PhDs on LDRs

According to a 2017 survey, there are 2.3 million OFWs or overseas Filipino workers; and in another survey it was found that the Philippines is 3rd in the world when it comes to receiving the most amount of remittances at 30 billion US dollars (the 1st is India at 72 billion and the 2nd is China at 64 billion).

I was thinking of these numbers today because I was watching a CNN documentary in Netflix featuring Christiane Amanpour on the topic of Love & Sex around the world.

So far, she has gone to Lebanon, India, Japan, Ghana, Germany and China to find out the current mores and conditions pertaining to marriage, love and sexuality among these countries’ population. She has not visited the Philippines yet; which makes me curious as to how she will portray my country in her stories.

I have an idea, Christiane — and it is that of all the nations in the world, it is Filipinos who are the experts on long distance relationships (LDR).

If PhDs on LDRs will be endowed to anyone, it will be Pinoys who will graduate at the top of their class.

We have turned long distance romantic relationships into an art form.

A story: there is a woman named D who is married to a ship captain named M. The two of them were married just before M went into his first voyage overseas as a sailor (“seaman” is how we Filipinos refer to these men who run the world’s shipping vessels). Out of every year, M and D would meet and be together for one or two months; so 10 months out of 12 they would not be physically in contact. Before the days of internet, D and M would communicate with telegrams and snail mail and long distance phone calls (in fact, D was the first person in my neighborhood to have a telephone back in the days when only business establishments have phone lines; and in fact, my mom owes a lot to D and her telephone because my mom would communicate with her sisters in Canada using this device). Today, D and M have been married for 39 years. They are still together. Ten years ago, M stopped working and settled with his wife in their condo near a mall. Their only child (my childhood playmate K), has finished her studies and was about to get  married. So there is no more need for M to hop into a ship again. I  am curious though — how does it feel for D to now be constantly around M’s presence after him being gone all those long years?

D & M’s story is one that has been happening hundreds of thousands of times among Filipinos. Ever since the government made it a policy to send foreign workers abroad in the 70s to supplement our much-needed dollar reserves, the story of couples who have to sustain their relationships from thousands of miles away has been a quintessential Filipino story (or at least, Filipino middle class story — the class D and Class A have a different one, a topic for another blog post).

It takes a certain faith and resilience to make an LDR work. Especially an LDR that spans years or decades even. Not a few relationships that I personally know have crumbled because the male or female partner was abroad.

There is a song in Tagalog by Joel Ayala (I mentioned in a previous post that it was by Noel Cabangon; well I was wrong — my bad) which I think is the theme song for Pinoy OFWs and their significant others. It is called “Walang Hanggang Paalam”. It’s melody is a sad guitar, accompanied by what sounds like a banduria, and the lyrics go like, “at habang magkalayo, papalapit pa rin ang puso/ kahit na magkahiwalay, tayo’y magkasama sa magkabilang dulo ng mundo.” (we move farther apart though our hearts grow together, and meet from different ends of the world — my awkward translation)

Needless to say, I am a hopeless romantic. I believe that love prevails in the end. And despite the difficulties that distance or time or financial/resource constraints will impose, Pinoys will find a way to care for those they love.

Dubai Creek at night, from a boat. There are over 400,000 Filipinos living in Dubai at the moment, which is more than the population of Baguio City. Go figure.

 

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Nationalism or What do Filipinos Care About?

I am presently working in a foreign country as a temporary economic migrant. Someday, I will return home, but for now, I owe my financial resources to this nation whose culture is as different from mine as night is from day.

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I was thinking about my situation when I came across this article from one of the blogs I follow and usually comment on.  It is asking about nationalism, how it can be a bad thing, and finally, what Filipinos care about.

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First, the question of whether nationalism is “good” or “bad” is maybe a question of gradient and context.  When I was in elementary, the message I got from my teachers is that nationalism is “good” – and that is something we should strive for. We sang the national anthem and recited the “Panatang Makabayan” every morning without fail so this vague thing called “nationalism” could be instilled in our young minds and hearts. I had this idea as a child that it is a noble quality to be willing to die for one’s country. Back then, I was not aware of the nuances – i.e: what exactly are you dying for your country for?

Fast forward to Now.

