Mama Mary and the Art of the Ordinary

Taking the advice of a priest during a Confession I made recently, I’ve been trying to pray the Rosary by myself with more frequency.

So far, I think I’m being consistent with the act of praying the Rosary itself, but I think I need to put more effort into living the more ordinary aspects of my life well. Such a thing is something I find difficult, particularly as I aspire to be a good artist, a road with a brand of difficulty that has temptations toward pride and lust most frequently pestering me everyday.

See, in trying to be an artist (like, in the more general sense and not just in the visual art sense), I’ve realized that it’s easy to mishandle confidence and have it power the other deadly sins and its subordinates, especially when that confidence is aimed at fulfilling some good intentions. Not that confidence is not needed, though, but it’s easy to be overconfident, especially with a crowd of supporters backing me up and all of us having baseness that we tend to fall for in our desire for more ease in our lives. To be more specific, what God would want us to do can grate hard on our pride, making it look like something as bad as sin, and I’m certain that it’ll be a struggle for me to stay properly confident despite being despised and such. Pride is scary that way, you know?

For getting me to think more about that, I have an aunt of mine to thank very much. How she managed to do so, well, in her talks with me about the dangers of pride, she presented the Blessed Virgin Mary as a good example of humility. Ah, and even the priest who advised me to pray the Rosary also helped there, stating that where Mary is, the Devil isn’t.

Now, thinking about Mama Mary as a good example of humility, what I remember about her is that she was very…well, ordinary. She lived a very ordinary life for a woman who served as the great Mother of God. She and Joseph, her husband, weren’t even that rich too, with the Nativity of Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem being a sign of that (Luke 2:7). And judging from Matthew 13:55, which is a part of the depiction of the reactions that Jesus’ fellow Nazareans had at his preaching (“‘Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary?…'”), Mama Mary was seen as someone ordinary by her fellow Nazareans as well.

And hey, much like how easily a significant bunch of us pity the woman who easily submits – and especially to a man – these days, I think that Mama Mary would be someone who would be very easy to look down on. The prideful would find her pathetic, for she just followed God’s orders and blended into society without much protest, even when she was troubled by the angel Gabriel’s greeting (Luke 1:26-29), even when she and her husband had confusion over the reply that her young Son gave them when they found Him – and after three days of searching, even! – teaching in that temple (Luke 2:42-50), and even when she was told off by her grown-up Son that it was not His time yet in that particular wedding which had a problem with the wine (John 2:1-4) – even telling the servants afterwards to do as He says! She never reacted violently during her Son’s Passion too, just letting Him meet His fated humiliating death in the hands of us sinners and complying with her Son’s entrustment of her to Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist (John 19:26-27), and she still came along with the Apostles to Jerusalem, praying with them as well (Acts 1:12-14).

Now, for an aspiring artist like me to draw inspiration from Mama Mary and to even try living as humbly as her…I honestly found all that unbelievable yet fascinating.

Like, really, for so long, I’ve been thinking that a good artist has to be flashy, much like the superheroes of novels, comic books, and animations. I’ve already come to terms with the fact that I can’t be as superpowered as them, but I still long to be looked upon like I was as sparkling as them, for being revered is something that those superheroes needed to have as well so that they can be more seen as heroic.

And that’s why being like the idols on the stages of the entertainment industry became quite a wonderful idea to me as well. Thing is, though, as that same aunt of mine reminded me about, fame is quite a fickle thing, and with that in mind, desiring it so much is bad for my soul.

But what does that mean for me as an aspiring artist, then? Does this mean that I shouldn’t be an artist? Are artists just burdens to society?

If you ask me, well…I don’t think being an artist means being a burden. After all I’ve been through in life, I’ve realized that perhaps there are ways to be a truly humble artist, and that I’ve been holding so much pride, so much that I still struggle with finding those ways. Perhaps I should try rapping with toned-down swagger. Perhaps I should focus on singing less angsty songs. And perhaps I shouldn’t aim towards notching up the sexiness in my adorkableness, even!

