7 Stages of Mommyhood as I have Encountered It

(L-R) Ysa, Che, Gio
(L-R) Ysa, Che, Gio

Motherhood is one of the most thrilling adventures any woman could ever have! I’ve seen myself evolved from the carefree young professional that I was to the responsible and doting mom any kid could ask for. I gained more appreciation of my own mother whom I thought was very strict in disciplining me to study daily for long hours and abide by her rules of being in bed at a certain time of the day. Mommyhood has encouraged me to be stronger and more determined to live a purposeful life. I have a reason for existence.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Ps 16:11

It dawned upon me that whatever hardships and lack of self esteem I faced as I was growing up, if possible, will never be experienced by my children. If I didn’t have any ‘toy’ to play with, no proper black shoes to match with my school uniforms, and if I didn’t have any television to watch my favourite cartoon show, I would make sure that my kids would have those. I have loving parents. They taught me how to pray. However, the hard life had brought me the constant feeling of rejection in the world that my dad had dreamed for me. I always wanted to belong but I felt outcast for I looked different from how the other kids behaved in the schools I got admitted to (Manila Science High School and University of Philippines Diliman). I could be considered smart but deep inside me was full of insecurity. I was always seeking affirmation from teachers and classmates and I felt ‘never enough’. I prayed incessantly that God would keep me until the undesirable feelings would go away.

I became a mom when I turned 26 and frankly, all those nagging feelings I had when I was growing up were suddenly erased. I got overjoyed upon seeing the face of my daughter Ysabel for the 1st time. – it was the little Che. A year after, I gave birth to Gevin, my son, and the thrill was doubled! I have a girl and a son! What bonus blessings from God! They are my treasure!

I wanted to do great things for God. Therefore, I knew also that I wanted to do great things for my kids. I was not the typical mom – stay at home: make meals, clean up, change diapers, put away toys, and then wake up and do it all again. God had anointed me to be the working mom for the family. I was always multi tasking for when I reached home from the office, I would do the usual mother ‘s stuff – feed them, bathe them, play with them, watch TV shows with them, and teach them. No regrets that I worked since I shared motherhood with their dad who became in charge of tutoring them for school requirements. It was our top priority that kids would know Christ and made them realize that achievement was not only measured by what the eyes could see but the relationship to God mattered the most.

Motherhood made me experience such a glorious adventure. Let me describe this to you in 7 stages on how I have encountered it so far.

  1. When they were babies to toddlers
  2. The big move – from Philippines to Singapore
  3. As they entered their pre-school
  4. When they entered the big school (primary school)
  5. When they were in high school (secondary school)
  6. As they entered their colleges and universities
  7. As they turned to young adults

Stage 1 – When they were babies to toddlers

I breastfed my babies for 3 continuous years – 2 years for Ysabel; 1 year for Gevin. My own mom told me that the best milk for kids is mother’s milk. It is the best source of nutrition. They will be protected from infection and disease. With my desire that they will be healthy and smart kids, I took it upon myself that my work will not interfere with my intent to breastfeed them. In the office, I would pump milk and put them in feeding bottles, put these in the freezer and that became my routine.

As they became toddlers, it was our bucket list to buy them Little Tykes – swing and slide. It was like using our entire 13th month pay just to be able to afford these. The outcome was continuous fun at home having converted one area to a playground.

Stage 2 – The big move – from Philippines to Singapore

At age 5 (Ysabel) and 4 (Gevin), our family moved to Singapore. Leaving the comfort zone was always tough most especially the kids have been accustomed to having their yayas around – yaya Trining and yaya Bay. It was a mixed of happy and sad feelings for I know that they will miss their nannies, their grandparents, their uncles, aunts, cousins, childhood friends in the Philippines. During this year, Gevin in his young mind asked me and his dad if we became poor since we no longer had a car to drive in Singapore. We told them that we were actually richer because we had lots of airconditioned transportation – the train, the double decker bus, and we were able to hire a family driver when we need to move from one location to another through the service of Singapore cabs. I recall my kids getting excited to wait for the next double decker bus to arrive. It became a joy ride for them.

Stage 3 – As they entered their pre-school

We enrolled our kids to Bethesda Kindergarten in Serangoon. It was a joyous moment for us to see the kids immersed in the school system in their new home. The nightmare began when they realised they have to learn a 2nd language – Mandarin. They learned to speak but writing was a struggle. Later on, learning the language became extra hard. Despite hiring a personal tutor, the kids started to lose their confidence in not being able to comprehend and communicate using this language in school.  The racial harmony day in Singapore became one of the highlights of this stage as they would dress in Filipino costumes and showed some talents like dancing and singing.  Another fun memory of this stage was when they got invited to play dates from their friends; weekend sleepovers, movie nights with parents and their friends.

Stage 4 – When they entered the big school (primary school)

This was the time when Ysabel and Gevin were bullied in school. I would not elaborate on the details but as a mom whose kids were treated unfairly, I had to do what was needed – to work for the justice that my kids deserved.  I did not go to work for some days in order to get the public apology that I wanted for my kids. I recalled talking to the school principal so the cases of my kids get investigated. I was relentless and unstoppable. I did not want my kids to get discriminated and felt helpless. Thank God – finally my kids were proven not guilty and harassed. We got the public apology and my kids were treated differently (nicer) from that day on.

