I am simply, Mom
I have been made fun of, unnecessarily, for the absence of a career or my seeming inability to stay at one job for long years but I am not ashamed. My priorities in life revolve around my being a mother and I make sacrifices in line with that. My job does not define me and my choices have always been deliberate. My journey as a mom is not measured by position promotions or salary increases. It is measured by the happiness my children have, the amount of love they receive and I get back in turn. My children are my biggest successes and I celebrate each moment I have with them. I shy at saying motherhood is my career because I do not want it to be measured by any form of recognition. I want success to speak for itself and it is humbling to just say that I am simply being a mom and I have happy and healthy kids.
I shy from jobs that pay high salaries because high pay means more work and accompanying stress. My CV is filled with different job positions at a variety of companies, from schools to non-profit organizations and businesses as well as gap years where I put hold everything in my life to focus on being pregnant and thereafter being a mom to an infant up to a time where I deem my child independent and school-age. Thankfully, this has not affected my desirability as an employee in the organizations I was considered. I am not insecure about jobs and titles. Employment has never been difficult for me at each time I deemed myself ready to go back to the normal workforce.
“… I realize that while I could make space for those things (and I do in some respects), I choose my children. With no self-judgment and no second guesses and no comparing myself to other women.” Stormy Smith, Work will always be there, but my babies won’t always be this small, Motherly
Baby business is serious business
My son is now almost seven-months old and everyone compliments me on how calm, happy, and good he is as a baby. He is strong, healthy, and smart. At four months, he showed interest in food and we introduced him to fruits like avocado and peach. Now he joins us at family dinners, eager for his meals consisting of different vegetables, fruits, yogurt, and soup. He loves bread, polenta, and his grandma’s pumpkin soup. He is a broccoli and cauliflower monster. He eats half the container of yogurt and is even organized with his eating of tomatoes, carefully lining them up in front of him, sucking at each one, and dropping the ones he has finished off of his table and out of sight. He eats everything we give him, be it boiled string beans or vegetable soup. He takes the business of eating as a serious business. He eats with his own hands or with a spoon he holds himself. He drinks water from a regular glass. Dinners are messy but I don’t mind cleaning up. I want him to be as independent as possible. At five months, he started crawling; and at five months and a half, he was climbing down the sofa, a look of pride on his face for his feats. He liked playing standing up so we bought him a second-hand multi-purpose walker with a play center where he plays alone for minutes at a time, on his feet. He pretends to read while flipping pages of our books, which he had bit off and nibbled on. He likes to pet our dog and cats who in turn have been very patient with him. I do not post much about him on social media because I am aware that at this point, there are moms who are anxious about their own children’s milestones and perceived advancement and I do not wish to add to the anxiety. Unlike most moms, I have been very fortunate that I do not have to work to provide for the family. I instead have been able to bear witness to every milestone my infant son has had. I was able to do the same for my daughter who is now ten years old. I remember all the times my daughter was an infant and going through her milestones like it was just yesterday. I regret nothing.
My children are messy and happy
I am not a conventional mom by normal standards. I purposely let my children be messy. I purposely introduce them to bacteria because I want them to develop strong immune systems and healthy digestive tracts. None of my children have allergies or sensitive digestive systems. I am proud that they can eat anything, even maybe Filipino street food if they are so inclined. My children do not have to be clean and well-dressed all the time.
My daughter thought I was on maternity leave. She asked how long my maternity leave was for, and I answered, “Five Years,” with a laugh. As I did with her, I will go back to full-time work when my son goes to school. For her, as our life then was out-of-the-ordinary, she was seven. I juggled a divorce, various side-jobs and several solo proprietorships, and a long-distance relationship with someone who was not from my own country in the first few years of her life. When she turned seven, we were faced with the decision of choosing a country on which to settle in, where she can have some semblance of a normal childhood, surrounded by family members who love and care for her, friends of her age, and a routine that comes with going to school.