Along with that, I shouldn’t think about having a good image only. Even if no other human is watching me, I, along with everyone else, am always within the watch of God, after all, so I still need to think, speak, and act properly, even in private. And I need to work hard towards being more proper there, especially since I still have some bigtime fumbles with my spare time. If I improve there, then I’ll be able to handle having fans better, because being famous is like walking on a tightrope, and I need more balance in my life.

Yeah, there’s more to life than just trying to entertain people. I still lack knowledge, so I need to go to school. I have struggles processing others’ opinions, especially when they’re vocally opposing, so I need to keep calm and search for humbler listeners to talk with and learn from. I need to be more mindful of others as well, which means that I also have to smack my pride down and take corrections from people like my parents better. And like it or not, even if I’m the protagonist of my own story, my growth is never something I cause by keeping the spotlight all to myself.

Come to think of it, though, I think I’m centering on myself too much in writings like this lately, with a bunch of previous paragraphs in this entry being a likely example…Hm, I guess I should take some time to get in touch with some good friends and mentors when it comes to such matters, then. Also, I think this is the first time I’m writing Bible citations into something like this, and I don’t think I can say that I know how to do that as well as I should yet, so yes, honest constructive feedback is highly encouraged and will be highly appreciated!

And hey, God Almighty keep on helping us all! And don’t underestimate Mama Mary, people! Like, really, considering how she lived here on earth, I now think she’s a major factor behind Don Bosco being able to say “Do your ordinary duties extraordinarily well.”

Ah, and I guess I should look for a girl who looks up to Mama Mary as well…

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Beaming and Lighting

Once upon a Sunday Mass homily, my thoughts had an intersection of family, feminism, and religion.

See, in the middle of the priest’s homily about the importance of spreading the Word within the family, the domestic Church (the Gospel was the one with the Parable of the Weeds, though, by the way), and giving parent-oriented reminders and lessons, he also reminded us about how the father, in the Filipino language (like, the usual and mostly Tagalog-based Filipino which most Filipinos often interchangeably refer to as Tagalog nowadays), is called “haligi ng tahanan,” while the mother is called “ilaw ng tahanan.”

About those phrases, well, the one for the mother is easier to translate into English, it meaning “light of the home.” The one for the father is more complicated, as the “haligi” is, according to my understanding of my dad’s explanation when I asked him about it, a post or a column which has a foundation keeping it in place, and it’s also something which works like a cornerstone. So yeah, I guess it can be translated as “foundation post of the home,” if we were to talk about sticking it closer to what it means in the Filipino context, but I find calling it “foundation beam of the home” in English funnier, because there’s something hilariously awesome about Mom and Dad working together to become a beam of light.

Get it?

Well, whether you found that funny or not is a different story.

Anyway, in that intersection of fields of thoughts I mentioned at the start of this reflection, an intersection that was triggered by the priest’s reminder about those titles for the parents in the Filipino context, I realized how presumptuous we’ve been with thinking that there should be one parent who has an inherent overall upper hand over the other…especially when it would be foolish to try looking at a construction post or beam like it can be a ball of light, or a ball of light like it can be construction post or beam.

Like, really, can any of them work well without them working together as well? Looking at it in the more earthly sense and also in accordance with those titles I mentioned, a house built with strong foundations but with weak or no light is a place where its residents would stumble around a lot when the darkness comes. A light that burns brightly yet has a weakly founded or an uncovered house is something that can get snuffed out way more easily, still causing big trouble for the residents.

With that sort of thought, I laughed with glee as I realized how such can be worthwhile stuff in reflections that I’d like to share to others. But of course, the sharing is another thing, so do remember to give honest constructive feedback on how I’m doing that as well, okay?

Anyway, I also realized how my parents were still living by those titles which the priest reminded about. Along with that, I’ve begun more firmly feeling like there’s no reason for me to be worrying so much about how my parents’ dynamics should work in our family.

Like, hey, Mom and Dad are two different people, sure. There are things that Mom is better at, and there are things that Dad is better at. For example, Mom’s better at working with English, something that Dad has a hard time learning about, while Dad’s better at processing current social events, something which Mom isn’t as good at, as far as I’ve observed.

