My Commitment to Allyship: A Non-Black Mother’s Reflection on Juneteenth

Note: this blog post has been adapted from a Facebook/Instagram post that I shared earlier this month.


I’m going to preface this by saying: I’ve gone back and forth quite a bit on what I should share in light of the recent events highlighting police brutality and systemic oppression against the Black community in the U.S.

Why did I struggle? Mainly because I felt compelled — as a diversity and inclusion professional, as a self-proclaimed feminist, inclusionist, and mother who’s determined to raise anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, generally anti-bigoted sons — to make my thoughts and feelings known.

Also, sadly, because I felt pressured by the sheer amount of anti-racism-related and allyship-related content that was flooding my news feeds: I was concerned that my social media silence would be interpreted as apathy — or worse — complicity. What could I post on Instagram, Facebook, and my blog to assert that this was a cause I cared about? And how could I word my thoughts so that people would know I’m not a performative ally?

And then I told myself. Fuck. That.

I realized: I don’t need to prove who I am to whoever follows me on social media. People who know me, know where I stand. And I shouldn’t rely on social media engagement metrics as measurement of whether or not I’m doing the right thing as an ally.

Besides, this moment and this movement aren’t about me — while this is a challenging time, I can’t forget that what’s important is amplifying the voices and struggles of the Black community. I shouldn’t and won’t forget about that.

Continue reading “My Commitment to Allyship: A Non-Black Mother’s Reflection on Juneteenth”

Bright Spots: New Easter Celebrations

Typically, we spend Easter Sunday in a pleasant frenzy. Getting dressed up.  Coordinating gifts for the boys with the Easter Bunny. Serving at Mass. Cooking up something small to add to the feast we would inevitably share with my extended family, all 30+ of us crammed into some relative’s home to celebrate the holiday.

This year is, obviously, more subdued. I think it’s easy for me to mourn the Easter that could have been — and to feel annoyed with this pandemic and its effects on my life, particularly in light of this holiday’s importance to my faith and to my entire family.

And that emotional weight seems a bit heavier when I take into account:

  1. I haven’t seen my extended family in over a month.
  2. My grandparents wish that they could see my kids and me, since being around their grandchildren and great-grandchildren is one of their highlights of any holiday.
  3. I’m continuing to grapple with my sense of parental failure, particularly since I dropped the ball a bit and completely overlooked compiling an Easter basket for Tadashi and Hiro.

Going into this Easter Sunday — particularly last night, as I prepared to fall asleep — I wrestled with an overall sense of sadness, frustration, and emptiness. How could this day be special when it seems like everything has gone so wrong?

Continue reading “Bright Spots: New Easter Celebrations”

2020 Goals: Quarterly Check-In

At the beginning of the year, I shared that I had set a few goals for myself (you can read the full post here). Now, given that the first quarter of the year is over, I wanted to complete a quick check-in and share with you all my progress so far… So, here we go!


Check-In: My 2020 Goals

  • Achieve my goal weight of 140 lbs.
    • Progress: In an unfortunate turn of events, I had actually gained quite a bit of weight between January and February. Probably due to the free food at work? Nevertheless, since I started working from home full-time earlier this month due to coronavirus concerns, I’ve been more intentional about eating home-cooked meals, implementing intermittent fasting, and staying active. So I’ve actually lost a few pounds and a couple of inches since the beginning of this month! Still quite a ways away from my goal weight, but I’ll keep moving forward.
  • Publish 52 blog posts by the end of the year.
    • Progress: Given that this is Week 14 of the year, I should have published 14 blog posts by now. Sadly, this post brings my total published post count to five. Don’t worry: my COVID-19 creative sprint actually put me in a good place to publish a bit more content this month, so you’ll be reading more from me in the near future.
  • Practice self-care regularly: daily prayer/meditation, journaling, gratitude, exercise; monthly date nights with Reggie.
    • Progress: I know that I’ve skipped a day or two here and there within my different daily practices. However, holistically, I’ve made these different tasks a priority in my daily routine — even intentionally carving out time in my work-from-home schedule, given that I no longer have my one-hour commute to meditate, journal, and read. Overall, I feel positive that these daily self-care regimens have been helping with my mental and emotional health.
      Monthly date nights with Reggie, however, have not been a priority. Partly because quarantines don’t allow us to go out on dates. But also because, candidly, we’ve been struggling to balance taking care of our marriage with all of our other obligations (i.e., my work, Reggie’s work, our children, our home life, our extended families, this global pandemic, a complete shift in how we manage our family life since being forced to shelter in place, etc.), that carving out time to spend one-on-one didn’t seem like a possibility. Don’t worry: we’re not in crisis mode; however, we’ve realized that being stuck together in quarantine — without work or other people as distractions — is an opportune time for us to tackle some underlying marital woes. More on that later this week.

