“Real” Moms

How do you really categorize a “real” mom?

I came across a post in Bianca Gonzales’ page where she was featured in Leading Women about being a millenial mom. See the Fashion Pulis thread here. And then I read about a commenter that says, ‘You should feature “real” moms … not like these pseudo moms who has like 3-4 maids who does the work for them…’ And then go and scroll down the comment section of the post in the website itself where there are numerous comparison of “working mothers with yayas” versus “stay at home moms”.

There was once a scenario where I took a leave at work when the twins were still less then a year old. It wasn’t really a vacation but I just stayed at home and took a break. I remember someone asked me, “Kamusta bakasyon mo?” And then I said, “Okay lang, parang di naman ako nag-bakasyon kasi inalagaan ko yung twins.” And then I was surprised with the reply, “Bakit? Dalawa naman yaya mo eh, hindi ba sila nagaalaga?”

When I still had two yayas, most people get the impression that I don’t do any “mom” task anymore. Sure, I do get a lot of help. I mean, wasn’t that the whole point why we hired them anyway? But what they don’t know is that when we are at home, we are as hands on as we can get. They can do all house chores as they want and we’ll take care of the twins. But when they are too much to handle, then that’s where they come in and take over. Just because you have a yaya, doesn’t mean that you’re less than being called a mother.

What saddens me is why people compare the tasks of a working mom to a stay at home mom and why mothers who can afford a yaya suddenly becomes pseudo moms. How do you define a “real” mom anyway?

I know for a fact that being a stay at home mom is very difficult because you do everything without any price – taking care of the baby, cooking, cleaning, doing the dishes, etc. But working moms also should get the credit of doing work plus doing some mother duties once they get home. Sure, they don’t do everything that a stay at home mo does but do we really have to count?

What I liked most was the comment where it says, “There are no real mothers or pseudo mothers. There are only ‘mothers’. Period.” Just because a person asks for help on taking care of a child doesn’t make you less than being a mom. As long as you do your best in raising your children, then that’s all that matters. Each family has their own methods, you just have to find what works for yours. Besides, we all have different needs than others. We all have different field of work, our child also have different needs than other kids, so we shouldn’t compare what other family can or cannot do.

In this day and age of social media, I feel like it is so difficult being a mother. Aside from different brands popping everywhere, we also see a lot of mom “influencers” showing their perfect life in their posts and as a new mom, you always compare your life to them. What we don’t realize is that what we see on camera isn’t really what’s real. I am also guilty of this when I posted the twins eating on their own and my cousin said she was so impressed how much they are eating. I said, “Don’t be fooled by my post. Hindi nila nauubos lahat yan. Most of the time, they just play with it.” Which is true, but I don’t post behind the scenes of it. Because we tend to only show the best moments and not the realest ones. That is why I admire mothers who show both. The best moments and the worst struggles.

So, please, let us stop comparing or labeling mothers. Let us stop mom-shaming. Instead, let us help one another with just well, being a mom. Period. Being one is so hard already so let’s make it a better place for everyone! You are a great mother. Don’t let other people say otherwise.

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xxpmnmbe | nessae signing OFF

Today, I have officially resigned. As I composed my goodbye emails, I realized, these are 10 years of my career life I’m leaving. I may have moved to two companies, have worked with three teams but still with the same client. And now I’m moving into a completely different world. It was bittersweet, especially when I recall on how I started.

I grew a lot especially during the past year. And now as I take a week break and have a much-deserved family vacation in La Union, I wanted to take a breather before I immerse myself into an entirely new world in Metrobank.

My colleagues and mentors, thank you for shaping my career to what I am today. Goodbye, TCS and MS. See you guys around. ☺️

Career Struggles Once You Become A Mom

The day I found out I was pregnant more than a year ago, I was so excited to change my bio from a “career woman” to a “working mom”. I have always been a go-getter. At that point of my life I thought it was just gonna be an easy phase. I’m gonna be back to work after maternity leave and nothing’s gonna change. I thought I’ll just go back to work and miss my babies and repeat the process but I didn’t know it’s going to be a difficult transition.

