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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.

Sharing Stories

By Rossana L. Llenado

 

Today is very special as we celebrate International Women’s Month and the first year anniversary of Smart Super Women.

We started S, as we fondly call it, to serve as a forum for smart super ladies to inspire other equally bright and busy women.

We asked people we admire to share with us their stories.

We asked leaders to share with us the secret of their success. We asked them to trace their roots, to speak to us about their vision, and to share with us their triumphs and tribulations.

We asked parents to share with us  how they raise their children. We asked them how they became so strong as they dealt with the challenges of modern parenting. Does your being strong benefit your children? Do you want your daughter to be as strong as you are?  These are the questions that we asked of them, the answers of which they gladly gave us.

We asked single successful career women to share with us the choices that they had to make. We asked them to tell us about the joys of freedom and independence and about how they sometimes had to conquer the specter of loneliness.

We asked everybody to share with us the events of their daily lives. What gives them joy? What matters to them, what concerns them, what jolts them into feeling?

By asking these questions, these leaders, parents, and women showed off the brilliance that is their education. Indeed, in one story after another, we saw how a good education proved to be the final touch that spurred a person to excellence and achievement.

This we did for the last 365 days.  They wrote. We posted. We shared.

Each essay is a celebration of one woman and of all women.

We hope to bring more inspiring essays in the coming years.  And we invite all of you to share your story, so that there will be more Smart Super Women out there.

The Triumph of Fortitude

By Lyra P. Villafana

 

I used to edit a two-volume publication on legal costs. Referred to by practising lawyers in Australia, it was one of the most difficult to understand among all the products in my department’s list.

The first time I spoke to the author, she asked:  “Are you legally qualified?”

“No,” I said.  “I have a bachelor degree in Communication and my background is publishing, not law.”

“I can’t imagine how you can edit this kind of publication.”

Notwithstanding my lack of formal legal education, I forged a productive relationship with the author.  I gave her all the support she needed to be able to perform well as an author. In return, she delivered her manuscript on time, picked up the phone and talked to subscribers when I asked her to, and helped me with my product research. The question about the law degree never came up again.

All these years that I’ve worked in legal publishing in Australia, my education in the Philippines has served me in good stead. My training at the Ateneo de Manila University Graduate School of Business has helped me develop commercial acumen, a skill that is becoming valuable among editors these days.

Editors are not just wordsmiths anymore. Rather, we are the commercial owners responsible for the profit and loss of our publications.  Even when I was editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine in Manila, I looked at the title in terms of market wants and needs. I managed the editorial process so we could go to press on time—the earlier we could supply the magazine to distributors, the more money we would make on newsstand sales.

I’ve reaped dividends too from my UP Communication degree.

The ability to read and analyze difficult text? My grasp of grammar and punctuation? The confidence to believe that I can learn and engage in meaningful discourse? UP nurtured me in all of these.

There are many other overseas Filipinos like me who have established themselves in their chosen careers. Nurses. Engineers. Accountants. IT professionals. The two things we all have in common: the fortitude to finish our studies and the tenacity to get every job done.

 

A Good Education

By Paige de Guzman

 

There’s a love and hate relationship between me and college. One minute I was loving it, then hating it the next. I love vacations. I love lazy days and happy mornings when I don’t have to wake up early to go to school. I love it when I don’t have to sit in the bus in the middle of traffic and end up late for class.

Nevertheless, I did my best. I woke up early, finished my assignments, studied my readings, and aced my classes. Sometimes, I would complain, but always, I tried to do my best. At the time, I always thought of what my parents told me: “It’s for your future.”

And oh, how right they were!

Of course, the realization did not come right away. When I graduated, I went job-hunting, taking tests and doing interviews. At first, it was frustrating. But because I knew exactly what I wanted, I did not lose hope. Today,  I am working full time as a publishing specialist while doing part-time work as a writer.

