Friday, January 9, 2015

Tried and failed. All good!

Is it strange that I'm thinking of failure at the start of a new year? Well, that's part of assessing one's life. You think about what works and what doesn't, and you make decisions that will hopefully make life better in the future.

The past two years have been incredible. I retired from magazines. I focused on my growing family. I focused on blogging. Then I neglected the blogs. I went freelance full time. Then I went back to magazine work part-time. It's been a lot of trial and error, trying out this and that, finding what I liked and wasn't good at. Quite an interesting experience!

Let me break down my failures:

Tried being a housewife. I'm soooo not good at it.
I can manage a team. I can't manage my household. I can plan an editorial calendar. I can't plan a weekly menu. I can put together a magazine, write an article, interview people with my eyes closed. I can't remember to buy toilet paper. My brain just isn't wired for home management. I tried it. I failed. I didn't fail miserably, okay. I was good enough, even when we didn't have a yaya and maid for a year, my house never got dirty and my kids never missed a meal. But being good enough didn't seem good enough, you know what I mean?

People think homemaking and housewifery come naturally to women. But it doesn't. I'm not a housewife. I'm a career woman. I'm done feeling guilty about this. I should be spending my days doing something I'm really good at!

That's why I'm so grateful my husband, Vince, has taken over some duties, and also why I appreciate our household helper. Some women are great at this (and they are amazing!) but I'm not, so why feel guilty about it?
Thought this lunch for my son was adorable until the teacher sent a note saying my child should eat healthy.

Tried working from home. I now know I prefer working in an office.
In an office, I have a set time and place for work. I can focus on work. I don't need to run every time a child screams or cries. I don't need to be distracted by anything that I'm particularly not good at (household management). I like dressing up and going out to work because the act of dressing up and physically leaving behind the house gets my mind and spirit ready for work.

A lot of moms are grateful to earn money while taking care of their kids and I'm glad I'm one of them, but I also know I'll be more productive away from home. The only thing I love (yes, super love!) about working at home is I don't need to suffer the horrendous traffic. And of course I also love the little critters who distract me from work! They exasperate me no end but they're only little for so long so I will stay with them and work from home. Then as soon as they're in school (or maybe earlier), I'll go back to working in an office!

Tried freelancing. I like it and I'll continue doing it but...
I am not very good with clients who don't pay in 30 days. Seriously, I'm not very good dealing with this issue. I start working on a project, say, in January and finish it to meet their very tight (usually unreasonable) deadline, but they pay me in April or June, maybe October, even December??? What's worse is they avoid my calls, emails and visits.

I'm not patient with this and I honestly don't know how to deal with it. I think it's unfair, cruel and unprofessional. My bills come every month, my kids and I eat every day. It's disrespectful to not pay on time. While our family's financial status is okay (thanks to good money management), what I can't handle is the disrespect.

I still like freelancing but I think a steady pay check will make me more patient with the industry. I'm already easing into "steady pay check" territory with my stints in and Baby Magazine.

Tried homeschooling. Can't do it.
I was so relieved when Vito, a few months after his 4th birthday, decided he was ready for preschool. I was kinda good at homeschooling although my husband was better. We liked it because it was cool to see Vito and Iñigo learning from us but we both know now that homeschooling is not for us. Unless of course our life changes in such a way that we'll need to travel constantly or live in a far-flung place.

For now, we're happy to send Vito (and Iñigo, when he's ready) to a school in the neighborhood. We like that he has a world separate from us, navigating it without us. It's giving us incredible insight into who he is and what he's capable of. We love what we see!
Vito's education is handled by the pros but we're still homeschooling!

Tried breastfeeding. So tired of it.
Wait—I'm not a failure at this; in fact, I'm a natural breastfeeder. I'm really good at this! Never had problems with latching, supply, nursing in public, weaning. I've never had problems with breastfeeding at all! Never even felt loss or guilt or longing when my first two sons weaned on their own (I strongly believe in baby-led weaning so when they stopped nursing, I was proud of the milestone).

But breastfeeding feels like a love affair that was so amazing but has now lost its allure. I'm ready to move on. I want to have my breasts back and not share them with anyone else, to wear normal bras, to wear clothes without hidden holes in the bodice, that zip up at the back. I want to wear perfume on my cleavage, to have a glass of wine, to take strong pain medication when I have migraines, to maybe have a cigarette every now and then.

After almost 5 years as a nursing mom, I'm really done with breastfeeding. But but but I will still breastfeed my baby boy until he's ready to wean. Piero turned 6 months old last week and he's still exclusively breastfed. I'm happy to nurse him until he decides he's done with my milk. So I do cherish these breastfeeding moments while simultaneously feeling anticipation for that happy day when he weans. That happy happy day!

What I found that I'm good at—even though I spent decades thinking I'd be terrible at it!—is motherhood. Sure, I lose my cool many times, but being a mom is natural to me. I'm endlessly surprised at how easy it is to love and care for these little darlings.

I like being a mommy. I don't feel panic, guilt or confusion about my role. I'm a very good mommy! Every day, I try to be the best mommy to my kids. Wait. I believe I am the best mommy to Vito, Iñigo and Piero! I am pretty sure no other mother on earth can love them the way I do. I may not be the best homemaker or cook or homeschooling teacher or bento box maker but no woman can say they love my kids more than I do.