I considered my official working career in Accenture when I started doing production/application support and actually realized I was good at it – I got a lot of commendations, got promoted twice and moved teams. After 4 years, I moved to another company to manage transitions of what we were doing in Accenture to TCS as L2 production support with the same client. I was one of the pioneers. I loved the team that I was a part of since 2010 – Advisory. I had a lot of colleagues which I still consider as friends now. My team lead was a great leader, trusted me a lot with what I do and challenged me so many times and proved to him that I can lead a team of my own. So when I was about to return from my maternity leave, he asked me what I wanted to do when I get back. It was a delight to hear it from him, to know that he considers what I wanted to do, and for him to consider me on applying for internal lead openings. He told me to update my CV and they would be submitting it for team lead positions.

At that point, I thought I was ready. But I had mixed feelings about it because I never really wanted to leave Advisory. Back when I told my lead that I’m getting married in 2015, he asked me if I’d still wanted to work. It was such a weird question for me then because I see no reason for a person to stop working once you get married and had kids. My mother always told me to make sure you have established your career before getting married. And I never really see myself quitting work, I liked what I do. I liked being challenged. But fast forward to now after having kids, I now understand why he had to ask me that question.

My manager started sending my CV to business leads for qualified team lead positions a month before I got back from maternity leave. It was the start of interviews which involves locking myself in our room and keeping myself from being distracted from my newborn twins’ cries and hoping the interview won’t get too much of my time because as you guessed it, breastfeeding is life. The struggle of balancing work and being a mom to newborns is real – and yes, double the struggle because I have twins. It was also a difficult time because interviews were so technical and even if I work in IT, you’ll be surprised that I’m not really a technical person. I guess it was one of the reasons why I never became a programmer. Most of the first few interviews I had, I remember saying, “I am not familiar with this because this was not part of the scope of my previous work but I am willing to be trained if required” on most of the questions. I took maybe three interviews, none was successful. I asked my manager on what’s gonna happen if I don’t pass any of them. I mean, what work will I be doing once I get back? Will I still be a part of a team? What’s gonna happen to me? But then he assured me that I’m gonna get a role, we just need to try harder and looked for the right fit. I did messaged my former lead that I’m willing to go back to Advisory if he’d liked but sadly, for a consulting company, once you are in maternity leave, your slot would get replaced by another employee because of billability.

After next batch of interviews, I finally passed for a team lead position. I was excited! It was a role I have been praying for for a long time. I remember when I was in Accenture and some of my colleagues were getting promoted early on, some even became a team lead as early as 27. Because of that, it was also a target I set with myself. I became one at 29. During my career process, there were times when I was too hard on myself, setting goals and expectations that sometimes are way over the top. But I guess it was something that kept me motivated.

Unlike other moms who were having mixed feelings on going back to work from maternity leave, I was excited February 2017. I feel like I am so used to working that I wanted to do something else aside from taking care of the twins. I needed time back again for myself. Being a parent to twins is no joke, there was definitely no time for rest and I wanted a breather. I had no yaya on their first three months. I wanted to leave the house and be away from them for a while so I could miss them and come back again whole and renewed. I loved the first few months back to work – I had my own schedule, I had frequent pump sessions, we had trainings, I was learning something new, met new people and everything was a challenge. I knew that the role would still involve shifting. I mean I have been doing it since 2008, what’s the big deal? But then when it happened, I struggled.

The first night I went to work on a nightshift schedule, it was terrible. It was the hardest. I cried in the car when my husband drove me to the bus stop. I felt so guilty leaving the twins to him at night where they needed me the most. Since the twins were breastfed and they were still not sleeping through the night, I felt guilty that him and his aunt would have to stay up and give them bottles instead of just breastfeeding them and they’d fall asleep easily. That night, it was the first time that I asked myself if this new role was worth it.

