February 20, 2018

The ‘Hood You Need in Motherhood


Every week, Preen tackles motherhood sans the rose-tinted glasses. Our columnists L. JulianoMarla DarwinMonica Eleazar-ManzanoRossana Unson, and Ronna Capili-Bonifacio tell their personal experiences like it is—at times frustrating, oftentimes confusing, but always enlightening.

I may not like to admit it but much like a quintessential millennial mother, I can easily lose track of time and my surroundings when I am absorbed with my smartphone. It’s not the Facebooking or the Instagramming that steals me away from reality most of the time (okay, maybe sometimes it’s the Instagramming), neither is it surfing the Internet or the endless streaming of various random videos. I confess, it’s my messaging apps that keep me from my adult responsibilities.

I’ve been a work-at-home mom since, well, I became a mom. Now that my eldest is turning five years old and my youngest is almost three, I’ve gotten the hang of my daily grind and it consists of a combination of work, house chores, keeping tiny humans alive, and holding down the fort until my husband arrives home. I think that after years of caring for small people who were once learning to develop language and whose communication milestone only consisted of gibberish, my messaging apps and group chats were my cost-efficient way of getting doses of adult conversation into my otherwise intelligible day. It was also my way of staying in touch with the world outside of our condo unit, back when I was recovering from C-sections or when baby was put on house arrest by our pediatrician until she got specific vaccines.

Getting to talk to my mommy friends has helped me get through the day-to-day insanity that instantly takes over and has no pause button, that which we call “motherhood.” And as a young mother who’s just trying to make it out of each day alive, I’ve learned that having your own hood or tribe, to quote the Internet, is key. Babies and children can easily eat up everything we are and if we don’t try to widen our worlds, it’s a slippery slope covered with spit up. So here is a suggested list of crucial relationships we moms need to make time for to avoid any meltdowns in the middle of a grocery.

Girl friends: I have a few Viber and WhatsApp groups consisting of different circles of girlies I’ve loved through the years. They’ve practically loved me since I myself was a baby. What I love about staying in close and constant contact with my girl friends is I remember what life was like before motherhood, and am therefore reminded that that same person is still here. Maybe just juggling more things than usual and wearing more sneakers than heels. Because they’ve seen and known me before I became a mom, they also remind me that I’ve simply added a new hat or a new role in my life, but that’s not all that there is to me. Go out at night without the kids or the husband, order something you like and not a kid-friendly dish. Savor it. You’re still you, just with that extra kick-ass superpower: keeping another human alive.

Mommy friends: Who else can you run to when baby’s got the sniffles or has too much wet poop than usual? Send an SOS message to your band of mommas and you’ll be sure to get all sorts of prayers and doctor’s (mothers know best) orders. New moms will benefit largely from surrounding themselves with other moms who’ve gone before them and can teach them how to maneuver through sickness, breastfeeding, helper drama, and that elusive work-life balance (it’s a myth). They’re also there for you when you can’t say your crazy mama thoughts on social media (like, I love you child, but pleeeeeease can I have some space?), because we’ve all been there, too. We all need the reassurance that we’re doing fine, we’ll inevitably make more mistakes than we’d like, but our kids will be okay. They’ll be okay. And who else will better understand the realization that “Gasp! I’m my mom!” than your fellow momma who sees her own mom staring back at her in the mirror?

Your mom: Just to present her your list of regrets as an ungrateful, selfish, and know-it-all brat and to thank her for enduring childbirth and the more difficult process of raising me, I mean you. But really just to eat some humble pie and to bask in their wisdom and mercy, in hopes that we too, could at least become half the superwoman that they are.

Your gym trainer/manicurist/hairstylist: Because a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do. Take care of your body so you can take care of your family.

Your husband: Having a new baby really can take over the marriage if we let it, and it’s easy to take hanging out with our husbands for granted. Because they usually aren’t crying their lungs out, sitting in a soiled diaper, sticking their tiny fingers inside the electric fan, or any safety-threatening situation that baby usually finds herself in on an hourly basis. But since it’s the luv month, please indulge me—your husband loves the woman you’ve grown to be and he loves the babies he’s made with you, and I’m sure he would also love to spend time with his lovely wife. Without baby, yes even if they are quietly sleeping in the stroller or the carrier. You don’t have to talk about all of your pent-up issues or the elephants in the room. It’s good to enjoy the company, the friendship, every so often isn’t it? Do you notice how much more positive and life-giving you are as a mom after you’ve spent even the smallest bit of quality time with your husband?

Last, but definitely not the least, yourself: I know, I know. Reading through this list is already a lot to try to factor into your schedule, and it can sound like lots of fluff when you’re drowning in dirty laundry, a pile of dishes, and crumbs. Who has the time to maintain relationships one to five—and now you’ve let the list reach up to six? Number six can just deal with it, I won’t have time for her until my children are out of college.

Here’s my admonition: You need this. Find what it is you can realistically squeeze into your day or week to take care of your mind and soul and carve it out of your day. Getting on your social media doesn’t count. Maybe it’s reading a good book, a bag of chips, an hour to roam around the mall alone, a part-time job (if you’re a SAHM), a passion project, or prayer—don’t feel guilty about doing things just for yourself. Because when we make time for us, both the neighborhood and the motherhood is happier.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.


Art by Lara Intong

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culture, Friends, Girl Friends, momhood, Motherhood, parenting, Support System

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