Nationalism has taken on a bad rap.  The idea that “nationalism” is a dangerous concept probably started in Europe with its issues about the Nazis; fascism;  the breakdown of Yugoslavia due to the nationalist tendencies of the states that made it up; and now the deluge of non-European migrants into European soil. Presently, the US President is the poster child of the poisonous “nationalist” – a word which has become almost synonymous with “bigot”.

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A personal story regarding nationalism & immigration:

My aunts and uncles have all migrated to Canada in the 1990s. They have worked there and paid their taxes and eventually became Canadian citizens. So recently, Justin Trudeau has been welcoming Syrian and other immigrants to Canada. I would think that given their previous positions as economic migrants, my relatives would agree with Trudeau’s policies, in the spirit of paying it forward. But, alas … no. When I spoke with my aunt and uncle, all they could complain about was how the Canadian government policies would mean more taxes for them to pay and how welcoming more immigrants would be such a drain on the economy and how these middle eastern migrants are terrorists-in-disguise etc etc. So I just rolled my eyes and stopped the debate because I love my relatives and I don’t want us to spend their vacation arguing over immigration policies.

So what has this story got to do with JoeAm’s blog post is this: “What inspires Filipinos, broadly? Family, faith in the rituals of it all, gossip, and the practicalities of life: eating and getting around. Where is the MORAL foundation?” — particularly, me, mulling the answer to that question.

F Sionil Jose once wrote that Filipinos are  a shallow people (by the way, FSJ also supported and probably voted for Rodrigo Duterte — go figure).

FSJ said that we are shallow because we are “mayabang” (arrogant), we do not read (hence we are under-educated) and that our  mass media is shallow.

Given this “shallowness”, what inspires us then? I mean what would one expect a child to be inspired of? JoeAm gives this answer “Family, faith in the rituals of it all, gossip, and the practicalities of life”– ouch, but true. If we want to get rid of our shallowness, of this narrow definition of nationalism that we have, then we have to start with the family. And because of this we must consider that the unmet need for family planning in the Philippines is presently at 17.5% — oops, but this is another topic for another blog post  🙂

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So, to connect the ideas of this meandering post: do I believe nationalism is bad? Not necessarily, depending on how it is used. I mean, if one will define nationalism as a sense of loyalty to one’s country of birth/allegiance, that is not a perilous thing. That is actually a virtue. However, if one uses nationalism to justify the exclusion or persecution of “the other”, meaning people who are not part of your country of allegiance then that would just be mean. And if nationalism is used to defend one’s laziness and shortsightedness and unwillingness to make the personal sacrifices needed to combat climate change, well, that is just stupid.

Do Filipinos have a sense of nationalism? Yes and no. We have a superficial (“shallow” is the word FSJ’s used) sense of nation. We love our families to our detriment; and we identify with our tribes/regions (i.e Ilokano, Tagalog, Maranao etc), to the exclusion of our identity as “Filipinos”.

Given this fact, the question of “what inspires us?”, with all due respect, is the wrong question. The question should be: “how should that which inspire us translate to love of nation?”

Like, I love my family, my family inspires me. But would my family have existed at all if Filipino nationalists have not asserted our independence from Spain, America or Japan? My grandmother was telling me a story how the Japanese used to bayonet babies in their village. Without Filipino nationalism, she could have been one of the kids who suffered and then I would not exist.

This is a what-if of history (something my aunts get exasperated about when I bring it up, saying it is futile to think of what ifs).  But part of learning history is wondering about what ifs.  And that is what Filipinos lack, I think, why our love of our family does not translate to love of nation. We lack history. Somebody stole it from us (the colonial masters, the fucked up educational system, the present elites, you name it) – and now we fail to be inspired.

 

 

 

Just Because Today is Feast of the Immaculate Conception*

I have always been a Mommy’s girl.

*****

When I was 5 years old, my brother got sick; so my mother would not let me sleep beside her because I might disturb my brother who had the privilege to sleep with her in view of his illness (that malingering twerp!). So Mommy told me to sleep beside Daddy instead. I erupted into a humongous insufferable fit of tantrums which resulted in a particularly vicious spanking. (When I related this tale to G, he just laughed and said that I totally deserved the punishment. G is another rascal, in the same league as my brother.)

I hated my Dad because he did not speak my language (Ilokano); he always wanted me to hug him (which seemed so needy and hence uncool); and he had all these hair on his face that made him look like a villain (see Max Alvarado, Paquito Diaz et al; all self-respecting Pinoy movie villains have moustaches).