Every single day I felt drained. Leading a team and balancing family when your kids are still babies was hard for me. Everyday I have to think about work, if everything in our team was going okay, replying to escalations, making sure we have enough coverage. Then I’d go home, take care of the twins and it felt like I never rest at all. Even when I’m sick or on leave I get messages about work and I’d still have to think about coverage and escalations. Work requires weekend support at night and there are times when you had to work during Holidays. During nightshift, my husband and I almost never talk anymore. The only time we spend with each other was when he drives me to the bus stop and that’s it. Our usual conversations had become just Facebook messages. I felt sad. This isn’t what I pictured life is when I have a family of my own. I thought this new role would give me that, a freedom on work schedule and more time with family. However, it was the complete opposite and it didn’t felt right. I wasn’t happy.

There were times when I’d break down and cry. I told my husband that I wanted to quit. I wanted to look for another opportunity where I only need to work during the day. And I don’t think I was excelling on my new role. I felt unmotivated. I thought maybe I’m still getting used to it. I told myself that maybe it was too early to quit. I’d give it a year. If I still feel the same way about it, then that’s when I decide if I still wanted to leave.

It was a difficult time wherein my leadership was tested. I was fortunate that my team members were good with the work that we do. It’s a plus to hire people with the same background so they only needed a few adjustment with work. They were never late, they value time, and I am sure they were also challenged. You really never know what kind of a leader you are until you become one. I had to adjust a lot. I had to improve how I talk to people. I realized how hard it is to be a lead when you’re an introvert. There were a lot of times when I asked myself if this is really a role for me because I for one do not like talking to people on a daily basis and yet I have to do it as part of work. It was a moment where everything was too much – too much going on at work, and too much going on at home with twins. Juggling both roles are hard and I need to prioritize one above the other. It was a no-brainer. I know it will always be family first.

By December 2017, I started looking for other opportunities. I dreaded going to work at night, I always feel bad every time. I started submitting resumes and applying in Jobstreet and LinkedIn. I even messaged my past colleagues and schoolmates for referrals. It was already April and I never really heard from anyone yet. But after two weeks, I received a message from Metrobank for a job interview. I asked for a referral from my previous manager in Accenture as I was looking for a permanent morning shift opportunity. I was scheduled for an interview for an IT Account Manager position. I read so much about the job description to make sure that everything I answer in the interview was aligned with the work.

A week went by but no word. I was getting impatient. I prayed and hoped that they’d get back to me the following week. And then a week after, as I arrived home from work, I received a text regarding my job offer. I thought, this is it. In the month of April, there were two resignations before me. The thought of resigning while my team was in a vulnerable state had me on so much guilt. But then I told myself that for the past year, it has always been my team. I have to do this for myself this time.

As I accepted my job offer through email that same night, I realized how far my journey was and the struggles that I had since last year. When one of our clients knew I resigned, he asked me, “What did we do wrong? Why are you leaving us?” I told him the real reason and he understood. He told me that I should’ve done this a year ago when the twins were still young. Coming from him, he said, “It will only get harder”. I was so glad he understood where I was coming from.

Once you become a mother, everything changes. Your outlook in life and your priorities will change. You’ll be surprised the difference a year can make with motherhood. It’s like you matured 500%. Every single decision you make will be all about family. Your decision to skip on going to work for “Holiday pay” will be replaced with “I have to spend more time at home”. And there will come a time when you ask yourself if what you’re doing is still worth the risk, the time away from family, the loads of work, if all of it are still worth sacrificing for. And the last question you should ask yourself is, are you still happy?

I came across a quote that says, “It’s not worth it if you’re no longer happy.” It struck me big time. It was something that I felt for the longest time and now that I found an opportunity where I can balance work and family, I feel like I can let out a long sigh. It was a long wait and a big risk. I am excited to take on this new role and new journey. Hopefully, it’s something that will fulfill my heart’s desire.

