Filipino Mom: The Keeper of their Children’s Hearts
All moms rule the world. They is no species better equipped to carry a baby with one-eye closed from drunken lack of sleep while still using a hand to make milk bottle whether from formula or otherwise.
How babies’ vision can see the exact distance length of mamas holding them in their arms just a few days after birth is science and cosmic dancing together in unison.
How our children’s laughter can erase a hard days at work is a mama thing.
but it was meant to be.
Mama Shaming, A No-No
Mama shaming, an unloving way to emotional shove one mama to the wall to make her feel that she’s doing her mommy-ing thing the wrong way is hurtful and just purely unnecessary. Surely, it’s more about the shamer, and we can dismiss it as that, her stuff.
In reality, mamahood is hard and comments like this can be a drag. It’s like balancing a flimsy wood plank on top of each other that may look like they’ll crumble any second and then have someone blow on it with gusto.
We all have struggles, and although they may appear different; we’re just trying to make this mama-thing work out.
The hope of peaceful mamahood in this space is far from perfection but being a good enough mama based on your standard.
This does not mean you lose all your motivation to be a better one. This one we owe to our children. It simply means that while you’re doing so, that you find reconciliation with your current mama ways. It’s only when you become self-aware, to look at yourself in the mirror kindly that you can completely embrace your reflection.
Anatomy of the Filipino Mom
As I said, all moms are awesome regardless of which country of origin they come from but allow me to LOVE MY OWN, the Filipino Mamas.
When I came to States at the age 23, I assumed that Filipino Americans may have a different experience from me as far as how they would describe the influence of their Filipino moms in their lives. It was fascinating to learn how Filipinos raised abroad depict their mamas so much more alike to how I would describe mine.
This makes sense because their Filipino moms/ or grandmas where rooted in the Philippines, and simply being transplanted to another land does not make you American or more Westernize. To adjust and to meet the new norm of the receiving culture is a process, a give and take relationship so one can find their footing to accept or deny parts of it. It seems that Filipinos are quite westernize even before we set foot abroad because of our complex colonialism history.
Filipino mamas are touched by these histories and yet untouched.
The Gloried Nanay/Filipino Mom in the Philippines
In the Philippines, the role of a mom is glorified. You will see it in commercials of Johnson and Johnson where the nanay seems to spend half of her day lotioning her baby up with not a smirk on her face.
When a child is seen as “answering back,” while explaining his case, a father might rebuked him by saying, “bastos ka, wag kang magsalita ng ganyan sa mommy mo, ( you ingrate/disrepectful child, how dare you speak to your mother like that).”
Filipino moms love to love their children, they give until they are sucked dry. But the truth is there is an expected exchange in this transaction, and that is the loyalty, respect, and obedience of the child. Many Filipino parents understand that obedience and how strictly a child abides by this can depend on the age, usually as they get older, the parent loosens a bit with their expectation. An adult child becomes that, still a child when the parent is unable to back-off from wanting to be in control.
The adult is developmentally stuck as a child although physically grown.
Filipino moms seem to give off parts of herself behind the curtain, without being seen but occasionally, she’ll make herself known without saying anything.
She might stay a little longer in the kitchen cleaning while her kids play in the background or at times refuse to order food-to-go just because.
She might get up to serve her older children who are quite capable of serving themselves.
She might tell her kids occasionally that money doesn’t grow on trees that her working hard makes it possible to afford food, mortgage and IPADs.
She might scrub the floor while her children are walking by working around their feet or asking them to move their legs so she can scrub away.
The Ideal Nanay: Mama Mary
If you go to Baclaran church, a known stop for many religious and pious Filipinos in the Philippines, there, you will find devoted Catholics walking on their knees, praying for help, thanking God for his many blessings and expressing their devotion to the Almighty, and-
Yes, we Filipinos have a deep affinity for Mother Mary. She’s quite an awesome mama, may I say that. She embodies what we think a mother should be: kind, patient, enduring, self-sacrificial, soft-spoken. We, Filipino mamas, unconsciously (whether directly or passed on from generations before) aspire to embody these traits except for the soft-spoken part.
