“Remember, We Went Through This”

On Marriage:

“Find somebody who keeps you honest. Somebody who is willing to put their foot down but who will still treat you like a princess and let you get away with shit anyways– when it’s not important.” – My Mother

“It’s not a list. There’s no recipe, there’s no logic to it. It’s just you meet the person you want to spend the rest of your life with and you just know.” – My Father

“Finding a person you can grow and share with. You know, however far in the future your dad and I look towards, we still have the same goals, the same values.” – My Mother

“If you wait for the ‘right time’ to get married, you’ll wait forever. There’s no right time. If you find the right person, just do it. Unless you’re in school.” – My Father

On Parenting:

“Teach them to think for themselves. Because the world is always going to change, and you’re not always going to be there, and the situation going to change.” – My Mother

“Be a guide and a source of experiential wisdom for your child to ensure that your child takes advantage of every opportunity that the world has for them.” – My Father

“I don’t think there’s any rules. I think you have to give your kids what they need.” – My Mother

“I don’t think a lot of people know exactly what career and what life’s work is going to make them happy and so your job is to help your kids on that journey and help them flourish in it—whatever it is.” – My Father

“Figuring out what they’re good at and really learn how to take that and run with it.” – My Mother

On Life:

“Really take time to relax and just do things for yourself. Massages, acupuncture, work out– just take a break. And remember, always be the center of your universe. Until you have kids. Then they’re your center.” – My Mother

“In the end, it’s really just about being happy. Even if it’s something that doesn’t make you a six-figure, seven-figure salary, whatever makes you happy is the best thing to do. So, it’s a matter of just finding that. And it’s not that easy.” – My Father

Sitcom Family

My family can be found in characters from the family sitcoms today– and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Mrs. Goldberg (The Goldbergs) – My Mother: The typical helicopter mother who will do anything to protect her children and anything to get that much more intertwined in their lives. She always has a story for everything: like how you can’t play football because she knows a kid who played football and now doesn’t have a head or how you can’t go to Coachella because she knows a girl who went and was never seen again. Bottom line, she lives and breathes for her children and as well as she’s prepared them for lives on their own, she’ll still treat them like her babies if they need it.

Andre Johnson (Blackish) – My Father: He’s got a cool job in media advertising and wants to make sure his kids grow up to be as cool as he was when he was killing it in high school and as cool as he is now that he’s killing it in the real world. He’s really funny, values culture in all forms (music, television, art etc.) and he wants to be involved in his kids lives as much as possible– even if sometimes he can’t do the basics (ex. keep track of the schedules, take care of sick kids etc.) when mom’s gone.

Luke Dunphy (Modern Family) – Jackson: He’s the biggest jokester and comes up with the most outrageous shenanigans– and yet, everything always seems to work out for him. He’s good at everything, everyone likes him and no one knows how he does it because you’ll never catch him practicing or studying like a normal person. It just comes to him.

Now, what a lot of the sitcoms left out was just how hard it was to get to these picture perfect little households. The tough, complicated, winding history that has led up to this point is something that cannot be forgotten. Creating this family was not as easy as writing out a script and taking multiple takes: they had one shot, so they planned it out and made sure they had the same desires. And they accomplished exactly what they wanted. People write entire feel-good series about families like mine and I think that’s pretty darn cool.

“Who Is Lorraine?”

Our naming has definitely evolved over the years as we’ve grown more comfortable with each other and our roles in one another’s lives. Listed below is the names we have for each other and the context in which we use them.\

Mom: MJ Lorraine, when she says something funny or outrageous. Mommy, when I want to be treated like a child (ex. when I’m sick, sad or whiney). Rose, when we’re acting like friends and gossiping. Mom, in general conversation when we talk about parent things like when my flight is or if I’m allowed to go somewhere. Momma Jamma, when we’re joking around or being playful.

Dad: Jave, when we’re acting like friends and gossiping. J.V., when he says something outrageous or I’m referring to him to people who don’t know him. Daddy, when I’m being affectionate or really want something (ex. to go eat, to drive me somewhere, to listen to my story). Dad, in general, especially when we’re speaking in front of his friends. Faja, when we’re hanging out or in passing.