To all new mothers out there who still experience career struggles, this is for you. I know what it felt like when you think about quitting work and focusing on being a mother. When you leave for work every day thinking twice about leaving your child to someone else or if your new yaya can take care of your child like its their own. And when you think about how much your lifestyle and budget would change if you quit, then you scratch the idea and still go to work broken hearted. We sacrifice a lot for our babies, but at the same time, its the time when they needed us the most. I guess all I can say is, continue being hardworking, a perfect opportunity will come, we just have to be patient. I know it feels like forever waiting but we just have to continue trusting God’s plan for us. And most of all, pray. Pray for your plans. Pray that your plans are aligned to His. It will unfold beautifully in God’s time.

As me and my cousin would say, “kapit lang.” It’s worth the wait.

Celebrating Birthdays as a Parent

Before I became a parent, my birthday was always celebrated with either hanging out with friends for a drink, a dinner or a videoke, or a sleepover, or maybe a staycation with my boyfriend. However, once I became a mother, priorities changed. Birthdays is still about taking the twins out to celebrate.

On my 31st birthday, (yes, I am 31!), we went to our go-to birthday lunch place at “The Morning After”. We went to Kidzoona right after to check out the rates. I am not sure if the twins would like it there or if it’s too early for them to try out play places like that. So we only took the twins there for 90 minutes. Everyone who enters Kidzoona are required to have socks so good thing both the twins are wearing one, only the adults aren’t! Their socks are only 30 pesos each though.

By the way, I didn’t expect to enjoy the place as much as the twins did. My favorite was the ballpit area, it was huge! I think Kidzoona in Nuvali Solenad was the biggest. Here are the twins enjoying their play. I wasn’t able to take photos of the other areas as I was busy looking out for them. Guess what, Nate enjoyed playing in the kitchen play area (is he gonna be a Chef someday? We’ll never know!) And then Naya was the one who enjoyed roaming around the whole area trying all the different things. I think they even forgot to do their afternoon nap because they were busy playing!

And because the twins were tired, both of them were passed out in the car on our way home. That’s how we celebrate birthdays now, how about you? Has it changed when you became a parent?

Oh before I forgot, Nayj suggested we go out and watch a movie on the eve of my birthday because he said we need to still have an “us” time. However, we cancelled the plans and decided to watch Never Not Love You last Monday instead. For those who have been following me on Twitter and Instagram, you know I loved the movie. And for someone who has been in a long relationship before getting married (11 years before we wed), it is very relatable, or for those who experienced growing apart or growing together in a relationship. You guys should watch it.

How To Find a Good Yaya and How to Keep Them

In this day and age where we always read or hear yaya horror stories, I’d imagine that every parent are very careful on finding the right person in taking care of their children. I was talking to a friend a couple of weeks ago and she mentioned that our family are very blessed with the yayas that we hire. But I believe that it isn’t just us who are blessed, we are also blessed to have them. Just like what works in employees and their employers, it usually is team work. But if I would describe Nayj and I’s method with our yayas, we are very patient, kind and very considerate with them especially if they are the types of people who are worth keeping because of the quality of their work.

Before I go into detail, I’d like to say that this how-to was based on how we were able to find and keep our yayas, how we establish our working relationship with them, since we hired them last year. We just experienced one of them leave at the start of the year so what works for us won’t always work for everyone. So, let’s start.

1. Keep the circle small. Accept referrals from people you know. Start with your relatives, your closest friends and even your experienced kasambahay’s referrals. They usually are the ones who are trustworthy and may malasakit to your children. We don’t recommend agencies as I think it should be your last resort. Not to mention the expensive rates!

2. When you start working with them, adjust half way. Just because you are their employer and you are paying them, don’t always expect them to adjust for you. The first few months are quite rough because it’s the “getting to know” stage. Observe where she’s good at, her weakness, how she’d like to be trained or how she prefers to communicate, etc. Then adjust her roles and responsibilities depending on what she can do.

