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Mom Truth: Having A Choice And Getting To Make One Is Great Freedom
PHOTO BY Dix Perez
  • Yes, motherhood is a choice you make every day. But it doesn't always mean you need to give up something. You need to just wait sometimes or stop getting distracted by what other people have to say.

    You know what is better? According to these moms, members of the Smart Parenting Network, start listening to yourself. How can your child pursue a dream and be anything he wants to be when he doesn't see you make that choice for yourself?

    ALYSSA JIMENO, 22

    “Based on my experience, people [on social media] tend to judge din other moms.”
    PHOTO BY Dix Perez
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    Aside from working fulltime in a government office, Alyssa runs an online business. She also has two toddlers: Irvin, 3 years old, and Stephen, who’s less than a year old. How does she find the balance in fulfilling all her responsibilities?

    “You need to manage your time. I have my planner where I put down my notes within the day. The night before, I write down what I need to do tomorrow, and ang mga reminders ko para maging productive ’yong day. Tatamarin ako sa araw na pag feeling ko, hindi ko nagagawa ang mga dapat kong gawin.”

    With an online business, Alyssa has seen her fair share of judgmental comments and points of view. She makes special mention of this line: “Post ka nang post, wala kang magawa.”

    “When in reality, you’ve done a lot of chores already,” she pointed out. “Maya-maya, and ’yan na ang mga makukulit,” referring to her two sons.

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    The mom of two, who advocates breastfeeding, tries not to let the social media pressure get to her. She tells herself and other moms: “We just need to enjoy, relax, and learn how to limit yourself from negative stuff.” 

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    BRYCELYN TUCKER-TIBURCIO, 32

    “Mahirap po talaga na pagsabayin ang work at pag-aalaga sa anak, lalo na ganitong situation na working ako, pang-gabi pa.”
    PHOTO BY Dix Perez
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    Brycelyn, an accountant for a U.S. accounting firm, used to slip out of the house to go to work without saying goodbye to her daughter Cassie, who would end up crying all night. Then she read about a piece of parenting advice. She took it to heart, applied it in her daily life — and it worked.

     “Dapat daw mag-set ka ng routine,” she said. “Dapat alam niya kung kelan ka magwo-work para di ka niya hanapin. So ayun, nagpapaalam ako nang maayos. Nagwo-work ang gano’ng setup.” 

    Before leaving the house, Brycelyn would tell Cassie, now 3 years old, these lines: “Magwo-work si Mommy, wait mo ’ko tomorrow. Pag gising mo, andito na ’ko.”

    “Simula noon, hindi na siya umiiyak,” she added. “Nagba-babay na siya. Nagki-kiss siya, nagha-hug siya. While at work naman po, basta breaktime, tinatawagan ko naman po siya. Hinihintay niya rin pag tatawagan ko siya.”

    Brycelyn agrees that being a working mom is difficult, and it gets tougher when you work the night shift. She has to make do with an average of four hours of sleep on weekdays and catch up on shut-eye on weekends.

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    To spend more time together, Brycelyn has set a routine every Sunday: Her family goes to church every Sunday and eat out after. She uses her vacation leave to go on family vacations out of town. She reasons, “Importante po kasi ang vacation, nakakawala ng stress. Natututo din ang bata pag nasa bakasyon. Para sa akin, best gift talaga ang travel.”

    When asked what superpower she’d want to possess, Brycelyn answered she’d go for something like a shield to protect her family. “Siguro kung puwede ding extend ang time,” she added, grinning. “Yes, more than 24 hours. Para mas mahaba ko silang kasama. Pero kinakaya naman din po na pagsabayin sa ngayon.” 

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    ISABEL BELEN-DIZON, 25

    “Di ako proud na maaga akong nagbuntis. Actually, gusto kong ipakita sa mga kabataan ngayon na hindi madali ang maging batang ina. Pero hindi ako nagsisisi kasi [my kids are] so beautiful. Blessing sila sa akin.”
    PHOTO BY Dix Perez
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    Isabel was 16 when she had her first child, a girl named Jai. She and Jai’s father soon parted ways, and she began working in a casino at age 18. There, she met the man who would become the father of her next two kids, both boys, Lance and Nigel. After breaking up with the boys’ dad, she reconnected with a high school friend, who became her husband.

    Isabel then decided to take a job in Laos. It meant leaving all her children under the care of their respective fathers.

    “Para sa akin, ’yon ang pinakamahirap na desisyon,” she said, adding that some people made her feel worse. “Magtatanong sila sa ’yo. ‘Bakit mo sila iniwan? Okay lang sa ’yo na iniwan mo sila?’ May ibang tanong na may halo na agad na judgment.”

    “Nanay ka kasi,” she explained. “Ang concept ng tao pag nanay ka, na sa ’yo ang anak mo. So, sa case ko, since alam ko na wala namang ibang tutulong sa ’kin, sarili ko lang at saka si Lord, tinignan ko na opportunity ang pagiging OFW.”

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    Unfortunately, Isabel wasn’t able to finish her contract because she had to fly back to Nueva Ecija to her dying father. She returned to Manila where she found a job as a secretary. In May 2018, Isabel found out she was pregnant with her fourth child, Inarah, now 1. It was a delicate pregnancy, and she and her husband decided it was wise to quit her job.

    They now live near the residence of Jai’s father. The proximity has made it possible for mother and daughter, now 10, to see each other often. And the possibility of regaining custody of her two sons, now 6 and 5 years old, looms positively.

    “Gusto kong magampanan ang role ko as a mom,” she said. “Sabi ko noon, gusto ko marami ang anak ko. Pero hindi ko naman ginusto na iba-iba ang tatay nila.”   

    Isabel's greatest joy is to see them all together, playing and happy. She exclaimed, “Pag nanay ka, masaya ka na din talaga. Kahit hindi kayo mayaman, kahit hindi kayo makapunta sa ibang bansa, okay na ’yon. Basta ang mga anak mo, makita mong sama-sama sila at saka maayos silang magkakapatid.”

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    MOISE SANTOS-AQUINO, 35

    “Mas nangingibabaw ang need to provide for [my son], to make sure na maibigay namin ang mga pangangailangan niya. Hindi ko siya magagawa if I choose to stay at home.”
    PHOTO BY Dix Perez

    Moise can’t forget the day she returned to work after her three-month maternity leave ended. “I was very emotional,” recalled the first-time mom, who works in the international business development division of a company. “Chini-check ko siya sa CCTV the whole day sa office.”

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    “At the same time,” she hastened to add, “na-miss ko din ’yong working in the office. Na-miss ko ang dati kong routine, that time for myself. Although excited akong umuwi — like on the dot, uwi ako agad — it was important to have that time for myself.”

    The working mom is grateful she has someone who looks after Matteo when she’s at work. She admits though she worries about her baby’s closeness to his yaya. She acknowledges getting “medyo selos” when Matteo smiles at his yaya more. So her heart breaks whenever she leaves the house to work.

    “I don’t know pag bigger na siya, pag maghahabol na and makakasalita na,” she said. “How to deal with (separation anxiety) but I need to stay strong for him, for our family.”

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