Jackson: Jack Jack, when we’re speaking of how *insert adjective* he is for his age. Jackie Bear, when we’re being affectionate. Jackson, when he’s with his friends or we’re cheering him on. Bobo, my mother’s nickname for him since he was young which she uses to refer to him when she treats him like a child. Little Man, another one of my mother’s nicknames for him.

Avery: Ave, when they speak of me as an adult or a fully-matured person. Avery, when they speak of me to people who don’t really know me. Badsi, my father’s nickname for me since I was young which he now uses to refer to me when he treats me like a child. Lobo, my mother’s nickname for me since I was young which she now uses to refer to me when she treats me like a child.

“I Just Want To Put You In My Pocket”

Me: I’m currently attending Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. California is too far and too expensive for any weekend visits, but I do have winter and spring break to go home. Unfortunately, since I am on the Division 1 Heavyweight Men’s Crew Team, a portion of my winter break and my entire spring break is spent on training trips with my team in various, warmer locations on the east coast. With that said, though I may not be physically close to my parents anymore, I feel just as– if not more– emotionally close to them being away at college. Because I can’t see them multiple times a day, they don’t always know every detail of what’s happening in my life and because we’ve cultivated such a close relationship, I feel the need to let them know. So, I am completely guilty of calling my parents individually multiple times day to make sure they’re updated on any new developments, for help on even the most trivial issues and even, if I’m simply just walking home alone and want some company.

Jackson: My brother is thirteen years old and attends our local, public middle school, Lincoln Middle School, in Santa Monica, California. While he is physically a lot closer than I am, he is so bombarded with activities that he’s rarely ever home. There’s soccer practice, robot practice, competitions, volunteering, tournaments and coding class. However, since my parents no longer have another child’s conflicting schedule to deal with they’ve become very focused on my brother’s activities which has created a medium for discussion and family bonding. It is also worth noting that my brother is at the end of his middle school career, so hanging out with your parents isn’t all the rage right now. He spends a lot of time skateboarding and surfing with friends all over town which has left the house pretty void of children most of the time. With that said, he’s always been a little more of a closed book than I have so it does take a little more prying to find out about anything not related to academics or extracurriculars but I think he’s coming around on the emotional front.

Parents: My parents both reside in Santa Monica, California where they are still married and continue to work full-time. They’ve both explained that over the years of priming their children for college and chauffeuring their children from activities, they’ve learned to keep their free time open to just us. Now, with me at college and my brother out of the home most of the time, they’ve grown bored at home without any children to really pull them away from the house. They’ve both said the house has grown a lot quieter and they reluctantly admit, they miss my brother and I fighting and screaming all the time.

“I miss my babies needing me every second of the day– but I guess the quiet is nice sometimes. But it’s really not that nice and I want you to come home.” – My Mother

“Know Where You Come From”

You know, for a mom with no means, she’s pretty awesome.” – My Mother

Her Background: Raised in South Central, historically one of the most underprivileged communities in Southern California, my mother’s childhood consisted of three constants, family, chaos and uphill battles. Before my mother turned eleven, she was the victim of a drive-by shooting and held hostage in her own home. At twelve, her father left to find work in New York, as the garment factories he’d worked in closed down, but he never came back for more than a weekend following. At fourteen, my mother worked three jobs to help with bills her single mother could not afford to pay. The only reason my mother even knew about college is because her friend invited her to accompany her on a college tour of the nearest Cal State. She had only met this friend because she was bussed to a primarily white, middle-income school as part of the desegregation bussing implemented in the eighties. My mother applied to only Cal State Fullerton and, without the knowledge of financial aid, she continued working three jobs to pay her way through college and continue to help with bills at home.

