Sunday, April 22, 2018

Waiting in the wings

"By 40, all women are amazing."

Gwyneth Paltrow said that in an article for the November 2016 issue of Harper's Bazaar. That month, I turned 40 and reading that quote from supermom Gwyneth just made me feel... I don't know. Not exactly amazing. I was thinking, "I'm 40. I'm amazing. And yet I don't feel amazing because NOTHING is happening to me. I'm just here at home, elbow deep in childcare, and trying to get some sort of work done. I'm nothing special. I used to be hot shit. Now, nothing."

This blog post has been brewing in my head and my heart for more than a year now. Maybe more. I've changed my mind many times about it as my heart and my head fight it out but I finally let myself submit to the one who should have always been in charge anyway—my Lord! And right now, God is telling me that the only thing I should be concerning myself with is being there for my husband and my sons.

That's it. And that's okay.

This struggle started when my third son, Piero, was born. I've mentioned a few times that I've been having a hard time adjusting to having three kids. Actually, I realized just recently that I was having a hard time adjusting to three kids AND my need to be doing something else. I have three kids and juggling two jobs: I'm a blogger and an editor. I also squeeze in writing assignments, Boss Bellas workshops for Manila Workshops, and PR campaigns for brands sometimes.

Last year, 2017, was really hard for me. I went back to work while also still blogging, right? Well, I was confronted with the fact that I can't get paid higher or even equal than my last salary, I don't know a lot of things anymore because the world has moved on and it moved fast while I was being a mommy, and I was nobody again, working my way up the ladder again. And I was 40. "Life begins at 40," so it is said. I just didn't imagine 40 was going to be truly life beginning again.

Last year was very humbling. I remember one night when I sobbed to my husband Vince, telling him I had worked so hard and so long to become somebody and then motherhood happened and now I had to start all over again, like all the work I did before didn't matter. I cried, "What was all that for then? I feel like I wasted my life!" And he gently told me, "You know who you are. You know the work you can do. What you know about you and your work is what matters." Something like that. I was very upset that night! But he helped me feel better. My pride was wounded but it's okay. We all need to be knocked down once in a while and I'm glad that happened. I'm more humble now. And in many ways, I'm a better person because of it.

Celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary with the kids! 

I'm grateful. I may not be amazing anymore but I do have an amazing life and I really ought to be grateful. God is good and He is faithful. Yes, I stepped aside and focused on my family. Yes, I did something else (I did the crazy freelance life! I put up a blogging business!). Yes, other bloggers have become bigger and better. That's okay. I always liked the path I chose. Sometimes, however, I have to be reminded that I chose this and that I like it.

If you're a mommy who had to give up her career or pass up on a promotion or you find yourself saying no to a lot of nights out with friends (or concerts and musicals like Lion King!), breathe in, breathe out. Life isn't passing you by. Your life is happening right now. And one day, if you choose it, then the career will happen. The dressing up again will happen. Your super hot bod will come back again. Sure, it will take a ton of work but if you want it, it will happen. Just wait. I like to think that it's the other way around—that kind of life is waiting for you. You're just too busy with the important stuff right now.

My mommy life is happening and it is so very real, too—all its mess and chaos, sweaty hugs and sticky kisses, deafening shouts of joy, soft breaths of babies sleeping, conversations deep into the night with my husband, hearts bursting as we both watch our kids grow. Not a milestone missed! Add to that my working life and, honestly, what is this waiting for? I'm living the dream right here, right now. How crazy lucky am I?

Friday, April 20, 2018

Considering a career change around your kids? Here are questions to ask first!

All mothers are busy. We can all agree on that, right? But when the kids are already spending all day in school, or you're lucky enough to have responsible household staff, and you feel that you now have time to do what you've always wanted but still have time for family, what do you do?

Many mamas feel they are missing professional challenges in their life. Now that you have a little bit of time on your hands and your long-suppressed ambitions are getting rowdy in your heart, then it might be a good idea to look through your career progression options. Whether you would like more flexibility or better time management, there is a perfect job out there for you. Before you make your final decision, however, you will need to check whether you can complete the transition and get what you want out of your new career. Here are the questions to ask yourself:

Do you have support?
Looking for a new job or asking for more work responsibilities is not just a professional decision. You have to make sure your family is behind you 100%. That means they really will be there for you when you come home late or need to meet deadlines. Supportive means they won't complain about the hours you spend studying or training. Supporting you means no emotional blackmail and making you feel guilty. It's hard enough to be a working mama so you're going to need your family's cooperation if you believe it's time to pursue your dreams.