But hey, it should be remembered: Their differences don’t make them unequal overall! Whatever inequality they may seem to have…well, I guess that’s the darkness of our hearts messing up our vision. For example, I had times when I thought that Mom was a worse parent than Dad because of her fiery attitude, an attitude I had a very hard time taking, especially when she got stressed, while Dad seemed cooler, because, well…he had a cool way of listening and talking when I talked to him about my problems. I guess I became more of a wimp back then because of that mindset as well.

As time passed, though, I realized how they were always on the same boat in terms of being different but equal in terms of overall value. They have their strengths, and they have their weaknesses, but put Mom’s set and Dad’s set on the scales, and you’d find that they weigh the same, even though they’re composed of different stuff overall.

And with those differences, each of them are meant for certain things. We just haven’t tried hard enough to find out what they can really do in their respective elements if we think that such a setup is foolish. Like, for example, put Mom’s fiery attitude and Dad’s cool attitude, especially in synergizing tandem, and we get some equilibrium, yo~

And hey, I think that Mom and Dad understand that, considering how our family’s been doing lately. Me, well, I’ve been pretty much a worrywart the whole time with that, empathizing a little too much with people who aren’t as fortunate as I am in terms of family, feminism, and all that. Sure, it sucks to know of men who look down on the potential of women and vice-versa, but I don’t think it would ever justify me making my soul rot and making things worse.

Also: Do not underestimate housewives. I repeat: Do not underestimate housewives.

See, my mother, who’s pretty much a housewife now, considering how she left her regular job (though she’s currently working as a consultant), has to deal with not only her husband, but also us four kids, with two of said four being special kids as well, if you get what I mean. And lately, I’ve begun to realize how awesome she has been because of her great efforts for the family and how she still keeps on caring for us despite our faults and weaknesses. She left her regular job at a certain well-known company for the sake of watching over the family better, and because of that, she’s now able to do things like watching over my youngest sibling some more, the one who needs a lot of parental supervision because of his special needs. And although she took up work as a consultant, said work doesn’t really eat up as much in terms of her time for the family.

Also, I think I should stop wrapping my head around my extracurricular activities too much to feel the good changes with Mom being a housewife some more, hahaha…

So yeah, to all you husbands and kids and everyone else who thinks that being a housewife is a stupid and demeaning job: Do not underestimate housewives. They may not work like most men do, and the darkness of our hearts may have made their work seem like a mark of ignorance, but with the responsibilities that they have and the effort that they have to put, their work does not make them unimportant, let alone useless or inherently weaker.

Along with that, think about household chores some more, especially while you’re doing them, please. You’ll understand what I mean much better by doing that as well.

And speaking of housewives, I once wrote a story with such a woman as the main character for a writing prompt response…and I think a certain Roman Catholic woman from Canada, whom I met through blogging, can talk about such things better…

Now, to end this reflection, I would like to say that I’m continuing to look forward to my parents becoming better light beams, and that I’d like to become an awesome light beam combo with the awesome girl of my dreams as well. God Almighty keep on guiding us, too.

Pro-Life Motherhood: A Feminist Career Choice

I know I’ve read this before, but I don’t know why I haven’t reblogged it before! Anyway, God keep on blessing you, Mrs. Juneau, for you are among those who helped me appreciate housewives better!

joy of nine9

Raising children is not a default chore for women who were not successful in the world of business, power, and wealth.  However, the trend in the last few decades has been to delegate childcare to women who are often treated like second-class citizens. Society seems to dismiss and even ridicule women’s most sacred, natural role as nurturing mothers.

I fully realize most mothers have no choice but to work in our present economy. My contention is with prevailing attitudes about children, mothers and child care. From preschool, we are groomed to get ahead, surpass our peers by getting into the best universities and snatch prized careers. But success alone will not make us happy. Just take a look at the generations who have gone before us. The all-too-common mid-life crisis is a testament to the failure of a life focused on career advancement to the exclusion of family. Many women bemoan…

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Blazing Light of Her Home

Author’s Note: This story was written in response to the following prompt in the WritingPrompts subreddit:

You discover your neighbor is a vampire. You go to confront him with weapons in hand when [he] says with a sigh, “You don’t want to kill me. I am the only thing in this town that is keeping the werewolves at bay.”