Check-In: 20 Things to Do in 2020, a.k.a. My Annual Bucket List

(listed in no particular order)

To-DoStatusNotes
Sign up for a library card.PendingUnfortunately, didn’t get a chance to do this before the current shelter-in-place order impacted the local libraries’ operating hours. TBD on whether or not I can do this by year’s end.
Plant and maintain a terrarium with the boys.In progressPlanted a little terrarium kit with Tadashi* and Hiro* some time in January. Terrarium is currently sitting on the window sill by my desk. Is the plant alive? Questionable.
Take a calligraphy class.PendingI was hoping to do this in-person, but I think I should research some virtual options at this point.
Complete a Couch to 5K program.In progressJust started my Couch to 5K program this week! 7.5 more weeks to go…
Run a 5K.PendingI intended to sign up for a formal race. However, I may be a bit more flexible and count an “unofficial” 5K, a.k.a. running that distance on my own time, given the potential that formal races might not occur for the rest of the year.
Go to a live concert.PendingSame concerns as above.
Buy a house.In progressYes, “in progress”!
Get triple lobe piercings.PendingSame concerns as above.
Get a tattoo with Vinh Huynh at Ironwave Ink.CompleteGot this done in mid-January!
Get a tattoo with Sai Li.In progressI initially had an appointment scheduled with Sai this Thursday, April 2nd. However, we had to reschedule due to the shelter-in-place orders. I’ll reschedule as soon as Sai confirms when she can reopen her tattoo studio.
Read at least 20 books.In progressCurrently reading my ninth book of the year! I definitely need to thank my Book of the Month subscription for making this bucket list item so easy to maintain.
Listen to one album a week.In progressFeel free to leave any album recommendations in the comments!
Re-learn (and memorize!) Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C# Minor.PendingI’m happy to share that I’ve been playing a lot more piano recently, since I have more time to spare during the day. However, have not yet cracked open Rachmaninoff’s Prelude.
Travel to a city I’ve never been to.PendingI was supposed to go to San Antonio last week for work, which would have completed this to-do. We’ll see if I can still make this happen this year.
Take an overnight trip with Reggie (no kids!).PendingSame concerns as above.
Dine at a Michelin star restaurant.PendingSame concerns as above.
Visit Disneyland during Christmas.PendingGod, I hope that Disneyland reopens by Christmastime…!
Complete a 30-day plank challenge.PendingI’ll tackle this after I complete my Couch to 5K program.
Host a private movie screening.PendingHopefully movie theaters reopen by the end of this year…!
Complete my 2020 bullet journal — artistic spreads and all!In progress… And I am oh-so-proud of how my bullet journal looks so far! I’ll share some spreads on here in the coming months.

And that is my progress so far this year. I admit that I haven’t completed as many things as I had hoped to do by this point. But I’m going to give myself some grace and recognize that, within this past month alone, my whole life (and the world, in general) has been completely upended. We all deserve a bit of a reprieve and some allowance to adapt to this new normal.