Do you really have the time to pursue this?
One of the things mothers struggle with is time. You don’t want to spend more time away from home than necessary. If you are working full time at the moment, you might not be able to commit to training and development. If your training or further schooling is far from home, you might feel bad at the long commute, especially if you live in the traffic hell that is Manila. Before you decide which career option to go for, it is important that you check the time it will involve and if you're okay with committing to it. I'm not being discouraging, okay? I'm just being pragmatic. Best to know if you can do it than jump in and then find that you wasted your family's money and efforts because you didn't have the time to do it.

Being a consultant editor for BABY magazine was perfect! I brought the kids along to photo shoots, for example.

Can you build on your existing qualifications?
One of the best ways of speeding up your career progression or transition is to look for a new course that takes into consideration your previous qualifications. As an example, if you would like to upgrade your diploma online RN to BSN you will get credits for your previous course and get your degree faster studying at your own pace.

How flexible are your choices?
When raising kids, you will have some important responsibilities that you cannot neglect. Ideally, you would like to spend the weekends with your family, eat dinner with the kids, and be able to attend parents’ meetings and football matches. If your chosen career is not likely to give you this flexibility, you might need to look further. If, however, you will be able to work from home for a couple of days a week, you can work around your family life. That's my life now! It takes a lot of discipline, working from home, since there's a bed, a TV, and books to distract you! But I do enjoy working from home.
There's a lot of cute guys in my work place. Here's the littlest one!

Have you considered starting a business?

If you're tired of your office hours or the commute or if you're a housewife who now wants to work but doesn't want to go back to the stiff corporate environment, then you might consider starting your own business and being your own boss. Like I did! While at the beginning you’ll need to put in the extra hours and work hard, in the end you will get more freedom and money to spare. Consider your options and build on your strengths and opportunities to create a long term plan that works for you. From blogging to becoming an affiliate, virtual assistant, or online accountant, there are several options to choose from, depending on your qualifications, interest, and skills. 

I turned my blog into a business: I get sponsorships, partnerships, brand ambassadorships, and launched workshops.

Us working mamas often struggle with work-life balance. If you feel like it is time for a career change, consider your current and future commitments, and what your new job will help you to achieve. This way, you can not only improve your career, but also live a more balanced life.

*This post has paid links.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The day after our wedding

Look at what Vince found last week! Photos from the morning after our wedding!

He's showing off his wedding ring. Hindi nakita haha
My eye bags are so wow.

These were 11 years ago. I took them with my Blackberry. We were so exhausted and exhilarated. Just so giddy and happy and tired. My eye bags are huge! I swear I look younger now than I did 11 years ago haha Thank you, eye cream!

Oh, such a happy day my wedding was. But, as someone once said in a speech at another wedding a long time ago, your wedding day is not the happiest day in your life. And it's true. The next day was. And most days after that. When the children are born... Oh my dear heaven, nothing beats that day and I'm so glad I had three of those blessed days.

Sure, marriage isn't all happiness. One time, Vince and I had a massive fight and I said I wasn't happy anymore and he seethed back, "So what? I didn't marry you to make you happy. I married you till death do us part!" And I was taken aback and realized that if every couple married for happiness, then what do you do when you're not happy anymore? And in life, there is only one guarantee—it's going to be hard, sometimes so hard you can't see through the darkness and despair. That's why you vow to stick together for better and for worse. Your husband is the hand you hold as you struggle out of the muck. And we went through a lot of shit a few years ago, and we came out of it still together and stronger than ever.

I can see Vince reading that last sentence and rolling his eyes in mirth. Vince likes to tease me whenever I blog about difficulties in our marriage. He goes, "Grabe, parang maghihiwalay na tayo! Grabe ang drama!" Kainis!!! In my mind, these are real struggles. But in his mind, I guess, as long as we're together, they're nothing to be worried about. He's so stable, so secure, so sure. I love this man.

Happy anniversary, Vince! Eleven years married, 19 in love. Next year is 20 years yo! You're such a lucky guy. And I'll always be the luckiest girl.