Squishy’s First Day Of School

Dear Max,

Today is your first day of school. How did we get here so quickly? I can still remember the days when the hours would go by so slowly, and yet here we are. It’s your first day of Pre-kindergarten 1.

Pre-kindergarten 1. Is that even a thing? Honestly, if you were a bit more like me, I would’ve kept you at home for another year or so. But you’re 100% you (and a little too much of your Papa).

You’re the little boy who would run up to kids you’ve never met and try to play with them. You’re the little boy who would cry when I would pull you away from them. You’re the little boy who would tell me that you want to go home with strangers. You’re the little boy who’s more excited to play with the kids at Adventure Zone than go on their fancy slides and playhouses.

You *are* a little boy. As much as I’d like you to be, you aren’t a baby anymore either. You have your own thoughts and preferences. And Papa and I see how you light up when you’re around other kids. You’ve also told us many times how much you want to go to school.

While this day came sooner than we expected, we can’t deny how excited we are for you. Your dorky parents are teachers and lifelong learners. So for us, school is magical and ordinary at the same time. We hope that you embrace the regularity and routine that comes with schooling. At the same time, we also hope that school becomes a catalyst of many mind-blowing and life-changing experiences.

You’re only 2 years and 11 months old. While it would be great if you end up mastering your phonics and learning all your numbers, we’d rather you learn how to:

  • securely get along with different people
  • joyfully share what you have
  • patiently wait for your turn
  • confidently explore the world

It’s not always going to be fun. There are times when you’ll be asked to do things you don’t really feel like doing. There may also be times when you won’t get along with a friend. But that’s OK because you’ll learn so much from these instances.

We believe in you bud. You’ve totally got this. We love you.


Your dorky and sentimental parents

P.S. Don’t grow up too fast

/I’ll make a million mistakes/


Dear Max,

You are now one year, eight months, and twenty-one days old. I have been a Momma for that long (plus forty weeks). You won’t remember this, but to this day, I have never been apart from you for more than four or five hours. On most days, from 6:30 AM – 4:45 PM, it’s the Momma and Squishy show (and then we hear the jiggling of the door knob and we squeal with excitement when our favorite person walks through the door—Papa!).

I love being your momma. And I am utterly grateful that your Papa makes it possible for me to stay with you all day. Selfishly, it is the best. I get to watch you become you. I get to hold you while you sleep and I get to wake up to your smiles. I still can’t believe that you are our son and that I am your momma.

While most of our days are joyful, there are days when I look at you and all I feel is guilt. I was given this wonderful, funny, silly little boy, while you were assigned to me—a mediocre, at best, momma.

A momma who resorts to screen time more than she should. A momma who has never learned how to properly feed herself and is probably passing on her weird eating habits to her son. A momma who spends a substantial amount of time looking at her phone. A momma who doesn’t know how to wean her baby. A momma who has lost her temper over the silliest things. And a momma who hasn’t figured out how to discipline her kid.

I’m sorry, Squish. I’m sorry that I don’t have it all figured out yet. There are days when I feel like I lose every single battle and I’m officially a bad mom. But I’m not going to stop trying to figure it out. I’ll always try to do what I believe to be the right thing. So hang in there, okay? I promise to never give up. I promise to admit it when I”m wrong. And I promise to not freak out the next time you spill all the gold fishes’ food. (And if you want to help momma, maybe you can start sleeping for longer stretches at night? Please? But if you can’t help it, I’ll make it work.)

I love you, kid.


P.S. If there’s one thing I’m sure that I got right, it’s your Papa. I’ve already given you the best gift by choosing Mikhail Mahatma Y. Llorin as my husband (and consequently, your father). He’s the bomb.


Thinking about lost bugs



I love that you are my son; I love that my son is you. Because I am your father, I can promise you a few things: I will do everything to take care of you, and teach you life, and guide you towards wisdom and kindness and love. I promise to teach you to be a Man, and you will learn that being a Man means being a Person—who loves and who is kind and who has a strong backbone.

However, because you are my son, there are some things I cannot promise, and it hurts me so, because you are my son.

I will do everything I can so that you will be happy. But, try as I might, your happiness is ultimately, simply, not up to me. This breaks my heart, and I am so, so, sorry about this.

Your mom sent me that photo above, and I was darned near moved to tears. I am moved to tears, right now, as I write this while sitting in my office. In that photo, it looks like the characters in the story are talking about you. You, my happy, hungry, poopy, perfect little boy.

Indeed it is a tragedy to be clever and not happy. But it is also, as I have seen, far too common among the witty, the brilliant, the clever. And it tears me up that you might just be born into that tension.

Because of course I want you to be clever. But, dear God, above all, I want you to be happy. More than anything. This is a new desire, birthed in my heart the moment I saw you. And so your mother and I stay up late and wake up early and wipe off poop and clean up sheets, every day, because that is all we want: you, our son, happy and healthy.

And yet.

And yet.

And yet I cannot promise happiness. So all I can do is raise you, and guide you, and teach you to be clever. We will read to you, we will feed you, we will show you art. One day, you will read to others, and teach them to read; you will feed others, and you will teach them to feed themselves; you will make art, and you will make art with them. Maybe you will make others happy; maybe, dear God, you will be too.

For now, your mom and I will keep feeding you and wiping your poop.  And we will pray.

Thankfully, our God is a God who can dismantle binaries. The prayer of my life, Max, is that you will find joy and remain in it—and that you’ll be clever, too.


Happy right now
Clever sometimes



image.jpegYo, Squish. There’s something we have to tell you. It’s kind of a big deal. Your mom and I have been seriously talking about it for the past six months, but we’ve also been kind of talking about it for the past, what is it, four years? Yeah. Four years. In fact, your Lola has also been involved in our discussion. That’s how important it is.

