Tag Archive | parenting

Sleepless in San Leandro, the sequel

One night this past fall, I was up for two hours between 2 and 4am. M had told me she had misplaced her Moana TsumTsum.  She did not yet tell me it had been gone for weeks. M, like both of her parents, is a notorious pack rat so she struggles with clutter. I stayed up looking through things, recycling paper, throwing trash out, and adding to our donation bag. I hoped to find it.

I know I could have used that time in a different way. I could have worked; there are always emails to answer, agendas to craft, a newsletter to compose and translate into Spanish.  I could have worked creatively by posting to my blog.  I could have practiced one of my dance routines as there are now occasional gigs with my dance group. While I may know a routine, I can always work on technique and precision. That comes from lots of practice. Given my time management struggles, this does not consistently happen.

While I could have used those two hours differently, I sat and knelt in the dark, going through different drawers and boxes to find the missing toy. In the morning, M said I shouldn’t have wasted my time. When I saw how crestfallen she looked at the thought of not seeing this toy again, I knew she would be happy if it was found. She then told me it had been missing for a long time.  She decided to ask Santa for a new one. During another round of cleaning a month or so later, we found a bag of toys we had stored during the summer.  Moana was there.  We had several good laughs about that late night of cleaning.


I do a lot for M because I would like her to feel good or better. When M was tiny, we spent hours up at night. We would play. I would chat with her. She didn’t sleep through the night until she was two years old. (Sleepless in San Leandro)I didn’t know what it was like to get several hours of sleep for a few years.  Despite the challenges, it was time well spent.   As a mom, I often question my commitment to dance, writing, and my career because of the time they take from M. Making a difference as an educator and as a writer are important to me. She is the person I want to make the most difference for in this life. M is my reason.



A parent’s lament

I hate feeling and acting like a terrible parent. Yelling.   Making statements like “I’m not letting you go to the birthday party if you don’t do x, y, and z.” Being angry with my child. This Lent I challenged myself to work on my patience. I feel like I’ve failed. I have had great moments.  There are other times I feel I don’t communicate with M anymore.  I feel like a failure.

I’m grateful for my parents. But they made mistakes. It wasn’t easy for them. It’s not easy for me. I compare myself to other parents and think that they are doing it right.

Parents are responsible for so much. With each year that passes, it’s not easier. When they’re babies, they depend on you for everything. As toddlers, they fight for independence and often fight you about everything. But at the end of the day, toddlers love you. I know M loves me but I don’t know if she always understands me. With each passing year, communication becomes more challenging. The irony is that I’ve spent over 20 years working with teenagers yet I feel at a loss with my own child. I worry that I’m hurting her, letting her down, setting her up for future failure. I want so much for her to have a great life. I know it can’t be perfection but I hold myself to those high expectations.  On the other hand, I hear parents say “I was too nice. I did too much.”  So I’m often unsure of how to parent.

I don’t want M going to school sad, worried, upset, or confused. I don’t want her sitting there trying to concentrate on schoolwork while worrying that our relationship is at stake.   I’ve prayed for patience. I pray for her forgiveness. I want M to forgive my faults, my inability to take a deep breath and shut up. I want my silence to speak.  I wish there were a mother-child retreat when we could pray the Liturgy of the Hours and do Adoration together and pray for each other.

Earlier this week, I reflected on Holy Week being made holy by love(Love as key to holiness.) If only M could see how much I love her. If only I could show her my love instead of talking constantly. I’m at a loss.  This has been the most important and most difficult Lenten challenge. I pray for the ability to make changes for the sake of my child.


St. Monica, pray for me and for us.

Ladybug among bees

I’m impressed by my 8 year old. She has a different take on other people and fitting in which is years ahead of where I was at twice her age. I’ve written about girl dynamics before (Girl drama); my daughter has learned to handle these situations.

M has been at her school for 5 years, since Pre-K.  She has been with the same group of children for that time with a few moves or transfers. M is her own person. Her dad and I appreciate that. and we also know it’s who we have shaped her to be. We are a non-traditional family so we have a non-traditional daughter. While she is experiencing anxiety and insecurity, M is independent. She is clear about how she likes to spend her time and what she likes to play or discuss. Things that would have hurt her feelings in the past don’t affect her in the same way.

She was recently part of a clique. I had trepidation because cliques have a tendency to exclude and/or break apart; these situations tend to get worse over time. Every day, we talk about who she sits with during snack and lunch and who she plays with during morning and lunch recess. I’m less interested in weekend events like sleepovers; I’ve outgrown my concern about that. In the past, I would feel heartbroken if she wasn’t invited to a birthday party or a sleepover. In part, that’s on us. We have a busy schedule. That hasn’t changed and won’t be changing any time soon. If she doesn’t get invited, I don’t dwell on it.  M is aware and honest about the social configurations. I directly asked her how she feels about the clique’s breakup. She was hurt when it first happened. She has noticed that part of the original group is hanging out with former rivals but that’s so typical of girl dynamics. First of all, those grudges aren’t as deep as we make them out to be. Secondly, we want so much to belong so we compromise. She’s gossipy or rude but she’s fun or she takes risks. We weigh the pros and cons of each person.


