In this pregnancy, I have had my fair share of ups and downs, highs and lows, hits and misses. There are luxuries that needed to take a backseat but there are those essentials, which I think that a woman should never let go when she becomes a mother.
I’m not the most giving person in the world.
If I would be totally selfish, I will put myself ahead of my husband and children’s welfare. But yes, being married (to a wonderful person, in case I haven’t stated that enough in my previous posts) and being a mother to two amazing children in the last two years have taught me the value of selflessness. I learned that a woman -albeit not easily – can wholeheartedly accept the fact that the eight-hours-of-sleep routine is so outdated.
Evolution and motherhood
I’m relatively new to this mixed wife-mother role having been launched into this profession for less than four years. I had my moments of happiness and depression. I have rebelled against the fact that at some point there are parts of my single life that I do need to give up because I already have a family.
But as I said, I’m no Mother Teresa and while I love and respect her, I don’t think I can reach her level of sacrifice and selflessness.
When we decided to move to America, I knew I was giving up so much wants and needs that I freely enjoyed in Asia. It’s tough here without an abundance of family members to help out with taking care of the children. It’s a challenge to live each day knowing that you can’t just flag a taxi outside of your home to get your most favorite dish from a quaint little place called “Siomai sa Tisa”. Massage, as you may have repeatedly read, is a need that has been temporarily addressed by my husband, who is forced into the training himself as an unlicensed therapist.
We’re a frugal family.
Yes we go on trips; yes we go on dates; yes we eat heartily. But… we make most of these things possible with coupons, discounts, savings, and deals. So don’t be surprised when you read about my unwillingness to pay for a 70 dollar per hour massage and my refusal to order steak in a restaurant unless husband can prove to me that we can afford it after a thorough business meeting which include a financial discussion and presentation of our bank accounts.
In the last four years, I have evolved. It’s the only way species can survive, said Charles Darwin. Mothers are not endangered species because they continue to evolve and adapt.
But I don’t believe in the gender-insensitive thinking of certain people that a woman has to give up everything when she gets married and start a family. If Jeff insisted on that from Day 0 of this relationship, I don’t think Nick and Toni would have existed.
Below are the five bare essentials that, I strongly believe, a woman should never let go when she becomes a Mother. Read on and feel free to agree or disagree with me (there’s a lot of space for discussion in the comment box below):
1. Looking good
I won’t go as far as saying that I look good all the time. But I can confidently say that I look good most of the time.
I know it takes a lot of effort to think about what outfit to wear when you’re just going out to buy milk and eggs but I’m always of the belief that if you look good, you feel good.
I experienced postpartum depression after I gave birth to the twins. As yucky as it sound, I didn’t want to take a shower. But even if you don’t like to do one thing, push yourself to do it anyway. I can count several times that I let my crazy self take over and go out of the house with messy, uncombed hair and regret it afterwards because in the middle of the aisle, where the milk cartons are, I met a former news source, who talked to me about the future of journalism and I was totally out of shape to speak my mind about the topic because I was busy thinking about my face looking like a greased pan ready for the bacon.
A major confession: I’m working on my graduate studies and every time I read a material or when I take an exam, I always put on make up, style my hair, and wear clothes I like. This ensemble makes me feel confident and sure of myself. One hundred percent of the time I get great results when I put on the effort to look good.
2. Splurging on yourself
First, define what splurging is to you.
It might be spending 50 dollars (around 2,500 pesos) worth of goods from the Dollar Tree Store. Or it could be spending 70 dollars for a one-hour massage. Or… it could be a day at the salon getting a haircut and hot oil plus pampering your nails and toes with a manicure and pedicure.
My only rule of thumb is to make sure that you don’t empty the family’s coffers with your “splurging”. And…. if you have a partner, thoroughly discuss how much you’re planning to spend on your splurging spree. Better yet, set a budget. That will save you the headache of a heated argument after the bill arrives or when the charges appear in your credit card statement.
3. Going out with friends
Your life as an individual, who is part of a social circle other than family, does not cease to exist after marriage and babies.
While you may give up the club hopping and going home until you’re too drunk to remember what happened the night before, you should not stop yourself from meeting friends over coffee, dinner or movies.
