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My mom, I, and all things imperfect

My mom, I, and all things imperfect

When I was younger, I would sometimes wish I have a different mother, far from the one I have. I envied my friends who have a “perfect” mother — prettier, smarter, kinder, and richer. I remember praying to God before sleeping, asking for a replacement. But when I wake up, she’s still my mother, and I her daughter.

When I was about five or six years old, I remember saying that I wish I had my bestfriend’s mother instead of her – straight to her face. Back then, I did not understand how painful it must been; but I remember her telling me, “Can you promise not to wish that again?” I did not know why she told me that, but I know better than to argue. I saw her shed a tear or two and thought, maybe I did a bad thing.

I did not like her very much when I was growing up. Sometime she’s so strict and mean; but sometimes she’s so calm and peaceful like she’s a different person. How can I describe my mom? She has a short temper and has tendencies to become violent. But, at the same time, she is the most loving, caring, loyal, honest, helpful, and most importantly, strong woman I know. Of course, I did not see these good traits of her before; I was too occupied dreaming about a perfect mother I would never have.

When I was younger, I felt like she finds satisfaction embarrassing me in front of our family members, my teachers, and my friends. I felt like she always needs to look out for me, meddle in my life, decide for me, and save me in every dilemma even if I don’t want or need her to do so. She does not want to leave me alone and it made me angrier and angrier.

Over the years, our relationship had been tested countless times. I would cause her pain, she would cause me pain. We would make one another cry. Sometimes we would cry upfront; sometimes, we would cry behind each other’s backs, when we think the other one would not notice – and that’s one of the worst ways to cry.

When I graduated from High School, we were told to write letters to our parents and tell them what we want to say. I wrote my letter and gave them to my mother. In that letter, I told her, “I forgive you.”

But, it did not end there. Our fights continued. Things have worsen, before they got better. But in each and every fight, she will always tell me, “Someday you will be a mother, and you will finally understand.”

As both of us grow up and as more years pass in our lives, we learned to understand one another. I saw my mother in a completely different light, or maybe I saw her for who she truly is all this time.

We discovered how we truly and deeply loved one another all along; we just didn’t know how to show that love. And, we just didn’t know how to receive one another’s love.

For my mom, her love was about waking up early to cook breakfast and pack my lunch, skimping so she can buy me decent clothes and some toys, pretending to be Santa Claus and leaving chocolates in my socks during Christmas, attending parents-teachers association meetings, never missing a school activity, selling different stuff to get me to school, and kissing me when she thinks I’m sleeping.

For me, my love was about studying hard to get good grades because I know she would be happy to see I excel in class, massaging her body when she’s tired, not changing the television channel when her favorite shows are on, helping clean the house, and not eating all the food so she can have something when she’s hungry.

Little by little, I realized everything my mother had done for me. When my anger turned to gratitude and joy, I stopped looking for perfect, because there is nothing greater than what I have in front of me.

I asked my mom a few times if she ever forgave me for all the pain I caused her. She told me, “There’s nothing to forgive because she never held a grudge.” I asked her, if she ever regretted me or wished she had a different daughter. She told me, “I never did. You are my daughter. Someday you will be a mother, and you will finally understand.”

I may not understand everything, but I know better now.

We are two women with similarities. We are both beautiful and smart, passionate and courageous, loving and giving, and strong and determined.

We are also two women with differences. We have different preferences, ways of thinking, opinions, principles, experiences, and beliefs.

We are two women – both imperfect, but never less.

Single Working Mothers: The Work-Life-Parenthood Balance

Single Working Mothers: The Work-Life-Parenthood Balance

They say two heads are always better than one; in traveling, dining out and maybe even truer in parenting. Parents always want to be a part of their children’s lives, to be there for them while they grow up. But to raise your kids demands more than just love and affection. You have to send them to school, buy what they need and give them the best support system you can offer. Imagine doing it all just by yourself, think of just how dreading it may be. This is why I have always looked up to single mothers.

I used to work as a customer service agent in a BPO company. Since our work would start when most people are off to their beds and end when most people are just having their first cup of coffee, it’s usually just easier to ask co-workers out to socialize. I remember attempting to ask Mickie, our boss, out for breakfast on a Saturday morning; our own way of celebrating the end of the week. Before I could even ask her, she was already out and on her way home.  She usually goes home as soon as our shift ends. She says this is because of her two lovely kids that she supports and takes care of, Ich and Micah. We can only imagine how exhausting it was for her doing it all alone. Although this was the case we never heard her complain about the lack of sleep or even saw her lash out because of too much stress. I wondered how she could keep up with life when even I was having a hard time balancing my work, my family and friends.

