What I Want My Children to Know About Gender Equality

When a young woman lambasted a passenger on social media for allegedly refusing to give up his seat for her inside a crowded train, the post immediately went viral and elicited negative reactions from netizens.  When I came across that post, there were three things that became apparent to me:

  1. The lady was no feminist.
  2. She must have been living in another time.
  3. Her sense of entitlement and her perceived injustice for that matter were simply out of place in this day and age of advanced technology and equality.

Gender equality is an important social, political and economic issue that had been tackled over and over throughout the ages. Women for many generations had fought to be heard, educated and recognized not just for certain abilities but for their limitless potentials in the workplace. And to this day, women continue to stand up for many more rights.

So, to hear a woman whine about chivalry being dead, considering the hard work that went into attaining the freedom majority of women enjoy today, is just out and out disappointing.

As a mother to an eight-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy; the topic of gender equality certainly holds a special place in my heart.  Though admittedly I am no subject matter expert on the issues of equality and feminism, there are still a lot that I want to teach my children about respect and equality between boys and girls.

Here are the following fundamentals of gender equality that I want my children to know this early on in their lives…

One thing Gender Equality definitely is about is that it is everything that IT IS NOT:

  • It is not about girls versus boys.
  • It is not about women being the better sex, or about men being the stronger ones.
  • It is not about having to carry out a set of behaviors as prescribed by society.

Gender equality is basically about fairness and respect. It can’t get any simpler than that.

  • Equal rights. Equal opportunities.  Equal responsibilities for all.
  • It is essentially the freedom to be who you want to be–living up to your full potential by not being boxed into stereotypes. You define who you are. No one else.
  • It is about being aware of your true value as a human being–having self-respect and knowing what your rights are as a law-abiding citizen.
  • And to women, it is about respecting men, too.  Boys are just as susceptible to emotional frailty and physical limitation as girls that they deserve to be respected for their needs, as well.

Gender Equality

 

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How to Overcome Writer’s Block from A to Z

It’s been a while since my last blog post.  And flexing my writing muscle to break that four-month writing drought certainly feels a lot like learning to walk again after coming out of a coma.

Indeed, kick-starting creativity when you’ve been out of the blogging practice for quite a bit can be distressing.  But there is always a way around that difficulty and I could think of several strategies to get any writer’s blood circulating again.

Now, realizing that the best remedy to a writer’s block is to actually write about it, I have decided to come up with my own A to Z compilation of how to get out of that horrible writing rut.

So how do you get the right words coming your way?  Here are the ABCs:

writer'sblock

A is for Archive

Archive all your works (published or not) for your future reference.  Previous blog posts and long-forgotten drafts are your life buoy and best friend in the direst situation.

B is for keep Busy

Pre-occupy yourself with different activities.  Whether it’s creative stuff or the most mundane thing, being productive keeps your blood flowing.  Your mind follows sooner or later.

C is for Classical Music

Soft, mellow music not only quiets your body and soul.  It also keeps your mind relaxed and open for new ideas.

D is for Discussions

Sometimes the best materials are found in the most meaningful conversation.  Exchanging ideas with friends (including small talks with acquaintances and strangers) can produce some really substantial points for further discussion on paper.  If your mind continues to produce a blank page, why don’t you call and visit a friend for some good catching up?

E is for Experience

Since Life is the best teacher, the most significant lessons are usually drawn from personal experience. So the next time you are at a loss for anything substantial to write about, count on a recent event to back you up with some exciting topics, or travel back in time for some inspiration.

F is for Freewriting

The most effective way to kick procrastination in the butt is to simply keep going.  Keep tapping away until your freewriting lead you somewhere.  Our brilliance starts to manifest usually after a couple of awkward sentences or several rewrites later.

G is for Google

Utilize the internet for rad ideas. The World Wide Web is rich with writing materials and story ideas. Google for writing prompts and blogging topics.  If you already have a topic that you wish to write about but don’t know how to go about it just yet, google for similar articles to kick-start your creativity.

H is for Hypothetical

Begin your posts with a hypothetical question.  I bet many of the most uniquely interesting stories we’ve read and seen are those that started off as what-ifs.

I is for Imagination

Use your imagination.  Create another world.  Invent something. Predict the future.

J is for Juxtaposition

Look at the world at different angles and find a spot where the old meets the new or where North and South collide.

Compare and contrast.

