I’ve been working at home for five months now. I appreciate the fact that I get to spend time with my family and most of all, my daughter. I have been working in pretty hectic jobs the past 20 years and have missed a lot of milestones and even little moments of her life like picking her up from school or cooking for her. I have been able to finally do this now.
A few months ago, someone asked me “Don’t you think it’s too late to be a work-at-home mom and stay with your child?”
That question was difficult to answer. I was torn. My daughter has her own life now and spends time talking to her friends and her world has expanded externally and not just family. She is a budding teen and loves her privacy already. She will always be my baby and that question made me wonder if I made the right decision. So I really pondered over it and discussed it on my video.
On an average, I wake up at least 7 times everyday before my alarm sets off. Thrice as the puppies wake me up at 3:30 a.m. and I let them out at 5, twice as my hubby’s alarms go off, once to wake up my daughter and another to send her off to school.. No wonder I’m a cranky piece of humanity.
I’m typing up this article at 5:30 a.m. like a perky morning person when I definitely am not. I don’t even try to be and set my alarm at 7:30 a.m. because I know I am not wired to be a rooster. I am an owl.
I wish I could sleep earlier but nope, that’s pretty impossible. I’m usually the last person asleep at around midnight or so.
This is quite an irritable dilemma. Has been for a while. I force myself to go back to sleep at 6:30 a.m. and end up over sleeping and still cranky – irritable, strange and working badly, even sick.
Right now, I’m wishing that Mother’s Day comes along (that’s practically a year from now) and I ask for a day off. A day all to myself with no bother, no noise, no people. Nothing.
We really should have annual VFLL’s – Vacation From Life Leaves.
I don’t know how long I can function this way, really. Maybe it’s a sign that I should be a morning person…God forbid.
“Mom, I need you to take care of something for me.”was a chat message I got from my 10 year old daughter. This is rare. She’s a very independent girl and asks for help in schoolwork but will never full endorse something for me to handle.
“I was minding my own business doing my class activity and one of my classmates shouted and asked who was thedarkest in class. Another one shouted my name and they all laughed and looked at me. They pointed at me.”
“There is nothing wrong with having dark skin color, luv. Mommy is dark too.” I say.
My daughter is a morena. I love her skin color. She has a nice even caramel skin from top to bottom. Evenly baked caramel skin. It’s beautiful. She’s a friendly, funny, smart and polite girl with a beautiful smile.
“I know but they humiliated me and it was so malicious.” Then she starts crying. “I was so embarrassed. Dark people are cool and all but they were laughing at me and I wasn’t even doing anything, just my project!”
As a mother, this made me angry. Really angry. Momzilla from hell angry. My first instinct would be to run home and give her a hug but it wasn’t possible since I was still at my work area. It is upsetting to hear your daughter cry and even more upsetting to hear her angry. It broke my heart. The issue was not about skin color anymore. It’s was about bullying, labels, public humiliation and hurting the feelings of others.
All I could do was listen to her and just let her talk. Get it out of her system. All I could say was to tell her:
To be the bigger person and let it go.
It’s okay to be angry and feel bad because what they did hurt. It hurt but what they said was not wrong or false, it was how it was said/ done.
Don’t dwell and keep on thinking about what happened. I asked her to draw to keep her mind off it.
I asked her if the teacher did anything and she said, yes. The teacher spoke to the group about how it’s wrong to label people and equality and made them apologize. It made her feel better but she was still feeling a bit raw. I’m thankful the teacher tried to manage it from her end. I gave my daughter a hug when I got home from work.
Why is skin color discrimination so rampant here in the Philippines?
It started in the Spanish period wherein there was a perception that the wealthier people were fair skinned Caucasians. The darker skinned Filipino was considered the working class, the poor. It’s 2014 and we are still segregated by skin color. People percieve the darker skinned as less attractive and there is still a perception that they are poorer. It’s sad.