2. If she made a mistake, don’t get mad easily. Instead, teach her the correct way of doing things with your expectations. Don’t always make her feel like she’s a failure. Just like every new employee, she needs training and you should be patient with her learning too. Be open also with their ideas if they recommend a better way of doing things. I believe it should be a two-way learning.

3. Give credit where credit is due. If she deserves a raise, give it! If you cannot afford a raise yet, offer small things that you can buy for her – like a 20 pesos load or a big bottle of shampoo. Praise how good their Adobo or Sinigang, or how nicely they have cleaned the bathroom or how they have taught your kids to do “beautiful eyes” or learn how to smile. Small things matter.

4. Give them their personal time off as you have discussed when you hired them. Be clear about when they should be home on your agreed time. And when they are out, don’t bother them on their day off. No text nor calls unless they aren’t still home from what you have agreed. They deserve to enjoy it since they work almost the entire week for you anyway.

5. Be considerate about their needs, be considerate about their work. Just like you, they also get tired. If they’ve been taking care of your kids the entire day, let them rest after dinner and take care of your own kids naman. Be the one to put them to sleep or consider giving them help on feeding or bathing them to ease the workload whenever you are free or aren’t that tired to do so.

6. Learn their culture, family background, their lifestyle or their love life. The purpose is to know where you think their salaries are going to. Not because you want to pry but because you want to care. You’ll know the importance on giving their salaries on time and their need to take a day off para mag allot ng time mag-pera padala.

7. Let them know their boundaries. They can’t order what they want when you dine out, you do that for them. However, once in a while, its good to give them a treat. Educate them about the language that they use around your kids, what food they should and shouldn’t let them eat. You care but then you should let them know who’s the boss.

8. The good cop and the bad cop. You and your partner should have two roles on how you treat them – the one whom they can always talk to and someone who’s more authoritarian. That way, when you think they no longer listen to you, it’s time for your partner to take charge and talk to them more on a more serious tone on whatever matter you’re having issues with.

9. Make sure you’ve laid out how you are budgeting your money to keep them from doing salary advances or borrowing money from you. If you really have no money to lend them, don’t. You may be the ones paying them but your priority is still your own finances and your family.

10. Treat them like family. Once in a while, take them to out of town trips and let them enjoy when you think you can handle things on your own even just for a few hours. Let them eat what you eat at home, provide their basic needs and talk to them like they are your friend.

Some of you may think that this sounds like it’s very one sided. However, Nayj and I believe that if you treat your yayas good, they would also return the favor. We are also hearing how they’ve been very proud that we are their amo. But then again, this still depends on the person you are hiring.

Now that yaya Joy has left our family early January to return to her own family in Davao, she only had nice things to say about us and we are open for her to return if she wants to. A new yaya will be joining our family in the middle of February (fingers-crossed!) and I am hoping that she’ll be as responsible, very caring to the twins, hindi na kailangan utusan, fast learner and very masipag just like yaya Kristy and yaya Joy.

Breastfeeding After A Year

So after a year of breastfeeding, what has changed?

1. The twins always latch whenever they see me. Seriously, they think I’m a huge milk bottle. And nowadays, they prefer to tandem latch rather than latch after the other finishes. Yes, they are that impatient. So when one sees his/her twin is latching, they felt that they need to latch also even if they really aren’t hungry for feeding.

2. Tandem breastfeeding is tiring. Now that they are a year old, breastfeeding means uncomfortable positions. The baby may either be lying down, sitting up, nakadapa or even nakatuwad. And they get their hands everywhere! Seriously, I feel like I just finished a boxing match after tandem breastfeeding both of them. Although the pro here is that, less feeding time because they usually finish around at the same time.

