This blog post is dedicated to the following admirable ladies:
- the mom who planned her family wisely—to her who was responsible enough to plan her pregnancy when she felt that she and her husband were financially, emotionally, mentally and physically ready (or at least capable). I’m sure your planning contributes a lot why you are able to balance everything now. You’re a great mom!
- the mom who patiently teaches and monitors her toddler’s yaya. We know it’s frustrating especially when yayas don’t seem to listen or when they suddenly leave, but still you hire and train and monitor. You’re a great mom and a patient teacher!
- the mom who makes an effort to look presentable in social gatherings. Even if you haven’t bathed for days, you took time to prettify for that gathering. The act respects the event you’re attending. And yes, we know, it feels good to look at yourself in the mirror and realize you still have “it”. You’re a great mom, a lovely wife, and a respectful guest!
So anong hanash ito? My mommy blogger friend Glaiza shared the article “How to Spot Fake Hands-on Mom of Toddlers” on her Facebook page. I got intrigued and so I read it. The following are the criteria in identifying the fakes, and I inspected myself based on them:
- Long, manicured, nail polished fingernails – nope! My fingernails are stubby and polish-less
- Cannot answer what the last poo looked like – yes I can!
- Goes out with a toddler in heels and with jewelry – hmmm…I don’t think wedges and pearl studs count
Even though I never thought of myself ever as a hands-on mom, I was relieved because based on this article’s litmus test, I am in the authentic hands-on mom category even if I’m a working mom.
But later I realized that this article may be guilty of mom-shaming. You know, it’s when a mom or a certain goup of moms herald that a certain type of mommyhood is superior over another style.
And this article is mom-shaming at its finest. It is making heroes out of the perceived “victims” (i.e., losyang hands-on-moms) by generalizing that the fresh-looking and still-pretty moms as fakes and great pretenders. This is really bad, because this makes the alleged “fake hands-on moms” feel guilty for being able to balance different facets in her life. It also makes the “real hands-on moms” feel that they have every excuse to play the “I’m a hands-on mom” card every time they put off doing anything else. And it also makes the “real hands-on mom” grip with panic while thinking, “Oh sh*t that means I’m really in this rabbit hole until my child turns 7!”
Before I proceed, I wanna know: What exactly is the definition of a hands-on mom? Is this literal, as in you do everything by hand? Or does it include moms who may not be washing their kids’ bum after pooping but are overseeing everything else about their kids’ lives? Me thinks the author is only talking about the former. And that’s really unfair because I believe that there are different ways of being a hands-on mom (and it’s obvious that based on the article, only the hands-on moms deserve all the applause).
I believe hands-on moms include those who stay up late researching the best schools for their kids, those who read up countless books to know the best way to discipline her child, those who learn to prepare and cook healthy foods, those who manage the nannies and the entire household well, those who homeschool their kids, and the list goes on. It’s a shame that the article’s author—in her quest to justify a mom looking losyang—had to make those who are not like her feel like fakes. And please, glamorous poses and posts lang sa social media, fake na agad?!?
The photos above were taken when our family went on a 4-day tour to Hong Kong last year. Just the three of us—no yaya, no travel agent, no chauffeur, nada! We rode buses and MTRs and walked a loooot! If you haven’t read our story, READ! Super haggard ‘yan. And yet I don’t think I look losyang in these pictures! At bakit kamo ako may nail polish? Well, ever heard of gel nail polish? You know—yung kahit kinutkot ko na ayaw pa ring matanggal.
I have a huge respect for stay-at-home and full time moms. Huge and tremendous respect. I kept on mentioning that here on my blog, especially for the likes of Dr. Wen Raymundo. But please don’t shame moms like us who may not be as domesticated or as maternal.
Have we forgotten how just a few decades ago, our grandmothers had to fight just so moms have the option to work in the office and not be frowned upon? Have we forgotten how much work these ladies did just so men would treat us as equals in the workplace? But now that we’ve come this far, there goes our our fellow moms, looking down on us and making us feel guilty why we are the kind of mom we are!
Before I chunked the four-month-old, almost unused bottle of OPI nail polish I bought, or donned a daster and took a selfie despite my oily face, I first asked myself:
- Am I bad mom because I married at the right age and chose to marry a responsible man who could provide for me and my future children? And by provide, that includes being able to afford nannies for my son? Certainly not! That makes me a great mom for thinking of my future child even before conceiving him! As for the nannies, they help keep me sane! Would I be a better “authentic hands-on mom” if I do all chores, lose time for the other facets of my life, and then be bitter about having a child? Certainly not! I am enjoying being “Raviv’s mom” because I am not limited to just being “Raviv’s mom”: I am still Dewmaine—the mom, the wife, the friend, the teacher, the blogger, the baghag, and many more.
- Am I a bad mom because I still work? Certainly not! I’m one helluva teacher (ask any former student of mine!), and thousands of students (oh yeah, I dare say that) were blessed because of me! I am doing the youth a favor! Moreover, I learn a lot about parenthood as a teacher because I encounter hundreds of students every year.
- Am I a bad mom because I look great (or at least I don’t look losyang) on the photos I post on Instagram? Certainly not! For one, there’s a reason why I chose to post those photos on Instagram: that’s because I don’t look like that most of the time. Thus during the times I glam up, I want to immortalize them by posting them online. And I’m sure Raviv would be proud to show his mom’s photos to his pals looking like that instead of looking losyang. Kaya nga na-stress ako when Randy posted this photo of me on Facebook:
Remember this photo? Ayan proof how I really am at home, as opposed to…
Ayan “fake mom” na ako diyan. And I admit Raviv’s yaya accompanied us here. But Raviv and I were on the VIP section, and yaya was seated at the back. I brought yaya along because she is thrilled to attend such affairs! Raviv was super behaved here. Why? Because I read a lot of books on how to discipline my kid. I also listen to the things he says and watches what he does.
- Aaaaaand…ito na: Am I a bad mom because I have naturally pretty features?!? Charot. Masyado na kasing seryoso! Hehe.
I can add so many more points to this list. But my main point is this cliche: different strokes for different folks. There is no infallible guide to being a mom. Whatever we do, there will always be something we underdid and overdid. We will always, always hear complaints from our kids on how we should have raised them.
I should know, because I have always expressed to my mom how much I have wanted her to be a stay-at-home, Stepford mom. I used to be bitter that she still went out to work and we were left with our helpers at home. But notice that I’m using past tenses—because now I’m happy that Motherhood didn’t limit herself to just being our mom. Now that TJ and I have our own families, Motherhood is never our burden because she is happy: she has lots of friends, she feels accomplished (and she is!), and she has way more than enough money to fend for herself. In addition, she’s very generous and very loving to her grandchildren. She may never have been perfect or even domesticated, but she was still a great mother. And now, she is a great grandmother. Moreover, her not being at our beck and call 100% of the time forced me to be stronger and more independent.
PS: To show you that the criteria given by the author are full of bull…
- My fingernails have always been been short and polish-less ever since. Heck, I didn’t even grow my nails or wore polish on my wedding day!
- I’m I wash my son’s bum with bidet first, then with soapy hands later.
- My staple jewelry ever since were just earrings, and I have Yosi Samra tucked in my bag everytime I wear heels.
Let other moms call me a fake or whatever. But mark my words: I am sure that my son—even when he’s mature enough to decide—will not wish he had another mom.
And not just because he promised to, but because he’ll be proud he had a fake hands-on mom like me!