Work and Play

This blog post was 3 years too late. I can’t remember why I never published it but looking back, it made me realize that my work struggles are now in the past. It was way before Nayj and I had a baby and we just got married. It’s a proof that when you pray for something, God listens. Di mo nga lang alam kung kailan niya ibibigay. So read on…

February-March 2016

I always have this mantra to always do the best that I can at work. Be responsible, do things without people telling you to and to be proactive. But the moment I started planning my wedding last year, I kind of lay lowed a bit. I had to focus on planning my wedding then work was just second. I mean, I’m starting to plan for the rest of my life, so I can’t be stressed for two things. If I had to be stressed, it has to be for the wedding, not for both.

So now that the wedding’s over, I have been going to work for a month now and I think that I kind of lost my passion for greatness that I always had for years. (Haha!) We all have the masipag and tinatamad phase at work and the tinatamad phase seems to stay too long on my system. I don’t intend for it to stay that way because the reality is, if you’re planning for the rest of your life, you need work hard to make sure that the rest of your life is stable.

I find it hard to wake up in the morning and given that I’ve been taking weekend shifts lately kind of makes it harder. I had to work on weekends and leave the husband at work, while he work on weekdays and he has to leave me at home. I guess I’m still adjusting to the fact that we are not always going to be together. Shifting also makes it harder because I had to work at night and we only get to see each other an hour a day.

And now that I realized that it has been a month since I started working again after the wedding, I should go back to my old self. I don’t want to keep being lazy because that won’t do me any good. Especially now that I’m planning and actually living for my future, I have to keep everything in place and add the fact that my company has a good health insurance especially when we plan to have a baby.

So I guess I have to stop the play and focus on work now as I’ve always been. But I’m not saying that it’s all going to be work. We all know it should be of both. And I have to learn to prioritize family above all. Again, family is first (which is also our team mantra at work), then work second.

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The Carseat Story

In other countries, they are very strict that once you have been released from the hospital, you should have a baby carseat/carrier when you’re going to ride in a car. Here in the Philippines, there isn’t any law yet (though it’s in the works) so when we went home with the twins three nights after I gave birth, the twins were only cradled in our arms inside the car.

To this date, it was only just recently that we introduced the carseat to the twins. What triggered us was that we can’t go out when our yaya is on a dayoff because we do not have another person to hold the twins at the back. Hence, I thought of buying a carseat. But then I thought that maybe they would just cry throughout the whole drive because they are not used to sitting on one. Sometimes when Yaya Kristy and I carry each of the twins at the back, they have tantrum episodes pa and very malikot. So I thought we would struggle to buckle them in their own carseat. However, I was wrong!

I first borrowed a carseat with one of our church friends to try it out. And then I bought a second hand Takata in “BabyandMe Savers” in Facebook for only 1,500 pesos. And I was so surprised how behave they were. They sat still and enjoyed the ride from our house to Metrogate Silang.

They liked the thought of having their own space in the car. And so when this happened, we decided to buy another one. This time, it was a blue Lehman carseat for Naya.

I think what worked was that we let them sit on them at home while watching TV to get a “feel” of it.

After almost a month of having them ride the car in their carseats, I saw an improvement on their behavior whenever they are inside the car. When they know we are leaving, they are already expecting that they will be buckled in their seats. They willingly slide their arms in the seatbelts. They are relaxed and still in their seats compared when they were just sitting in our laps where they push every button they see or walk around the vehicle. They can sleep well on their own without nursing or hele. The car itself makes them hele. Hahaha. They just ask us to remove their shoes when they start to get sleepy. And of course, pwede na kami mag-family time na kami kami lang! As in solo trip #TheFabroses na sobrang ine-envy ko sa iba.

  • Of course, there are times when they still cry but we never try to take them out of their seats. Either we take out a snack or play their favorite song or nursery rhyme. Or just distract them on whatever method we may think of right in that moment. I don’t know but kids hates it when the car stops or worse, when you are in traffic!
  • I still believe that they should’ve started since they were newborns but when they started a month ago, it was easier for us since they understand more now and we can just talk to them. Or I don’t know, maybe nag-mature na talaga sila. Hahaha.
  • We only have four months before they both turn two years old. We are planning to go to Baguio for their celebration and we can’t wait!! Excited but also getting emotional and proud when seeing them now. Hay, my heart ❤️
  • That Guilt Feeling

    I have met a lot of fellow parents here in my new work. From where I came from, I am already considered old in my age group and I never really had any conversations regarding parenting because I am one of the firsts. After meeting and hearing stories about different ways and styles of parenting, I can’t help but feel guilt about some things, but also discovered a lot. Even if some are working moms or dads, they still have time to be super hands on with their kids.

    I met someone who prepares food for her kids every morning, with bento styles and all, because she didn’t want the yaya to prepare it. And then I was like, how can you squeeze your time for that?