Influence: Almost every decision in my mother’s life was accompanied with severe consequences– much more severe than anything a child should have to deal with. So, in response, she had to grow up very quickly and her mother had to parent very carefully. She values family because those are the only people you have in the end and the only people you can always trust. She values independence and responsibility because if you couldn’t take care of yourself and make the right decisions when she was young, there could be fatal consequences. She values education because it is the one thing that got her out of her condemning city. She values a strong emotional bond with her children because her mother needed that in order to ensure their survival and success. She values stability and play because they were luxuries she did not have a lot of growing up. Her mother parented with guidelines, outlining the path to success, as a lack of resources limited her ability to parent with guardrails, direct intervention to ensure success. Since my mother does have the means necessary, she has taken on a guardrail approach to helicopter parenting. She echoes the values accumulated in her upbringing in her own parenting style, adjusting on the basis of our starkly different environment.

“I’m a first generation family member meaning that my parents came here from the Philippines. They weren’t accustomed to or aware of American culture and how kids are raised or their social upbringing.” – My Father

His Background: Raised in San Dimas, a primarily white, suburban town in California, my father’s childhood emphasized two things: race and money. My paternal grandfather emigrated from the Philippines to the United States to get an advanced degree in
engineering from University of Southern California, as paid for and arranged by a US based company. My paternal grandparents then got married and applied for citizenship in the US where my grandfather went on to engineer medical devices and become a high ranking executive and my grandmother pursued a career in accounting. Being a first-generation American, my father’s parents continued to implement culturally Filipino values and traditions throughout his upbringing. In an overwhelmingly white town, my father and his family accumulated a very close-knit community of Asian-American friends. On the same note, other minorities formed close groups and frequently interacted with each other. My father also was raised in three socioeconomic statuses: low-income, middle-income and high-income. While he was lower-income, he lived in an apartment and remembers his parents working long hours. While he was middle-income, they went on more family outings and his grandmother continued being the primary caretaker as my grandparents still needed both incomes. When he was high-income, the family moved into an huge home in the nicest part of town, my father received a bright, red convertible upon entering his junior year and frequently threw high school and family parties in their home.

Influence: Since race was such a defining characteristic, my father values tradition and culture, which explains his interest in taking my brother and I to museums, exploring new places and new music. Since minorities identified with one another on the basis of being different than the vast majority, my father values family and friends because sometimes those are the only people who understand your history and your present. He values a strong emotional bond with his children because his mother needed that to gain insight into how children interacted and what was important in a culture she was not as familiar with. In response to watching his family rise in status, my father values hard work and diligence. He values celebrating the good and learning from the bad, because “if you do good work, you can play and if you don’t do good work, you have to stay in and work a little harder.” He values grit and intelligence because that’s what propelled them towards prosperity.

My parents have woven these values into my childhood like the stitching on a quilt: not obstructing the individual integrity of the garment but simultaneously holding it all together. These values are sacred and our history is the reason for our present. Because:

“You can never forget where you came from, because that’s the reason you’re going where you’re going. You can never forget where you came from, because at the end of the day, that’s all you are.” – My Mother

“My Own Cheering Section”

“Family is my own cheering section at my soccer games and robot competitions and anything else I do.” – Jackson, the coolest 13-year-old you’ll ever meet and my little brother

Our family is all about presence. Whether its a robot competition six hours away in San Francisco or a regatta on the other side of the country in Boston, my family will find a way to be there, in spirit or on the actual sidelines. Their constant encouragement and unending commentary on every new development has engrained in me the idea that I’ll always have people to lean on and people to support me in every endeavor. Their vested interest in my life has made me more confident in my choices, as I generally have exhaustive conversations with them regarding my decisions– academically, socially or in respect to extracurriculars. And I know they’ll be there to put me on their shoulders when I win or envelop me in hugs and kisses if I lose. In creating an environment of constant support, I’ve also grown more comfortable sharing intricate aspects of my life with them, including the social aspects that people may not generally tell their parents. To this day, I call my parents at least once a day with updates on friend drama, love interests and academic epiphanies. This has allowed them to have more of an influence over my decisions and I believe has also resulted in more safe, responsible, mature life decisions than I may have originally chose– while also, influencing the way I make choices in the future.