K is for Kindness

Don’t push yourself too hard.  Give yourself a break from time to time.  You deserve the occasional reprieve from hard work with a trip to the ice-cream parlor or local book sale, vent-out session at the coffee shop with like-minded friends, or fright night at the movies.  Maybe a good scare could get that writing blood pumping again.

L is for List

When in doubt, compile ideas.  You cannot go wrong with lists.  You can do a lot of things with it like:

  1. Write a bucket list.
  2. List the top 10 things you love/hate about blogging.
  3. List the top 10 or 100 places to visit in the world.
  4. List different ways to bust boredom on a rainy day.
  5. List breakup lines.
  6. List pick-up lines.
  7. List the stupidest things you’ve ever heard.
  8. List your many firsts.

And the list goes on.

M is for Memory Lane

If you’re feeling a little sentimental then write a #throwback article about high school, your childhood, or your early years in an exotic far-flung place.

N is for Notebook

Always keep a notebook handy because inspiration can strike at any time anywhere.

O is for Open Letter

Write an open letter to a friend, a lover, a politician, future husband, your children, or yourself 10 years down the line.

P is for Photograph

They say a picture can speak a thousand words; so cut out an image from a magazine, pick out an old photofrom the family photo album, take snapshots of people in action and write about them.-This simple classroom writing activity should get your creative juices flowing in no time.

Q is for Quotes

One way to begin a great article is to introduce it with a quote.  Whether it’s inspirational or motivational in its purpose, a quote from a person of historical impkrtance never fails to set a tone of greatness to any story.

R is for Rant

If all else fails, vent your frustrations.

Rant about the terrible traffic jam.  Rant about your boss (and make sure he never gets to read your post.)  Rant about your in-laws (and make sure that they never get to read about it).  Rant about how unfair society is.

Rant about life.

S is for Street Signs

Think out of the box. Go out and take a stroll around your neighborhood. Source the streets for possible stories. Take note of street signs and use them as your writing prompt, if not, make it your central topic.  Search for funny billboards.  Make a mountain out of the most mundane.

T is for Title

Think of an interesting title (even if you don’t have a storyline or article in mind).  Work your way from there.  You can draw inspiration from street signs, too.

U is for Update

Update yourself with the new.  Broaden your horizon.  Travel.  Meet people.  Keep up to date with current events.  Read about the world.  Read the latest bestselling novel.  Be in the know.

Having stock knowledge is always handy in writing emergencies.

V is for Visualize

Picture the story in your head.  Visualize how you want the article to be.  Select pictures and drawings to inspire you.  Then write.

W is for Write about Writing

Write about writing itself—your challenges and how you overcame it.It is better to deal with writer’s block by simply writing about it than not to write anything at all.

X is for eXtreme

From time to time,try to write out of your comfort zone.  Being stuck for ideas may be a sign that it’s high time you blog about something you’re afraid to voice out your opinion on. Like politics.

Success often results from doing something that scares you most.

Y is for Young Children

If you’re a parent, this shouldn’t be so hard to do.  Children make a fantastic topic.

You can write about the darndest things children say; how kids have a knack for putting adults on the spot; or rant/rave about their antics that can drive you mad or make you glad.  Better yet, allow yourself to get in touch with your inner child and write something for the younger generation.

Z is for Zeal

Don’t let stumbling blocks and other challenges douse your enthusiasm for writing. Keep the passion burning by believing in yourself.

 

 

 

 

Messages for the Soul

My social media account is saturated with all sorts of life hacks and inspirational quotes about attaining success or dealing with everyday anxieties. And every time my sanity needs salvaging, these motivating words of wisdom have a funny way of popping up all over my cybersphere with answers to unspoken questions, like esoteric road signs from God along this rough and winding highway called Life.

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It isn’t easy being a mother.

Often I am besieged with frustrations and nagging self-doubt as a parent that I’d forget the very reason I chose this path in the first place.  Then just when I’ve convinced myself how terrible and uninspiring and messy life has become, an inspired mommy friend would up and post this on her wall as if to remind me over again what a beautiful blessing motherhood is.

Motherhood

It’s a great pick-me-up for any parent going through a bad day.

Sometimes what a stressed-out mom needs is a dose of humor to dispel that overwhelming sense of inadequacy or feeling of being unappreciated despite all her pain and efforts.