You ready? Okay. Here:

Your name is Max. Not Macs. Not Macks. Max. Like Max’s Fried Chicken.

We don’t know what it’s short for yet. It most likely will be short for Maximus. But it also could be short for Maximilian.

(Yes, yes, Maximilian is harder to spell1. I’ve been telling your momma that. And yes, I agree, Maximus sounds pretty darned cool, especially since you will have the same name as the General of the Felix Legions, Commander of the Armies of the North, Loyal Servant to the True Emperor Marcus Aurelius, father to a murdered son, husband to murdered wife, and he will have his vengeance, in this life or the next2.)

Both Maximus and Maximilian mean (or are derived from a word which means) the same thing: Greatest. It’s the name whose truth makes the most sense to us, because you are the greatest thing to ever happen in our lives (well, besides our marriage). Max(imus). The Greatest.

But I have to make something very clear to you, buddy. In our hearts, you, Max, are the greatest. However, it is very important that you understand what greatness truly means. It does not mean that you are the more important than other humans3. It does not mean applause, or popularity, or wealth, or power4. It does not mean that you are entitled to anything.

True greatness means love. It means kindness. It means carrying yourself in a humble yet authentic manner. It means respecting others—others, meaning, not only those who are not you, but those who are not like you. It means using your voice, your talent, your abilities, at the right time, for the right things, for more than just yourself. It means loyalty and integrity and wisdom and courage—no matter who’s looking. It means checking your privilege—All. The. Time.

It means so much. Sometimes you will have no idea what it means. That’s okay. Greatness also means you can admit that. Sometimes that’s the only thing it can mean.

Greatness. Max(imus), son of Mikey, son of Char. The Greatest.

This is your name, Squishy. But you must know that greatness—your greatness—is really all up to you. Don’t worry, we’ll be here for as long as we can. And you have so, so much going for you.

We still don’t know what your second name is, though. It might be Conan5.

  1. Also, Lola thinks it sounds too fancy. Pretentiously so. ↩︎
  2. You are not named after him, though—your momma has made me promise. Repeatedly. Especially after I recite that speech, word for word, every time I say your name. ↩︎
  3. Even if you are super duper incredibly important to us! ↩︎
  4. Even if we will try our best to give this to you many times! ↩︎
  5. We’re also considering Elephant. As in, Maximus Elephant Llorin. ↩︎

Bossy Pants

I don’t intend to monetize this blog or hope to gain notoriety from it. Journaling is therapeutic for me—it helps me manage my energy and anxiety. I’m a sap who loves nostalgia—even as early as now, I enjoy re-reading older entries. I also like the idea that somewhere out there, a clueless first time mom (just like me) may accidentally come across this blog and feel some sort of camaraderie or comfort. But I really hope that one day, Squishy will ask about his origin story and I’ll be able to send him the link to this blog so that he can see how much we loved him and how he changed our lives forever.

So, Squish, if you’re reading this, HELLLLOOOOOO! We must have done something right because you’re reading! Hehe.

Squish, I can only imagine the perils your generation will have to go through. I really hope that your father and I equipped you well enough to successfully navigate through it. Our generation has its own set of challenges to overcome and hopefully, we learn enough from it to help you become better than us.

Something horrible happened in the world this week. Because I am hoping and praying that something like this never happens again, I’d like to share my take-away from all of this:

Squish, we live in a world full of different people. And different is a great thing. We may not always understand why someone is different or how that kind of different could even work, and that’s okay. Our beliefs, preferred norms, and standards end with ourselves. It’s wonderful and comforting to find like-minded people in this diverse world, but it’s equally wonderful to meet people who live wildly different lives and have a different perspective. Different can be scary sometimes, but please respond to fear with love and compassion. Giving in to fear and cultivating hatred is the easiest thing. Instead, ask questions, observe, and learn. It is okay to come to the conclusion that some things really aren’t for you—but that doesn’t—mustn’t— automatically mean it’s a bad thing.

We’re so excited to see you, Squish! But for now, I am grateful that you’re still in my belly where I can keep you safe.

4AM Party

Dear Squishy,

It’s 4 a.m. We were supposed to get up to pee and not to practice our karate kicks. 😓

But I suppose I understand your energy! We had a lot of firsts yesterday—our first plane ride together, our first time on a boat, our first time to swim, our first time to hang out on the beach, and your first taste of chicharon bulaklak. 😁 Welcome to the beautiful island of Samal, Squish! Chemas by the Sea is one of our favorite places (this is where your Papoop and I honeymooned). ❤️

Let’s try to get some sleep now. I just got back the pillow that your father stole from us. Annnnnd in a few hours or so, we can ring our little bell and have breakfast right outside our room. Maybe we’ll have another order of chicharon. 😁

Your Landlord


Manny Pacquiao

Dear Squishy,

The world that you will to be born into is a broken world. I’m sorry for that. I’m sure that everyone is somehow responsible for its brokenness. And that includes me and your Papoop.

As a social scientist, I am trained to be interested in brokenness—how it happened, what contributed to it, what exacerbates it, and how it can be fixed. And the answers are always so complicated, with a million shades of grey and rainbow.

I can’t promise to find the answers for you in my lifetime, my Squishy.  But in the midst of all this brokenness, there is always, ALWAYS, room to act in love, kindness, and compassion. We forget sometimes, but we will try to remind you.


Your Landlord

P.S. I’m sorry for the strange baked macaroni that you’ve had lately. I will try to make Papoop finish it so that we don’t have to have it again.