Dear Charlie and Jack,

 Your Tita Ollie told me today about her recent conversation with Charlie.  The conversation went something like this:

 Tita Ollie:          Charlie, what does your Papa do for work?

Charlie:             Oh, he takes care of the birds.  He’s a busy guy.  (See important footnote below!)

Tita Ollie:          How about your Mama?

Charlie:             Well, my Mama stays at home, she doesn’t do anything, she doesn’t even open the door for me.

Oh, how I frowned after hearing this!  So, I thought about the question a little more, drummed up some responses that I would be happy with, and here they are:

 Answer A:        Oh, my Mama does everything.  As a bankruptcy attorney, she helps her clients start their life afresh without their soul-crushing debts. As an immigration attorney, she helps clients attain legal status so they could legally live and work and love in this country.  As a realtor/broker, she helps people buy their dream home or sell the ones they’ve outgrown.  And when she has finished dealing with trustees, agents, other attorneys, existing clients, and everybody else who has a problem and who thinks she is the one who can help them out, she turns the “work” button off and she writes.  She maintains several personal blogs and she’s currently self-publishing a children’s book.  She also practices her dance choreography in front of the very big mirror in her office which she likes to call her studio.  She’s so busy she doesn’t even open the door for me. 

 Answer B:        Oh, my Mama stays at home.  Every afternoon, at 3:00, she comes out of her office which she likes to call her studio, and makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for us.  She plays all our favorite Michael Jackson and MC Hammer songs off of youtube.  She acts as referee when JackJack and I fight.  She listens to my good ideas, wrestles with us on the trampoline, reminds me to wash my hands after I poop, helps us build robots, pretends she doesn’t understand English so we have to learn to speak Bisaya, gives us the biggest hug ever.  She also likes to boil pasta and steam broccoli for dinner.

 I think either one of these answers would be acceptable as each one represents some truth about my day to day activities.  However, what I really would like to hear Charlie say is this:

 Answer C:        Oh, my Mama, she does what she wants to do.

 That’s it.  The simple, straightforward truth.

IMG_2646 (A rare solo photo of your Mama)

Here’s what I want you both to know about your Mama.  I do what I want to do–self-publish, run my own part time law office, write, dance in my little office/studio–because after beating myself up with self-doubts and self-criticisms and insecurities, I’ve realized that I can set up my own goals, ones that reflect what I value, and with the support of those who believe in me, I can achieve my goals.  And these goals are way more meaningful to me than those goals that others have or would like to set up for me.

 I do what I want to do, even though others have told me I’m “underperforming” by choosing to work from home and for “only” five hours a day, instead of pursuing a full time legal career; even though others have thought that I am undoing what years of feminist struggle has earned in gender equality (Although, to be honest, I’m not altogether immune to this criticism.  I do worry that the apparent model I offer to you is one of a mother who stays at home, doing nothing!); even though staying at home with you boys is super tough and requires an abundance of discipline, patience, creativity that I sometimes lack; even though it means making only a piddling, driving around in a 12 year old car, or living in a small house furnished with second hand stuff from craigslist.

 I do what I want to do because, in the end, it’s my life.  When I lie on my deathbed, I will not regret not having pursued a full time legal career (no, thank you!).   But I am sure I will regret not having danced and written as much as I could have, even if nobody else read my work or watched me dance.  I am even more sure that I will regret not having spent enough time being present in your young lives.

 I do what I want to do and I hope that down the road, when it’s time for you to carve your own life, you would have the choice to do what you want to do and feel empowered to do just that.


I also want to tell you, for the record, that as far as I know, your Papa is also doing what he wants to do.  There’s no denying that you are his bliss… but he also likes to “take care of the birds.”