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It’s just eerie how the universe has a way of agreeing or sympathizing with me every time I’m feeling down and persecuted.  On .such days, I would stumble across posts that any hapless individual on the receiving end of vicious gossips would simply love to fling at their critics’ faces.

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I admit I am given to occasional spells of self-pity that seeking refuge in the consoling arms of misery is a lot more enticing than standing up against a battalion of haters.  However, people know only too well that this–wallowing in defeat while your enemies gloat in their victory–is a total waste of time.  Even the late and great Elizabeth Taylor would’ve gladly slapped some sense into me, if she could, just to get me to deal with the matter at hand.

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However, where there’s no drink strong enough to knock some gumption into me or lipstick red enough to bring me back to life from zombie mode, a no-show at some dreaded event is always an option.  But of course, there will always be someone who, as if somehow reading my thoughts, would contradict this notion by sharing this well-meaning no-nonsense advice on her wall.

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Speaking of never giving up, these words of wisdom from Martin Luther King, Jr. never fail to motivate me in the aftermath of a major crisis. .

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And indeed, unfaltering determination is key to achieving any goal as grit is the secret super power of the truly successful.

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But getting back up on your feet after careering off track and splat into the mire of shame isn’t always what it’s apt to be.  It’s an excruciating process that often requires a helping hand or two and some encouraging words from people who love you most.  Every time I see this post on my profile wall or news feed, I am immediately reminded of a friend’s comforting arms and gentle reassurance of what really matters most.

how we rise

 

In this fast-paced day and age of advance internet technology, it is easy to get caught up in the latest trends or to be overcome by the pressure of social media.  Like everyone else, I am plagued by anxiety and other paralyzing self-deprecating thoughts about my ability because of this.  It’s akin to being lost in the woods, and a motivational quote on your news feed when you need it the most is like a headlight of hope in a dark abandoned highway.

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Also, stumbling across a quote that is just spot on (and funnily so) is like discovering a dime in the dirt when you’re feeling blah and stuck in a rut.  And so far, this motivational quote below is the best advice I’ve come across  in social media.

smile

 

 

The Pitfalls of Being Too Emotional on Facebook

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When you choose to bare your soul in a place as public as social media, you are setting yourself up for criticism.

As I scroll down my Facebook memory lane, all seven years of it, I can’t help but cringe at some of the posts–emotional rants, cheesy love notes, quotes with undercurrents of bitterness, and a host of other regretful outbursts that had dotted my wall like angry gunshot holes. It had felt good to write about them at that time. Now that I’m looking at them from the third person angle for the first time, I feel utterly ridiculous.

Regret is a terrible thing. As feelings are ever-changing, what you feel strongly about today may not always ring true a week after. For that very reason, I am turning a new leaf. And, here are just some of the things that had gotten me thinking thrice lately before clicking that “post” button.

Gossipmongers’ Delight

I’ve had my fill of the juicy inside news on who got dumped, who cheated, who is warring with which relative, and the lot. But, I’ve also made my fair share of the headlines in the social media news feed given my flair for the melodramatics. I could imagine former colleagues, old high school friends, and relatives feasting over the morsels of information I’ve unwittingly fed them at the climax of emotions. Like everyone else, I do care about what people say or think of me from time to time. I mean I know how it is to take part in round table lunchtime discussions on so-and-so’s post about her terrible breakup and oohed and ahhed over the controversial Facebook war some Ed started with Jed. Whether you like it or not, what you choose to write or post on your wall can automatically become hot topic for some serious gossip marathon.

SocialMedia2
What you choose to write or post on your wall can automatically become hot topic for some serious gossip marathon.

Target for Ridicule

When you choose to bare your soul in a place as public as social media, you are setting yourself up for criticism. Many people stalk to find fault in others–I think that’s a given. I have seen friends snicker at some online displays of affection which they thought spared nothing to the imagination and rolled their eyes at posts that were, by their standards, tacky and over-the-top.  If wearing your heart on your sleeve can place you at a vulnerable spot with gossipmongers, volunteering too much information not only places you in danger of giving psychopath stalkers the lead on your whereabouts but also puts you on the receiving end of ridicule and more nit-picking.

Damaging Friendships

It always feels liberating to unload all those pent-up emotions on some virtual wall which I believe is a lot like relieving yourself at the johns or the little girls room. However, letting it all out online can do more damage as far as relationships are concerned.