M is definitely more like K.C.(as portrayed by her idol Zendaya on the left)

My daughter is a cheerleader but she’s never been part of the A group. That may seem strange to admit as a parent but I’m comfortable with that fact. She has always been part of another group. Now that group has broken apart, she is hanging out with her best friend. M says it bothers her to see her other friends hanging out with different girls but she accepts that they are doing what they want. She shared with me what she has in common with her best friend and the ways in which they differ. Her explanation was mature and wise beyond her age. I reassured her that popularity is not everything. I told her I want her to be true to herself. I did tell her popularity is a reality that she will dealing with for at least 10 more years. I explained that it loses its importance in college for most. M asked if adults care about popularity. I wanted to laugh because those issues certainly come up in work or in social circles, even in my beloved dance communities. I said, “Unless you’re on a stage singing “Candy Girl”, popularity is not that important.” (Yes, I’m still talking about New Edition non-stop.)

I also shared that I found being unpopular a blessing. It hurt in the moment but it gave me appreciation for myself, for my true friends, and it kept me from engaging in unsafe behaviors. M and I have open, though age-appropriate,  conversations about my concerns.

M went to school in a great mood. It’s important to tell her it’s ok to be different. I told her I was a weirdo and proud of it. I’m grateful for the sense I developed of myself as an artist and a person. It hurt at times.  The queen bee is always going to look at you funny because you’re a yellow jacket or a mayfly or a ladybug. You ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing but you have to be true to yourself. M gets it.  You got this, mija.


Like mother, like daughter: say it with your tee


Parenting pains


Benita Lopez was no June Cleaver

I went from happy mom to guilty mom within 24 hours. My goal this Lent was to be more patient, to yell and nag less, to be more kind in my tone and facial expressions. My inadequate time management has left me feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. My patience wears thin.

On a typical Monday night, we get to the house at 8pm. M may have two to four pages of math homework to complete with her after completing her weekly 90 minute dance class. I usually have two loads of laundry to fold, ironing that’s been neglected for weeks and a sinkful of dishes to wash. If I was more organized, I’d take care of the household chores and prepack lunches while M and Rambo complete homework. Instead I’m likely catching up with work email and getting the bath ready. Instead, my less than adequate solution is to get up in the middle of night to do laundry and talk with Rambo and sometimes watch one of our Netflix shows. I sleep in. I let M sleep in. Then we’re scrambling. We’re packing lunch, making breakfast, continuing to load laundry, catching up on dish washing, and trying to get out on time.  I need to manage my time better.

It’s not that M is sitting back and doing nothing to help. She packs up her lunch and packs up the car by lugging all the things we carry: purse, backpack, dance bags, piano books. She will empty the dryer. She fills my water bottle. All things considered, she’s becoming resilient and independent.

I need to be mindful of those moments when she’s helpful. My child helps out because she wants to be a contributing member of our household. I hate when I use that voice. I have to get myself out of that mental space. Thank God we pray in the morning; otherwise I’d be a terror at all times.


Lois might have relatable but life is no sitcom

It’s painful when I realize I’m not doing my best as a mom. I remember how I felt when I was disciplined harshly or when I felt I couldn’t confide in my mother. I give my mom all credit for being an example of tough womanhood that was rare in my family and culture. Still, I was a sensitive child and I often felt alone. I work to be a mom who is also a confidant. I need to work on I-statements and giving encouragement. I don’t want to hurt my child’s heart. The world will do enough of that. I continue to pray for patience so I can be a better mom.

Motivated by motherhood

I had several moments in the last week when I broke my Lenten promise and lost my patience with M. Despite these challenges, M and I have a great relationship. I have fostered close communication. We are similar in sense of humor and in the way we articulate ourselves. People point out she’s your mini-me; she tries on my vocabulary and certain phrases and idioms. We can have relatively deep conversations about different subjects because she’s an observant critical thinker. I appreciate her how she perceives the world.  She jokes, “I’m much pettier than you are.” I replied, “No I’ve been petty for forty-four years.” She said, “I’ve been petty for millions of years.” She says that in fun because she has a better understanding of situations than many kids. I am confident that M will continue to evolve into a good woman because I deeply love her. She doesn’t always feel that. She sometimes says, “I don’t feel like you love me right now.” I am committed to mending our relationship and reassuring her that I will always provide support as her mom.

With the coming of spring, new life arrives. My best friend had her second child last week and one of my dance sisters had her firstborn child that week. I’m excited for my friends who are new moms.  It’s not easy to be a mom but it is motivating to know you have a person in your life who wants what’s best for you, of you, and from you.  The mother-child relationship is like no other.

I know of a fellow writer who publicly declared that her romantic love exceeded her mother love. I am still judging her for it. For the longest time, I was fixated on romantic love. My early blogs were focused on the search for romantic love and its challenges. Mother love is pure, infinite, and endures through many tests and trials. The way society has conceptualized and portrayed romantic love and the way we experience romantic love doesn’t measure up. Mother love is my greatest love.

M enriches my life in ways nobody else ever has. Of all the people in my life, my daughter has truly made me evolve into the best version of myself. I may have my bad moments. Motherhood motivates me and makes my world more beautiful every single day.