This story was first posted on Reddit. I had decided to have my recent reblog here be my only blog post for today, but I went to r/WritingPrompts and got inspired again. Also, the response idea I had at first was something that blatantly made fun of those sexualized movies that have the “vampires versus werewolves” thing in them, but hey, I feel like this product’s good too. Still, I’d like to know your honest thoughts on this. And of course, honest constructive feedback is highly encouraged and will be highly appreciated!

Now, on to the story!


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No Need to Get Drunk and Stripping

Author’s Note: This story was written in response to the following prompt in the WritingPrompts subreddit:

“Zombies? Let me guess, they’re eating peoples’ brains?” “Even worse! They’re drinking all the beer!”

This story was first posted on Reddit. Oh, and I’ll most likely be writing short stories in response to writing prompts more in the near future. Doing stuff that’s as big as sakiyama feels too much for me right now, see. And about this short story, well, I went spontaneous again, I think. Still, I think I should try writing down my plans for bigger works, along with doing that via handwriting too. Oh, and of course, honest constructive feedback is highly encouraged and will be highly appreciated!

Now, on to the story!


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Awesome in a Different Way

Domestic work, it’s not something I’d call lame. Housewives and househusbands? If you ask me, they can still be awesome even when in such an occupation. It may not be a job that pays money, but if you think that there’s no good that can come out of it, then you are clearly underestimating that job.

All this deeper thinking about domestic work, I ended up deciding to put it into writing after some radio show mentioned housewives and stuff, which then reminded me of my mother thinking of resigning from her job at a certain plant of a certain multinational company, and was followed by recalling all the things that my mother did for our family. I felt proud of my mother as I thought about her work for the family, and then I recalled my grandmothers’ accomplishments for their respective families as well. I ended up appreciating housework more after all that.

Now, I want to talk about my awesome mother and my awesome grandmothers.

First off, my maternal grandmother. She wasn’t a financially rich person, and even when she had married and started a family with my maternal grandfather, her life wasn’t a luxurious one. While Lolody was out working and providing for the family as a truck driver in Saudi Arabia, Mama Ning worked hard as a housewife, caring for three children. There were challenges, like my aunt’s allergies, my mother’s active participation in extracurricular activities, and the usual everyday chores, but I think I can say that she managed to survive those challenges, considering her family’s condition today. Her children have completed their education, are now working in proper jobs, and already have families of their own.

And from what I remember, Mama Ning never really finished getting formal education, tends to get pretty impulsive, is kind of short-tempered (I think I’m seeing similarities in her and in my mother now…), and works too hard for us at times, but she was and still is an awesome person. Why?

I’ll say this: Never underestimate domestic work, people. Just because she worked as a housewife doesn’t mean that she can’t do anything good for her family or even for society. In her family’s growth, she is also an essential part of it. I think her occupation doesn’t make her existence unequal to the existences of other people. She just did being awesome in a different way. Without her, her awesome work, and her amazing dedication to it and her family, her family would have grown up differently. She didn’t need a gun, she didn’t need a combat knife, and she didn’t need a bomb.

And if there’s someone who looks unlikely to live happily today, well, there’s my late paternal grandmother, Lola Auring. She gave birth to nine kids.

Nine kids.

These days, many people would consider such families unfortunate, so I wouldn’t be surprised if their jaws dropped to the floor when they find out that all her children finished their education, have proper jobs, and, except for the eldest child, have families of their own as well.

I am not kidding. At all. Ask my chill dad. Ask his siblings who have families in the middle class range in terms of financial status.

Lola Auring gave birth to nine kids. All her children completed their formal education, got proper jobs, and, except for the eldest child, already have families of their own now. And they’re all surviving nicely. Even the eldest child is pretty much doing well in life.

