (patis) + 1/2 tbs more to taste
2-4 cups water
2 tbs oil
salt & pepper to taste

Optional garnish:
Hard boiled eggs, sliced
lemon or calamansi
green onion, sliced

Directions
1. In a medium pot, add a cup of rice with two cups of water and let simmer over medium to low heat. Add water in increments of 1/4 cup if rice absorbs water too quickly — you want to make sure that the rice doesn’t cook all the way through just yet. Simmer about 20 minutes.**
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and slowly brown, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. When garlic is light brown and crispy, remove half and set aside for garnish.
3. Add onion, ginger, chicken, and 1 tbs fish sauce to the garlic in the large pot. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. When rice has absorbed about half of the water, add rice and water to the large pot with chicken. Stir and let simmer another 15-20 minutes, or until rice and chicken are cooked through and sticky. Continue to add water in small increments if rice gets too thick. Add salt, pepper, and fish sauce, adjusting to taste.
5. Serve with slices of hard boiled egg, crispy garlic, green onions, and a squeeze of lemon.

Notes:
*You can use whatever chicken parts you prefer, or even a whole chopped up chicken. However thighs, wings and drumsticks yield the best taste (IMO)

**You can also opt to add the rice and water straight to the large pot after cooking the chicken for a few minutes, just adjust cooking times accordingly. Cooking in separate pots is my dad’s suggestion for cooking the rice and chicken evenly.

Everything at once copy

Sides copyChicken Arroz Caldo finished copy

Happy cooking! And if you’re sick like us, wishing you a speedy recovery! Bon Appetit🙂

P.S. #wifeloreealready

Feature on OSHITBRITT’S “Mother The World” Segment

This week I’m featured on vlogger OSHITBRITT’S 3rd installment of her weekly “Mother the World” segment, watch it below:

I was excited to collaborate with Brittany and be very candid and open about my experience as a young mother and the topic of self worth. She’s not a mom herself, but she’s using her platform to shed light on the stigmas young and/or single moms may face and encourage us be supportive of women who choose to be mothers, especially young moms.

OSHITBRITT writes daily about feminism and life on her website, which you can check out here. She also has a fictional book called Stars Melt to Milk about a young, single mother that’s coming out soon.

Thanks for watching!