So I loved my mother more (sorry Daddy). Given the choice between being a slut and being an old maid, I would have chosen the latter, not because of any deep abiding principle or a lack of proclivity — but out of love for my mother (who, after she died, I learned had been a slut after all, but that’s another story — courtesy of my Dad).

*****

from Reporter.ph

I got into all that personal introduction because of Leila de Lima. 

Yup, that Leila de Lima — the one with the alleged sex video and who was an alleged drug lord and is now imprisoned without bail.

I love Ms. de Lima, the same way I loved my mother.

I do not care if she fucked the whole basketball team and made a documentary out of it. (I mean, really, Mocha Uson and Sass Sassot have probably done worse.)

I do not  care if she was a strict, by-the-rules, priggish marmalade who was into human rights in ways that are impracticable in a slave-country like the Philippines.

I do not care if she is fat (although she lost weight after a year in prison and now she looks really great — eat your heart out Digong!), has boring outfits (fashion sense borrowed from Dinky Soliman; Ms. Leila, you should borrow Kris Aquino’s stylists more often), and a pedestrian taste in men (Really? Your driver?).

*****

from pinterest

I love her for all that she reminds me of my Mom — the steadfastness, the tenacity, the you-don’t-give-me-no-bullshit attitude.

I love that when she testified during the impeachment of Renato Corona, she brought her aging father who was a former government servant into the august halls of the Senate.

I love that she went after human rights violators who ordered the killing of children in their bailiwicks because of drug use — only a woman with true sense of compassion can understand that no, KILLING A CHILD IS WRONG. The child became a monster because of the adult. And if anybody should be blamed and gutted here, it should be the adults that allowed these kids to go out into the world in the first place. Only a mother can understand a mother’s heartbreak when that same child (no matter how Lucifer-like he/she is) dies.

I love how she carried herself during the time in the Senate when every self-righteous so called anti-drug-wannabe in this world ganged up on her. On the other hand, maybe I do not love her that much during that time — she appeared shrill and harpy-ish. But then, with all that stress, can we blame her?

And now, I love her while she is in prison, because of the patience and grace with which she handles this ordeal.

*****

from Pinterest

When she died, my mother gave me the most precious gift — my freedom.

Fact is, I do not consider her giving me life (as in allowing her egg to be fertilized, going through almost 9 months of gestation and expelling me out of her vagina) as something she gave to me; rather, it was something she gave to herself.

(I did say in so many words, somewhere in this blog, that wanting to be/being a biological parent entails a bit of narcissism.)

But my mother’s dying was another matter. It set me free; in every way a person can be free.

It is probably morbid of me to thank her — but here it is: Thank you Mommy.

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*This is such a looong post, but the point of it is (as the title suggests): It irks me no end that the only time we consider women to be heroes is when they go through Virgin Births. I mean, seriously!?

Orphans

Image from pinterest

I am ambivalent about the morality of assisted reproductive technology (ART). That may be a reason why, despite being a fascinating scientific area of study, I chose not to go into Reproductive Endocrinology. More’s the pity as there are less than 200 board-certified reproductive endocrinologists in the Philippines, a nation of 120 million.

This article is not about doctor-shortage (although it is tempting to make it about that as I have a lot of rant on that topic as well), but rather this is my ruminations about parenting.

***

Image from pinterest

The best and worst thing about having a progeny is being confronted with one’s mortality. It need not be a biological progeny: one can have a Grand Life Project — like maybe, “Giving Women the Right to Vote” (Alice Paul), or  “Ensuring Philippine Freedom From Colonial Spain” (Jose Rizal), or “Ending Marcos Tyranny” (Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino) etc etc.

If the point of living is to prepare us for dying then what better way to spend that prep time than to strive for something we are really passionate about. Life is to foreplay what orgasm is to dying.

Progenies remind us of death because they are what come after us — the orphans we leave behind.

It would be a wonderful universe if we leave our orphans with a situation that is better than what we had. Unfortunately, more often than not, the Universe  is cruel and uncaring. Our orphans are left destitute and scrounging for a place (any place) to exist. How many orphans have perished at the demise of their parents, I wonder?

We are puppies, kittens, cubs, nestlings, fingerlings, tadpoles, caterpillars — left behind by mothers and fathers who did not survive our births.

***

Image from Pinterest

Of course, it is a self-defeating attitude to resent a parent for not being strong enough to live. One is never ever ready to face a parent’s death. And a parent will never be able to protect its kid forever. That is Reality, sad but true.

