I used to underestimate the challenge of raising a baby. I had “standards” and preconceived notions about how it must be like to have children—until I became a mother myself. When Lavinne Katriel came to our lives, I realized that I didn’t have a single clue about what it truly meant to have a baby. What I imagined to be a manageable task turned out to be a larger-than-life responsibility with literal 24-hour shifts and life changes!
But there is immense joy in having her. She made her mama and papa the happiest. And though there are a lot of challenges—physical challenges, maintaining sanity, shifted priorities, financial adjustments and social life changes—the Lord is faithful to provide strength and peace for each day. As I’ve learned in the past, the Lord uses our seasons to hone our relationship with Him and make our lives shine for His glory. Now as a mom, the more I endure, the more I see my need for His grace daily.
The MOM LIFE – it’s both insane and full of joy! I honestly dreaded staying at home. I was the career-oriented millennial girl who loved to travel and go on adventures. I grew up in a culture that did not consider being a full-time mom ideal. But now that I have my own baby, I’m considering to do this full-time mom thing beyond this year.
Being a first time mom is like treading an unknown place with no maps or compass to lead the way. Thank God for so many moms who are reaching out to me in this season of my life! That includes full-time moms, moms in the church, mommy friends, and the awesome online mommy community that I’m part of. Just three months in, I’ve learned so much from this journey and from the loving moms surrounding me, including the following lessons:
1. Trust in the Lord. Cliché? No, crucial! Trusting is a whole new experience in motherhood for this control freak. I have to be reminded not to overstress myself for things beyond my control. I may be the one deciding what clothes she will wear, what soap to use for her bath, when to feed her, how to clean and sanitize her things, and so on, but the Lord is sovereign and I have to trust Him with everything that’s happening in our lives—and that includes our baby.
2. There’s no such thing as a perfect mom; just be the best mom for your child. I was afraid of committing mistakes or falling short of being the ideal mom. I wanted the best for Lavinne, but best doesn’t always mean perfect.
3. A mom’s body was designed for breastfeeding. I struggled on the first two days after birth, but a churchmate helped changed my mindset and kickstart my breastfeeding journey. She told me, “La, your body is capable of breastfeeding because we are created that way. Wag kang susuko. (Don’t give up.)” Now we’re on our third month of breastfeeding!
4. Never compare your motherhood with someone else’s. Just focus on raising your own baby. Our culture and social media platforms may be so full of ideals of what motherhood should be, but I keep in mind that just as every family is unique, so is my baby and our journey together different from others. There should be no competition in motherhood as the focus of every mom is just to give the best for their children.
5. Cherish every moment because they are not babies forever. Someday she’ll be grown up and these moments won’t last long. So I take advantage of every chance that I get to cuddle her, kiss her, and be there for her milestones.
6. Motherhood taught me to be more selfless. Despite people around me looking down at my decision (sometimes even telling me to my face, “Sayang ang pinag-aralan mo” [You just wasted your education]), I decided to set aside my own plans for the meantime so I can hands-on raise her in her formative years. Marriage has changed so much in me, and motherhood is doing the same. I used to just care about my own goals in life and career; now I consider my own family in my decisions.
7. It’s good to have a strong support system. It boosts one’s confidence in this mommy journey. My husband Kevin has been a very good support to me in many ways, ever since. When I got pregnant, he attended pregnancy and breastfeeding seminars with me, encouraged my breastfeeding goals, and bought me nursing dresses that I can use. He continues to read articles about moms and babies so that he can help me go through the motherhood journey, become a better parent, and get helpful tips on how to be the kind of dad our baby needs. Other important sources of support are your family (your own mom, aunts, married sisters), other mom friends, your church family and helpful social circles such as online moms communities.)
It’s difficult to encapsulate motherhood in just a few words, but it has affected my life (and body! haha), my perspectives, my goals and my faith in so many good ways. Having our baby in our lives compensates for all the sleepless nights and the great responsibility that rests upon our shoulders in raising her up. With God’s grace and the support of the people around me, I’m enjoying the mom life! It may not be easy, but I would not have it any other way!