Let me put it this way.

Do you know that feeling when you read about yourself on someone else’s post? Your name may not be there, but you recognize yourself nonetheless in the description that is reminiscent of a recent event involving you. As a result, you resent the person who posted it for all to see. You either confront this person or distance yourself all together, opting to cut your ties with him or her as quietly as possible. Ranting about a friend to cleanse your otherwise negatively clogged up system may provide temporary relief in the present but does nothing to resolve the issue that started it all.

The pictures you post and the things you say on your Facebook wall will always be a reflection of who you are, even though they are just tiny representations of a whole mass of things in the real world. It affects your readers to a certain extent, but its effects on your reputation and friendships maybe permanent.

Taking Beautiful Photos of Children

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She just loves to dress up for the camera.

Since the dawn of throwbacks in social media I have earned repute for living in the past by peppering my Facebook wall with Timehop photos and a host of other do you remember whens? I can’t help it. I have a treasure chest and an online gallery of beautifully captured memories. Most of them are snapshots of unforgettable moments and milestones in my children’s lives.

I love taking photographs of my children, so much so it’s an obsession. And luckily enough, they, too, love the camera.

But, my kids have not always made it easy for me. Backtrack to the time they were just gaining independence by learning to walk, every photo session with them had been practically a testament of my patience. Forcing a two-year-old to follow my lead when all he wanted was to explore the world had resulted over and over in major meltdowns, often leaving me panicked and embarrassed before all and sundry. Fast-forward to the present, getting a fidgety five-year-old boy to sit quietly throughout a snoozy Sunday Mass or a wedding ceremony, even more so having him stand in one place long enough for me to find the perfect angle can still be quite harrowing.

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My then 4-year-old son at his aunt’s wedding.

Photographs of Children in Their Element are Always Beautiful

I have learned to roll with the punches. Years of experimenting with various tactics to get my son and daughter to say cheese in front of the camera have taught me a couple of things about taking pictures. Really good ones.

For one, a good photo doesn’t always have to be a beautiful portrait. Most of the time a child’s personality shines brightest on pictures that have been captured at the spur of the moment. That is the beauty of candid photography; it allows the photographer to capture his subject in their element, which always translates into visuals that speak a thousand words. Running after them, clicking away at their heels, and trying to sneak a shot or two of their facial expressions may yield many blurred images. Still, there will always be two or more photos among the roll of disappointing candid shots that are worthy of a place in my Instagram account.

Great Photography is a Matter of Good Perspective

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My daughter and her cousin at Nuvali.

It always takes a lot of creativity and thinking out of the box to capture the best of everything. I have had fun experimenting with different angles over the years and many of them have produced beautifully preserved memories of my children’s childhood.

I love watching my kids explore the world around them. So, shooting from a distance, a safe few meters away from where they play with the other kids allows me to see them bloom in their environment. Often times, I feel like an outsider looking in on someone else’s life, but I am thankful for that momentary space and detachment, giving me the freedom to click away to my heart’s content at the awesome scene before me.

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A glint of mischief. Photo credit: Aileene Mayuga

But, getting down to their level always gives me a better perspective of my little subject.

According to professional photographers, a good over-the-shoulder shot of a child immersed in a hobby provides a unique kind of story-telling. This sort of angling gives people access to a child’s world as he sees it. Admittedly, I don’t have very many photos of my kids taken at this angle. But, I always delight in watching them work or play from where I stand hovering quietly and contemplating sneaking a shot or two of their creativity.

An aerial shot of a child lying down or preoccupied with a hobby provides another cinematic third person point of view of their world. It feels pretty much like looking down on my loved ones from heaven. When the Daughter was a baby, I used to take pictures of her while I stood over the bed in my effort to capture those very fleeting seconds of pure love and joy.

But, beautiful pictures do not always have to be big or cinematic in appeal. The little things that people take pleasure in counts too. Zooming in on a minute detail that makes a part of a beautiful wholelike a little girl’s pouting lips, the wide glistening dark eyes of a baby, and a toddler’s pudgy little hand– can result in photographs that are both intimate and artistic.

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An over-the-shoulder shot of my young graphic artist at work.

