In celebration of Women’s Month I wish to tackle the importance of being aware of the seasons in a woman’s life.
In a recent interview, I was asked, “How do you manage to be successful in the important aspects of your life?” I am nowhere near the top 10 women in the field of so and so, but yes I do consider myself successful in the aspects of life that are important to me. And I guess that’s the first step, to define what is important to oneself.
Women these days are always bombarded with the image of the Have-it-all Woman. Although I still believe that women can still have all these things that they desire in life (e.g. successful career, great marriage, wonderful children, advocacies, etc.), I know that all these can only truly happen if we embrace the fact that all these have their respective time or season. There are overlaps but there are specific seasons when one takes center stage.
Season to be a student:
When I was a student, I knew that I had to focus on school life in order to be a successful student, and my parents were happy to be given “reserved seats” come graduation.
Season for first career:
When I started my career in finance, I focused on it and was also rewarded with promotions and compensation.
Season to get married:
When Marvin asked me to marry him, I was convinced that it was the right time (not too young to be clueless about ourselves, yet not too old to be too sure about ourselves that it would be harder for us to adjust our respective stubborn ways to live harmoniously with one another).
Season to be a mother:
When the kids started coming, something stirred me. I wasn’t very happy anymore. And this season is where the challenge is clearly greater for women. Men can focus and succeed in their career and they are perceived as great providers, great family men. Women who include “having great kids” in their life dreams have to be interrupted with child bearing, delivery and somehow the greater responsibility of attending to the needs of the child is on them.
The thing is, I am not up-in-arms complaining about this “unequal” set-up. Although I do think that there should be reforms in the business and employment landscape to be more women-friendly (I will tackle this in another article), I think nature has somewhat assigned child-rearing to us. We are physically equipped to feed our infants and better wired to care for our babies during their early years. Besides, society is kinder on families who fit in the traditional roles of family members. It might take more decades before we change this perspective. I know this will not sound well to women’s rights activists. I enjoyed reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In (Women, Work, and the Will to Lead) because I gathered a lot of wonderful insights and I guess I identify more with the strong woman than the typical submissive housewife, but I still chose to be a full-time homemaker when our kids were young and in need of a parent’s focused and undivided attention.
Admittedly, it is not easy to give up one’s promising career; moreso, if it brings in half of the family income, and especially if you’re like me who never imagined herself becoming a full-time housewife.
I realized then that it was my children’s season and they were to take the center stage. Of course, one could also argue that it was also the season for my career. I was an Assistant Vice President of a top investment house during the Ramos era when the Philippines was touted as the next Asian tiger economy. Besides, there are successful career women out there who never gave up their jobs and still raised fabulous kids. I’m honestly happy for them and I truly admire them. But in my particular case, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to have both – a successful investment banking career and sons raised to their fullest potential. I felt that there were just too many aspects of child rearing that necessitated at least one parent to be really present. Unfortunately, there are career types that don’t allow you to be meaningfully involved in the day-to-day activities of your growing up children, and mine belonged to this group. I knew that something’s got to give, and it wasn’t going to be my sons.
Season for my Second Wind:
When I bid my career goodbye, I wasn’t sure what was in store for me after the kids grow up. Now that they’re grown up as smart, confident young men enthusiastic about life, I can’t help but be thankful for that audacious decision to be a full-time mom. I know I didn’t only bring them up well but I also nurtured our marriage because I was not always in a hurry. Looking back, I realize that one of the greatest gifts I received as a full-time homemaker was the time to read. I read up on the things that mattered to me. I summarized them and shared them in easy to understand language with the boys over dinner. And this is my advice to full-time moms: Use your time wisely. Avoid watching too many teleseryes. Use your time to make yourself a better person. Do not stagnate but continue to reinvent yourself. Don’t forget who you are. Don’t forget your dreams, there’s time to go back to them and fulfill them. While the boys were growing up I was also thinking of my second wind. I dabbled in a couple of businesses. Little did I know that all of these full-time homemaking activities were all preparing me for that second wind.
Season to Share What I Know:
Call it midlife crisis but I’d like to call it midlife assessment. In my forties I faced another set of crossroads. What am I to do now that the boys are grown up? What is God’s will for me now? And I found the answer in the words of a theologian philosopher and novelist named Frederick Beuchner, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” I was so inspired that I even came up with my own paraphrase, “God’s will is the intersection of our greatest passion and the world’s greatest need.”
And so after a lot of hesitations, my book Raising Pinoy Boys was born in answer to this call to pursue my intersection. One thing led to another and here I am talking to you about purposeful parenting and raising children with high FQ on a regular basis through different channels. There comes a point in our life when we feel the need to go beyond our immediate family circle in order to make a difference, even if sometimes it feels that it’s out of our comfort zone.
The key is to listen to that inner voice. What does it say to you now? What should take center stage in your life right now? What season are you in?
1. I’m inviting you all to come to the Family FQ Workshop by the Faustos on May 9, 2015 at 1-5pm at the SMX Convention Center of SM Aura in Taguig City. Come one come all! Tickets at P1,000 each with merienda, workshop kit and entertainment! BUY YOUR TICKETS ONLINE NOW! Interested ticket underwriters may contact me at FQMomm@gmail.com.
2. I will give a talk at the De La Salle University on Proper Financial Management during the Business College Government’s COB Camp, a two-day even to empower La Sallians to push themselves to maximize potentials. It will be held from May 20-21, 2015 starting at 9am. My talk will be on March 20 Friday at 10:30am. To register, please click COB Camp.
Attribution: Images from radishtm.deviantart.com put together by the author to help deliver the message.
This article is also published in PhilStar.com and RaisingPinoyBoys.com