My Moment: I’ll never forget my high school graduation. Since there are 750 students in my grade, my school only allows each student to have three graduation tickets. Since my mother works at the school, she found a way to get fifteen graduation tickets which she distributed amongst my extended family. When I walked down the steps of Santa Monica High School’s Greek Theater, I started crying as I made eye contact with fifteen of my family members standing with their hands above their heads screaming as loud as they could. We then filed into the seats where I laughed sitting next to my best friend since middle school, Jacob Pink. Meanwhile, my mother got into perfect picture taking position right in the center aisle– where no one else could stand but she’s good friends with the security and they knew not to mess with my mom on her baby’s day. As I walked up to the podium, I remembered what my mother said, “Make sure you only let Mr. Trundle say your name because he’s my friend and don’t give him your card until the person before you is all the way down the ramp. They’re going to get mad at you but I don’t care because we’ve worked four years for this.” So I smiled at Mr. Trundle and waited. As soon as they called my name, my fifteen family members jumped to their feet, set off confetti cannons and blew the airhorns. No one else had a celebration that could top that. I cried and laughed and felt so enveloped in support and pride.

Jackson’s Moment: He began tae kwon do as a timid five-year-old and that day, he sat with me in the backseat of my father’s car as a confident and undaunted ten-year-old. Jackson’s moment was when he got his blackbelt. He’d already completed the grueling fitness test and performed the intricate forty-seven step poomsae. Next, he had to successfully spar two individuals at once and complete several board breaks. My mother, father and I take our seats on the sidelines of the dojo as Jackson chooses his sparring partners for his final battle. Of course, Jackson chooses the most athletic sparring partners and as soon as they begin, we start coaching him. I’ve never been more excited to watch three ten to thirteen-year-olds fight. We cheered at every kick, high-five’d at every jab and yelled our fair share of “it’s alright”‘s at every misstep. When the buzzer rang, it was clear Jackson had won. We met him on the sidelines with head pats, hugs, an inhaler and lots and lots of water. Then, he was on to the board break. The entire dojo went silent. My parents had their phones out and I laid against the dojo mirror to get just the right angle for the perfect action shot. Instinctively, my brother glanced at my mother before the last of the board breaks to which we all replied in unison, “You got this Jack Jack!” As soon as his hand broke through that cinderblock, the silence broke as he beamed in pride and we mimicked right back. After half a thousand photos in the dojo, half a million outside, a celebration dinner at Jackson’s favorite restaurant and celebration ice cream at Jackson’s favorite ice cream parlor, we snuggled up for Jackson’s favorite TV show in my parents room. We spent the entire week just gushing about how strong and how cool our favorite little boy has become– and honestly, even though he hasn’t broken any boards this week, the gushing hasn’t stopped and I don’t think it will.

“Dame Besos…”

“There was always a lot of love– a lot of love. We give kisses, respect our elders…”           – My Mother

Love: My home is overflowing with love. Every night, my brother and I wriggle under the covers between both my parents in their California King and watch our favorite TV shows or the new movie Dad downloaded before bed. We’ve always known that the first thing you do when you say hello is “give kiss” and the best way to feel better is hugs from Mom. Whenever we’re stressed, sick or scared from the movie we had just watched, my mother sits next to us before bed, runs her fingers along our eyebrows or our back and makes a low “sh” noise until we fall asleep. My parents tucked me in every day until I moved far enough away that they physically could not because “you always go to sleep making sure the people you love know you love them.” This constant, unwavering, growing love has insulated me so well that I don’t think there’s anything I can’t face. Regardless of what happens in my day, whether I have drama with friends or received a grade I did not want, I know my father will have a new movie queued and my mother will be at the edge of my bed until I fall asleep– and that makes it all okay. This safety net not only taught me to be affectionate with those I care about, but also that it’ll all be okay in the end because I know that I am never alone in life’s daily battles and that makes it all a lot less scary.

