Becoming a mother is one of the things that has made me a fulfilled and complete person, and everyday, I am thankful that my husband and I have been blessed with a darling little girl almost three years ago. Since then (well, maybe even before then, I just didn’t realize it until later), I promised myself that I would try my very best to be a good mother and role model to my daughter, to raise her the best way I know how, always keeping in mind the values instilled in me by my own parents. As a mother, my fervent wish is for my child to grow up to become a well-rounded, disciplined and successful person, and for her to also become a good mother to her own children someday.
That is why Don’t Forget the Soap (And Other Reminders from My Fabulous Filipina Mother) was such a hit with me.
To say that I enjoyed reading this collection of stories from the real-life experiences of the author, Marie Claire Lim Moore (whom I admire, by the way - who wouldn't?) and her immigrant Filipino family would be an understatement. This book is overflowing with lessons on family, love and life that it could just as well be a mother's personal parenting bible that she can occasionally consult for advice or even just inspiration. Unlike your run-of-the-mill self-help or advice books, though, the lessons dished out in Don't Forget the Soap are told by way of funny anecdotes and humorous stories, making them sound more effective, real, and less preachy.
I loved the dynamics of the relationships that existed in the author's family: I loved how the author's parents (and especially her mother) inculcated discipline in their children without resorting to corporal punishment (my husband and I are totally sold on the "good cop, bad cop" style of dealing with kids), I was envious of how close the author and her younger brother are (my own sibling and I didn't exactly go the same route), and I admired how the values and ideals that their parents have imbued in them when they were young have been instrumental in the shaping of their future. It is clear that the Lim kids – the author and her brother – would not be where they are today if they did not heed their parents' advice and considered them every step of the way. The rules and limitations that their parents have set upon them, how they were strict to a certain degree or lenient, if need be, were clearly effective. In this respect, I know that I could take a leaf or two out of their own family book – for that is what Don't Forget the Soap is all about, really – and file it away for future reference. My own family can surely benefit from the reminders in this book.
It was also fun to read about stuff that I recognize from my own adolescent years, because I am also a child of the late 70's and 80's, and because my own family has been on the receiving end of those balikbayan boxes that our relatives used to ship from abroad: boxes of imported corned beef and other canned food (yes, those with the "keys" on the side), packages of soap, shampoo and various toiletries, used clothing and even toys, and a whole bunch of other stuff crammed into whatever space was available. In the early 90's, when I was a bumbling and awkward teenager, Beverly Hills 90210 had its popular run (until now, my favorite is still Jennie Garth, aka Kelly), and I could only remember watching foreign or "canned" TV shows because my parents strictly banned local sitcoms in our household, declaring that we wouldn't learn anything of value from watching them. No one in our family met the Aquinos, but I know them because my parents are staunch loyalistas. So in the end, reading Don't Forget the Soap wasn't only about picking up parenting or homemaking tips, but it was also a trip of sorts down memory lane. And it was a lot of fun.
And because the author has declared in the first part of the book that she makes lists, I'll make my own list of the top five things that I like most about this book:
(1) "Who's going to tell you... [insert name of friend here]??" Or the important distinction between parents and friends.
(2) "You can make mistakes and you can disappoint us but whatever happens, don't let your parents be the last to know." I was guilty of this when I was younger and it is only now I realized how important this advice is. It'll be a different ballgame with my daughter.
(3) "Good cop, bad cop" parenting style.
(4) "If your emotional abilities aren't in hand, if you don't have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can't have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far." Or how sympathy and understanding can be even more important than IQ.
(5) Every single item that falls under the "Practical Tips" chapter. Martha Stewart, move over. :D
Highly recommended for parents and for those who are planning to start their own families soon. Oh, and don't forget the soap!
Book Details: E-book from the author (Thank you!)
About the Book:
At the center of many good stories – inspiring, entertaining, admittedly corny – is Marie Claire Lim Moore. Ask her about the time she and her family sat down with former Philippine President Corazon Aquino. Or the time she built houses in Mexico alongside former American President Jimmy Carter. Equally engaging are her every day experiences and perspective on life. You will be interested to hear what she thinks is a relationship “deal breaker” or why Christmas should be regulated or why kids shouldn’t say, “I’m bored.”
Don’t Forget the Soap is a collection of anecdotes from different points in Claire’s life: stories from the tight-knit Filipino community in Vancouver mix with memories of her move to New York, experiences at Yale and travels as a young executive. Underlying this narrative is the story of a global citizen who does not want to forget the fundamental values that come along with the “immigrant experience” as she and her husband raise their children in the increasingly glitzy expat bubble of Singapore. Her parents continue to remain a big influence in her life and her mother’s reminders a grounding force. These stories will warm the heart and resonate with people of any culture.
About the Author:
Marie Claire Lim Moore is a Filipina-Canadian-American working mother and author of Don't Forget the Soap. After spending the early part of her childhood in Vancouver, Claire moved to New York City and attended the United Nations International School. She went on to study at Yale, climb the corporate ladder at Citi and travel around the world. She met her husband, Alex, while working in Sao Paulo, Brazil and they married in Manila, Philippines shortly before moving to Singapore. Now Mom to Carlos and Isabel, Claire also manages the Global Client business for Citi in Asia. She enjoys juggling career and family and likes to throw in community and politics for fun by campaigning for US political candidates, fundraising for organizations that advance the role of women in business and promoting foreign direct investment in the Philippines. She is also a guest contributor at Sassy Mama Singapore.
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