Looking at the month ahead, I’m committing to a sense of positivity. I’m prioritizing my personal (physical, mental, and emotional) health, focusing on my marriage, and aiming to keep my children healthy and happy. If I maintain this focus, I know that — organically — I’ll make more progress on my goals.

To all of you, readers: hope you’re all staying safe and sane and healthy. If you’ve had any goals set for this year, please let me know how you’re doing, as well, and let me know how I can support you! I know that 2020 has seemed like a dumpster fire of a year so far. But we still have nine months ahead of us and opportunities to create something positive.

Happy New Year: 2020 Goals

Ah, here we are: at the start of a new year.

It’s funny: thanks to my favorite feature on my Day One Journal, my end-of-year journal entries automatically resurface through an “On This Day” recap, and I’ve had an opportunity to read through all my new year sentiments from the past six years or so.

There definitely were common themes.

I haven’t accomplished everything I’ve wanted to… but I will next year. I’m going to lose that weight. I’m going to get healthy. I’m going to write more blog posts. I’m going to be happy. I’m going to take care of myself.

Forgive me, but this blog post is also going to be filled with some of the same stuff… We’re creatures of habit after all, right?

Continue reading “Happy New Year: 2020 Goals”

Raising Two Boys: What I Hope to Teach My Sons

A little under two months ago, I gave birth to my second son.

It’s a funny thing because, while I’d always envisioned myself as a mother, I’d never thought that I’d be the mother of two boys. I guess I’d always assumed I’d have at least one daughter (not to say that isn’t an option in the future; I’m just not really thinking about another baby anytime soon).

As a modern-day woman — and one who had grown up in a household with a 2:1 female-to-male ratio —, the thought of raising a daughter always seemed a lot more straightforward. I knew from direct experience the lessons I wanted to impart on her, the gender expectations I wanted to sidestep.

But a son? Let alone two sons?

There is a lot more gray area for me to navigate — and a basic lack of understanding of the modern male experience. Raising boys always seemed like an intimidating task to me.

Thankfully, I have an amazing partner who’s had his own experience navigating harsh expectations of what it means to be a man. And he’s been so integral in helping us prioritize how we want to raise — and, ultimately, define some key lessons that we want to impart on — our boys.

My three guys.

So, here are our main hopes in raising two boys.

Continue reading “Raising Two Boys: What I Hope to Teach My Sons”

Mother’s Day 2018: A Quick Ode

It’s my first Mother’s Day. And while the weekend was both low-key and eventful (main highlights: a lot of downtime at home with my three best guys and an emergency visit from the paramedics when Tadashi* had an allergic reaction to formula), it’s also given me an opportunity to reflect on motherhood in general and, specifically, what that means within my life.

Today, on Mother’s Day, I want to recognize that who I am as a mother has only come to fruition because of a few notable individuals around me. So here are a few thank-you notes to a few important people in my life…

On my first Mother’s Day, I can’t help but feel extra grateful for everyone who has helped shape me as a mother — especially my baby boy.

To my mom…

Continue reading “Mother’s Day 2018: A Quick Ode”

Returning to Work, or Why I Had an Impromptu Cry Fest in the Middle of My Kitchen

It’s here.

After almost five and a half months of maternity leave, I’m finally returning to work. I knew that this day was going to be filled with a bunch of emotions — but, despite everyone’s warnings, I couldn’t have anticipated how intensely those emotions would hit me.

Honestly, there’s a part of me that’s eager and excited to return to work. That’s the part that suffered major cabin fever while on leave and yearned for some type of routine other than nursing my baby around the clock. The part that’s looking forward to conversing with other adults about things other than cradle cap care and feeding schedules. The part that can’t wait to see my work friends and be back in the city and work on something for me, for once.

Don’t get me wrong: I recognize how lucky I’ve been to stay with my baby for as long as I have. Nearly half a year of parental leave is a rarity in the U.S. And, bottom line, I would never exchange the opportunity I had to bond with Tadashi* for anything else in the world. It’s been a whirlwind of a journey, but I know that Reggie, Tadashi, Henri, and I are all a little happier because I spent this time at home.