***

Image from Pinterest

I was walking along a foreign road this morning, tears streaking down my face, remembering my mother. I would give an arm (the left one as I am right handed) to see her again.

Before she died I asked her plaintively what am I going to do when I have a kid of my own and she is not there. She said that I have my aunts to help me through that.

Well Mommy, that is an unsatisfying answer, I have expected something more Buddha-esque from you. To give you credit though, you have gone through more pain in your life than I can even imagine, so maybe I should cut you some slack for not being more philosophical.

While we are at it Mommy, let me remind you that being a doctor was never the greatest dream of my life. I can save a thousand bodies from dying an untimely death, but that will not satisfy my soul as much as making up stories can. Yes, I would rather be a professional liar than a professional healer. How’s that for a life goal, mother?

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Were you a good parent or a bad one?

(I would think that I have a right to judge you as I am your progeny. And since you are dead, eviscerating you in print won’t matter very much.)

Image from Pinterest

What makes a “good parent” versus a “bad parent”?

Should parenting subsume one’s life at the expense of everything else, the way women have done for centuries?

Why are biological progenies supposedly more acceptable than non-biological ones?

The world is overpopulated with humans so what is the point of having more of us?

Image from Pinterest

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Mommy I don’t want to sound nihilistic (although I know I am), but maybe your biggest mistake was having me?

I keep thinking that if I did not come along, you would have lived longer; the same way your older sister (the one who went to another country and shares my name) is now living her life to the fullest.

What was the point of having me Mommy?

Seriously … I cannot understand. That is my problem.

Image from Pinterest

Romance (film), 1999

I watched Romance because I googled Rocco Siffredi, who apparently, according to G, is one of the more phenomenal porn male stars there are. Thank you G 🙂 🙂

 

The movie is brave for its time.

We must remember that in 1999, the internet was just a baby (or maybe a toddler). Emails were used primarily for business/academic purposes, MIRC chatrooms were the norm, “blog” is an unheard of word, there was no Facebook (Twitter was just a dream), internet porn was in the fetal stage.

On the other hand, video porn was available way back in the 1960s.

Romance by writer-director Catherine Breillat is not porn. Though, one can understand why a lot of people would think of it as such. It garnered XXX ratings in several countries. And it did feature explicit sex scenes, masturbation scene, cunnilingus, fellatio, BDSM, rape — you name it, it has it; except for bestiality, necrophilia and other conditions that may be considered pathologic.

The raciest thing it was accused of was featuring unsimulated sex between the lead actress Caroline Ducey and eye candy Rocco Siffredi.

Ladies and gentlemen (especially the gentlemen), take it from me, speaking as someone who has had sex in all manners of undress and in various positions before, Caroline and Rocco did not have unsimulated sex.

It is difficult, well at least uncomfortable for the man, to enter a vagina in that position. Trust me — or try it, whichever you prefer.

That must be the reason why, as Roger Ebert said in his review, “At a screening at the Toronto Film Festival there was some laughter, almost all female, but I couldn’t tell if it was nervous, or knowing.”

Roger, darling, the women were laughing because it was funny. Rocco and Caroline could not have had sex, like penis-in-vagina sex, because if they had done so, Rocco would have sued Catherine Breillat for a broken (or fractured) penis — which medically, is not an impossible condition.

The female audience may also have been laughing at the BDSM scene between Francois Berleand and Caroline Ducey. Their second BDSM encounter is really funny. Again, try it, to understand why.

It has been 18 years since Romance was screened. Thank God, I did not see it in 2012, otherwise, I would have had some seditious ideas (knowing how impressionable I was) and G would probably have had a nasty headache on his hands.

In any case, between 1999 and 2017:

  • the World Trade Center was destroyed by terrorists,
  • in a certain Southeast Asian country: Erap Estrada was booted out of office, GMA became a fake president for 9 years and Noynoy Aquino became the highest leader in a country despite being single and accused (probably unjustified) of autism (what is so wrong with being autistic, I have no idea, people with Asperger’s can lead perfectly happy and productive lives), then he was succeeded by self-confessed murderer, Rodrigo Duterte (proving that the Philippines as a nation is the one with mental disability)
  • Friendster then Multiply then Facebook then WordPress then Twitter then Instagram were born … yipee!!
  • Sheryl Sandberg became a CEO of Facebook, ditto for Marissa Mayer of Yahoo,
  • Sex and the City re-defined how we see women who do (and I mean “do” in all sense of the word, prurient or otherwise), Girls finished 6 seasons and it redefined how we see women (or girls) interact with each other and the men (or boys) in their lives
  • Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James became (undeservedly or not) a book and movie phenomenon (in the financial sense),
  • the Arab Spring happened,
  • Rocco Siffredi retired from porn (2004), then returned to porn (2009), then retired again (2015)

A lot of things can happen in 18 years.