    I realized that a lot of parents still take their kids to school every morning. All along I was like, “Don’t we have school buses for that?” But of course I didn’t say it. It’s just that I grew up taking the school jeep/van growing up that I always had that idea once my kids go to school. However, Nayj also have the same desire to take the kids to school every morning once they start.

    Some people may smirk at the idea that our yaya takes care of the twins’ meals, that I post the twins’ pictures online or that I chose to work rather than stay home at the age that they need me the most. I don’t teach my kids ABC, teach them to count 1-20 nor do they know anything about colors yet. They watch nursery rhymes on the TV during the day. I can’t attest to that “no screen time” below 2 years old promise because its really easier said than done. We are busy parents and we cannot be hands on most of the time. We all have our struggles. What I do is that I don’t compare my kids comprehension with numbers, alphabets, songs or colors with another kids’. They are still young and I’d rather them enjoy themselves being a kid, they’ll eventually learn those when they are ready. I still remember that I learned everything in my Prep years, my parents aren’t that pressured to teach everything to us early on.

    As a young mom, we may tend to get pressured with what other people tell us, or what advertisements on TV shows us. There are so many unsolicited advise about raising kids and being a parent but I guess you’ll learn how to ignore them and stand by your own techniques. Also, I learned to not judge what other parent does because you don’t know their story or their struggles. I suggest you follow Kristine Kuzmic, the truthbomb mom, and you’ll know what I mean.

    Happy busy parenting!

    Leadership

    One of the reasons why I left my previous work was that I don’t think I am authentic enough to lead people. I think I did write a bit about this when I wrote that long blog about career struggles. You never really know what kind of a leader you are until you become one. And I also learned that being a leader isn’t for everyone.

    A friend posted today about the pressure of being responsible for the careers of other people, on how being an individual contributor is what he preferred rather than the latter. I met a lot of colleagues in my current work now who also shared the same sentiment. It felt so refreshing to not think about other people and just focus about your own work.

    A lot of articles defined what a leader is and when I read through it, I realized that I struggled most with half of the qualities of a good leader.

    Good communicator. I struggled so much about this from the start and I had no idea how to talk to my people. Each person was different. Others prefers a sit-down, while some prefers to communicate by phone, email or chat. I had no idea how to effectively communicate what I felt about their performance or on how they can improve or how to establish that I am their leader and not just their colleague.

    Decision making capabilities. Have you ever had a decision that you want to enforce but then half of the people doesn’t like the idea? Yeah, I had that. And then I wasn’t able to think of what to do next. How can I convince people that my idea was the better decision? I tend to ask for majority of the people’s preference and go along with that idea instead, rather than my own. I know that we have to adjust how we lead people as well but to sum it all up, I really don’t know how to decide for everyone.

    Accountability. I knew from the start that I was accountable for my team’s actions and if the team needs any help, I would always be there to assist them. However, sometimes I don’t know my boundaries that I don’t even know how to say ‘No’. And this leads to…

    Delegation and Empowerment. There are times that instead of appointing someone to report to work or do a specific task, I tend to do it myself. It comes to a point where I find myself not having my own work/life balance. I am afraid of how people perceives me when I appoint tasks or I don’t want them to have an impression that I always give them work. But in reality, I never really do. This resulted in burn out days that I am not motivated anymore to work.

    Creativity and Innovation. My creativity has always been there but for a completely different aspect. When it comes to thinking of innovation or initiatives for the team, I can’t think of any. I was challenged before on how I can think of ways to lessen the work that we do everyday and fast forward after a year, I still can’t think of any. It felt like I wasn’t really making an impact.

    My one year experience of being a team lead was one heck of a roller coaster ride. I was already lucky enough to have responsible colleagues who doesn’t need constant guidance but I realized that I am not being an effective leader for them. I don’t know how to make them grow, on how to make them better or be more engaged. I needed more experience to be a leader. I don’t know if I’ll still be one someday but I am comfortable with where I am right now.

    I am currently an IT Account Manager in Metrobank where I coordinate end to end delivery of internal system enhancements between IT groups and internal BUs. It has been a month and I am very challenged because its completely different with what I was doing back in Tata. And yup, I am back to being an individual contributor.

    Hello twins, playing with my lanyard! 🙂

    There are a lot of things that is very new to me in my new work. For once, I am no longer in shifting schedules and only work in a regular shift: 8.30-6pm. Hello rush hour! I don’t work on weekends, no work from home, I move to different offices sometimes due to meetings and it’s a client-facing work! I finally have my own desk, my own computer and my own bin. The dress code involves wearing heels all the time and we can’t wear maong jeans to work. It consists of being in dresses/skirts 90% of the time since we can only wear slacks every Friday. And lastly, since it’s a local company, we take afternoon snack breaks very seriously.

    I am learning something new everyday and still trying to grasp the entire process and how to approach the people I’m working with. So far, everything’s going great. Hopefully, this local institution is where I would retire in the future. Hopefully. And while I’m at it, still working on the above leadership qualities too.

    “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.

    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.