Parenting–fulfilling but no easy task in the time of COVID-19
As challenging and stressful as it is, parenting in the time of COVID-19 is also proving to be an instructive experience for many celebrity mothers.
With most of them stuck in their houses, these Kapuso moms are compelled to be more resourceful in keeping their children entertained, and making sure that their needs are met. Some find themselves taking on tasks they don’t usually do. And all these they have to do while keeping their own fears and worries at bay.
Sheryl Cruz used to think she was “fearless.” The pandemic changed that.
“I’m only human like everyone else and I’m prone to weaknesses, too, like letting fear get the better of me once in a while,” Sheryl told the Inquirer in an email interview. Her daughter, Ashley, a psychology student at San Francisco State University in California, is living with her father, Norman Bustos, at the moment. And despite the distance, Sheryl constantly reminds her daughter to look after herself.
“She told me that classes are done online these days. And in her free time, I encourage her to move around the house, to work out and watch the food she eats. In a sense, giving reminders, guidance and advice to her as a mom hasn’t really stopped,” she said.
Despite her anxiety, Sheryl trusts that her 19-year-old daughter, whom she described as an “intelligent lady,” is responsible enough, and her father will give their child “the best care he could give in my absence.”
“Life has to go on, although it’s not as normal as we want it to be. I realized that I can’t let the fear of COVID-19 consume me. I remind myself that I can’t get paranoid because of this pandemic,” she said. “Although we’re asked by our government to stay at home for our own safety, we still try to be productive each day.”
Sheryl is thankful for technology, which allows her to get in touch with her daughter whenever she wishes.
“My favorite bonding moment with Ashley is simply video calling or chatting with her. Thank God for technology! We can still keep in touch and get close to our loved ones, even if they’re in another continent, thousands of miles away from us,” she said.
For LJ Reyes, life under quarantine has only reaffirmed something that everyone knew all along: “Mothers will do everything to protect their families.”
“The fact that the threat is something that can’t be seen only aggravates the maternal instincts in me!” LJ said.
“I have been learning how to be more creative with our resources. Apart from that, I have discovered that we don’t really need to have a lot to be able to help and contribute to society. All of us can be the solution,” said LJ, who has two children: Aki, 9, with ex-boyfriend Paulo Avelino; and Summer, 1, with Paolo Contis.
LJ has noticed that her kids have grown even clingier to her and Paolo than usual. “It’s actually bonding time all day, every day! And that’s truly amazing but crazy at times, too!” she said, laughing.
Katrina Halili, who has a 7-year-old daughter, Katrence, with ex-boyfriend Kris Lawrence, has grown to appreciate all the work teachers do even more.
“I have discovered that it’s really not easy being a teacher. I’m realizing that now that I’m tending to my child and giving her lessons,” she related. “I’m more protective and we need to be extra careful, especially when going out, in the future.”
Katrina added: “I always play with Katie. We also do household chores and academic activities together. And last Mother’s Day, we celebrated by baking her favorite cookies.”
Karenina Haniel thinks that the situation she and her daughter, Cloud, are in has taught them the value of “discipline, contentment and establishing deep connections.”
For Karenina, letting a kid explore or learn things on his or her own is a crucial part of growing up. These days, however, safety comes first.
“My motto is that I want my daughter to explore everything, kahit madapa siya o madumihan, to boost her immune system. But in this case, I’m more paranoid as a mother. It’s important that I stay safe and healthy, too, so I can protect her,” pointed out the actress, who has starred in Lav Diaz’s films, “Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis” and “Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon.”
Karenina does many activities with her daughter—cooking, singing, watching movies, playing and painting. But more than anything, it’s her kid’s simple display of love and thoughtfulness that never fails to touch her heart.
“My daughter is really sweet, like she would prepare a glass of milk for me when I need to wake up early, and help me with the chores,” she said of Cloud, who had already given her a Mother’s Day card, days before the holiday.
“Everything I do for her she also wants to do for me,” she added.
Camille Prats also feels bad that her children are not able to play outside these days.
“We just always keep in mind to wash hands and disinfect—that’s our ‘new normal,’” she said. “I still hope to give them a sense of normalcy, even in times like today.”
Camille, meanwhile, took it upon herself to improve her cooking skills—much to the delight of her three children.
“I always cook Filipino dishes for my family because they’re what I’m comfortable preparing. But I have started exploring other recipes, through the internet. I surprised them with new meals, and they liked those. It almost made me cry when I saw them really loving the dishes,” she said.
Camille has a 12-year-old son, Nathan, with her late first husband, Anthony Linsangan, and two with her current spouse, John Yambao—2-year-old daughter, Nala, and 10-month-old son, Nolan.
“Playing, painting, doodling, watching movies and baking easy snacks—those are some of the things we do around the house. We take it one day at a time,” she said.
Like Camille, Sunshine Dizon—mother to daughter, Doreen, 8, and son, Anton, 7—has also learned to be “more resourceful and creative in the kitchen.”
“We read, watch cartoons or movies and cook together,” Sunshine said.
It remains to be seen when the health crisis will end, or when it will be safe enough to lift quarantine and other restrictions.
“The mere fact that they (her kids) experienced this pandemic at a young age makes me very anxious. If only I had the power to change the situation for them, I would,” Sunshine added.
Mother of two Aiko Melendez admitted that she couldn’t help but feel uneasy, given the situation everyone is in at the moment.
“I have been more anxious lately when it comes to checking my kids’ condition,” related the actress. “I’m definitely protective of my kids’ health now more than ever.”
She has a 21-year-old son, Andrei, with Jomari Yllana, and a 13-year-old daughter, Marthena, with Martin Jickain. “I make sure they’re loaded with the proper vitamins to boost their immune system,” she said. “I’m praying double time for everyone’s safety because the pandemic spares no one.”
“Cooking is our bonding time during this crisis,” Aiko related. “We have discovered so many hidden talents in terms of cooking, because we’re left with no choice but to explore.”
Aside from COVID-19, there are other things that make Mylene Dizon feel concerned.
“I believe children are more resilient than we think. What I’m worried about is idle time—it can be a real problem,” stressed the actress, who has two sons, Lucas and Tomas, with former partner Paolo Paraiso. “Laziness, unproductive days, too much time with gadgets and all the unnecessary information that comes with it—that’s what I’m more worried about,” she said.
This mom believes it’s important to think of activities that will put her children’s time to better use, may it be doing household chores together or having simple bonding moments. “I get the kids to help me in everything I do—from tending the garden and cooking, to preparing for the outreach program we’re involved in and making videos to be posted on social media,” she said. “I keep them busy and let them learn. And when I see them further exploring what they have learned, it really makes me proud!”
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