Money, Musings, Parenting, pregnancy

On Motherhood and Success

Mom and baby swimming

Last weekend, we went swimming. I enjoyed looking at our pictures, because it was evident that I am already close to losing all the baby weight, which is one of my personal goals. One of my big fears when I was pregnant was that I wouldn’t be able to lose the extra pounds after giving birth. When I was younger, I used to be so naive, thinking that the best way to solve problems was to play it safe and try to avoid encountering those problems in the first place. Thus, I thought that to avoid getting fat, I would just never get pregnant.

I thought I would never get married or have kids. I wanted to climb the corporate ladder, earn a lot, and never get frumpy. Studying in an all-girls high school, I was taught that girls could be trailblazers in their careers. It was also implied that getting married and having kids were not goals worthy of an educated woman. Of course, they remained desirable aims, but it was not enough to be a housewife or mother. You had to work as well, because… women should be able to do it all!

At school, you learn that most in middle-class society expect mothers to work and take care of the household. No one ever tells you that managing a household is a full-time job in itself. There are no promotions, hefty bonuses, or awards for years of service. There are no fancy titles or corner offices. And without any extra help, it will take up all of your time and make having a corporate position impossible. Two years ago, I was forced to resign from a job I liked, trading foreign exchange at a bank. I had no one who could help me take care of my newborn son. And so from full-time banker, I became a full-time mother.

With my new position, I was on call round-the-clock. Bonuses were frequent but in kind—hugs and kisses throughout the day—honestly, the best kind of bonus ever. Automatic tenure made this position very secure. However, the only chance of promotion involved constant power struggles between the real boss (me) and the boss baby. Two years in, I don’t know if my superiority will ever be fully acknowledged.

Ever since I became a mom, I have begun to base my life choices on what I believe is best for my family. I refuse to equate staying home with a child with less income. On the contrary, I believe having a child should inspire us to find multiple income sources and opportunities for passive income. I was a banker, but it was actually when I assumed the job title of mother that I became more motivated to grow our wealth. I am happy to say that in that aspect, we have taken concrete steps that I perhaps wouldn’t have taken this early on without the pressure of having a dependent.

If back in high school, I used to define success as climbing the corporate ladder, now, becoming a mother has changed that. Success for me now is having the free time to do the things you truly want to do. Success is being able to work smart instead of work hard. Success is spending a quarter of your day on work, and the rest on quality time with loved ones. Success is having your money work for you and not the other way around.

Swimming

Raising a human being is truly a difficult job, and I am incredibly lucky to be able to do it full-time. Every day, my baby boy looks up to me. Every day, I hope I am doing right by him, helping him become a good person.

Children are incredibly perceptive. They learn from what we say, but even more from what we do. If there is one trait I want my son to admire in me, it’s ambition. It was difficult for me to shed all the baby weight, but I set a goal, and I am almost there. I want my son to look at me and see a person comfortable and confident in her own skin. It was heartbreaking for me to give up corporate life, but I found other sources of income, and I will find more down the road. I want my son to understand that his parents will always seek ways and means for the family to live life to the fullest.

Postpartum mom weight loss

At one of my lowest points last year, I broke down alone, feeling cheated by fate and utterly worthless. Then I thought of my son, fought against the hopelessness, and took action. I was extremely vulnerable, but I would willingly expose myself to that productive pain over and over again, for our future. I want my son to look at how our family stares down defeat, ala Arya Stark, and says, “Not today.”

Life’s setbacks make the ambitious even more resourceful. I hope that I can set a good example, so that my son finds fulfillment in constantly growing and learning. Becoming a mother taught me that while life will throw so many obstacles our way, facing them head on is what will make us stronger and wiser. I hope that my son becomes successful, and by this, I mean fulfilled with anything he sets his heart on—whether it be advanced degrees, fatherhood, business, and/or advocacy work. I hope he grows up realizing that success comes in many forms—some are bright and flashy, whereas others are unassuming and steadfast. I hope he sees and celebrates those many forms achieved by himself and others. And I hope he can look at his mom one day and say, “I learned so much from her. She inspires me to grow constantly.” That, for me, would be the ultimate success.

Mom and baby swimming

Happy Mom’s Day, super moms! 🤱🏻 How has motherhood changed your idea of success? ❤️

#motherhood #success #work #grind #money #passion #business #momlife #mommy #parenting #family #postpartum #weightloss #stretchmarks #mombod

Musings, Parenting, Uncategorized

Fitbit Charge 3: One Month Progress Update

Last month, Casey and I bought Fitbits so that we could begin tracking our daily activity with the goal of leading a less sedentary lifestyle. After one month of daily use, I am happy to report that we have achieved visible results. While we made use of all the tracker’s features, the extent varied according to which features were more helpful to our individual situations. Casey used the heart rate monitor and step counter to help him get effective run sessions and ensure he reached 10,000 daily steps. I made extensive use of the food log and heart rate monitor to aid me in losing weight and ensuring my walks burned a respectable number of calories, which to me is just a modest minimum of 100 calories per session, as I bring Wolf with me on my walks.

Mom and baby exercise

It is quite challenging to get some decent exercise in with a toddler that tires easily and stops to look at every single thing on the road, but I figured out a way to keep my heart rate up during our walks. I jog in place for most of the time. It definitely makes me look silly, but I believe the results are worth it! Haha.