When Romance was screened and Roger Ebert watched it, he had this to say:

“… the film has an icy fascination. Perhaps it is a test of how men and women relate to eroticism on the screen. I know few men who like it much (sure proof it is not pornographic). Women defend it in feminist terms, but you have the strangest feeling they’re not saying what they really think.”

It is my opinion that the reviewer sounded defensive or maybe baffled? I cannot blame the guy — he is a male, after all.

I wonder, though, what he will say about it now.

Killing Time with A Blank Page

She has lost her voice. Which is what usually happens when she is concentrating on doing this profession that she had trained on.

The truth is: she is an excellent faker. She had convinced everyone that she is a competent doctor even if the reality in her heart makes her break in sweats every time she gives advice or performs a procedure on another human being.

There are a ton of paperwork attesting to her qualifications. Diplomas, certificates, letters of recommendations. But what do they prove? For her, nothing really. But they were her key to getting this high-paying job, her passport to leaving her life of financial drudgery.

She has always detested poverty of the material kind. Of course, there is a part of her that romanticizes poverty… the virtue of sacrificing a cushy life for a principled one — and all that BS. She appreciates having a full stomach; the capacity to buy the clothes, accessories and gadgets she wants;  even the presence of a hot shower in her flat. A part of her, though, wishes that she had been born with more backbone. So that she can withstand the inconveniences and indignities of standing up to her dreams.

She had given up dreaming (she thinks). Mostly because she lacks the time. Typing away random nothings on her laptop seem like a luxury. Stories used to come from her “random nothings”. But one has to be practical. Her stories have never brought food on the table. They have never helped her pay her taxes or given her a mode of transportation. Certainly, they have made her happy — the same way sex makes one happy, the anticipation, the dance towards an orgasm, but …  after one is done, after one types THE END in Microsoft Word, what then? “Post-coital ennui” — if there is such a  term describes her writing much more than it describes her sex life.

She used to treat her stories like her children. Each one a product of her dreams, characters and images lovingly nurtured in her head. She used to think that writing is her reason for being; much more than medicine, much more than her non-turbulent lovelife. Putting words on paper (or typing them on a word processor)  has always made her feel connected, less alone; a part of the universe and all its mysteries.

Writing has always made her feel … alive, renewed, reborn.

In fact, she once made a poem that boastfully claimed that she had given birth to herself. (She probably would not have written that poem if she had actual physical kids. Human progenies tend to make their mothers consider them as the ultimate performance of her life, beyond any other creative endeavor. A singer may have made the most beautiful song in the world; but if she had a child, she would consider the human as far more important than the other product of her dreams. Which is, maybe correct, depending on how one looks at it. After all, a human progeny has the capacity to make other progenies … a song will never beget another song.)

Acts of creations are tricky things. Sooner or later, they will find their own agency. And when that happens, the god that created them is fucked. One can never have one’s life again when one has a child. One is forever bound to that entity which one has created. (So, there is a part of her that pities, or empathizes with God — the one that created Everything.)

***

The problem with her is that she took Khalil Gibran’s poem too seriously. Specifically,  the line that says: Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself … etc etc

Seriously! She believes that. Between believing in the Holy Trinity and that poem, the latter would win hands down. She feels more affinity towards this poem than towards any genetic imperative to propagate her chromosomes.

The irony is that she specializes in a field that helps women propagate their chromosomes. So it is always an awkward question when practical strangers ask her why she does not have a child (as if it is any of their business). To avoid long-winding explanations, she often lies and says that she and her husband have not been married very long (in the grand scheme of things, considering that the Universe is 5 billion year, her 9-year marriage is not that long.) Or she would be flippant and say: God has not willed them to have any kids yet (that reason would usually shut anybody up — nobody wants to argue about God’s will). Or she would say jokingly that she is too lazy to go through the efforts of having a kid.