Most of the work that Lola Auring did during her life were domestic work, with some of it done for a bunch of years in the USA. Her presence and absence were times when her children learned greatly about how to live properly. For example, according to my father, when she had gone abroad, he and his siblings learned more about the importance of self-reliance.

Lola Auring had reached college, but, from what I remember, didn’t finish it after she had a breakdown. Her husband was a tough guy who didn’t believe in God, while she was a gentle and devout Roman Catholic. I’m not as close to her as Dad and his siblings were, but from the interactions I’ve had with her while she was alive, I can say, with confidence, that she was awesome. She and I share a dislike towards crowds and the noise they bring, and we share an interest in doing stuff like reading in a quiet room, but she had developed her potential for awesome very well.

Like Mama Ning, she wasn’t some housewife or some domestic worker. She is an awesome person who did being awesome in a different way. She didn’t need a gun, she didn’t need a combat knife, and she didn’t need a bomb.

Praise and thanks be to God. And I hope that Lola Auring is in Heaven now. Perhaps she is, now that I think about it.

Oh, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of my family members and extended family members are crying at this point. Lola Auring is freaking awesome, indeed…

And now, I’ll be talking about my mother. I once gave her the nickname “Fireball” because of her fiery personality. Impulsive, kind of short-tempered, tough, assertive, yup, I think those traits are prominent in my mother. But hey, it’s not like she can’t be calm and gentle. There was this one time when I pissed her off with a blog post that my whiny and cowardly self once made, and after some time away from the house and a nice talk with a priest godfather, I went home. When we interacted again, she was more calm, while I was washing the dishes. Some time after–the next day, I think, we talked about the issue a lot more calmly, and yeah, we made up. Oh, and she can be funny too! Like with her laugh, which reminds me of the laughs of rich women from all those soap operas mixed with the laughs of crazy people in comedy shows.

Hey, my mother’s not a bad person, I swear. And if she were to go worse, I wouldn’t lose faith in her. I highly prefer trying to help her be better if that situation happens too.

Ah, and oh yeah, from what I remember, Mom has been considering resigning from her current job. Maybe she’ll push through with it, considering the need for someone to take care of the youngest kid in the family more. Whether she resigns or not, though, I still think that she can be awesome.

Seriously, what’s not awesome about being able to calmly deal with a child who throws tantrums on a daily basis? Sure, she loses her temper when dealing with that youngest brother of mine at times, but her calmness there is way better than mine. I’m not sure about her speed in understanding a lot of the stuff that I’m interested in, but I’m pretty sure about how much she cares for her family. Her tone and pose may seem very intimidating–and even I thought that it looked abusive–at times (I’m also starting to get why Mom and Dad remind me a lot about my body language and tone of voice), but she has shown proof of her genuine care for Dad, me, and my siblings several times.

Without her, I guess Dad, my sister, and I wouldn’t be more assertive.

Without her, Bob and I would have gone off doing really stupid stuff while not going to school.

Without her, my youngest sibling would have become worse.

So yeah, I’m sure that my mother can still be awesome even if she became a housewife or a woman working a proper and paying job while spending a lot of time in our house. And I’m pretty sure that she doesn’t like underestimating the importance of domestic work too. Perhaps she would be very supportive of the Choredom Breakdown idea as well. I don’t think that she would need a gun, a combat knife, or even a bomb. Get what I’m saying? She doesn’t need to be like Rambo to prove that she can be an awesome person.

Wait, did I just call Rambo awesome? I’m pretty sure that I didn’t intend to do that…

Oh, and once, my mother told me that most women aren’t as physically great as most men. Maybe she’s right, but I’m pretty sure that, unlike what I thought back then, she doesn’t mean that the existence of women has less value than the existence of men. It’s just that women have a different set of capabilities, but not a higher or lower value overall. Maybe most women can’t do a bunch of things that most men can do, but I don’t think that gives people a license to look down on women.

And now, I’d like to say thank you to my mother and my grandmothers for helping me appreciate their work a lot more and for helping me appreciate domestic work a lot more as well.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t know if you’ve understood this already, but domestic work, like any other work, isn’t easy. But hey, it can be done well. 🙂