When I was 15, I had my whole life mapped out.
I’d be married by 25. Within a couple of years, I’d have a daughter, and then a son.
When I hit 30, I’d go back to school to get my Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. By then, I should have already gotten enough writing experience, and gone through enough life experiences, for me to be able to fully appreciate the program. Then I’d go on to publish my first novel before hitting 40.
I was a little girl with big dreams who grew into a teenager with a plan.
In a few days, I will turn 33.
True to my expectation, I have indeed gotten married, but that didn’t happen until I was 28. The baby came first, when I was 23. And I had a son. I have no daughter, but that’s fine. I’m enjoying being mom to a boy.
My pot of life experiences is filling up fast, which is great because that means that life has been great. My writing resume isn’t too shabby. I know for sure that I’d be able to appreciate the Creative Writing Master’s program that I’m gunning for, if only I could afford it.
One thing that I failed to consider when I was 15 was how much it would actually cost to send a child to school, and how expensive a Master’s Education can be.
And then, there are all of these other things.
At 15, I had no idea how hard it was to be married. I didn’t know what it meant to meet halfway. I thought that there would always be a clear winner in each argument. I didn’t think that not going to bed angry could mean tearful discussions that would last until 3:00 in the morning.
I didn’t have a clue that parenting would be as challenging as I now know it to be. I thought that it would be so cute to have two children who are close in age, just like my brother and I. I didn’t realize that having one child is challenging enough already. I had no idea that I would someday find myself at the receiving end of eye-rolling and snide remarks that just happen to sound a whole lot like my 10-year old self.
I believed back then that if you were good at something it wouldn’t be difficult to find a job in your desired field. I never thought about how much of success comes from actual hard work, that luck actually plays a huge part in it all, and that being easy to work with sometimes matters more than what you can actually do.
I went from being a naïve teenager with a plan to becoming an adult with (at least a little bit of) wisdom.
I’ve learned a lot about life in between my 15th and 33rd birthdays.
I know that you should always expect the unexpected. And I mean, always. Life is full of curve balls and somewhere along the way things won’t go as planned.
I believe that the trick is to keep moving forward, and to always look on the bright side of life even when there seems to be no bright side. I understand now that the tough times are there to make the good ones shine even brighter.
Our hearts can handle infinite amounts of heartache brought about by people whom we truly care about. I know this for sure. I also know that these same people, if they love us as much as we love them, will be the same ones to mend those little breaks in our hearts.
I may have proven my teenage-self wrong on many different counts, but I do still believe in dreaming big dreams and planning for the life that we want for ourselves.
We may not be able to accomplish all that we want to do within the deadlines we set for ourselves, but that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. Things may not happen the way we want them to all the time, but that doesn’t mean that we should stop working on becoming the person we’ve always known we could be.
In spite of it all, and despite life’s struggles, the one thing that we ought to do is never give up on ourselves.
Based on the plan I had set for myself all those years ago, I still have seven years to get that book out. How that will go remains to be seen…!
How has your expectation differed from your reality? Are you close to where you thought you would be at this time of your life?
This is an original post for World Moms Network by Mrs. P. Cuyugan. Photo credit: Jurgen P. Appelo. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.
I watch my son playing with Lego almost every day. He’s currently using the Basics series, you know, the ones with little neighborhood scenes and people. Most times, though, he’ll create something new, something out of the box and different. He’s an imaginative boy, so I just let him be. Sometimes he’ll work for a long time on a project, not rushing it so that he can get it right (at least in his point of view).
At some point, my daughter eventually locates her big brothers’ work and, well, swiftly ends it. Her brother is five years older, but even then it’s hard for him to not take the attack on his Lego model as a personal thing. “She destroys everything,” he has often lamented, sometimes in tears of frustration. I have to explain to him that his baby sister never means anything intentionally. She is just doing what she knows (and at this stage, it’s to be the arbiter of destruction to her brother’s toys, my laptop and my husband’s coffee gear).
“You can always start again,” I’ve told Vito. “You already know how to build things. Just make something new.”
He sniffs, annoyed, frustrated and impatient all at once. “But she’ll just break it again.”
While stroking his head, knowing he is fighting back tears, I say,
“Yes, she will. But you can always, always build it again. You can make it so she can never break it again. And maybe you can show her how to build, too.”
My boy then walks away, in a mix of emotions, half in agreement, half in annoyance. It’s just a matter of time before he moves on to something else, creating again, imagining again, all the while mindful of what I’ve said.
Sometimes I’ve had to tell myself the same thing: “You can always build it again.”
In the past year, I’ve said this over and over many times. Because life has been kind, but it’s also had its harsh way with us.