During our breaks, I would notice how she would take her phone and take this little extra time to send messages to her kids. She says that this important to keep you in your children’s lives. Although it’s not hard for Mickie to see her kids because it’s just her and her kids at home, there are times when she has to extend a few hours in the office to finish work so even the smallest gestures such as leaving written notes for your kids would remind them that you care. Keeping them in the loop, like telling them what time you’ll go home or leave, would make them understand and adapt to the situation. Mickie believes that children are resilient, so making the extra effort of keeping them a part of your life too can make them understand.

It’s amazing how her kids grew up to be such strong and loving kids; this may be the greatest achievement any parent can be proud of. This isn’t something you accomplish overnight, though. She says the toughest challenge being a single parent is that you have to be everything and everywhere. Any amount of money can be earned, sleep can be recovered but the feeling of success seeing your kids grow up well is priceless. So she always tries to give the best of herself. Although it’s inevitable that regardless of how much effort and love you give, you will feel that there may be a gap in your kids’ heart and it’s heartbreaking to think that you cannot fill these gaps. While being a single parent, you get twice the hugs, the kisses, and the heartaches too. The stress that this can bring is unimaginable.

The challenges may be tough, but if your goal is to give the best life to your kids you always have to choose to stand up and be stronger. Mickie reminds herself every day that she is the only pillar her children can lean on, so don’t forget to always choose to be strong. This why she says it’s important to remember that you have to keep your sanity too. A simple “me time” at home, sleeping all day, traveling or going out with your friends are great ways to rest and recharge. It is only when you can keep yourself sane that you can be the best at what you do and it is only when you love yourself that you can offer a greater amount of love to your children.

Mickie and all the single working mothers out there deserve all the appreciation the world can offer. Juggling these three professions may be extremely hard, but as they always say sacrificing for the people you love that makes everything else easier.

Written by Love Gardose

How Three Women Turned Passion into Profit

How Three Women Turned Passion into Profit

Every woman’s situation is unique, but all women, whatever path they take, can always find opportunities for personal, professional, or business growth. The secret is to look for the opportunities that are present everywhere, whether in the home, in the office, even in your hobby room.

Here, meet three women who did just that: They mined their personal circumstances, passion, and creativity to bring their game to the next level and score financial success.

Mommy Problems—Solved!

When Janice Villanueva became a mom, she had to deal with all kinds of motherhood issues. One time, while breast-feeding her child at the mall, her chest was accidentally exposed. This unfortunate experience, however, drove her to launch her first venture, a clothing line she called Mommy Matters.

“These look like regular clothes but they have a panel that opens up,” she says of the nursing wear she produces. “There’s a hidden slip that you just lift up so that when you are breast-feeding, you don’t look like you are.”

As her child grew older, Janice started to realize how much mommies need specific information relating to practical parenting. And since she was also in the industry of publishing, she decided to publish a book entitled Mommy Pages, a directory for moms containing relevant information such as useful listings and details on party planners and child-friendly restaurants, among others.

Meanwhile as she continued to give seminars to other mothers about proper breast-feeding, a friend suggested that she do events as well. Hesitant at first, Janice took the plunge after her friend promised to place ads in her book if she would do an event for her.

Thus, Janice’s events company “Creative Juice” was born in 2000. She has since then been organizing all kinds of events, and several years ago, she re-branded her mommy events and launched Mommy Mundo, a go-to portal of resources for moms.

The Writer Who Won’t Quit

When she was still a student, author Marlene Legaspi-Munar loved to read. “In elementary I read the Nancy Drew detective series,” she says. “When I reached high school, I turned to reading romantic novels like Mills & Boon and Barbara Cartland. Because I loved romantic stories, I thought I’d write my own.”

At 16, she wrote her first story, and it was published in a magazine. Encouraged, she pitched more articles to magazines and sent book proposals to publishers. But unlike her first article, many of her drafts were rejected.

“Early in my career, I would feel so bad after receiving rejection letters from editors,” she says. “I found comfort in reading about other writers whose works had been rejected, too. I learned that, sometimes, it’s not that your material is bad, but maybe you just sent your material to the wrong publication, meaning, the publisher doesn’t publish your kind of story. So you have to find the right home for your manuscript.”

