• Jasmine Mendiola

Occupation: Inspiration

Life lessons from Mio occur on a daily basis so I as a mother feel very fortunate to have these realizations precisely because I happen to be his mom.

His falling hair signaled that he is indeed a child with cancer. Holding back the tears I tried to figure out why they’re here now more often than when injections and fatigue hit him and our family only to be ashamed at the thought that I might be superficially afraid of the trauma Mio might feel when people react to him. But he is unfazed and he braves everyday like any child is–excited and sometimes confused, but joyful nonetheless.

If I haven’t shared this, one of our elevator conversations were “Mom what did you want to be when you were small? A Makeup Artsit or a Mom?”

Is that a trick question? I thought.

“I never thought I’d be a makeup artist but I knew wanted to be an artist one way or another. I didn’t choose to be a Mom because you chose me.”

Was that a good answer?

I hope it was because Mio said, “Me? How?”

Trying to be as honest as possible, I never wanted Mio to feel I was resentful of having him at such an early age and so even if he’s still young, I answer questions like this as if he’d remember I told him these things even when he’s older.

“When you were an angel and chose to come here on earth and bless us with your presence, you chose me to be your Mommy.”

“I was an angel?!” he exclaimed.

I think he is for more reasons than one.

Like this other elevator conversation we had once, while I was picking on my always-mistaken-as-an-expectant-mother’s-belly tummy and uttering,”I’m so fat!” again and again and again. My son tells me,

“what’s wrong with being fat?”

If everyone thought like this, there’s no reason for anyone to be insecure, bald hair, beer belly, acne face and all.

He also makes me proud by the fact that he seems to be growing up with the lack of prejudice and judgement in spite of his tender age. I just know, like what I’ve said before, that all I want is for him to grow up to be compassionate and void of malice towards others so I try to keep him open-minded without forcing issues onto him. A lebian friend has been our constant companion for a while now and upon entering a restaurant the waiter accidentally greets her “good afternoon, sir.”

Mio, unlike other five year olds who might have ignored such a remark stated what’s NOT obvious. “Why did he call you sir?” 

Last but not the least, yesterday as I try to convince him to get his hair shaved, I tried to pull off all coercive tactics and even said, “if you shave your head bald you’ll look cooler Mio!”

Those things you’d like kids care so much about. My son cried out, “but I don’t want cooler Mom. I just want to be myself.”

And I just want to cry each time I remind myself that my son has the wisdom of a forty year old because none of us or at least only some realize these little things that we take for granted.

So we indulged him today with one of his wishes: a picnic at a park with his cousins, complete with a checkered blanket and his favorite tuna sandwich and juice. Not only because he was so brave to get a haircut and for planning a “lets go bald” day this weekend with his titos and grandad. But because he deserves it for all that he is.


Jasmine Mendiola

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©2019 by Jasmine Mendiola