3. Less pumping session. I had to force myself to have less pumping sessions because our new office building wouldn’t allow mothers to bring and pump on their desks. We have to pump inside the office lactation rooms now which is two floors down. With the nature and criticality of our work, I find the need of going down every 2-3 hours tiring and time-consuming. So instead of 3-4 times pumping sesh, I have reduced it to twice a day instead. My milk output has reduced to 3-4 4oz bottles from 6 4oz bottles. But that is okay, I think we have the same demand anyway from my twins.

4. Our buffer milk is now Nido 1-3 years old. I think most of 90s kids are laking Nido so we opted to try this instead of other brands. It’s cheaper too and since its just buffer milk, why not? Nate usually consumes this though. Naya prefers my milk over any other milk. #breastmilkislife

5. I no longer bring my pump whenever I go out without a baby in tow. I prefer to just pump at home instead of bringing along my huge cooler bag everywhere. I only bring it if I would be spending a day out for longer than 6 hours – like work or spending time overnight.

6. We have graduated from baby bazaars. Baby bazaars are huge for new moms. Mostly, this is where we see products that we only find online. So mothers find time to attend such to cut down on shipping expenses. Plus, its a one stop shop for everything. Nowadays, I feel like the twins already have everything they needed – breastfeeding-wise. Except for, clothes!

7. We have graduated from “X months” marked clothes to “2T”. Oh, how time flies! The twins are officially toddlers now. Well, this isn’t really related to breastfeeding but I feel like sharing as its another milestone for us.

If you ask me, I don’t know when I would stop. However, I am thinking if I should have a cutoff when they turn 2. Compared to just waiting for one baby to wean on their own, twins are so different. Seriously, you’d even tell yourself “my katawang lupa is soooo tired”. But let’s see, I am always open for change anyway.

The Twins Are Walking

It took 14 months before the twins started walking on their own. A lot of people warned us that it would get harder once they start walking but for us as parents, it was waaaay easier. It was difficult when they were still learning how to walk. During that phase, they have to hold your hand all the time so they won’t fall. But now, all we have to do was sit, look and observe. I think that was how our cradle roll experience was today at church. Less energy needed because they can now both play on their own.

On their 14th month, we also had a challenge in our parenting journey as yaya Joy left our home to return back to her province. Hence, our yaya Kristy was left alone on taking care of our twins. We are so lucky and blessed that Nayj’s tita is also home to help us. Though Nate and Naya are less fragile now, we appreciate how yaya Kristy has been exerting twice the effort at home as our all around yaya. She even helped us on finding Joy’s replacement and hopefully, she’ll be here already by second week of February. We recently moved to my parents’ house in Metrogate Silang as we currently have our kitchen and master’s bedroom renovated. We are already in our third week and the twins have grown a lot. Their sleep during the night was getting longer (yaaaas!). And oh my, they’ve grown so much physically. I can’t carry them a lot longer nowadays. I get so tired easily. I bought them cute angel harness backpacks which would be very useful once they start walking uncontrollably on their own. Sabi nga nila, mahirap magbantay ng dalawang batang naglalakad tapos magkaiba ng direksyon. And so I found a way to have that less of a problem. Aren’t they the cutest? Also, they are starting to use their hands and their own spoon while eating. We also tried teaching them to drink using a straw. So our next project would be: Rubber Plate Mats and Straw Sippy Cups! I dread the next phase though: potty training! We haven’t started yet but I am already getting scared even just thinking about it. Hahaha.I super adore my time with them. I have been on nightshift for the longest time that I remember. And because I sleep in the day, I usually hear their screams and their tatatatas and papapapas downstairs and I always keep myself from getting up and play with them. That’s why I always look forward to weekends and getting out of the house and taking them to places. You see the excitement and happiness in their eyes and it makes me feel a lot happier too. The twins are now walking and its a reminder that kids really grow up fast and we should enjoy them while they are still kids. Minsan lang sila bata. Sooner or later makikita mo nalang nagsschool na sila. Whyyyy… I am already thinking of how we should celebrate their birthday this year. Any ideas? (They’re turning 2 na OMG).