With this insight, she managed to get two of her works published in the same year—a textbook and a short romantic fiction. Several books likewise saw print later on, including Life in the Middle: The Search for a Satisfying and Significant Midlife and How to Keep Your Hubby Happy at iba pang Tips para kay Misis.

For budding writers who want to get published, here is Marlene’s advice: “Keep reading, keep writing, and keep rewriting. Don’t be afraid of criticism. Be humble and learn from your mistakes. Do your research. Be on the lookout for magazines or publications seeking contributions. Study carefully what publishers are looking for and craft your material accordingly. Follow submission guidelines carefully. Be patient while waiting for the right time.”

Wear Your Confidence

As far back as she can remember, fashion has always been one of the great loves of businesswoman Audrey Quitayen. But even back then, she believed that no matter how beautiful your clothes are, you’ll never stand out without self-confidence.

“A woman can still be sexy, glamorous and beautiful the way God has created her even without showing so much skin,” she says. “So I decided to start a business that is bent on giving women some confidence through pieces and accessories that stand out.”

Her venture, Pieces N’ Creations, sells handcrafted products, wedding accessories, art pieces, and souvenirs. The trademark of her business is the handcrafted satin flower found in the art and fashion products she and her partner sell.

Audrey explains that she came up with the name Pieces N’ Creations from the idea that by using creativity, “you can make some creations from scratch, using different pieces of available materials, to come out with unique creations.”

One of the best things about putting up this kind of business is that not only does it require relatively little capital, but it’s a social enterprise that creates job opportunities for women in many communities, adds Audrey.

Photo: Reynermedia 

My Son’s Friends

By Maridol Ranoa-Bismark

 

“Good evening, Chelo. This is Ben’s mom. Sorry to disturb you at this time but he has not replied to my message. May I call you?”

I sent this panicky text message at 11 p.m. and Chelo, my son’s friend, replied, “Yes Tita.”

After explaining my problem, Chelo must have sprung into action. She contacted her network of friends. My son, who is in his junior year at the University of the Philippines, was on the phone in no time at all! Sorry, he told me. He was in a dead spot at the debate tournament and didn’t get my message. But he’s fine and will be home in an hour or so. I went to sleep smiling, grateful to Chelo. She must have been a mom in her past life.

Now you see why I have the cellphone numbers of around five of my son’s friends stored in my directory. I know deep in my heart that I will need them, especially during the wee hours of the night, and the morning. But having the numbers of your son’s friends is not good enough. You also have to be in good terms with them. It doesn’t take much: a smile, a hello, an offer to give them a ride, and the occasional get-together in your house. This way, they will warm up to you and even tell you untold stories about your son. Is he taking life too seriously? Does he need to loosen up?

Sometimes we parents act like bulls in a China shop. No matter how much we love our children, we do not realize that we’re just charging into their world and breaking valuables along the way. My son’s friends see another side to him that I, his mom, can’t see. They give me a fresh way of looking at my son. They don’t treat him like a son but as an equal. And that’s just what I need, even with my grown-up son. Now, I see him the way his friends do. And I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. Now, I know that I have to advise him to slow down and enjoy his youth, even if I don’t know exactly how he can do that with a worried mom like me around.

If you can’t beat ’em, be friendly with them. I don’t mean attending their parties or joining them for lunch. I mean just letting them know that they can count on you when they need you.

Now that my son is always away from home, spending more time with friends and giving monosyllabic answers to my questions, I know  can still have an idea of how he’s doing through the people he hangs around with.

And I can only cross my fingers that he chooses his friends well the way I advised him to. So excuse me while I check my phone directory again and see if I missed any name on the list.

 

The Drive to Achieve

By Mari-An C. Santos

 

Our family is not wealthy. My father is the eldest son among eight of a welder and a housewife who worked part time. Growing up, he worked many odd jobs, mostly selling odds and ends, waiting outside a different church every day, depending on whose Novena day it was, e.g. Quiapo, Baclaran, etc. My mother is the daughter of a district school
supervisor and public school principal in Mindanao. They would scrimp and save every last centavo until the next teachers’ salary came from the government, literally making ends meet for five children.

But both my parents value education. My father was a working student all his life and so, it was no wonder that he went into economics. My mother took up nursing at the advice of her grandparents and came to Manila to work. Later, they were both employed by a top multinational corporation, where they met.