We lost our home late last year. It was the first time in six years we didn’t have a home to call our own. “It’ll be OK. You can build it again.” While we can’t build a physical house (not yet anyway), we can make a home with what we have been able to make a new home for ourselves in a small place inside my parents’ compound (which is how many Filipino families live, in fact).
My husband lost his job. It’s been almost a year since my husband has been without a regular job, and since then he has setup a new business making specialty coffee and doing coffee pop-ups. It’s not stable, but it’s a start. “It’s going to be OK. We can build this.”
I failed as a mother. Several times, I can’t even count anymore. I’ve not been the best mom, and sometimes I torture myself over not being present enough for my kids. I totally failed being a work-at-home mom the last two years. It had me out of the house more times than I had imagined possible, and I’ve been beating myself up for it quite a bit. Then I see my kids, ever-forgiving, ever loving towards me. Of course, my children do not need to worry about these things that I deal with in my soul. All they need to know is that “Mom is here, she loves us, she takes care of us. We will be OK.”
Yes, my darlings. It’s going to be OK. I can build again.
And that’s really what I want to tell you, the mom reading this. You can begin again, build again. It may not mean restoring an old thing, it can be something totally new, something you haven’t thought possible before. I’m learning to be like Lego, you could say, and letting life guide the “build,” praying that whatever chapter we’re in, we as a family will learn the lesson, accept the season, and come out of it stronger than ever.
This is an original post by World Mom Martine De Luna, a writer from Manila, Philippines. Find her daily on Instagram @martinedeluna and @makeitblissful.
In the Philippines, we have a saying that the mother is “ilaw ng tahanan.” In English, it’s literal meaning is “the light of the home.” Beautiful thought, right? It conjures up images of a well-made home, filled with laughter and warmth and hope.
It’s nice and meaningful. In fact, I think it’s sometimes a far-fetched notion, because honestly most times I feel I am the polar opposite. It’s hard to feel like “the light of the home” when — like me — you feel like a looming cloud of darkness, failure and hopelessness. I know I’ve felt this way many times, especially in the past year when our family situation was shaken up from its very core.
We have had a tough past six to seven months in our family. When my husband lost his job at the end of 2015, we knew we were going to have to make some big changes as a family. Perhaps the most heart-wrenching part of this episode was saying goodbye to our rental home of five years. I remember my son crying huge tears for several days as he saw his bedroom being packed away little by little, and our house gradually emptied of its furnishings… and most of all, his memories. I felt as though we had let him down.
It’s a common setup in the Philippines to go to family when a situation has gone awry, and that’s what we did.
It just so happened that my mom’s guest house out back had been made available, and I humbly asked my parents if we could stay in that house until we could sort things out. “You can stay as long as you need to,” my mother said, and she meant it. It’s been six or seven months since we moved in, and every day she assures me of the same thing.
And there, I see what it means when a mother is the light of the home. Because for me, my mother restores my hopes each day. We’re still working to get back on our feet, and her encouragement for us remains constant. There is nothing but acceptance and love for myself, my husband and our two young children here in this tiny little home in our childhood garden and backyard. I’m reminded every day of the goodness of my parents, and the Filipino sense of family in which our people so pride themselves. A “light of the home” isn’t something whimsical or aspirational. A mother is a light to her home when she restores hope to a darkened situation or state. No mention of keeping a perfect house or a spotless kitchen!
Maybe you’re not feeling much like a “light of the home,” dear mama reading this today. It’s OK. Like candles, we all get snuffed out at times; we get burned out and we get spent. It’s times like these that we have permission to rely on our fellow moms: friends, our actual mothers, mother figures.
There is nothing more powerful than women helping women, mothers helping mothers. In a matter of time, our light can shine again, brighter than ever.
This is an original post by Martine De Luna for World Moms Blog. Martine is a Manila-based writer and consultant for women in digital (bloggers, online entrepreneurs). Find her regularly on Instagram @martinedeluna and on her blog, makeitblissful.com
As part of World Moms Blog’s collaboration with BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood™, our World Moms are writing posts on maternal health around the world. In today’s post, Tes Silverman writes about the loss of a baby in the Philippines due to lack of access to medical care.
“Despite my difficult pregnancy, I consider my situation lucky because in many places around the world, heading to the hospital for life-saving remedies is not always the reality. I recently interviewed a woman in the Philippines, Pia Arguelles, and her experience of delivering a premature baby was, tragically, quite different.
