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Dear Mom: Phoemela Baranda on thriving as a new mom at 40

By Pheomela Baranda as told to Saab Lariosa Published Apr 29, 2021 6:00 pm

For this upcoming Mother’s Day, PhilSTAR L!fe caught up with TV personality and host Pheomela Baranda on her journey as a single mom for 22 years, the challenges, and how she’s now raising baby Illya with her partner and daughter by her side.

The journey along the way

I had my first daughter Kim when I was 19 years old, which was 22 years ago. It’s been a long time since I first became a mom, and I can’t say that I was really that mentally prepared. Luckily, I had the aid of my mom when Kim was born, so she helped me a lot while I was the breadwinner.

I already explained the situation to Kim a long time ago, how I needed help raising her back then. We’re okay together now, but of course, it’s still a process—it’s a never-ending process for any relationship, and Kim and I are still getting to know each other even up to now. As she’s aged, her needs for her mom also shift along with her, so I make sure that I’m always there to be a best friend and a mother at the same time.

Co-Parenting 2 children

I’m very lucky to have a very supportive and hands-on dad of Illya, because the situation with Kim’s father was very different. With the dad of Kim, he also wanted to be involved at the time, but it was me and my mom’s choice not to continue the relationship because I was still young.

We both felt that I still had a lot to do, there was so much for me to explore in my career and everything. It turned out well that my mother and I raised Kim by ourselves because Kim turned out so well now.

When Kim turned 21, that when I asked her "do you wanna meet your dad?” She said “yes, of course.” So when Kim accepted, that was the only time I formally introduced her to her father. It was the first time they met and really got to know each other.

Kim is now 22, and it’s been more than a year of them catching up and really getting to know each other as father-daughter. Her dad and I are also friends now, he supports Kim and if Kim needs anything, we’re both there for her.

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On becoming a mom again

Now, 22 years later, it’s another journey for me with baby Illya. I feel like it’s a new start and I can now say that I am more prepared—physically and mentally.  It was really a lifestyle change for me since I’ve been living as a single mom for 22 years. But actually, since the pregnancy and the pandemic came together, I was able to rest and I was able to catch up with long long periods of sleep.

Mentally, I prepared by constantly reminding myself that this is my lifestyle now. I couldn’t drink wine anymore, I couldn’t go on diets nor see my friends to unwind. The exercise was also cut short since I couldn’t do the active exercises while pregnant. Overall, I had a lot of adjustments and preparations before and during this second pregnancy.

Actually, up to now, I’m still adjusting to this renewed life. I do feel like it did me much good though, I feel better and younger. My family says that I look blooming and my skin’s never been better. I think it’s really because of the self-love and self-care that I prioritized during the pregnancy.

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As for my support system, I’m grateful that Kim and my partner are now by my side, they’re really my family. Illya’s dad is very supportive, very hands-on, and really stepping up as a father. So having this steady support group really helps in raising Illya. 

Meanwhile, it’s a totally unique situation for Illya and her dad. Illya’s father and I live together in one home, so of course it’s different if the father is around. Though I do make sure that Kim feels that she’s part of this family because she really is. 

Life is no race

There’s actually a study now that the age brackets that women get married or have babies get older. Way back then, the age bracket used to be when a woman was in her 20s or so, and then it became 30s. Now more and more women are starting out their motherhood journeys at 40—and that’s completely fine. Most of my friends, like Miriam Quiambao, are just getting pregnant or having their second child at 40 as well. 

So this pressure to start a family immediately or follow a certain time frame in your life isn’t really something that you should impose or pressure onto yourself.

So this pressure to start a family immediately or follow a certain time frame in your life isn’t really something that you should impose or pressure onto yourself. Society now is much more open-minded, we think more progressively now. Women now are now much more career-oriented. So if you want to focus on work, or you can juggle your time between your career and your family, your timeframe is really up to you.

To other moms: don’t be too hard on yourself

Being a mom is a never-ending journey. For me, the journey starts the day you conceive because from then on you have to start nurturing your child. Then once they’re out in the world, you have to teach them all the good values as a mom. For me, seeing your kids being successful and   good is the greatest achievement. That’s my goal as a mom, that’s my purpose now. 

I just hope that with Illya, I can raise her well and see her become a good person. I’m proud that Kim is a nice kid and I’m proud of her.  She supports me in my work endeavors and I support her back. Being a mom is a never-ending journey but it’s so fulfilling and I’m so happy to be their mom.

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All moms deserve support and love. Being a mom is a 24/7 job, so we really have to reward ourselves and don’t be too hard on ourselves. I think what moms usually forget is how to reward themselves and enjoy life. That’s the one thing I feel right now, sometimes I’m being too hard on myself, but I know, like all moms out there, I’m doing my best. 

The motherhood journey starts the day you conceive because from then on you have to start nurturing your child.