Mom meets Mom: Noob mom of 1 Dazzle meets vet mom of 7 Mrs. B
What can a newbie mom learn from a veteran mom of 7? LOTS. For one: "When you raise children, they won’t be children all their lives. They’re adults in the making." See more, here.
Mrs. B had her first child the year I was born - 1986. She’s had 6 others since, with her youngest in college.
My daughter just turned a year old, and so have I as a mother; and it’s an absolute understatement to say that my hour with Mrs. B gave me perspective on the struggles of motherhood viz. the rewards of blessing that is raising a child. The better term is life lessons. I was totally schooled.
For this exercise, we answered the same set of questions and here’s how things turned out: (Stay tuned ‘til the end, where I recap her nuggets of parenting wisdom.)
What's your day like?
Dazzle’s weekday: We co-sleep and our rooster of a daughter wakes us up at 6am. I play with her and run errands before the work day begins. I work from home in the morning, have lunch with my husband, go to the office in the afternoon (my slice of adult time for the day), have dinner, then we go on our nightly family walk so the little one gets sleepy. I’m in the room with her from 8pm-6am(!) Yes, that means ZERO night life.
Mrs. B’s weekday: I wake up at 5am, have breakfast, go to mass at 7:30, then to the office to work with my husband until lunchtime. Then I come home because our office is quite close to our house.
After that, I run errands like going to the bank and home management. I discuss the menu with my cook or go back to the office – depends on how much work I have for the day.
Dinner is about 7 to 8:30pm because there’s a lot of conversation in our house. Everyone in the family is very talkative and opinionated so you can imagine how our dinner table is. Everyone has their own thing to share. By 9pm I prepare for bed, watch a little TV and turn in at around 10:30pm.
Dazzle’s weekend: Weekends are spent with both sides of the family, catching up with friends, buying food for the week, and sneaking in a workout or bike ride. For Emily, we do playdates or swim or attend Kindermusik class and the occasional birthday party.
Mrs. B’s weekend: I wake up usually at 7am then we go to mass at 9 or 11 – depends on how many people wake up. Since food is a dominant passion at home (we like to talk and we like to eat!), I look into what’s going to be served for lunch because our Sunday lunch is a little more special than a regular day.
In the afternoon, we normally stay home. For the working kids they just want to stay home. For the ones in school, they have a lot of things to study. At times we go to my in-laws for a visit.
What's your 'me time'?
Dazzle: A hot shower, yoga, or a 30-minute HGTV show is all the me-time I get nowadays. Sometimes a trip to the bank or going through my Facebook/Instagram feed works great as me-time too!
Mrs. B: I go to Pilates twice a week, I really really love it.
What does a typical dinner spread look like for your family?
Dazzle: We’re just 2 adults so there’s usually just a meat/fish dish and veggies. Sometimes these 2 are combined to make a big pot of soup. For dessert, we have fruit and a piece of chocolate or two.
Emily has a bit of what we’re having, milk, and something just for her like fish soup sent over by grandma or steamed carrots.
Mrs. B: I like to cook and bake, and as a family we like to try new things. When we try something outside, I try to replicate it at home. At 6pm I get texts from the kids – “What’s dinner?” Even Ella* who’s in Italy*, she asks in Viber what’s for dinner.
On a regular day, it’s very simple, 1 main dish, hearty soup, veggies, nothing fancy, no dessert.
For weekends, when the children were younger, I coined “kids’ meal” – they could choose what they wanted to eat on Saturdays since everyone wanted something different. But now that they’re grown up, Saturdays are pizza or pasta night. Sundays are special – with an appetizer, main meal, and dessert.
They tease me that “Mommy is the master of reincarnation”. They look at a dish and say “I know what this was before,” or ask, “Is it fresh?” So I tell my cook, “Ididisguise natin yan para fresh ulit.” Sometimes the kids call it an LO (leftover) explosion.