Just for comparison, here is a picture from my boudoir shoot last year, back when I was completely sedentary, placed beside my most recent picture taken the other day.

Before and after one month fitbit use

And this is my most recent front-facing picture. It’s amazing how there is already a noticeable difference in my body just after one month of light daily exercise of 20-30 minutes and food logging.

Mom weight loss one month

After one month of round-the-clock use of the Fitbit Charge 3, Casey lost 1.5 kg, while I lost 1.6 kg.

Dad weight loss
Casey’s weight loss after one month
Mom weight loss
My weight loss after one month

We didn’t do any extreme diets or strenuous gym workouts, just mindful eating and jogging around the village. Baby steps! We are not aiming to lose weight rapidly, because what is more important to us is being able to live a healthier lifestyle for the long term. Here’s to our continuous progress!

Mom weight loss after one month

pregnancy

My Confidence-Boosting Maternity Shoot

In the early months of my pregnancy with Wolf, I hemmed and hawed over scheduling a maternity shoot. I am normally not camera shy, but I am pretty sensitive about my weight. I wasn’t sure that documenting a particularly weighty (in more ways than one) time in my life would be a good idea. Eventually, I decided to go for it, because I reasoned that if I end up not liking the pictures, then no one else has to see them. I figured that it’s best to have a keepsake, as it might be the first and last time I’d be pregnant. Who knows, right?

Maternity shoots are best scheduled in the latter part of the third trimester, so that the bump is more obvious. The word “obvious” in my case was an understatement, because we had our shoot on November 30, 2016, less than a month before my due date. By that time, my tummy was really big already! 

Aside from the issue of my hugeness, I was also concerned about ensuring that we will get classy photos. I have seen so many maternity shoots that come out really tacky, which I believe is usually the fault of the photographer. If the photographer has a good eye and sense of style, the pictures will be tasteful. Thus, I made sure that the photographer I chose fit the bill. 

I decided to go with Ida Roccio Ferrer-David, one of our friends. Her rates are on the higher end, but based on my experience, they are justified. She knows how to strike a good balance between establishing rapport and being professional, she works quickly and efficiently while remaining sensitive to her client’s comfort, and her studio is beautifully and thoughtfully designed. It is an air conditioned glass house, which allows her to take advantage of natural lighting while her clients stay sweat-free. 

The day before the shoot, Ida checked in with me to ensure I was ready with our outfits and props. I’ve never been what you’d call fashionable or trendy (I’m the rare girl who hates shopping for clothes), and so I just prepared a blouse and pair of shorts and figured that if they’re not shoot-worthy, I’d go nude instead. Haha. Luckily, my outfit choice was nice enough for the shoot, though I had nude shots taken anyway, because those are what would bare the bump in all its glory! I included a few at the end of this post, so if you’re uncomfortable with such photos, don’t scroll down! For Casey’s outfits, I just made sure they were color-coordinated with mine. I went with a black, red, and cream color scheme. We didn’t bring any props except for red baby Toms (to match Casey’s shoes).

Couple holding baby shoes during maternity shoot Couple holding hands during maternity shoot
On the day of the shoot, we had no trouble finding the studio, as it’s searchable on Waze. Ida began by briefing us on the flow of the shoot and on the poses we’d be doing. We were to start with my solo shots, and then proceed to couple shots, at which point Casey mumbled to me, “What about my solo shots?” Uhhh hellooo, there’s a reason it’s called a MATERNITY shoot?! Ida was nice enough though to humor my vain husband by squeezing in a few solo dad shots. Haha!

Maternity photo of woman seated and smiling
Cradling my baby bump ☺️
Maternity photo of woman looking out window
One of my favorite shots 😍
Asian man wearing Toms sits on couch
The dadzilla strikes again!
Asian man relaxes on couch
He has a bump too. It’s just well hidden! 😛
 

It was the most tiring photo shoot I’ve ever had, but only because I was so heavily pregnant and I would tire really easily! Ida was always making sure that I was well hydrated and comfortable with each pose. We also took breaks whenever I needed them. She had two female assistants who were cheery and quick on their feet. The studio had curtains, and so I did not feel so exposed when the nude shots were being taken.

I did not regret having a maternity shoot, especially when the prints arrived. They were gorgeous! True to form, my husband saw me gushing over the pictures and said with a shrug, “Well, Ida had good models.” Hahaha. 

But seriously, I believe the success of the shoot had less to do with us and more to do with Ida. A bad photographer can make anyone look bad. Likewise, a good photographer can make anyone look good. I think that through the lens of a skilled photographer, everyone is photogenic. That’s why it’s important to choose a competent photographer, especially for a maternity shoot, because this is a time when you are vulnerable and self-conscious about your rapidly changing body. I made sure that I was in the hands of someone talented, who delivered photographs that boosted my confidence and made me proud of my heavily pregnant body. Rather than pay less and risk getting tacky, badly edited photos, I chose to spend a bit more so that I could be captured at my best, biggest, and most beautiful.

Maternity shoot in nature
This was taken outside the studio in Ida’s lush garden! 😍 Boudoir photos are posted below. Proceed with caution! 😉
Boudoir maternity photoBoudoir maternity photo of woman kissed by husbandBoudoir maternity photo of woman hugged by husband Boudoir maternity photo of woman hugged and kissed by husband Boudoir maternity photo of woman lying downBoudoir maternity photo of woman lying down Maternity photo of woman leaning on husband Maternity photo of woman kissing husband