After the baby is born, it will take some time before you can ease back to the normal social life. Being a mother is a tough profession that doesn’t come with a detailed job description. You learn as you go along the ride. But we’re made of sterner stuff hence the reason why you were able to carry that baby (or babies) inside you for nine months. It’s a whole lot of juggling. I survived because I have a tablet (and apps!!!), a laptop, and printer which make it exciting and empowering for me to do checklists and get these lists done.
Make it a habit to meet up with friends at least once a month.
You owe it yourself. Not to anyone else.
4. Date nights/days
This is one aspect of my life that I’m pretty strict about following: a once-a-week date night!
Am I talking about fancy-schmancy candlelit dinner for two at an expensive restaurant? Not necessarily. You won’t be able to swallow that dinner without thinking about how many packs of diapers and wipes can you buy with that rib-eye steak!
By date nights, I mean taking a time off every week to spend it with your partner. You don’t stop being lovers because you’re now Mom and Dad. It’s great to be able to get a babysitter or a nanny to watch the kids for a couple of hours while you and hubby watch the movies at the cinema, enjoy a five-course meal, watch the sunset by the beach, or take a two-day weekend trip in Vermont.
However, date nights (or days) need not involve leaving your home.
When the kids are in their room protesting that it’s bedtime, Jeff and I closes the door to our room and pretend like we’re not hearing the screams. Yeah, we can be bad parents! Ha! It takes time to master this skill – and to distinguish if that Scream X is a legitimate cry for help or just a simple case of emotional outburst (otherwise known as tantrum and meltdown).
On other occasions, we cook dinner (one dish from him, one dish from me) and surprise each other with what’s on the menu. We lit up a candle or two just to create that romantic atmosphere. Sometimes, we just go to bed early and talk about anything – and we could be like that for three or four hours until one surrenders and falls asleep.
Bottom line is: don’t give up your coupleship because of parenthood. Unhappy couples are grumpy parents.
I reckon that a lot of women will raise their eyebrows when they read this one so allow me to elaborate.
I quit (actually, the more appropriate term is I didn’t renew my contract) my full time job in December 2013 when the twins were five months old. On March of the following year, I made a bold decision to uproot my life in the Philippines and move to China, where my husband then lived and worked.
For close to two years now, I don’t have a full-time job. That means if I stand on my own to pay my bills (e.g. my house mortgage in Cebu, my insurance dues, life plans) I won’t be able to afford to pay all of them with just my part-time gigs (which involve writing for newspapers, magazines, websites and accepting occasional writing projects).
But… Jeff and I planned this out from the very beginning. We already projected the expenses. At the end of the year, I make the following year’s estimated budget of my expenses/savings/dues/investments.
Everything is laid on the table and thoroughly discussed. I knew that in growing a family, I need to be focused and committed. I have decided early on that I don’t want helpers or nannies to raise my children. I knew at some point, I’m going to be stay-at-home Mom.
But I’m very career oriented. I was doing well in my profession before Jeff and the twins and Baby No.3 came into my life. I could not just give up that part of me. I just couldn’t. So Jeff and I sat down and discussed my game plan.
The following questions were asked:
- Where do you want to go career-wise? What’s your direction?
- How do you plan to accomplish that?
- Will you be able to manage and juggle all these responsibilities
- What’s going to be the impact of Decision X when the children starts going to school?
- Why do you think Decision Y is more viable than Decision Z?
- How do you plan to finance all these?
In the end, we decided that it’s good for me to take my graduate studies via an online platform because: (1) I get to continue my education (which will be beneficial in the social development career I want to pursue); (2) I can still work on my part-time gigs so I can have extra money on the side and not just rely on my husband and my savings for monthly allowance; and (3) I can continue being a stay-at-home Mom – taking care of the children, making sure their needs are addressed, and some of their wants suppressed so they don’t grow up to be spoiled brats.
Jeff and I discussed timetable, financial standing, and parenting along the line of our long talks about my career.
I believe that a woman’s career can take a rest for a while when you become a Mother but it shouldn’t be a “Sleeping Beauty” case forever. It should be your conscious effort to think of ways and means to prepare yourself for a comeback as you also learn the rigors of breastfeeding and diaper-changing.
Anyone out there with thoughts to share on the things a woman should never let go when she becomes a Mother? I’m thrilled to hear from you!