Pia’s story began just like any mom who was excited to be giving birth to her fourth child. Since she never experienced any complications in childbirth before, she didn’t expect that this one would be any different. However, the baby was born prematurely after only six months with a weak heart, which led to a four-month hospital stay to try to prevent complications.”
Read the full post, “Could Pia’s baby have been saved if she lived somewhere else?“, over at BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood™!
I’ll tell you a secret. In the weeks leading up to the Philippine presidential elections, a lot of people asked me who I was voting for. My default answer was always, “It’s a secret. I don’t like talking about it.”
But the truth is I had no idea. I remained undecided until a few days before voting day.
Why? Because I knew that I wasn’t just voting for me.
I knew that whoever would win wasn’t going to be just my president, but my son’s president, too.
He or she would determine what kind of country my son would be living in over the next six years, and these are important, formative years. Within the next six years my boy will become a teenager. Within the next six years he will go through middle- and high-school. Within the next six years he will begin to turn into his own person.
This president is someone that he will remember. This president should be someone he can look up to.
Well, Election Day has come and gone here in the Philippines. The candidate that I have finally chosen did not win. On the upside, none of those whom I was certain not to vote for made it either.
As the dust settles, and we look ahead, I want the best for my country and I will remain optimistic.
This new president is not part of any prominent political family. This is such a welcome change, especially since political dynasties are so common in our country. Will this mean a greater potential for actual change? Time will tell.
While my son knows that the new president wasn’t my first choice, I have explained that he was chosen by our countrymen and that I will give him a chance. I tell my child that no matter what, I hope that the new government can make this country a better place.
I love this country, and it was never an option to leave, no matter who assumed the presidency. But I love my son, too, and I want for him to live in a country that he can fall in love with, flaws and all, the way that I have.
Here’s hoping that the new president, even though he wasn’t exactly the one I chose to be my son’s leader, turns out to put the people of the Philippines first. Here’s hoping that the country that I love so dearly has chosen well. Here’s looking towards a better future for us all.
Tell us some things about the leader of your country. How is he/she like? And how is this leader suited for the kids/teenagers and adolescents in your country?
Post Edited 11:04pm EST May 18, 2016.
This is an original post by World Moms Blog contributor, Mrs. C. of the Philippines.
Photo credit to the author.
I don’t know if many people will agree to this but we Filipinos are known for having close-knit family ties, wherever we might be located in the world.
We cherish our relationships with the members of our family, and love spending time together — eating, chatting, laughing, even singing together (even if we sound off-key)! One of the relationships that I personally treasure is the one I have with my own parents — and, in effect, the relationship my kids have with them.
You see, growing up, I wasn’t able to spend much time with my own grandparents. My parents, like many Filipinos I know — were what we call “OFWs” or overseas Filipino workers. They worked for the Brunei government for many years, thankfully, my siblings and I were allowed to join them.
Because of our situation though, we would only see our relatives, including our grandparents, during the times when we would go home to the Philippines. So I didn’t really get to have many bonding moments with them, unlike my cousins (and my older siblings, who went home to the Philippines for further studies).
Fast forward to the present time. My grandparents on both sides have already passed away (and oh, how I miss them). I am also a mother now, with kids of my own, who absolutely love being with their grandparents!
In fact, they are thrilled every time they are allowed to sleepover at my parents’ place, and I am happy about it too. They get to build lasting bonds with their lolo (grandfather) and lola (grandmother), plus play with their cousins, because my brother and his family live with my parents.
It’s a win-win situation actually, my kids and my parents get to strengthen their relationships with one another, and this mama gets some “time off” (though now, with the newest addition to our family, it’s not really “time off,” if you get what I mean!).
I know not many families are as blessed as mine is — to have grandparents around who are always there to help out with the grandkids, and this post isn’t meant to make anyone feel bad. It’s primarily to emphasize the value of the grandparents in our lives… and I guess, indirectly, the value of the elderly in general. The generations before us — those who are wiser and know better.
On a personal level, this one actually goes out to my kids’ grandparents, especially my parents. You see, our family has been having our share of trials lately, especially after our youngest was born, and my mom and dad have been our strongest allies, supporters and prayer warriors. Honestly, I don’t know how we could have “survived” the past few months without them!
So yes, if you’re reading this, and your parents (your kids’ grandparents) are still with you, I encourage you to find ways, even simple ones, to tell them how much you value them. Even if it’s difficult to do so. Even if you don’t feel like it. Don’t wait till the last minute — till someone is on their deathbed — to speak of love, forgiveness and gratitude. Realize the value of grandparents, and help your kids do so, too. It could possibly be one of the greatest lessons you’ll teach them.
How is the relationship of your children with their grandparents?
Picture Credit: Author