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  • How to Be a Mom: It Is Different for Every Woman, But the Experience Is Like No Other

    Somewhere out there is a mom going through the same things as you. Meet 15 of them.
    by Kitty Elicay .
How to Be a Mom: It Is Different for Every Woman, But the Experience Is Like No Other
PHOTO BY Stanley Ong
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • Motherhood is different for every mom, but it can't be denied they have shared experiences that create an inevitable bond. There are certain things only a fellow mom will get.

    On challenging days when raising your little humans feel overwhelming, you can find comfort that there’s a mom out there going through the same things as you are (just check out our "Real Parenting" section). We also know this because a lot of you reach out to us through our communities: Smart Parenting Village, Parent Chat, and now, the Smart Parenting Mom Network.

    The 15 moms below embody our readers — each has their own story to tell, but they are somehow also going through similar pains, challenges, and triumphs as you.  

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    Meet the Smart Parenting Mom Network

    Kaye Avellana-Bellon, 33

    Kaye is a stay-at-home mom of two. 
    PHOTO BY STANLEY ONG
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     “Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Even something as simple as a long, relaxing bath makes a difference in my mood and well-being.”

    We’re sure many moms will relate to Kaye’s confession: when she became pregnant, she was so insecure of her capabilities to take care of a baby that she attended several talks on childbirth, the fourth trimester, and breastfeeding to prepare for the coming of her child.

    “When our son, Joe, was finally born, [my husband and I] just applied what we learned and constantly encouraged each other that what we were doing was correct and showered each other with praises for a job well done,” she shares. And their efforts paid off — when they had their next child, Kaye says it was so much easier the second time around and with this reminder to herself: “I become a better mom to my kids when I consciously make time for myself.”

    Karen Ayala, 33

    Karen is an entrepreneur-mama with two kids.
    PHOTO BY Stanley Ong
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    “It was hard to detach me from the kids. But my relationship with my husband, my friends, my passions, and most importantly, I needed nurturing, too.”

    When she’s not taking care of her daughters Kali, 4, and Kamie, 1, Karen is busy turning other children’s artworks into wearable keepsakes for their parents. She’s the founder and CEO of Bubba Doodles, an online store that transforms doodles and artworks into handmade jewelry.

    The entrepreneur shares that being a mom changed her in many ways including her personal style. “I was a fashion stylist before, so I was more experimental and courageous with my outfits,” she shares. But these days, her outfits are simpler and less cluttered — fewer layers and more comfort (with easy access to breastfeeding!).

    Luisa Beltran-Pua, 32

    Luisa is an account manager and mom of one.
    PHOTO BY Stanley Ong
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    “No matter how busy and tired we [are], it’s always important to still care and look after ourselves and our well-being [so we can] take care of our children and our husbands."

    If her face is somehow familiar, it’s because this mom graced print magazines and runways when she was younger. But even when she became a mom, this mama never stopped working — she’s now an account manager for an IT firm, and she manages to do a little bit of modeling still, all while taking care of her 10-month-old daughter, Lana.

    Luisa is a firm believer of self-care, so while she’s adjusted her beauty routine and personal style to suit her new role as a mom, it doesn’t stop her from choosing to look and feel good about herself. “I liked bold lips colors and eyeliners before becoming a mom. But I’ve switched to more nude colors and the no-makeup look. Just in case my face gets ‘smooshed” by my daughter, smears won’t be that noticeable, and I don’t have to retouch all the time!

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    Anna Co-Uy, 29


    Anna is a hair and makeup artist and a mom to Selahvie, 2. 
    PHOTO BYSTANLEY ONG

     “It is the hardest, most tiring, and the most fulfilling job you could ever have. You can’t just resign when you’re sick and tired.”

    This makeup artist is the first to admit that she is not the most responsible or disciplined person but motherhood can undoubtedly turn your life around. “It changed me for the better,” she shares.

    With a 2-year-old daughter and another one on the way, Anna has learned to navigate the ups and downs of raising a child. “Before I decide how to deal with my daughter, I always think of the possible outcomes of my actions. Will this make her or break her?” she says.

    Anna adds, “You still have to show love, patience, and support to your child even in their most unlovable state. You need to stoop down to their level, so you’ll be able to understand where they are coming from. Whoever your children become is all because of how you raised them.”