My parents worked hard to send me and my sister to a school that they deemed would teach us not only the basic R’s, but also impart positive values that they too shared. We did not always have enough money to “keep up with the Joneses” at the school, but we did manage to have all the basic school supplies and participate in most relevant school activities like field trips and class projects. As a child, I did not fully appreciate why I could not afford to buy a Trapper Keeper or the latest pair of Keds or Reeboks.

It is in hindsight, of course, that everything makes sense. My father was very strict about maintaining good grades all through my grade school and high school years. He forbade watching TV on weekday nights—even going as far as locking up the TV case so that the time was devoted only to studying. When the time came after every quarter of the school year to claim the school cards, I trembled before seeing my grades. If I had a low grade or a lower grade than the previous quarter, my father would sit down with me and find out exactly what went wrong. He was tough, as most Filipino parents are, and put a great emphasis on high grades.

In grade school, I lived up to my potential and was part of what was called the “interdisciplinary classes” from fourth until sixth grade. In our school, we took an exam at the sixth grade to find out if we could go on to high school or stay one more year in grade school. I passed the exam.

In high school, I was placed in the “honors class” where we had to excel in the academic subjects. I dreaded the end of the schoolyear, as inevitably, some of our classmates were transferred to other classes. Thankfully, I graduated as part of the same class, and among the top of my batch.

In college, even though I lived near the university and enjoyed greater freedom, I found that I took with me the drive to excel in my studies. I was a college scholar every semester and I graduated cum laude. I was so proud to have my
parents on stage to award me on graduation day. It was, after all, due to their efforts that I received such an achievement.

Even when I was working, the drive that my parents instilled in me to excel was very strong. I made the most of every opportunity to learn and to be the best that I could be—whether it was as a production assistant or as a segment producer or as a scriptwriter.

When I began to pursue higher education, it was of my own initiative, not at the prodding of anyone else. I felt that I wanted to learn more and more every day. Although I had to abandon what I started when I moved from the capital city, I found more and other ways to learn from new experiences and new people I met in new places.

Now, that I am pursuing a degree with a scholarship, I value much more the good basic foundation that I have—thanks to my parents’ efforts and the education that they helped me achieve. Without such good foundation and records, how would I get a scholarship that would enrich me and fund my day-to-day expenses? That is why I strongly believe that good education is of primary importance in every person’s life, whether we can see it at present or not. The adage is true: a good education is something that can never be taken away from us.

Good Education or Bust!

By Maridol Rañoa-Bismark

 

It was John F. Kennedy who said that “a child miseducated is a child lost.”

That’s why we parents work ourselves to the bone to give our child the best education we can afford. Let’s face it, good schools – with the exception of state-run universities where admission is tough – cost a lot. But most good things do. After all, a good education, unlike a house and lot, jewelry, and the most expensive car, cannot be stolen. It stays with you forever. You can even pass it on to your children, and they can pass it on to the next generation. It’s an heirloom of a different, more lasting kind.

How many humble men have triumphed from poverty because they refused to accept their lot and sought good education as a way out of dire straits?

Former presidents Ramon Magsaysay and Diosdado Macapagal were born poor, but they worked hard at getting the education that helped make them the top officials of the land.

The father of Sen. Manny Villar, one of the richest men in the country, got a job promotion after he got a year-long scholarship for higher education in the U.S.  The senator himself returned to his alma mater, the University of the Philippines, for a Masters degree in Business Administration.

Eight-division world champion and Sarangani congressman Manny Pacquaio dropped out of high school because of poverty. However, he took the high school equivalency exam that made him eligible to go to college. He is now taking up Business Management.

Manny is already on top of his game. He has everything. But he knew that getting a good education is one way of improving himself. Education, after all, as Aristotle says, is the mother of leadership. And a resume studded with degrees from reputable schools is a sure passport, not just to a job, but to a respectable position in any company.

In these tough times when competition for jobs is very keen, a degree from a good school is crucial. It will spell the difference between getting a job and staying at home, waiting for that all-important interview. It will distinguish the productive from the non-productive; the esteemed individual from the so-so. The productive ones lead more meaningful lives. They are happier since they contribute more to society. The non-productive ones turn drifters; neither here nor there in a world that’s already confusing as it is.

The choice is ours.  Do we let our children’s minds go fallow by giving them education that is less than what they deserve? Or do we develop their rich imagination and quench their thirst for learning by giving them good, priceless education? Just as important, do we develop in them a love for learning that will stay with them, even after they’re done with college and earning well?

For those of us who want only the best for our children, there is no choice. It’s good education–and a love for learning–or bust.