Staying on Guard for Unguarded Moments

When I became a mother, life as I knew it was never to be the same. It turned me into an expert multi-tasker almost overnight and taught me to balance career with parenting responsibilities literally. This memory of me–a then sleep-deprived freelance online writer–using one hand to type a paragraph while the other held my attention-seeking one-year-old daughter on my lap will forever be etched in my mind and heart. I wish my husband had taken that picture, but then again, the most moving experience isn’t always captured on camera or witnessed by any other. Taking that thought with me through the years, I have made a point to be on the lookout for special moments, whether it be sad, happy, mad, or downright silly.

It has been my quest now for more than eight years, to document the important milestones in my children’s lives–the fleeting moments of happiness and sadness, the frowns and the laughs, the scratches and scars that constitute one’s childhood. As a mother so in-love with her children, I just cannot do without a camera. Still, it is nearly impossible to capture everything because there will always be instances in life that are just too meaningful to let go of for just a minute only to take a snapshot of it.

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Guests at my daughter’s 7th birthday party. Photo credit: Tel Pechon

 

 

 

Introducing: Elegant in Pastels

“Women are many things–strong, meek, complex, forthright, vain, mysterious, tragic, and self-contradicting. What better way to celebrate their beauty than to draw them in oil pastels, crayons, and pencils? The featured artworks in this blog are accompanied by famous quotes and not so familiar lines from movies, songs, celebrities and fashion icons.”

Source: Elegant in Pastels Defined

When my eight-year-old daughter told me that she wanted to grow up to be thin and beautiful like the model on the centerfold of the fashion magazine she had just shown me, I couldn’t help but balk at the thought.

The woman was pretty no doubt. But thin? Scrawny? Close to skeletal even? I was deeply concerned.

The Skinny of It All

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“Style”

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against being “skinny” per se. At least, not in any way personal. For a lot of people, it is their genetic makeup to be thin. I mean I’ve also had my fair share of struggles trying to gain weight when I was growing up. Besides, people just can’t help their metabolisms or rather how it’s programmed to work.

But even with that in mind, I am still not thrilled about my daughter looking up to ramp models and other fashionably skinny celebs as paragons of beauty. I could imagine the disappointment and heartache that she would later face in life, should she fail to live up to par with society’s standards, or worst, fall short of her own expectations. For years, women all over the world have suffered in the name of beauty.

Died for it even.

And, in vain.

Beauty is Diverse

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“It’s the Eyes”

Beauty cannot be and shouldn’t be confined in a box or restricted to a set of adjectives (tall, svelte, and fair-skinned). Over the years, media have successfully defined beauty as so that young girls today are dying with insecurity over poor self-image. You can imagine my panic as soon as my daughter expressed her desire to look like the model.

Unlike my daughter, I’ve had the privilege of growing up in a place where practically the whole world converged in one community. There, I saw beauty at its most diverse—race, color, shape and size. It was largely because of  my exposure to different nationalities and cultures, that I developed this appreciation for beauty of all kinds. I could only wish the same for my daughter–that one day she finally sees beauty for what it is beyond its packaging and grow to understand that being beautiful is not necessarily about looking fabulously thin in a tight-fitting dress.

Redefining Beauty Through Art

Beauty is diverse. And, diversity is most definitely beautiful.

So, how do you explain that to an eight-year-old?

That question got me starting on a project last year aimed at redefining beauty for my daughter. I took pencil to paper and created a series of portraits of women from different walks of life.

My efforts resulted into  Elegant in Pastels, a blog that celebrates not only beauty in its multi facets, but women empowerment as well through famous lines and immortal quotes.

The world is filled with all sorts of flawed, strange, and unique wonderful creations. Bits and pieces of imperfections, when put together, usually sum up to become this magnificent whole.

Diversity is what makes the world so beautiful.

Love Revisited

It’s Valentine’s Day. And, I’m feeling kind of sentimental about the father of my children—the person responsible for my angst and mood swings, the one who could break my heart over and over and mend it in an instant; the man who had been at the receiving end of my countless Facebook tirades over the years.

I hate him. I love him.

Sometimes I want to throttle him.

Oftentimes I just want to kiss him senseless.

Valentinesmirajun
May love forever be young and new.

It’s interesting that the same person who could bring out the best in me could also incite the worst from me. But despite the complexity of our relationship; my ever-changing feelings; my discomfort over this occasion (for reasons which I’ve already explained in a previous post), I choose to honor him the best way I know via this blog post (whether he deserves it or not).