An interesting take on 'sacrifice' on the next page.
As a parent, what has been your worst mistake/biggest sacrifice:
Dazzle’s: not working on Emily’s sleep-through-the-night habits is my worst mistake; and consequently, my sleep is the biggest sacrifice.
There was also the time when Emily fell off the bed at 3 months old on my watch. I knew she could flip over, but not roll. At that time, it didn’t just feel like my worst mistake as a parent; it was the worst thing I’d ever done in my life. We took a trip to the emergency room at 3am, which my daughter of course regarded as an adventure.
Mrs. B: Not that I’m perfect, but I’ve been mulling about it and I really cannot think of anything. I’ve always looked at parenting as an adventure. I’ve never thought of it as a sacrifice. What you’ve got to gain is so much more than what you thought you’d give up. I married at 22. If you asked me “Would you have done it otherwise?”; no, I don’t have any regrets. When you say, “Was it a sacrifice?”, I don’t think of it that way.
What has been your largest triumph?
Dazzle: That moment when she finally shows you that she’s learned the thing you’ve been teaching her for weeks is solid ‘core memory’ stuff. I won’t soon forget the time she first clapped her hands, made the hand sign for milk, and initiated a round of peek-a-boo with us.
Mrs. B: Ella* asked me point blank, “Are we the best thing that happened to you.? Are we your best achievement?” It’s true, my kids really are. That they grew up to be responsible individuals who live principled lives and continue to do so. When they’re young, you teach them right and wrong and they need that and stick to that growing up.
I grew up in a family where we were allowed to speak our minds. As long as you can reason respectfully, you can speak up. So [when the kids were growing up,] our home wasn’t “I told you so.” I always explained rules. And if there’s something mom is not doing correctly, “You tell me”. It’s unfair that only mom gets to say things. Someone has to correct me.
So my kids would tell me, “Mom I’m angry at you because… it upset me because....” And I would not take it against them. Even today, when they tell me something like “Chill Mom, your tone. Mom don’t fight me I’m not fighting you.” I would just think about it, and I’m sure they won’t call me out on it if it’s not true.
I look at it as a blessing that they’re confident enough to tell me to my face what I did wrong and it gives me an opportunity to better myself.
[I’m proud that] they’re adults and they continue to live principled lives as responsible individuals – because it makes sense.
My children and I, we really really talk a lot and I know their friends and one of them was telling me about a good friend who was a good guy but somehow didn’t turn out too well anymore. I asked, “Why did that happen? You guys were the same once upon a time and you did you the right thing so why didn’t he?” My son answered: “Because mom it makes sense. As children, you always gave us the reason [behind rules and things you were asking us to do].”
They’re adults. They can really do what they want to do, but they continue to do what’s supposed to be done, because it makes sense. It’s something I thank the Lord everyday for, because I’m not there everyday. I can trust that even if it’s not the popular thing to do, it’s the higher good that they’ll pick.
How has parenthood changed you?
Dazzle: They always say that parenthood is life-changing; what they forget to mention, is that it’s lifestyle-changing too. I used to play sports twice or thrice a week, spend nights watching shows with my husband (or a glass of wine when he’s out) or visiting my parents, and was always up for adventures friends invited us to.
Everything is different now. Traveling is not the same, my body’s not the same (I’ve gotten 4 injuries from incorrectly carrying my super active daughter), even my fashion sense is confused.
Breastfeeding is a huge commitment, and I love that I’m able to nourish my baby; but it’s also a constant reminder that my body and my life are no longer just my own. That’s biggest change really – not even your heart is any longer your own.
I’ve become more resilient, and more grateful. Nothing is as painful as labor. Nothing as stressful as hearing your child cry in pain; nothing as difficult as learning to parent mistake after mistake after triumph. But there’s nothing as beautiful as your baby’s smile, as peaceful as her sleeping face, as exciting as seeing her take her first step. Nothing is as jam-packed with joy as motherhood is.