But reaping the rewards of a good education does not stop with getting a good job. A good education reflects on the quality of your work. It shows on how you handle pressure. Aren’t exams, graded recitations, and project deadlines stressful? Well, I’ve realized that they’re almost the same—deadlines in school and deadlines at work. The difference is that you get paid with the latter. That’s when I tell myself, “Thank God, I did my best in school!”

A good education also reflects on how well you relate to people. It shapes into the kind of person that you are. Before college, I was a  socially awkward girl who stammered a little bit in class. I suppose, all those graded recitation sessions fixed that.

I might have hated school at one time or another, but looking back, I’m glad I did my best. I know that I wouldn’t be here now if I hadn’t burned the midnight oil.

The Year of Living Brilliantly

By Jing Lejano

 

When we started the Smart Super Women blog exactly one year ago, we never thought that we’d play witness to daredevil feats of adventures. We wanted to hear inspiring stories of mothers, daughters, sisters, warriors, peacemakers, intellects, vamps, homemakers, career rats, readers, adventurers, and dreamers who were going through their everyday lives. But we didn’t think that they’d do so with such daring and gumption.

Take the case of Mari-An Santos, a cum laude graduate of the University of the Philippines. We happily read about her trips to Thailand, when she suddenly revealed that she was packing her bags and moving to Romania! She had received a grant to pursue her Master’s degree in that European country. In her latest entry, she writes, “Studying in a foreign land has not only opened my eyes to the reality that I am a citizen of the world, it has made me appreciate my being Filipino all the more. Even as I learn about other peoples, cultures, and places, I have learned to value home even more.”

A collection of personal essays for and by women, the Smart Super Women blog was created to inspire its readers to tackle everyday challenges with courage and to work for the fulfillment of their dreams with conviction.

Most of the contributing writers are working mothers with school-aged children. They discuss such topics as careers and children, literacy and education, family and friends, and the quest for self-improvement. Because the writers contribute on a regular basis, readers have seen them tackle different challenges, resulting in a very interesting read.

There’s newspaper editor Gina Abuyuan, who never got around to traveling alone when she was single, but who finally had the nerve to roam the streets of Chiang Mai all by her lonesome now that she is “older, tougher, not afraid to tell someone off.” Her latest solo trip had her enjoying the sound of waves crashing at a beach side resort in the provinces. Oh, and may we add that she also recently opened a pub together with her life partner and some friends?

Of course, the adventures aren’t always of the adrenaline-pumping kind. Sometimes, we see these women finding epiphany in a cup of coffee shared with friends, in the few hours they sweat it out in the gym, or in the few minutes they spend with their children as they drive them to school.

But whether they’re raising their kids in the Philippines like writer Ruth Floresca, who’s a work-at-home mom to four boys, or juggling their time between career and home in Australia like editor Lyra Pore, who gets up at five in the morning to bring her daughters to the day care center, these women always find creative ways to make every opportunity a learning experience.

Ruth goes on date nights with her sons as a way of catching up with what’s going on in their lives. She writes, “It’s a continuous process, this getting to know one’s children because they grow up so fast and I don’t want to wake up one morning to find out that I don’t know anything about them anymore.”

Lyra Pore Villafana takes swimming lessons as a way of relaxing from the challenges of living an immigrant’s life. “Life overseas is so different to what we’ve all been used to… But doing something for oneself isn’t unique to Asian moms coping with the stresses of building a new life in a different country.”

Maridol Bismark bombards her sons with questions to learn her way in the digital world. She writes, “I work for an online entertainment portal. Every day, I am exposed to words and phrases that are just starting to make sense to me…I feel like a child lost in a newfangled world, groping for a hand to guide me. Fortunately, the hand belongs to the boy who appreciates everything that I’ve done and will still do for him.”

As these women continue on their journey to live, love, and learn in the modern age, Smart Super Women will be right alongside them, watching their every step, hoping to inspire others to live as fearlessly and as brilliantly as they do.