Sometimes motherhood is lonely
When she was a baby, I breastfed her until milk stopped flowing from my breasts. She was eight months then and I struggled with separation anxiety and, as my ex later claimed, postpartum depression. Most people think postpartum depression comes weeks after giving birth, mine came after eight months. Those days, I was mostly alone in my struggles. Being the first of my friends to get married and subsequently have a child, my friends were still enjoying parties while I was already staying home to take care of my baby in the evenings. I would go to see my best friends with a manual breast pump in tow and would pump in front of them when I needed to. I know I slowly slipped away from my friends in those years and it wasn’t long before I was already losing them. When I decided to leave my then-husband for good, I lost many friends and family. While many did not understand, some were tricked by untruths my ex-husband sowed because of his anger towards me. I did not find the time or energy to explain myself. I was busy rebuilding my life and myself. In the years of my first marriage, I completely lost who I am until I could not recognize myself and I was full of hate. The only solution I had to find and heal myself back to someone I liked was to leave and live far away. Thankfully, I was able to find people who cared enough and loved me enough to look out for me. I would not be where I am right now if not for them and I am grateful.
I am proud of my mom-bod
My resolve to breastfeed my baby is as strong as it was ten years ago. I seriously contemplated changing doctors and hospital three days before I was scheduled to be induced for birthing my son because my OB-Gyne said the decision to breastfeed was going to be made by herself, our social worker, and a number of my psychiatrists, and that it was not up to me. I have stuck to that resolve and to this day, my son is still breastfed as our Tommee Tippee and Comotomo bottles, as well as bottle warmers and two different kinds of bottle sterilizers, gather dust in their shelves in the kitchen. Many a doctor, helpers, and strangers have seen my feeding breasts that I have lost count. I have gone beyond being conscious of them. I breastfeed everywhere. I am as confident in my post-partum body, with my uneven sized-boobs, big arms, jiggly legs, and darkened sagging belly lined with stretch marks, as I was when I had nearly a six-pack abs. I will breastfeed until there is milk flowing out of my mom-breasts.
“While breastfeeding is indeed a wonderful way to bond with your baby, I feel that it also strengthens the relationship you have with yourself… It builds your confidence and sense of self-worth enough to give zero F’s about things like accidentally exposing yourself in public.” – Mich Roque, I Said Goodbye to the Job I Love to Breast-feed My Baby, Smart Parenting.
I am grateful for the incredible support I get from my family for our decision to take care of our son as much as I can. Breastfeeding is never easy and attachment parenting takes parenting to a whole new level (more on that some other time) but my husband lets me stay in bed all day with our son if I need to. Our son only sleeps peacefully if I am in bed with him, be it during the day or night. My in-laws got me a private tutor to conduct my Italian lessons at home because it is not possible for me to go to a class outside. They take my daughter to school in the mornings when the weather is not good and I and my son have to stay home.
To bear or not to bear, that is not THE question
I am grateful that I do not need to go back to work. I am not sitting at home lazily though. I am signed up for weekly Italian lessons and several online creative courses. I have lodged an application for a master’s degree at an open university. I plan to finish it in the next four years. Currently, a business plan is in the works for a social enterprise I intend to launch late next year. Taking care of my body and mind is also important. My days consist of: reading at least thirty minutes a day, doing short stretching exercises in the mornings, yoga in the afternoons, and meditation in the evenings.
I am currently a jobless stay-at-home breastfeeding attachment-parenting mom and I have never been this happy and at peace. I am never afraid of going back to work and not finding a job. Jobs are always there but my children will not be little forever. I know every mom is different. Not every mom takes happiness and fulfillment from staying at home and taking care of their kids. I also know not all women want children. I know many wonderful beautiful women who do not intend to have children, not because they hate kids, or are afraid to have kids, but because they have made a personal choice. I know better to judge. Sometimes I feel that having kids is a more selfish thing to do than not having kids. For children, no matter how unruly or challenging they can be, give so much to their parents too. They give joy, love, and direction to, otherwise confused, moms and dads. I can say that about me at least. And even though I know I can be judged for that, I do not care. As long as I am happy, I am okay. That’s also where I stand for every woman, childless or not. Life is too short to not live it according to how we best feel.