I know, you’re thinking, I’m soft-spoken. Okay, you represent 1% of us. (teasing).
In the Islands, Filipino mamas are celebrated for their super nanay/mama powers, their unconditional devotion to their children, either full-time at home or working. She does everything with ease and she is expected to powder her nose before making an appearance in the grocery store.
When the Super Mom Cape Does Not Fit
If everything goes well, and the heroic mama is revered for her super saving efforts, meaning, loyal, respectful and obedient kids-no sweat and this super nanay simply puts on her cape every single waking hour to save the day.
If you have this kind of life and find joy in it, there is no problem to fix.
If you find yourself zapped with joy because this super mom cape does not fit you well or you just don’t want to wear it on some days, you’re not alone.
The shoulds of motherhood by societal expectation is what makes finding joy in it a challenge, it’s not just you.
Keeper of Their Children’s Hearts
I find it pretty easy to guess if a kid or even adult was raised by a Filipino mom or any Filipina adult once they open their mouths or I observe some of their mannerisms. I’m talking about individuals I initially wouldn’t guess to have “Filipino blood.”
The influence of the Filipino mom (of course this depends on how assimilated the mother had been) is like indelible ink. Yo can try to erase it but a subtle mark remains in your personhood. I’ve had many encounters with someone asking me, “ Are you Filipina?”
and when I respond back,” yes,” they added,
“ I am too, and then further explain, “my mom is, ” because they look nothing like the typical Filipino.
I’ve watched a White kid call someone Kuya from the first introduction. Yup, you’ve guessed it right, his mom is a Filipina.
A Black kid at a party making Mano ( putting one’s hand on your forehead ) to greet an elder. Yup, Filipino mom.
A person in our office who has to bring double the amount of senorita bread (Filipino sweet bread) required for a potluck, each time. Filipino mom.
Some of these examples seem superficial, even comical because most of us do it, but it’s true.
Filipino moms are our cultural bearers. ( i’ll write more on this on a future post).
Most of all, they are keepers of their children’s hearts.
The beating of their heart whether of joy or anxiety can become of their children’s.
The narrative they’ve so diligently told to their children become the very stories their children reach for, in the good and the bad.
Their voice becomes their children’s acquired dialogues in their heads.Guiding them to keep pushing for something far-fetched or to lay low.
A Filipino Mom rules her children’s heart.
What a responsibility and yet a great opportunity to make a change in this world- no PhD, or special certificate needed, just you being your best mama version.
For the Love of My Filipino Mamas
Loving my own again, please excuse me for my non-Filipino mama readers, you are special and unique in your own blend. Let me say this.
My work has really evolved to providing therapy to the general population to Filipinos to specifically Filipino women especially, Filipino moms. I find great joy in what I do.
As I, too have my unique blend of challenges raising my young family abroad, in America, despite being trained clinically and a teacher by heart. I am excited to share any insight and tools that can benefit my mamas out there. A with any of my work, they are heart-crafted, tested with my kids first (because I too need all the tools that I can get my hands on) before I share them with you.
I am in the process of creating a Free Workbook with the theme of raising Emotionally Resilient Pinoy Kids, please let me know what your struggles are as a Mom by leaving me a comment.Thank you to those who have provided me with your input and feedback, they serve as my guide.
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Roanne has been a Psychotherapist for more than 12 years. She has frequented at least 400 Filipino homes and counting. She is the author of the Ebook: 5 Pinoy Love Languages and the creator of the presentation entitled: Filipino Core Values & Considerations in Culturally Responsive Care.
Roanne has been a Psychotherapist for more than 15 years. She has frequented at least 500 Filipino homes and counting. She is the author of the Ebook: 5 Pinoy Love Languages and the creator of the presentation entitled: Filipino Core Values & Considerations in Culturally Responsive Care. To access self-paced courses and other resources, enter the Kalamansi Juice Academy.
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