“There was always a lot of humor in the house. You know, we’d all engage in making fun of each other– but it was funny.” – My Father

Humor: There is never a shortage of laughter in my home. One day, my boyfriend turned to me after a family dinner concerned and said, “Ave, is that normal or are they mad at you? You’re all so mean to each other. You just pick out all the worst things and you really go at them.” I’d never realized how all of our jokes were rooted in critiques– of appearance, mentality, actions, anything. We’ve always made fun of each other, whether it was my “thunder thighs”, Jackson’s toothless grin or the way my father can’t concentrate on the dinner conversation until the food arrives. In reflection, this has cultivated the development of thick skin and a cool demeanor. Not only can my brother and I take a verbal punch, but we can dish it out with the same ferocity. Furthermore, this isn’t only a playground weapon but has also made an appearance in almost every other aspect of our lives. Whether its a snide comment, a bad grade or simply an onslaught of stress, we’ve learned to take on a laissez faire attitude. Like my mother always says, “Acknowledge it. Do everything you can to fix it. But don’t worry about the past mistakes leading up to it, because you can’t go back it time.” Or more simply, like my dad puts it, “It’s a waste of headspace.” In learning to joke about our own insecurities, we’ve learned to trivialize what we cannot change and focus our attention on what we can.

“Mommy and Daddy Dates”

My mother is an AP Government teacher at Santa Monica High School, my high school,
while my father is Vice President of Account Services at Tapstone, a digital media marketing company. My brother is a starter on his undefeated club soccer team, captain of his competitive robot team, an avid skateboarder and surfer. In high school, I was head coxswain of my nationally ranked club rowing team, founder of two political clubs on campus, held a nationally ranked position in the largest student run organization in the country and was a dedicated poet on a competitive spoken word team. Needless to say, we’re a pretty busy group of individuals so that meant a lot of planning our weeks out in advance.

I could talk about the way my mother would stay up until our homework was done to review the next day’s events. Or I could talk about the way my parents divided up driving my brother and I places. But I focused my analysis on the immense value set on family time and the conscious effort to ensure both parents held an equal part in our lives.

Value Set on Family Time: In simply scheduling family time, I learned that quality time with my parents or brother was just as important as any state regatta or overnight convention. We had a few rules in the family pertaining to scheduling:

  • Holidays are always spent exclusively with the family, with the exception of Halloween and July 4th. New Year’s Eve could be spent with friends but we must partake in the countdown for New York’s New Year’s Eve together (3 hours ahead).
  • We always ate dinner at the table together on weekdays. If you are getting dinner with friends after practice, you still have to sit at the table to converse with the family and/or save room for dessert.
  • We must attend every member of the family’s extracurricular events, if it doesn’t conflict with our own. To ensure there is always a “cheering section” for everyone.

Equal Parenting: My parents split everything related to spending time with my brother and I. Whether it was switching off who attended conflicting games or who drove us to parties or playdates. This was partly out of necessity given my brother and my’s schedule generally conflicted as a result of being so involved but my parents never fell into a consistent role. This intentional lack of consistency resulted in an equal presence of both parents in every aspect of our lives. One prime example of this is my mother instituting the Daddy/Mommy Dates, outlined below. This conscious effort reminded me that both of my parents were always there for me and always involved in my life– I never felt like one was missing out.

Daddy/Mommy Dates: Switching parents every week, my brother and I were assigned a parent to do an activity with. Activities included visiting art museums or the tar pits with Dad, massages or beach dates with Mom. These became some of my fondest memories and really helped to ensure that everyone was in the loop with everything.

Meet the Family


My family has never been as complicated as everyone else’s. I’d always thought our family was just really lucky but I’ve realized it was a little less luck and a whole lot of planning.

It all started at a party hosted by rival high schools. My father won the drinking game, Quarters, and motioned for my mother to drink. My mother smiled, then declined– even though that’s how you play the game. Her baseball player boyfriend quickly stepped in to drink for my mother and glare at my father. In that moment, my father was hooked. The found each other again in the middle of college when my father purposefully enrolled in the same political science class as my mother and finally, she was single. My parents dated for seven years until my mother told my father that “it was time”. They’d been talking about moving in, discussing parenting strategies, they both wanted children… and come on, they were dating for seven years. So, they got married and from there, the rest happened at really fast. Now, it’s Mom, the planner, Dad, the jokester, Jack Jack, the coolest 13-year-old you’ll ever meet and me.