In any case, today she has no genetic progeny and no literary opus to her name. What she has are a ton of books; a  collection of mishmash in her hard disk drive; a bunch of letters after her name;  a decent and steady salary (something that she can pat herself on the back for); and a patient, and kind husband who is the love of her life.

Taking all that into account, maybe she has not done so bad after all.

But she still, as yet, has to find her voice. She has to find it or else she will be that drowning person groping for her life-vest, flailing and gasping in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

She has to find it, a voice — her voice — otherwise what will be the point?

from pinterest

 

 

Another Cut-and-Paste Blog Entry

The following words are from this website.

And while the details of the author’s life are different from mine, I share the sentiments she has towards her significant other.
*****
I Could Do This Without You, But I Don’t Want To (A Letter To My Husband)

by Amanda Elder

Image from Marriage.com

Image from Marriage.com

There were times I felt bitter toward you, especially when you were a medical student, and I was transitioning to being a stay-at-home mom. You didn’t understand my struggle. I ate, slept, and breathed our child, and felt consumed and alone.

You had a life outside of parenthood to continue, and while I stopped mine, I accommodated yours. For a period of time, we moved often and lived out of suitcases. Once, we even resided in a single bedroom of a Staten Island basement. For years, I manned the night wakings and offered my breasts around the clock as the only consistent comfort amidst constant upheaval.

Whenever you were off from work, I took our toddler out the minute he woke up so you (and our roommate) could sleep, but not always without resentment. I remember one morning, as I walked to our local bakery yet again, killing time with our little guy attached, I muttered, “I can do all this by myself.”

Because of life’s inherent uncertainty, I’ve actually considered the truth of that statement. I’ve now been a stay-at-home mom for five years and have wondered if I could actually survive on my own. Emotional well-being aside, would I even be able to provide food and shelter? I never thought I’d ask myself that question, being the self-sufficient woman I thought myself to be, but the honest answer is yes, I’d be fine. After all, I’m a go-getter, and that’s the reason all this staying home has been hard in the first place.

I’d make it, although there’d be details to figure out. You’re the dreamer, and you build our lives on the fantasies you manifest. Your doctor job is the one that would allow us to live a life of freedom and adventure in Costa Rica. I don’t have a vision for life without you, and the only notion of home I have is wherever we are. But I certainly wouldn’t head for the jungle on my own, and I wouldn’t do New Jersey either. Even though my sister lives there and I miss her when a single day goes by without conversation, I’ve been in Florida too long and have grown accustomed to bare feet and outdoor play all year long.

You’re in your residency now, and because you sometimes work 26 days a month, and 27 hours a day, I know that technically I can do this by myself. I pack bags and load babies like a boss. I clean toilets and play hide-and-seek simultaneously. I disguise trips to the grocery store as outings for cookies and have prepared many a meal with one hand. But despite my capability, I count down the time for you to come home, not because I so desperately need you to change the next diaper or fill the next sippy cup, but because I want you.

I don’t necessarily need you to carry scooters and tell the boys when it’s time to find a new climbing tree while out on family walks. I need you to hold my hand and talk to me.

I can put all the dishes away and find the missing shoe by myself, but with you, farts are funny, and coffee tastes better.

I can certainly walk the kids to sleep by myself, but when we stroll together, the full moon looks fuller, and I’m inclined to admire it longer.

I can take our son to karate by myself, but when that cute little girl beelines to be Javin’s partner, and another boy helps him perfect his jump kicks, I notice the sweetness, but I don’t giggle like I would with you.

I don’t need you to share parenting responsibilities with me out of fairness or survival, but for the joy of doing so. With you, the funny moments are funnier, the cute moments are cuter, and contrary to the pattern, the terrible moments are less so. Life is simply better with you.

We don’t only co-parent, we co-experience life.

We create and reflect on the same reality, and that somehow deepens the meaning of it all. When I see a beautiful sunset, and you say, “Look at that!” you validate what I see, and all of a sudden the colors become even brighter and more captivating.

I don’t necessarily need you for practical or worldly reasons, but I need you to know me. When I laugh, you’re aware of exactly why. And when I don’t say anything at all, you read my mind. You love my insecurities as you do my strengths, and your understanding gives me confirmation of myself. We’re like two beings from the same source, who get to witness more of themselves through each other.

It’s true that I don’t need you to survive. I need you for so much more.