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What's It Like To Become A Mom Without A Mom Of Your Own?
PHOTO BY SHEN CALA-OR
  • Smart Parenting talked to four mothers, whose moms have passed on at different seasons in their lives. They shared their struggle—from not wanting to have a family, to losing their bestfriend, to dreaming about how motherhood and life could have been easier with their mothers by their side.

    Four stories of longing and yearning and powering through because no matter how long or how short their moms’ lives were, they will always be the reason why they became the strong moms they are right now.

    ‘I just didn’t want to be a mother without my mother’

    Shen Cala-or, 38, lost her mom to an aneurysm in 2018 when she was contemplating to continue law school. “I am an only child. We were very close. Until I was 26, natutulog siya sa bed ko. Lagi kami nag-aaway sa studies kasi hindi ako studious, mabisyo ako, at ma-barkada.”

    Her mom wanted her to become a lawyer because she believes that she can make good friends and meet a good partner in law school, which she did. Shen met her husband there, but she just didn’t want to be a lawyer.

    For a very long time, Shen didn’t want to have a family. “After she passed away, I had a hard time living in our house. My boyfriend and I decided that I would move out and we’d live with each other. Conservative yung family namin, but they let me.”

    Back then, Shen recalled, she was consciously trying to not get pregnant. “I just didn’t want to be a mother without my mother.”

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    But then the time came when she felt ready, partly because of the support of the people around her, and she had a hard time conceiving. Shen met women and found support groups whom she felt could be part of her motherhood journey, and whom she can ask help from. “It just felt right. Kahit wala akong mommy, okay lang.” she admits.

    And when she became a mom herself after two years of trying, she found refuge in her husband. “I took on the role of motherhood not because I wanted to become a mother alone, but because I share that experience and that challenge with my husband.”

    Now as a blogger and a stay-at-home mom of two girls aged seven and three, Shen shares how much she would’ve wanted to share her motherhood experience with her mom. “The sad part about losing your mom is that you’ll never know how exactly they would feel.

    You can only hope na masaya sila, that you’re not disappointing them. I’m sure she would have been happy pero mag-aaway kami for sure but I would’ve taken that any day.”

    If there’s one thing that Shen admires most about her mom and hopes to pass on to her child, it’s her strength. “I wish my children would learn from their lola na it’s okay to give yourself to somebody else but also make sure you are not being emptied out of that sacrifice.

    And that you can be successful even late in your life—that your skills and determination will always be your success's deciding factor.”

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    PHOTO courtesy of MELISSA DAVID

    ‘She did witness almost everything, but it’s devastating’

    For Melissa David, 41, her mom passed away in 2021. “She was diagnosed with cancer, but we weren’t able to find out where exactly it originated before she passed on. It’s devastating, considering we were only starting to have the chance to be really open with each other about our lives, thoughts, and perspectives.”

    Melissa is a director in the BPO industry. She says her life changed when she became a mom herself. “During my pre-mom days, it didn’t matter if I took 10 or 15 hours in the office.” But when she returned to work, she always had her baby on her mind. “I probably spent 30 percent of my time looking at the CCTV at home, checking on my kid!” Melissa’s mom witnessed all the milestones in her life, but because of the restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, she can only wish that she got the chance for more out-of-town trips that would’ve made her mom happy.

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    One thing Melissa misses the most about her mom is her being there for her, especially when she’s having a bad day. “When I need to vent, she’s always ready to listen. She doesn’t give unsolicited advice. So it’s very comforting to let out steam,” she recalls.

    Just like Shen, Melissa admires her mom’s strength. “I don’t think I will be able to match her resilience. We went through a lot growing up. She has remained a loyal wife to my dad until he died.”

    PHOTO courtesy of JERGIL TOLEDO RODRIGUEZ

    ‘She would have been very proud of me and my siblings of who we have become today’

    Sisters Jergil Toledo Rodriguez and Karen Toledo, and their two other siblings lost their mom to a car accident in 2012. Both of them were in college at that time.

    Jergil, 31, is the eldest and she shares that her mom’s death truly sunk in around the time she became a mom.

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    “I was so scared at first. I felt clueless because I didn’t have a mom whom I can rely on in case I do something wrong,” Jergil shared. It was most especially tough for her in the first three months after giving birth.

    I cried a lot—while changing the diaper, taking a bath, eating, and breastfeeding. I cried because I miss my mom so much, and I always imagine what it would be like to have my mom beside me. Things might have been way easier and fun.”

    She reveals that she appreciated her mom the most when she became a mom herself, and it really pains her to know that she will never be able to take her mom back.

    Like Shen, Jergil found refuge in her husband. “He became my umbrella in this storm. We were so happy when we became parents. Sometimes, he lets me cry if I have to, and affirms me that we can do this parenting thing together.”

    PHOTO courtesy of KAREN TOLEDO
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    ‘We are her legacy’

    Her younger sister Karen, 29, also had her share of postpartum struggles. “I gave birth to a baby girl through a C-section just like my mama. Being a first time mom was really hard and I felt like I was having postpartum depression. Aside from that, doing it for the first time made me miss her so much.”

    Like her sister, Karen imagines how her life would be if her mom was there for her. But that also gives her the courage to wake up every day for her five-year-old daughter.

    Through the help of their relatives and their partners, Jergil and Karen are now thriving in their chosen paths. Jergil has two sons, and is a customer service representative and entrepreneur based in Cebu.

    “I wish I could’ve learned more from my mom,” Jergil shares. “She raised us very well. She was humorous, talented, and practical. She taught me, pag may gusto ka, paghirapan mo. And to always save for the rainy days.”

    Karen is a restaurant manager, and she shares that her goal is to spend purposeful quality time and make more memories with her daughter.

    “She was a single mom, and looking back, I cannot imagine how she did it having the four of us. And now, I would be very glad to share to my daughter how my mom taught me to be determined.

    Determination was my key to get to where I am today, from an orphaned college student to becoming a full-time working mom. I am also proud to say that we are her legacy.”

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    She left us with a very important lesson that kept us going through the hardships in life,” says Karen.

    Is your mom still with you? If yes, give her a call or a tight hug today.

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