Motherhood Tales: How do I love thee?

by - 6:31 AM

And I'm not even talking about someone else...

How do I love myself?

I'm an active member of quite a few mommy communities on Facebook, and two days ago, a mom posted anonymously. She introduced herself as a 30-year old mom who gave up her work to take care of her baby, that she feels ugly and old, and that she has become short-tempered and moody among other things.

And she asked us this:

How do you love yourself, mommies?

If you're asking yourself this as well, let me share with you my story.

I am 34 now. I'm a mommy for almost 7 years and a wife for almost 8 years.

If you'll ask me if I have always thought about having a child, and my own family, ultimately... Yes, I did, but somewhere in that 7-8 years, I have become unhappy because it was easy to lose yourself in an ocean of responsibilities. 

And for some moms (if not all), we usually come to a crossroad where we have to choose between self and family. Often, it is the "self" that we put last.

I had good educational background, graduated at the top of my class, interned abroad, worked in big companies, and was a department manager when I decided to resign and take care of my family. 

My last corporate job before I became a mom.

Since then, loving myself has become an arduous task. I started to feel sorry for myself. I love my family to the core, but there's an empty feeling somewhere.

Being pregnant was hard. Giving birth was hard. Breastfeeding was hard. Child care was hard. Marriage was hard. Money was hard.

Life was hard on so many things and on different levels.

I wanted to be so many things. And when you're a mom, especially in this country, having ambitions as person while being a mother often come off as selfish and is frowned upon.

I missed the old me. I missed having a career. I missed feeling beautiful in my office wear and heels. I miss doing something that was "me".

Sometime in 2015, I was able to find a work from home job which jumpstarted my career to where I am now. I've been working full-time in marketing since then. Money-wise, we're now at a better place than when we started, but in 2020, after a very rough patch in my marriage, I broke down and was diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

First therapy session

When I did therapy, my first assignment for the week was to do things that make me happy. Then I thought of going to the mall to buy my husband and son some things, because I was happy if they were happy, right?

Over the years, I have started to equate my happiness to my family's happiness. But I was wrong.

So how did I start loving myself?

It was still after the first round of ECQ then, and I started with going to the coffee shop by myself. I would sit there alone for hours just drinking coffee and having a snack.

I earn well from my work, but I have always been a reluctant shopper. I remember when I was still driving my son to and from school, I would wait in the mall for 4 hours and I'll find a bag that I like that was not even expensive and never buy it. I would just keep passing by the same bag for many months until I stopped liking it.

With my mental health at the edge, my husband started coming with me to the mall and taking things that I like to the counter because I would not have done it myself. I started doing some skincare, too. I can only manage 4-steps, but my husband says they make me glow. Then on weekends, he would take me to long drives. I have favorite roads, and we'd pass there just for me to see them, doesn't matter if we'll only stay at the destination for an hour or so.

My favorite road: Alaminos-Lipa Road

When the CQs started loosening up a bit, I started meeting some friends. We started having short vacations again, because it was refreshing. Remember, I've been working from home since 2015 and burn out was very real. I hardly slept when I was still battling with depression, but when we're out, I get to actually sleep at night and wake up in the morning.

Friends like family: My beshie and her boys, my twinnie, and law school friends

I've become more active in homeschooling and freelancing communities, and did some speaking engagements for a few.

I got a dog who loves me (but loves my husband more). We have three now, and the youngest is the one who loves me most. 

Hyper, Alon and Timmy

But two of the highlights of my journey to healing were probably taking up an e-commerce course and law school.

In my reply to the anonymous poster, I said to her, "I hope you're in an environment where you are loved and supported".

You know why?

Because it's so hard to be a tired and exhausted mother and wife in a family where they think that those are the only roles that you should play in your life, and you're not entitled to other dreams that you may have for yourself.

Despite the differences that my husband and I have, he had always been supportive of the things that I do and want to do. He encouraged me to continue dreaming for myself.

I was 32 when I did the e-comm course and 33 when I entered law school. The latter was a childhood dream that I couldn't pursue because I worked abroad immediately. When I came back to the Philippines, I entered graduate school, but had to stop the next semester because my salary from my first local job can only afford daily life. Then marriage and family came.

School night

Law school was hard, and I would cry during the first few weeks. My family didn't understand how hard it could be, but they would sometimes surprise me with little things. I came down to a box of cake one time that said "Awesome work". My husband made sure that I had the support I needed even though he was physically and mentally exhausted from work, chores and homeschooling our son.

They were happy for me.

And God was school hard! I was working full-time and part-time, homeschooling my son and studying. But I was happy and very proud of myself. I may not be there yet, but I took a step towards fulfilling a dream and it was MY DREAM. Not anyone else's. IT WAS MINE, and I was loved and supported the whole time.

So my wish is, as moms, as parents... that we are in a place where we are supported, where our feelings are validated, where we are allowed to dream and fulfill dreams in God's perfect time, where we can continue to grow, and where we are told that the only change we will ever have to go through is not losing ourselves, but becoming better versions of us. 

My 34th birthday celebration in Anilao.

I stopped looking at things half-empty. The glass is half-full. 

I no longer wish to go back to who I was.

It has become more of accepting the woman I have become. This version of myself is stronger, more beautiful, wiser and kinder even with the many roles I play.


I hope you will one day be proud of the beautiful person you turned out to be too.

And in case, you forget sometimes or if no one has told you lately, you may not be who you were, but the one you see these days staring at you at the mirror is an amazing person in so many ways.

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