I'm glad the last two years gave me this incredible vision—I know myself better now that I've seen what I do well and what I can't even though I tried so damn hard. Many of us are afraid to try because we're afraid of failure. Well, I tried and I failed. Well, okay, not failed. Just found out that I wasn't as amazing as I thought! So what? The worst thing that came out of all this is I got stressed out by clients. That's it! Soooo silly! Really nothing compared to living with "what ifs?" all my life. And that's the best thing that came out of this whole experience: I will never have to deal with that awful question. I will never have regrets. I always gave it a shot. I may have failed at some, but I did succeed at others. I know myself better. I like myself better.

I'm even happier that my husband is also giving his dreams a shot even though people think we're crazy. Well, we're the happiest people we know. I hope my kids see how crazy their parents are, how we failed and succeeded, persevered and graciously conceded. I hope they see we are having the time of our life living with no regrets. I hope they have that same courage. And if they live life as bravely as Vince and I do, then I know we'd have triumphed as parents.

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  1. yet again your honesty has endeared you to us. i envy how confident you are that you arent afraid to spill the beans on what really happens behind the glamour, fast paced, fun lives of people who blog. continue to inspire a lot of us! :)

    1. But my blogger life is soooo sloooow and soooo unglamorous! All I do all day is take care of my kids, wash butts, play with the boys, do a little arts and crafts, feed them, prevent or break up fights. Full day! But not glamorous at all =)

  2. This is why you will always be my favorite blogger, Frances. You inspire me and several other women in a loooot of ways. You express our insecurities and triumphs confidently and articulately.

    The work-at-home-- I could so relate! It used to pain me that I feel more productive when I'm at our out-of-town office rather than our "home" office. But now I realize that even when Im at home working, I'm doing work and motherhood both half-baked. Better focus on work in a real office (and actually get things done) then when back at home focus on my unico hijo.

    Keep on blogging blogs like this, Frances. These are lifesavers

    (I also loved your blog about not having a favorite son. Your love and pride for each one emanates in each sentence.)

    1. That's so true, the half-baked! When I'm working, I'm distracted and not giving my best to my work and my kids. Lagi pa akong naiinis! I was not like this when I worked in an office! =(

  3. You nailed it! I can so relate.

  4. Im going thru your latest post and I must say your straightforward posts keep me coming back. I love how you real you are, despite all the glamour and fame. :)

    1. What glamour? What fame? I don't remember when I last showered!!! =D

      I'm serious!

  5. Atleast you tried. We may fail at times but we always make sure to learn from it naman ! that's life ! let's embrace it hahaa


    I got the pretty planner! love it dearly!

    1. Congrats! Thanks again for joining my giveaway!

  6. Super love this entry, Frances! Love your honesty and how you shared your journey with us. We're alike in a lot of ways -- the work in an office setup vs. working at home. I've tried both, am working in an office now, and can say for sure that I'm a more effective worker when I work away from home. I like my work-at-home privileges, but mas nakakatrabaho ako when there are no distractions. I also prefer being employed than self-employed. I'm not wired to be a freelancer or an entrepreneur -- I need my monthly paychecks for the monthly bills. That's one part of my life that I don't want to second-guess - when will the money come in. I also know I'm not wired for homeschooling! Wala akong patience. I'm happy that my son's pre-school is awesome. Super relate ako dito! Looking forward to more of your entries, and connecting with you, this new year. :) Cheers!

    1. Kape tayo, Toni. Dun sa place where you took that pretty photo of you that you posted on Facebook =)

  7. I hear ya Frances! And also with you Toni. I'm not cut out to stay at home, 1st to 2nd week is fine, but after a month or so, I'm starting to get impatient and unreasonable.

    1. Badet, I knoooooow. I'm 2 years na as a WAHM. It's not as boring as I feared. It's actually harder than working in an office! I feel so incompetent working from home!

  8. A wonderful post Mommy Frances. I can surely relate. Sometimes I miss the office too, and yes breastfeeding comes natural to me, but it's also very tiresome. But the bottomline is, it's the feeling in the world to be a mommy :) Virtual Hug!

    1. Thanks for the hug! Hugs back! And sorry for the late reply!

  9. Hi Frances!

    I can totally relate.

    Re: housewife. I am right now but seriously missing the corporate world.

    Re: working from home/freelance. Done this. Loved the perks but the distractions made me too lazy. Too much competition and aside from late payments I hate clients that are so kuripot.

    Re. Breastfeeding. I have love/hate relationship with this. You're right they are only little for so long might as well enjoy it until she is ready to wean.

    As for motherhood, that I'm not so sure. My baby is just 4 months old and we are just winging it taking one day at a time.

    With all these I am happy with the experiences and yeah no more dealing with the awful questions. ��

    1. Some days, I also think, "What have I gotten myself into?!" when it comes to motherhood. You know what that means? That means we realize it's a tough job but we're up to the challenge! You can do it! =D


This is all pretty new to me so please feel free to share your mommy wisdom!