Day-004
Enjoying breakfast at The Press on my last day of maternity leave

But I also know me. And I know that I would’ve always wanted something for myself in addition to being the best mother possible for my boy. Which is why going back to work always felt like an inevitability to me.

With that in mind, I woke up yesterday morning feeling a little anxious but mostly determined. I resolved to use my last day of maternity leave to spend some quality time with my little family (Reggie’s back on paternity leave for a month as I transition back to work) and to prepare for my first full workday. We grabbed breakfast together at a little cafe in Pleasanton and ran some last-minute errands.

Continue reading “Returning to Work, or Why I Had an Impromptu Cry Fest in the Middle of My Kitchen”

The Kid with the Long-Ass Name: Why I Gave My Son My Last Name

While we prepared for our son’s arrival, Reggie and I would have long discussions about potential names, just like every other couple. But we had an added complication: what would his last name be?

You see, I have something to confess: in case my extensive social media presence didn’t tip you off, I never took my husband’s last name after we got married. Admittedly, I had every intention to change my name while we prepared for our wedding; I even wrote my supposed married name on our marriage license. But months passed, and my willingness to complete the paperwork waned… And I ultimately realized that I was putting off the name change because I didn’t want a name change.

MJP-0547
Ms. C & Mr. B on our wedding day (© Michael James Photography 2014)

I realized that the practice of a woman assuming her husband’s surname was unnecessary (people would tell me that the name change was needed for insurance or tax purposes, which is completely untrue) — and, frankly, undesirable. I equated changing my name with changing my identity: I had no desire to become an entirely different person, and marriage wasn’t going to change my passions, my goals, or my priorities. So I decided to drop the “B.” from “Sarina C.B.,” and I continued on as “Sarina C.” For good.

Continue reading “The Kid with the Long-Ass Name: Why I Gave My Son My Last Name”

Welcome: Why This Blog Exists

Dear Reader,

Welcome to “beanbrain,” my personal pregnancy and parenting blog. Before we get things started, I first want to share some things about motherhood and me:

(1) From a young age, I’ve always envisioned myself as a mother.

I know there are some women (and men) who never consider having or simply don’t want to have children. I was never that person. Whatever the reason, I always knew I wanted children of my own. One day.

(2) I had zero expectations in terms of how I would feel about and tackle pregnancy and parenting.

When I first announced I was pregnant, people would ask me the same few questions. What are you excited about? Nervous about? Do you want a boy or a girl? My answer to all of the above: “Honestly, I’m not thinking too much about anything.” As a first-time parent, I knew that I wouldn’t have the slightest clue as to what I would be doing once my child came into the world. My closest friends and family also warned me that the reality of pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing would be drastically different from anything I could imagine or expect. So, as I entered pregnancy, I vowed to live my days as open-minded and open-hearted as possible.

(3) There were so many times throughout my pregnancy and during my first few weeks of parenthood where I thought or said, “I wish people talked about this…”

Despite my lack of expectations, there were a few things that happened during my pregnancy and in the early days of motherhood (from a miscarriage scare at the beginning of my second trimester, to my reaction to learning that I would need to deliver via C-section, to the struggle I had with breastfeeding) that made me feel anxious, frustrated, and — above all — alone. Only by talking to other women in my life did I realize that these experiences (and their accompanying emotions) were more common than I thought.

And that’s why this blog exists. This is designed to serve as a safe space not only to share my thoughts and emotions with you but also to confirm that we are not alone when it comes to the less-than-pretty aspects of pregnancy and parenting.

Every week, I hope to share different reflections and personal experiences on a variety of topics, and I invite you to share your own experiences with me. So here’s to figuring out motherhood together!

All the best,
Sarina, a.k.a. beanbrain