Backstory

Our story goes all the way back to the angst-ridden mid-nineties, when Eraserheads, Rivermaya and Siakol conquered the airwaves, and Teeth’s “Prinsesa” was the most requested love song on radio stations all over the country. We were college students from different campuses. He was a small town boy with big dreams. I was a balikbayan girl struggling to adjust to her new environment and her parents’ native language. There were no sparks, no fireworks in that first meeting. But it was definitely the start of a long winding journey of comic friendship and on-and-off-again courtship.

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Poles apart as North and South.

Together, we were an unlikely pair. Nevertheless, my strength was his weakness and my weakness was his strength. In that manner, we complemented each other—helped one another. He was always proud of me and sometimes bragged about me. In return I respected him for the man that he was then and could be.

From where we stood at that time, the future looked bright. And eventually, we went the way of all couples in long-term relationships:  down the wedding aisle to exchange vows of eternal love and lifelong commitment. But, of course life thereafter was never to be the same.

Looking back on those happier days, I just can’t help but wonder how we have come to be this today: Complex. Uncooperative. Always bickering.

Witnesses to our love story and friends privy to our problems would shake their heads and say, “I told you so.” Apparently, not everyone approved of the relationship. To some, we were bound to fail at the onset.

Whether they were right in saying so or not, our relationship have so far withstood the test of time and surpassed speculations at its worst.

“Love is blind. Marriage is an eye-opener.”

Now, when long-hidden idiosyncrasies begin to surface in a marriage, realizations as ominous as dark foreboding clouds usually start to seep in. Gradually you lose sight of the good things as you start to focus on the more serious negative aspects that have just made themselves known.Then, you begin to question:

Where was the loving sentimental man so afraid of losing me? And for that matter, where was the understanding, patient woman who only saw the best in her man?

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Well, nothing could be any truer than this definition of love that I came across one day at the Gallery of Love inside the Peranakan Museum on one of my Singapore visits. After being married for several years at the time of the visit, I just couldn’t agree more with its author (one of the hundreds and thousands of tourists that came to the museum year over year).

I came into the marriage with ideals molded from watching “Friends” and believed that no matter what, the Husband and I will work things out like Chandler and Monica. Apparently he was no Chandler, and neither was I anything close to being Monica.

The Husband’s refusal to play the part of the funny, witty and attentive spouse became my frustration. In the same manner, my failure to become the quiet, meek and understanding wife befitting any swaggering testosterone-packing leather jacket-clad action hero disappointed him. But, of course, that wasn’t the be-all of our troubles. Apparently there were issues—no, actually just one major flaw on his part–that still needed some fixing. At the start of the marriage, this problem has been nothing but a giant wedge in our relationship. But, then again that’s another story I wish to discuss at another time (when I’m ready) because it deserves a separate blog post all on its own.

Understanding His Language of Love

Though I can fault my husband for that one major flaw, I can certainly credit him for many great things.

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Secretly wishing that the Husband would do what besotted men would do for love.

First and foremost, he is by all standards the perfect father. He is a terrific caregiver who never fails to attend to our children’s need in times of illness. Usually there at the kids’ beck and call, he would rush to their aide without further ado. I envy him for his boundless energy and for his fast-thinking (always knowing what to do and when). I’ve always felt that I pale in comparison as a parent. But, who am I to complain? Any hardworking woman would hanker for a husband like mine who would gladly take half of the parenting responsibilities that have been bestowed upon her from the very moment she became a mother. And for that, I am proud of him.

But, romantic he is not. Often, I’d wish that my husband would do what other men would, since time immemorial, for their wives. But after nine years, I’d given up all hope for candle-lit dinners, out-of-town escapades for two, flowers and violins and other frivolities besotted men usually indulge the love of their lives. Instead, he’d do my laundry. He’d cook dinner when I’m bogged down with work (and I confess he is a way better chef than I could ever be). He’d make coffee and breakfast for the two of us, long before I could even open my eyes. He had always been my nursemaid when I’m weak; the doctor/nurse who administered my wounds post C-section. I just couldn’t ask for more.

Clearly, he and I speak different languages of love.  I love long walks in the park and meaningful conversations. He is quite content with a quiet night at home with the wife and the kids. Though he has little taste for frivolities and other trappings of romance, he would always hold my hand as we walk together in public—and proudly so–regardless of curious stares or glares from by-standers.

And that’s all I ask.