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    Vanessa de Guzman, 27

    Vanessa is a nurse and mom of one. 
    PHOTO BY STANLEY ONG

     “We don’t need to raise our kids the exact same way. We all have our own paths, and that’s okay.”

    Having a demanding job while being a first-time mom may be overwhelming, but Vanessa, who is an operating room nurse in a Manila hospital, is comforted by the fact that she’s not alone. “When I listen to other mom friends, I realize I’m not the only one who feels that they are not good enough. So, I’ve learned to stop making comparisons and just find happiness in what I do,” she shares.

    Because she’s raising her daughter, Venice, single-handedly, she’s also experienced mom-shaming. But she doesn’t let it get to her. For as long as she’s enjoying every moment with her daughter, she could care less about what other people say.

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    Nesty Dela Cruz-Clemente, 27

    Nesty is a stay-at-home mom to Noah, 1. 
    PHOTO BY STANLEY ONG

     “Learn how to trust your instinct. Listen to other people’s advice, but take what you like best and adapt it to fit your life and your baby.”

    Choosing to leave a stable job of six years to become a stay-at-home mom was one of the hardest decisions Nesty had to make. For the first few weeks, she felt anxious and felt empty. “I was just taking care of my son, Noah, all day and breastfeeding him. Imagine every day of your life nag-fe-feed ka, especially nag-i-ipin na siya,” she shares.

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    But realizing that she was watching her 1-year-old grow without missing any milestones gave her peace. “It’s tiring but very fulfilling,” she shares. Blessed with an abundant supply of breast milk, Nesty donates it to premature babies.

    Khristine “Tin” Flores-Larena, 27

    Kristine is a treasury assistant and mom of one.
    PHOTO BY Stanley Ong
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    “It’s very important that you don’t compare yourself to anyone.” 

    Like any new parent (her daughter, Caoife Lauren, is only 6 months), Tin admits that she was obsessed with being perfect. She read books, reviewed articles, and joined parenting classes in her quest to be "the perfect mom." Pretty soon, though, she realized being a good enough mom was not so bad, and making mistakes is part of the journey.

    “Motherhood is a learning process, it never ends. You’ll [commit] mistakes, but there is always room for improvement,” she shares. "We learn from our own experiences, whether it’s positive or negative."

    Cara Kho-Martinez, 33

    Cara is a fashion designer and mom to Hailey, 3, and Hugo, 6 months.
    PHOTO BY STANLEY ONG
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     “Love YOUR mom. We only have one, and she can never be replaced. Becoming a mother made me appreciate her even more.”

    For someone whose background is in fashion design, it’s surprising to hear that this mom feels that she’s let herself go. “Having two kids can be a difficult job. The minute I became a mom, everything changed. Mostly priorities and even dreams,” Cara shares.

    And being a working mom only increases the #momguilt. “I feel guilty over small things, like going to work whenever they are sick. A lot of times, I question myself if I’m doing the right thing or making the right decisions for my kids,” she says.

    Thankfully Cara has a strong support system— her husband! “He finds me beautiful even when my hair is a mess or when I look like I just got out of bed. And that’s enough."

    Sharm Miguel-Macalua, 41

    Sharm Macalua is a stay-at-home mom to three kids — Kendra, 9; Kenzie, 7; and Kiefer, 2.
    PHOTO BY Stanley Ong
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    “Being a mom is being selfless. I am not a perfect mom, but I see to it that my kids are happy and know how much they are loved.”

    This stay-at-home mom admits that her biggest insecurity after becoming a mother was having to deal with her post-baby body. After having three kids, she gained 25 pounds that stayed put for nine years. It’s a significant change from a woman who used to be active in sports like hockey and swimming. “I easily get tired now,” she says.

    This 2019, however, Sharm’s goal is to make a change. She has started working out again with her family as her biggest motivation. “I need to stay healthy for them!” 

    Stella Pastores-Esquivias, 35

    Stella is a lawyer and mom to Jaden, 8; Sophia, 6; and Johann, 1. 
    PHOTO BYSTANLEY ONG
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     “Moms have the capacity for infinite love.”

    Moms are talented at making it look like they have it all under control but in reality, they’re still consumed by guilt, whatever their age or status in life. Even after three kids, Stella still asks herself if she's good enough.

