Motherhood: An Interview on Strong Women
My family is incredibly female driven.
My mother is one of three sisters and I have a plethora of female cousins. I never went without hand-me-down clothes and family parties were never quiet. They still aren’t, it’s fantastic.
My mother, along with all the women in my family, emphasize the importance of strong female role models.
As an immigrant daughter to a hard-working immigrant mother, my mother wanted me to also see examples of independent and resilient women throughout my childhood.
In many ways, she taught me independence, perseverance and what it means to be strong in a complicated world.
Ultimately, I believe stories have the power to create change and that is why my mother’s story is so influential to me. It’s why I believe in sharing it.
So, here is our interview.
It is my sincerest hope that you find something here that is resonating, human and beautiful.
What was the hardest part about immigrating to Canada?
The hardest part about immigrating to Canada was not knowing where I was going and not being able to speak English.
I was very young when my mom showed me a calendar with pictures of Canada...it looked so cold.
I asked her why we had to leave such a warm place to go to Canada and her answer was, “For a better future for you and your sisters”.
It was hard saying goodbye to friends and family. My mom also warned us that we would wouldn’t have any hired help in the house so we would have to learn to do everything on our own, like cleaning, laundry, and cooking.
Immigrating to Canada didn’t seem so great until we arrived and we only realized after what an amazing country this is.
Describe growing up in a house with three sisters.
Living in a house with three sisters was crazy and fun all at the same time!
Growing up with sisters is all about timing. You have to get time for the phone (only had one) and time for the washroom (only had one). You also had your time to do the dishes, cooking and cleaning.
You learn to share very quickly in life. I never actually had my own room until I moved out.
The best part about living in a house with three sisters is that I always had someone to talk to, watch a movie with or just plain hang out. You never felt alone.
What was it like raising mixed race children?
I never realized how many questions I’d be asked once I had children.
I married a man with an English background and I’m Filipina.
First, I was always told how beautiful my children are being mixed. Then it was, “Are you going to teach them tagalog?”, “What about your culture, will you be educating them all about the Philippines?”, “ Are you going to take them back home?”, “Is there a Filipino part time school they can attend?”
I was like, “Oh my god! People, please!”
No, I never did any of that other than give them some background history of the Philippines. The culture I chose to teach them was all about Canada.
What was your favourite thing about your mother?
My favourite thing about my mother was how strong she was.
We immigrated to Canada with both of my parents but my dad decided that his life in the Philippines was a lot better so he left my mom with 4 girls to look after.
She took on two jobs to make sure that my sisters and I were provided for. I never heard her complain about life, she was always so positive.
My mom was also gifted with being the best cook. My best memories as a child are when I would wake up to the smell of her cooking in the morning.
What’s one piece of advice she gave you? Do you follow it?
The one piece of advice my mom gave my sisters and I was, “Be good to each other ‘cause once I’m gone, you’ll only have each other…family is the most important thing.”
My sisters and I are very close and we see each other often. Of course we have sibling rivalries but we stay true to our mom’s advice; “Family is the most important thing”.
I often say the same thing to my kids and of course they roll their eyes and say, “Oh MOM!”
...I think I did the same thing back then.
What’s one piece of advice your kids have given you? Do you follow it?
Advice from my kids…hhhhmmmm…that’s a tough one.
Well if I think about it, Christopher (my son) just said this to me the other day: “Mom, take on a hobby”.
I have been thinking about this a lot since Deanna is staying in Montreal and doing amazing well (I’m still trying to get her back) and Christopher is now in Toronto at Ryerson University.
One thing you forget as a mother is that you have to let go and I think that’s what they are trying to tell me. So I will be taking this advice seriously and checking out hobbies to keep myself busy.
Did you find there was a big difference between raising a daughter and a son?
I didn’t find there’s a big difference between raising a daughter and a son. The only difference is their interests and how you can be part of that.
Raising a daughter is fun ….a lot of shopping, dress ups, playing house and lots of talking. Fun and silly stuff about friends (girlfriends and boyfriends). It’s like reliving the times I had growing up with my sisters.
Raising a son is a learning experience for me because I never had a brother. I remember giving birth to Christopher and thinking, “How do I raise a son?”
It turned out he’s just as much fun, just less shopping and talking (a lot less).
I want to thank my mom for her time and extend love and gratitude to all the mothers this month!
Your work is necessary, thankless and extraordinary.
We wouldn’t be the women we are today without you.
Ps. If you want to chat or have questions feel free to hmu on my Insta at @deannajvd!