As a mom, I never wanted my kids to be treated unfairly and then making them lose their confidence. It’s the last thing that I wanted to happen.  PSLE was a dreaded exercise in Singapore and my kids were not exempted. I did not force my kids to get a high PSLE score but I just told them to pass it and they will be fine. I did not want to add to ‘stress’ to the otherwise stressful education in the country.

A happy memory during this stage was the first Disneyland experience of my kids in Anaheim California. I dreamt of them visiting Hong Kong Disneyland and God gave us more than what I wished for – it was in the USA! The trip was company sponsored because it was a reward to their mom for being voted one of the High Achievers in the company. What a joyous event to have seen my kids interacted with Mickey Mouse at the age they would appreciated: age 12 and 11.

Stage 5 – When they were in high school (secondary school)

I witnessed how they started to have their own interests in the opposite sex as a crush. Though we live in Singapore which was a modern country, I emphasized the importance of adhering to the Christian and Filipino values of respect to the opposite gender, and always seeking permission from the parents if they would go on dates.  O levels – another dreaded exercise in the academic program of Singapore. The country is famous for streaming and ranking the children based on merits. O level results will dictate whether they will enter a junior college, polytechnic, or ITE. Most local parents would desire their kids to land in a junior college.  Me? I just told them – do their best and they will be entitled to choose their education path after high school. No pressure!

Stage 6 – As they entered their university education

Both studied in Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Ysabel graduated with a Diploma in Film; Gevin graduated with a Diploma in International Business. I never forced my kids to obtain high academic grades. I just encouraged them to be good in what they were doing. I believe in molding them to be wholesome – not just the brains being developed but EQ (emotional quotient) being molded too. It was not just easy for me to develop them on AQ (adversity quotient) as they grew up in a progressive country.  Ysabel was awarded President’s scholar and completed her university degree in the Business Arts in Chicago with Cum Laude status. Gevin pursued NUS Business School with First Honours status.  Prior to entering the universities, they lost their dad due to stomach cancer. I had my own grief but to have seen my kids suffered from depression and anxiety multiplied my agony. If only I could spare them from utmost loneliness, I would do that. The lonely nights started and life was never the same again.  I became a mom and dad for them.

Stage 7 – As they turned to young adults.

This was one of the most difficult stages as I had to leave my kids and transition my life to Canada. When their dad was alive, we used to dream that we will retire either in the Philippines or Australia. There was a large consideration on the 2nd place because of the annual Melbourne tennis open every January and my sister in law’s family migrated there. What we wanted is a stress-free life after the work torments me and their dad experienced. The work culture in Singapore especially in some functional or leadership roles were subjected to tremendous pressure. This affects mental, emotional, or physical health. When I became a widow, I did not realise that God had other plans for me.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21 NIV)

He allowed me to have another chance to love which made me relocate to Vancouver. I continued to work in the Human Resource space interacting with nice colleagues and doing work that ends before 5pm. No OT allowed as it will contradict the work life balance culture in this country.

I prayed for discernment when I was about to leave my kids. God gave me this verse:

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

I felt assured that God will take care of my kids. They will not be strayed and they will be the next generation to be lights in this dark world.

Che Yaneza-Solis was born and raised in the Philippines but spent more than half of her life in Singapore to pursue her career in Human Resources and be the mom to Ysabel (26) and Gevin (24). She lost her husband to cancer back in 2015. Gary (her university classmate) and herself nurtured the kids to be what they are now – achievers in their own right and Christian young adults. Ysabel graduated Cum Laude from Columbia College in Chicago and now a music artist in Singapore, one of the country’s social media influencers in her generation and works as a Digital Marketer. Gevin is a first honors candidate in NUS Business School and wants to pursue a career in Data Analytics and Gaming apps.

Che is the eldest of 4 siblings who live in Seattle, Calgary, and Pasig Philippines. When she lost her dad to cancer in 2013, she assumed the fatherhood to her siblings and made her accountable to taking care of her mom and mom in law (both based in Manila).

Che did not have a normal childhood as fate led to the family home being lost in fire back in 1983. Life seemed not in favor for Che since she had struggled in completing her education for lack of enough financial resources. Despite of all the series of unfortunate events in her childhood, feeling left out, lacking self esteem, and poor self confidence, Che remained determined to achieve what her Dad dreamed of her – that was to complete her Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering in UP Diliman. She graduated in the top 10% of Manila Science High School and UP Diliman College of Engineering batch 1990. She had her 1st work in Intel as Customer Service and had her first international working experience since she dealt with Germans, Japanese, British, Chinese, Indians, and Americans. After 7 years of work in the Manila, she transferred to Singapore to assume the Global HR position managing 7 offices worldwide (US, UAE, UK, Singapore, India, Thailand, Vietnam, and Philippines). She assumed Senior HR leadership roles in varying industries worldwide. In 2012, she was sponsored by MediaCorp to complete her MS Innovation from SMU.

Che was mentored in 1998 for her Christian faith by Francis Kong and life for her had never been the same again. Without Jesus, she would not have survived her career ordeal in Singapore. She loves God the most and she has been active in ministering to people through career and life coaching. She also has volunteer work in church and some community groups. At age 40, she decided to pursue tennis as her sports, and won championships both in WITS (Women International Tennis in Singapore), and LTS (Ladies Tennis Singapore). She now resides in Vancouver, British Columbia with the 2nd chance to her forever: Joseph. She continues her ministry to the ladies (single moms, widows, single ladies) to share Christ’s love. She works as an HR professional in North America and sees her work as platform to do great works for God.