    “I was — and I am still not — the mom who meticulously plans all-nutritious meals. I’m not one to ban gadgets, and I also choose to go to work instead of staying at home,” Stella shares. “But I’ve learned to rise above it by embracing the truth that I am exactly who my children need and want. I strive to work on many flaws and parenting mistakes, but for my three little ones, I am the best!”

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    Trishka Puno-Samonte, 26

    Trishka is a fashion designer and a mom of one.  
    PHOTO BY STANLEY ONG
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    “Motherhood has taught me all about making sacrifices. It’s really all about selfless, unconditional love.”

    This mom started out young in the world of fashion design, creating classy gowns for debutantes and brides under her own label. So, when she got pregnant with her first child, Marika, she feared that she couldn't go back to work and lose the freedom to do the things she loved.

    But after becoming a mom, Trishka realizes she will always put her child first. “Before Marika, I suffered two miscarriages, because I have APAS (antiphospholipid syndrome). Having a high-risk pregnancy was challenging — I had to go through various treatments and self-injections of blood thinners every day just to keep my baby alive inside my womb,” she shares. “By God’s grace, we overcame APAS! And now, I have a beautiful baby girl, whom I love dearly.”

    Dominique "Nikki" Revil, 29

    Dominique is a single mom of one. 
    PHOTO BY STANLEY ONG
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    “The whole of you, including your flawed self, is enough for your child to love.”

    Nikki admits that she was not prepared for the arrival of her daughter, Alana. She came at a time when Nikki was fulfilling career and personal goals. She shares, “It felt like I had so much going on which I needed to balance — being a mom, a partner to my [now] ex, a career woman, a daughter, and the list went on!”

    She dove into several self-help tools like watching positive talks and attending meditation classes to help her accept the changes in her life. “These little things helped me a lot in strengthening my will to move forward with Alana,” she shares. “She showed me what unconditional love meant."

    Aishtemas “Aish” Tan, 26

    Aish is a stay-at-home-mom to Adrie, 5; Aedann, 2; and Ayrton, 4 months. 
    PHOTO BY STANLEY ONG
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     “The most valuable lesson that I could ever give my children is to teach them always to be kind.”

    Mothers are their own worst critic, and Aish doubted whether she would be a good mom since she got pregnant at a young age. “I was a 22-year-old college graduate, but I still doubted if I was doing things right due to my lack of experience,” she shares.

    But three kids later, Aish has grown more confident and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. “Seeing how wonderful my children turned out to be, I have no regrets.”

    Clarisse Valdecantos, 24

    Clarisse is a law student and mom of one.
    PHOTO BY Stanley Ong
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     “I want to be the best version of myself for my daughter. To do that, you need to love yourself so you can take care of your child.”

    This mom did not let motherhood stop her from pursuing her dream of becoming a lawyer. She’s currently juggling law school with a toddler in tow. But it didn’t mean that she was able to accept the changes in her life wholeheartedly.

    “I was very insecure about my body. I gained a lot of weight [during pregnancy],” she admits. But being reminded that she had a daughter who looked up to her set her straight. “As her mom, I want to be able to set an example and teach her how to be confident in her own skin. The only way I can do that is to be confident with my own,” she shares.

    Danielle “Danie” Valdepenas, 33

    Danie is a stay-at-home mom to Daena, 2, and Vincenzo, 6 months.
    PHOTO BY Stanley Ong
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     “Being a mom is about giving yourself to your child, even without receiving anything in return. My children need me more than anyone else in the world, and that gives me purpose.”

    Nothing good ever comes out of comparing yourself with other moms, and it took a while for Danie to realize it. “My biggest insecurity was not being able to feed Vincenzo, my 6-month-old baby, enough (either with breast milk or with solids). I would compare him with others — when I see how fat and chubby they are, I suddenly feel inadequate. I would blame myself for not being able to produce enough breastmilk or wonder if I should have 'force feed' my baby solids,” the former fashion merchandiser turned stay-at-home mom shares.

    Thankfully, Danie has learned to let these little uncertainties go. “I just remind myself that as long as my baby is well-fed, happy, and healthy, I have nothing to worry or be insecure about,” she says.

    Hair courtesy of Kiss New York. Makeup courtesy of Bell Hypoallergenic. Special thanks to Trina Catolico-San Pascual and Jam Larios.

    This article was updated on March 1, 2019 at 3:07 p.m.

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