MANILA -- Every year, we celebrate Mother’s Day with the usual sentiment, acknowledging the woman who gave us life with flowers, gifts and a fun party. While every mother certainly deserves this day of pampering, this year we want to give special recognition to the mothers who overcame a stigma.
Single moms, unfortunately, are mostly discussed as a sore statistic; and childbirth, which has been preached as the greatest honor of a woman, is suddenly twisted into shame. But in our attempts to deter the number of single mothers, little is said about the incredible hardship, and even greater strength to turn something devastating into motivation. So much can be learned from single-moms, and these stories are just some of the few that deserve to be heard.
Angela Ibarle, hope from loneliness
Having to go through everything alone was the hardest part for Angela Ibarle. Upon realizing she was pregnant at the age of 25, Ibarle had to drop out of university, and stay hidden for a while. Her family, you see, were active members in their religious community, and she had been a youth leader.
“When I got pregnant, I was sent to Baguio to a convent for about two weeks — alone,” says Ibarle, who recalls the depressing isolation. Moving away from her community, she went through the prenatal and birth in secrecy, she went through the prenatal and birth in secrecy. “Realizing that you would have to deal with it alone, and then you’re actually there, and you are actually alone, 'yun 'yung hardest part.”
Despite having gone through pregnancy in silence, Ibarle was more upfront about being a single mom in her profession as a wedding planner, a personal declaration that made her admirable to a growing list of clients. She marvels at the funny irony of how many single-moms actually delve into a career as wedding coordinators.
“Bakit kaya ganito ang napupunta sa amin?” laughs Ibarle, who has now expanded her business.
You’d think single moms would wallow in self-pity about sending off another happy couple to their wedding, but no. “It worked the other way around. You would find joy in seeing other people happy, kahit hindi ikaw 'yun. But there will always be that lingering feeling, na one day, I will be that!”
Jaira Cabiles, a strong will
“I’m a typical 30-year old working mom,” says Jaira Cabiles, who is a studious clinical review nurse. “I have an amazing three-year old daughter. Great kid, strong-willed — probably got that from me.”
Cabiles was married before, unhappily, which is why leaving with her daughter was an easy decision, months in the making. “We weren’t getting along, and I figured [my daughter] is going to have a mind of her own,” she explains, fearing that her daughter would be accustomed to domestic disputes. “I was thinking, when she grows up [and] starts dating, she might think, ‘Oh, it’s okay for this guy to treat me like this, because my mom and my dad don’t get along.’”
Ultimately, Cabiles’ choice to be a single mom stems from putting her daughter’s well-being over hers—always. “That’s what talked me [in] to just move out. So I can raise her as how I think she should be raised.”
The first year was the hardest, admits Cabiles, but somehow, not as hard as staying unhappily married. Up to this day, she hustles along with her job and career, but her future is dedicated to her child. “That’s all that’s in my head,” says Cabiles. “Just how to raise [my daughter] to be a strong, brave, independent woman. Everything else, I will get by. I will find a way.”
Russel Cruz: Finding clarity
“[Being a single mom] is not a sickness,” says Russel Cruz, her voice candid and firm. “It’s actually something for me to be proud of, because I’ve decided to actually give a life, rather than to kill a life just to not be labeled by society.”
Before calling it off mutually, Cruz and her college sweetheart had been dating for eight years. It was for the best anyway, accepts Cruz, who is digital project manager. Raising two happy boys may not always be smooth sailing, but for her at least, it changed her life for the better.
“Being a single-mother, it’s quite exciting,” she says, “My point of view about life and everything became clearer. It gives me motivation to actually achieve my goals.”
While most mothers, both solo and married, are anxiously at odds between parenthood and career, Cruz holds them close as a powerful combination. Everything is suddenly connected, and perhaps, even seems simpler. She thinks about herself as a mother, who she wants to be as a professional, and in effect, who she wants her children to be in the future. All of it boils down to how she sets herself as the role model to her kids.
“Being a single mom, should not be an excuse for you to not pursue who you want to be in life,” says Russel.
Cheerily, she shares her dreams, both current and new, like building a digital revolution, becoming a part-time pilot, and eventually, a cool lola who spoils her grandchildren. “Because remember, there’s no one going to benefit from that more than your kids. If you love yourself, you will love your kids more.”
To all the fearless mothers out there who put their children first, no amount of special holidays could do justice to how much you deserve our thanks. May you find dignity, love and happiness—Happy Mother’s Day!