Mrs. B: It has changed me a lot. It has brought out the best in me. I’m a type A person, I move very fast, my temperament is short and have low tolerance for inefficiency… all of that is tested as a parent.
In the office, if someone is incompetent, you fire them. You can’t fire kids.
You really have to be patient. You have no credibility if you don’t walk your talk, so your life needs to be coherent and consistent. Especially when giving permission. What’s non-negotiable will always be non-negotiable – that has to be very clear to children growing up. They need a clear concept of right and wrong. And we have to lead by example.
It has taught me to be more tolerant. I don’t like to firefight, I do a lot of planning, a lot of home management. When a home is run efficiently they don’t realize the effort that goes into that, because things move like clockwork. That’s a career unto itself. You learn to master the art of multi-tasking especially with a lot of children. We women naman, we really have that gift. But when things don’t turn out as you expected them to, you just deal with it.
You can’t be ‘de kahon’. You have to constantly tweak and be flexible.
I really learn a lot from my children. Every night, they come home and tell me about their work. I tell them: “Educate me.” I like to listen to what’s happening in their lives; I’m always involved and tell them “You guys have to be better than your parents.” I don’t have insecurities about them being better than me and that’s how it should be.
Noob and vet mom fears on the next page.
What are your fears for your children as they grow up?
Dazzle: The world we’re leaving her is dying. Climate change tops my fears list; next is what its effects will be on civilization. Suddenly post-apocalyptic movies aren’t so sci-fi anymore.
Like any noob parent, I’m also afraid of screwing up. I just want to do right by her.
Lastly, I’m a strong believer in no screen time until kids are ready for it. I know I can monitor her usage, but I can’t protect her from kids who’ll be less communicative, patient, and imaginative individuals as a result of too much screen time. Hopefully, violent won’t be on that list too.
Mrs. B: I try really to help them increase their adversity quotient. You can’t learn that overnight. I notice with the young now, it’s always about an instant sense of gratification. Thankfully, my kids are many so sanay sila sa hati-hati, sa hintayan. With the car, the driver has to pick up one then other. When there’s food on the table, they always ask who didn’t eat yet.
I used to teach, so I’m big on education. Our TV was always on weekends only and they got used to it even when they were in college. School was the priority. They tease me that even when it’s Recognition Day and everyone gets to go home ‘Mom makes us stay in school.’
We never rewarded them monetarily for good grades too. We told them “Your dad and I work; and studying – that’s your job. Anyone who works should do their best.” So a good grade in itself is its own reward.
And I never deprived them of the joy of being able to purchase their first big gadget, like an iPhone – even if it’s secondhand, it’s their own money. They bought their first iPod, Walkman, Playstation, with money they had saved. That’s a source of pride for them. I would never take that joy away from my children.
So I’m not really afraid because I’d like to believe that to the best of our capacity, we were able to raise them to weather any adversity.
That was just my conversation with Jose* this afternoon. You have to marry someone with high adversity quotient and you continue to work on that by increasing the emotional bank account. Sometimes things are good and sometimes bad. Your emotional bank account can’t be overdrawn.
When you raise children, they won’t be children all their lives. They’re adults in the making. You want your kids to marry someone responsible --- but ask, what kind of children are you raising?
Early on in your life, teach them. Don’t give them everyone they want when they want it because life is not like that and we never know how life will treat our children. If it treats them well, then good. It’s the easiest thing to get used to a good life. But if not, raise them so that they’ll be able to rise above that and be happy.
What role does your husband play in raising your kids? –
Dazzle: My husband is great with kids and if life were the Academy Awards, he’d win Best Supporting Actor by a landslide. He plays with our daughter, helps me teach her things, and when she was a newborn he volunteered for diaper duty and to cut her nails (which I was scared to death of doing). He’s still on poop duty to this day.
