From dramatic actress to devoted wife and mom of four, Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan shares with us 10 secrets for a happy family, bits of wisdom she learned over the years.
1. Couples need to work at being together. “Anthony and I love each other. We’re very good friends. He’s my mentor. He’s my fan. We started as friends. When we were considering settling down, we were very focused on how to prepare ourselves for the future so that we would be together for keeps, not just because, ‘Okay, we’re in love, we’re happy.. No. We were seriously into it because we wanted to nurture our loving relationship and have children to love as well.”
2. The right partner encourages you to be your best. “I’m blessed enough to have found somebody who is as passionate about taking care of the family as I am. Anthony isn’t the type who requires me to stop everything I’m doing so I could take care of the family. He encourages me to be the best I can be in whatever I like to do. Because of that, I’m a happy woman, which makes me a better wife and a better mother. If I love myself, there’s more love to give to my family.”
3. Each and every child is unique. “They’re all very different. Ella’s the fashionista. Donnie is the introvert, the creative guy. Ella’s the artista. Donnie is the writer. Hannah is the host, the entertainer. She is kinesthetic in her intelligence; she’s a champion gymnast. Benjamin is our youngest and he is a naturalist. He loves nature, and he deals well with animals and with people. He’s very articulate, and many times, I get a lot of wisdom from him. Yun ang iba-iba sa kanila. Dealing with each of them is very different.”
4. As a parent, always remember that it’s not about you, it’s about your child. “Maraming parents, their very goal is to be perfect parents. But you can only be a better parent if you work hand-in-hand with your children. I realized that if I set out to have a certain perspective in parenting without keeping in mind the unique design of my child, I am actually violating my child. If I’m just pursuing my goals so I could be who I want to be as a parent, I’m not ushering the child into a place where he can really be the best that he can be.
5. Parents should know when to let their children go. While Hannah was in a gymnastics competition in Singapore, Maricel recalls, “I didn’t realize I was becoming a stage mom! I had my video cam and while we were running through the exercises, I was telling her, ‘Focus, focus, honey. No talking. Just focus on the gold. What do you see on your suit?’ I didn’t know I was becoming uptight.” At that point, she asked for Hannah’s knitting needles and learned to knit. “I was able to knit one scarf just so I could keep myself quiet! Hannah went on to win that competition,” with Maricel realizing, ‘It’s really about them, it’s not about us.”
6. Parents should let their children find themselves. Maricel tells us another story, of a book reading she couldn’t commit to because of a conflict in schedule. Upon realizing that she had written the book as if she were Ella, she had the inspired idea to ask Ella to perform the book reading. “I told Ella, ‘You’re gonna read ha.’ She said, ‘Okay!’ While she practiced, I told her ‘Uhm, can you add this and that? But you do it the way you want to do it. It’s you telling the story.’ She said, ‘Thanks. Bahala na ako, Mom!’ I just set her free. I think that’s important to do. If you don’t set your kids free, you put them in a box and make them into a mould that’s exactly like you. They won’t turn out as exciting, or as creative, or as interesting.”
7. It’s best to consider yourself a learner, not a teacher. “I do feel the pressure because I have a lot of speaking engagements, and I have to speak to people of authority thinking that I’m an expert here. More than anything, I consider myself a learner. Many of my parenting tactics I learned from my kids, from my husband. And I submit myself to being mentored by people in the academe, people in church, people who really know what it means to parent. If you’re not spending time with your children, you cannot talk about parenting. You may learn all the theories and strategies in school, but if you don’t live them out in your daily life, you wouldn’t know what you’re talking about. It has to be something that’s really part of you.”
8. The best gifts are those that don’t cost a thing. “What I like most about being a mother is when they say ‘Mama, I love you,’ or ‘Thank you,’ or when people say something nice about my kids. I don’t take credit for it because many times I have nothing to do with it, pero nakakataba talaga ng puso. Like when Hannah won first place in Singapore, I fainted! I had no idea.”
9. Enjoy today because today is all you’ve got. “I want to make sure my kids go to college. I want to make sure they pursue their dreams, but I especially want to enjoy today with them because today is all I’ve got. I can dream about tomorrow. Yesterday, I made my mistakes in parenting and I’ve asked forgiveness for my mistakes, and I continue to make mistakes. But that’s the past. What I have with my kids and my husband, I want to enjoy today. Hopefully, when I sleep at night, I can sleep soundly and thank God for a wonderful day. Yun lang ang goal ko. It’s just one day at a time.”
10. And don’t forget to take care of yourself. “I love running and working out because that’s my time for myself. It’s about who I am and what I want. And time with girlfriends is important, too. I’m looking forward to great years ahead, and I also know life isn’t always perfect. It can be bumpy. I’m preparing myself for those things by loving myself as I love my family. I know that if I love myself, there’s also more love to give them.”