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
If you’re a parent, or a child, or anyone, you may have heard the phrase. “It takes a village” (to raise a child). After reading a post written by a fellow contributor, KC, I remained in thought about this village that’s needed to raise our children.
KC is currently a stay-home-mum to a precious toddler, so you know she has one of the most rewarding and challenging positions in the universe; one weighted with a lot of responsibility, as well. Thankfully she takes the time to write about some of what’s going on in her world as a mum, a woman, and as a person, because out of her writing I found something I want to discuss, too. Check her out at http://www.mummyintransit.com. She is a really good writer, and she’s funny too.
In reading KC’s post I thought about my own experience as a child in Italy, a teenager in Tanzania, and an adult and parent in the United States. What was my village like? Who did my mum include in forming my personality and my worldview?
I love post-prompts like this one, as they make me think about my everyday actions, especially the ones that come out of habits I created overtime, and no longer think about. Let’s get right to it and I’ll say that even though some of my dos and don’ts apply to varying types of relationships, I am focusing on romantic relationships like the one I have the pleasure of having with the man who is my husband. These are only a few of my favorites: (more…)
Recently, my 9-year-old hit a snag in his martial arts class. He practices Shotokan, a style of karate that focuses on mastering technique through continual refinement. His sensei sums it up by saying, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” (more…)
This week marks the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Syrian war. Five years of fighting, death, destruction. Heartbreaking stories, loss and questions. How much longer can this go on for? How is this going to end? (more…)
A life coach (LC) once told me it is important to be selfish sometimes. She had to explain what she meant because for as long as I could remember, the word ‘selfish’ was synonymous with not caring about anyone other than yourself. Well, LC was one of the sweetest people I have met, yet she did not strike me as one who would accept being pushed around, or would accept becoming a doormat. Usually, really sweet people are considered people on whom you can ‘get over’, right?
When I had this conversation with her I was already mother to by firstborn. However, I did not come to really contemplate the meaning of being selfish while being a mother, until after having my second child.
What LC was conveying to me is that although I am a mother, I am a person. Separate from all the titles I gather in life I have myself and I have to take care of self. You’ve probably heard it or read it somewhere…’If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else’. I have heard people reference it to when an aircraft loses oxygen and you are to put an oxygen mask on yourself before helping someone else, even your own child, put on her mask. Still, the word ‘selfish’ isn’t used here, even though it may be more concise and cost less to print. I do understand why: it just doesn’t sound good.
Nonetheless, being selfish (to an extent) is necessary for sanity, self-esteem, creativity, and a dynamic life.
I don’t know about other mothers, but I tend to analyze a lot. It used to be that before I left the house (children and husband in it), I would think of all I could do to make sure everything for the kids was where it was supposed to be so my husband could easily find it. It was as if the time I was going to be away had to be excused in my own mind, and that I was negatively selfish for not being there to care for them myself. I know this is absurd because we are both their parents and my husband hasn’t indicated, in any way, that he thinks or feels any of the things I am explaining here.
I realized I was hindering my own self from taking a break. From clocking out from my Stay At Home career. From taking care of me. From figuring out how to take care of me beyond taking a shower and maybe putting on some make up.
So about a month and a half ago my husband and I had a conversation. We acknowledged that we both feel the difference in our lives from how it was pre two small children and a teenager, to post two small children and a teenager. We agreed that we both need time to be ourselves individually and together. At the end of that conversation it was decided that I was going to begin taking scheduled ‘Me Time’.
The first time I had no clue what to do with myself. I was happy to leave the house and go do something. I didn’t want to waste my time. I didn’t want to do something as mundane as go window-shopping or take a nap in my car…like I have done a few times in the past. Then I realized I could do anything I wanted and I would be doing it by myself!
When I returned home I felt energized and didn’t feel like I needed to clock out again for a while. The second time I felt kind of guilty, leaving everyone again, so as it was already hard to schedule something with holiday travel, I just let that one go. Today was my third scheduled Me Time and I knew exactly what I was going to do. I was going to take my selfish self to the forest and hike! Yes, I was going to take a hike!
My hike was phenomenal. It was something I needed more than I thought. I wished for my husband and my children to be with me. I kept envisioning them there, but I knew I needed to be by myself. I needed to not worry about what they might need… if they are hungry, thirsty, or need a diaper change. Or if the 15-month old had eaten a crayon or is putting his finger in his mouth and maybe is now interested in sticking it in an electrical socket.
That’s the thing, you know? Being a Stay at Home Parent means that as long as your children are awake, you have to be aware while you’re cooking or cleaning, or doing whatever else you may need to do, Additionally, you have to be present for the myriad learning moments young humans have. I personally think that is tiring. I feel like I am wrong for feeling this way. That, as a parent, but more so as a mother, I should want to be with my children all the time and I should only get a tiny bit tired just as any human would from being awake and doing regular things.
To continue, my hike was what I needed. I focused on thinking of nothing. I took deep breaths as I walked briskly onward in the chilly air. Every time I thought to meditate I would first repeat a prayer I know, and then somehow ended up seeing Purnima Ramakrishnan’s face as if she was leading a meditation session. It was so strange and SO funny! Then I kept thinking about how I should have asked if there are wild animals to be concerned about on the trails. Black bears and cougars would have to just let me have my Me Time, you know?
After the hike I watched a R-rated movie (The Big Short) and ate a cookie.
I got home to two little babes wanting to be tickled and wanting to use me as an obstacle they had to demolish. It was a lot of fun and I knew I was better for them since I went and had some time with my own self.
Do you take time to do things on your own? Do you ever feel like you could be better for your children? When you do take time away, are there specific things you do that bring you back to center? What do you think about the word ‘selfish’?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Sophia. You can find her blogging at Think Say Be and on twitter @ThinkSayBeSNJ.
Photo credits to the author.