Growing up, I was teased and mocked about my skin color. I was athletic and was always under the sun. I was called negra, ulikba, indio, nognog (hard to translate all this but these were all labels to call a dark skinned person) not just by friends but also family. Just like my daughter, it hurt sometimes not because I was dark but because it was said maliciously and to mock. My mother called me Black Beauty because of my skin color and in hindsight, I hope she said it to make it feel better. I mean she compared me to a horse but still, I knew she had good intentions.
Eventually, I realized I could outswim all of them in the pool so I stopped feeling bad about about my skin color and treated it as a badge of honor.
The Filipinos obsession over fairer skin dominates sales and media. People use a range of products to be fairer. From the more organic papaya soap to scary Intravenous glutathione shots, to chemical skin peeling that really makes my skin crawl. Human skin is not meant to peel and drop off in huge slabs like shedding snakes, people!
Yet, we can still be as ignorant about parity in terms of skin color and looks. Yet we are too ignorant to see that Filipinos come in 50 shades of brown. That diversity is what makes us special. That mix of different races is what makes Filipinos beautiful.
Bullying is another story.
Sometimes these kids do not realize they do hurt people. They learn from school, their parents, nannies, media and even on the internet. They absorb data and learnings like sponges. They also have to be guided. Please observe how your children interact with others and the things they say sometimes. Ask them questions and opinions about things if you can’t be around all the time. Check out what they love, laugh at, their jokes as well. Be able to discern if your child has the tendency to bully. Observe and take off your mommy goggles* once in a while.
*Mommy Goggles:Mom equivalent of rose tinted glasses; thinks and sees that her child can do no wrong.
Reprimand when needed. Kids can be kids but these kids grow up to be adults as well. When will you expect them to learn?
I really don’t mind being busy. In fact, I love having a certain level of stress. I used to thrive on a professionally stressful day. I love it but I hate what it does to me. I head home tired, cranky and closed from interaction. My brain just wants to shut down and stop thinking. I don’t even want to sleep, just lie down catatonic.
Today was one of those days. Thus, I bought myself Krispy Kreme. I thought it would perk me up. I was wrong.
I went home cranky to a happy, perky child who asks me daily “How was your day?” in a sing-song voice. I force a smile and talk to her. I always do even if I just want a quiet home and a soft bed.
But she knows. A child always knows when their parents are not a hundred percent okay. Don’t even think they don’t know. Children can sniff out bad vibes like a pig searching for truffles. They know the way you know that they are up to no good or lied about eating half a dozen cookies. You can pretend all you want and receive a Grammy for your acting but those little munchkins watching Nickelodeon know.
This isn’t new to me. It’s not something new to working moms everywhere. It’s painful to see yourself turn into a cranky woman who wants to snap at them and say “Stop jumping around!”, “Turn the TV volume down!”, “Will someone please stop the dog from barking?!”,”I don’t want to talk!”, “I don’t like the dinner!”, “Why can’t you answer that Math problem? Don’t you listen in school?” So, you really try your best not to do it. Some days, nice mom wins and for other days, cranky mom takes over. Momzilla from the depths of hell.
It would be easy to just lock the room, not let anyone in and just keep to yourself to recharge and to not harm anyone in the household who gets in the way of cranky mom. It’s easy but doing it will just make you do it again next time, and the next time and the next. Until you’re left with a child, husband and dog who are too scared every time you get home. I don’t want that.On days like this, I try to do the following to feel better:
Take a walk – Walking helps to take away the stress.
Have alone time – Grab a snack (a donut might work for you too) or pray.
Take deep breaths – Try to get back into that relaxed state like a dog (Yeah,I watch too much Dog Whisperer).
Count your blessings and think happy thoughts – Cliche but yeah, this too shall pass.
Go home and hug – Hugs are for healing. Hug your child and husband until you remember that NOTHING in this world is worth hurting any member of your family. Words and being ignored hurts.
I don’t want my child to ever stop asking “How was your day, mom?” I don’t want her to grow up with memories of cranky mom. I tell myself : Beware of the cranky mom. She’s the mom I don’t want to be.
As I work and go home from a stress-filled day, it will always a battle with the dark side and I pray I win everytime.