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Gardeners Wanted: Reframing Parenthood

Illustration: Shelby Ticsay

Not everyone is a parent, but everyone has been parented.

The soil from which we grow and the earth that our roots are connected to all have a profound impact on the quality of the flowers and the fruit.

When I use the term parent, I am addressing biological, non-birthing, step, adoptive, and surrogate parents; aunties and uncles, ates and kuyas, lolas and lolos, committed teachers, coaches, and community folx. Anyone who centers the betterment of children in their life’s purpose.

It is important to be inclusive of these roles because we have a collective responsibility to raise the revolution.

Childhood is precious. Parenting is a revolutionary act. It is our divine assignment to examine this role whether you are a birthing parent or a non-birthing parent.

I envision this cozy space of words and ideas to operate as a little garden patch of sorts. Enriching the soil, deepening the roots, honoring the thorns, flowers, and fruits in order to prepare for an abundant harvest. So abundant that the seeds have no other choice than to thrive.

So, gardeners, I invite you to come along during this season and see what we can grow together.

Let’s begin. First, we will examine our soil.

Where is your motherland? How about your parents, their parents, your ancestors, and your lineage. Are your roots deep in this land, or are you laying new roots? What were their conditions like when they were laying down the roots to your family tree? Were they fertile? Perhaps the conditions were not ideal for growth. Maybe the land needed to be cleared of dead plants and basura before planting. Or maybe that was considered a luxury at the time and you, my dear gardener, are a rose that grew from concrete.

When looking at the conditions we grew up in— the family dynamics, generational traumas, capacity for generational healing, and our deep desire to act as filters in deciding what we want to pass on and what we must disrupt— I will leave you with a passage from E.J.R. David’s Foreword for the book “Coming Full Circle: The Process of Decolonization Among Post-1965 Filipino Americans” (second edition) by Leny Mendoza Strobel:

“I learned that colonial mentality was passed on to me by my parents and their generation, and, in turn, it was passed on to them by the generations that came before. And I, as a colonized descendant of colonized ancestors, was destined to pass it on to my children and, subsequently, to future generations. Just like many others before me, I realized that, without intervention, I was on track to serve as a vehicle for the intergenerational transfer of colonial mentality.”

Let’s grow together. I’m rooting for you.

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