Mrs. B: My husband is quiet by nature but we share the same core values. He’s simple and he’s really a man of integrity. The children see their father as a simple person who really has a lot of integrity.
He’s very supportive because I’m really the one who’s more involved on a day to day basis. I’m the one lang who executes it more but it’s a shared value.
We’re involved in a marriage enrichment program because we noticed that a couple cannot parent well if their marriage is not in place. That’s our advocacy. Everyone wants to be happy and people by nature are good, but there’s usually a problem in communication.
What’s the strictest rule you implement with your kids?
Dazzle: It would have to be no screen-time. I’ve seen so many kids glued to their devices at restaurants, acting out when their parents would try to take these away.
What I’ve read is that shows (especially those that aren’t educational and interactive) do the imagining for kids (so we prefer to read her books and we love that she loves them!) and that apps shorten the attention span since everything is gamified and instantly rewarded per stage.
Mrs. B: I don’t believe in too many rules. There are just things that are non-negotiable. Anything that’s a matter of opinion is negotiable. A home with too many rules, the ones that really matter get lost and the child just looks at them as trivial.
As parents, my husband and I treat discipline as strength building, not parental control over the kids. To be able to do this, it's important to have frequent conversations with your children and to be open to suggestions from them. I apologize to them when I've wronged them and always thank them for things they do for me.
What’s the sweetest thing your kids have done for you?
Dazzle: I’m 100% sure that I’m currently her favorite person in the world and the way her face breaks into the hugest smile when she sees me after just a few hours of being apart is all the reward I need for any sacrifice that comes with being her mom.
Mrs. B: They do so many sweet things a day on a day-to-day basis. They’re really a joy. Last year we went to Alaska for our 30th wedding anniversary and they did all the planning. One was in charge of places to see, the other where to eat, the other our Airbnb’s.
They planned the whole trip. What did I do? I paid. We celebrated our anniversary on our cruise, then in San Francisco, Mario* brought us to a vineyard for wine tasting. And that was all on their tab. Even the youngest, Lia*, who’s still in college she had to contribute because it was for mom and dad.
We as parents, as moms, sometimes think, “When will I see the fruits?” One day you will. For sure, I guarantee you. And that was one fruit. They were so responsible; they did everything.
The tables have turned and they’re quite the responsible ones now. They tell me, “Remember Mom, when you’re Uber driver’s there, you have to be on time, you can’t let the driver wait, you have to be ready.”
As a noob mom, what I’ve learned from this whole thing is that new parents are short-sighted. It’s the whole adjustment period – trying to reclaim your old life and realizing that you can only have bits and pieces of it back. And there’s this whole new life that’s scary and wonderful all at once and at every moment.
I have to think long-term or I’m going to miss my chance to be a good parent.
The glass half-full/empty version of new momhood is either seeing it as a thankless job: having to keep this tiny, wailing, mostly incoherent human being alive; or, as a (yes, I’m going to say it) journey, filled with infinite moments of joy and wonder.
In case you missed them, here are some Mrs. B’s pearls of wisdom:
- I’ve always looked at parenting as an adventure. I’ve never thought of it as a sacrifice. What you’ve got to gain is so much more than what you thought you’d give up.
- I really learn a lot from my children. Every night, they come home and tell me about their work. I tell them: “Educate me.”
- I never deprived them of the joy of being able to purchase their first big gadget. That’s a source of pride for them. I would never take that joy away from my children.
- When you raise children, they won’t be children all their lives. They’re adults in the making.
- [On increasing kids’ adversity quotient] Don’t give them everyone they want when they want it because life is not like that and we never know how life will treat our children. It’s the easiest thing to get used to a good life.
- A home with too many rules, the ones that really matter get lost and the child just looks at them as trivial.
- When the kids were growing up, our home wasn’t “I told you so.” I always explained rules. And if there’s something mom is not doing correctly, “You tell me”.
I’ll end with a line that struck me in a parenting book once:
For mothers, love is both our work and our reward.
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