Hello, Bagong Nanay!
Kamusta? Because we are celebrating Women’s Month (and hoping it never ends), I invited a very special mama to share her #KuwentongBagongNanay.
This woman – she’ll never know how much impact she has created – with every shirt, every wisdom she imparts to moms online. I remember her posting this – and immediately – I immediately believe that I can dream again.
And when we worked together for Bagong Nanay Club, I’ve never felt so alive and so inspired to keep doing what I’m doing.
When another mom inspires you to dream, you just got to keep doing whatever you can to support her. Here I am, sharing her story with you, so that she can inspire you to dream again, and make it happen too.
Here’s Chesca Susmerano, everyone. A strong mama who supports other strong moms, and admits that she needs support, too. This is her Bagong Nanay story.
1. Can you briefly share your “How it started” vs “How it’s going” story as a Bagong Nanay to Likha and to Studio Maria? Highlight your top 3 milestones, and recognize what/who helped you achieve them.
How I started as a mom – newlywed, new career milestone and suddenly pregnant.
I was enrolled in an 11-month master’s degree program in 2018 when we got pregnant.
I was always the “strong independent woman” type and because of that, my weakness is also asking for help. Being pregnant, I felt some shame when I had to ask people to make some considerations for me because of my situation. I couldn’t join some of the fieldwork, so I overcompensated by doing extra work for the class. I couldn’t join late nights to overtime on papers because I was always tired. I had to ask my parents if we could stay with them. I had to give birth and I had to ask professors to consider a two-week absence. After giving birth, I had to attend daily classes, catch-up on requirements and finish my thesis. I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it but I did, and I brought my newborn daughter on stage the day of graduation.
This experience has really changed my mindset about independence and success in life. From being so hard on myself to achieve personal goals, I learned to be softer, be more vulnerable and be open to ask for help. I started #momlife learning how important a village is not just to raise kids but to help moms achieve their dreams. I thank my village of kind people from school, work, my own family and my husband for allowing me to dream.
How’s it going – enjoying the journey
Fast forward to today, I have embraced being vulnerable and I’m still working on having the courage to seek the help I need to pursue my dreams for our family. Studio Maria is the embodiment of embracing vulnerability while being open to ask for help. Transitioning to entrepreneurship required me to lean on my husband and extended family for stability while I pursue my craft and turn it into a small business. I had to be vulnerable enough to put my work out there and get rejected if no one buys from me. I had to be open to relationships in the mom community online, share my own struggles, find joy in our shared motherhood experiences and discover more meaning everyday.
Motherhood is still not easy but with being open to receive help from the village that I am continuously intentionally building around me, I am enjoying the journey more.
2. Why is it important to support strong moms? List three things that people can do to support them.
1. See us and validate our dreams. There are a lot of us moms who feel that they are no longer seen when the baby comes. It is suddenly all about the baby and we are in the background forgotten. We need validation that in this season of our life we focus on the kids and the family, but we will also realize that season of following our dreams in God’s perfect time. Ask us about our dreams and passions and inspire us to achieve them.
2. Offer help without judgments. Even the strongest of moms are sensitive to comments about our kids and our parenting. We already know that we are not perfect so there is no need to point out where we lack or talk about us behind our backs. We’d gladly receive help if it comes without any judgments. Nakakalat yung mga laruan? Pwede mo na rin iligpit kung gusto mo. 😊
3. Let us know if we are doing a good job. Us strong moms, we are also our own worst critics! We suffer from mom guilt no matter how hard we try to juggle all of our responsibilities. We often forget to appreciate our own hard work. If you see us doing something well, please let us know. It means the world to know we are doing something right.
3. This year, what are three things you want to be strong at, and what help do you need to achieve them?
Being present. I’ve noticed that I am a human doing instead of a human being. To be able to be more “being”, I need some time everyday to just be alone and attune myself to my emotions. As a multitasker, it often becomes overwhelming the amount of things I need to do in the day that I forget what matters – my relationships with the people around me, my connection to God. I need time to be alone so I can always step back and check my priorities.
Grit. They say the key to success is grit – having the perseverance and persistence for very long term goals. For this, I need a community of believers who will cheer me on but also mentor me in the paths I’ve taken. I have moms who I can turn to for motherhood or parenting advice, entrepreneurs who I ask for business advice, and coaches for business and life goals.
Balance. I need to be better at balancing responsibilities with fun and growth. I want to be a good role model to my family in terms of health, work ethic, relationships and so on. All of these require a lot of work and the key is balancing them and making it work together.
4. Who is your female role model and why?
I don’t have to look very far. I am who I am because of my mom. She is kindness, warmth, grace, beauty and peace – all that I aspire for as I grow older. If I can make my relationship with her be like my relationship with my daughter, I would know that I am already a good mom.
5. What is your advice to Bagong Nanays who think they can do everything on their own?
Build your own village. Sometimes we think we have to do everything on our own because there is no one else to listen to us or help us. There are two scenarios:
1. We do have a village but we’re just afraid of being vulnerable and ask for help. Look around you, Mama. Are there people in your life who are willing to help but we don’t let them? Communicate your needs and let the people you trust in your life to help you.
This was me. I was suffering 5-6 hours on the road everyday going back and forth to work. I desperately wanted to be with my daughter for the early years of her life but I also didn’t want to depend on anybody for money. But then finally, I swallowed all my pride and communicated my desire to resign and start a small business from home to my husband and brother and they supported me all the way since then.
2. We don’t have a village and we have to seek them out. Sometimes we just haven’t found the right people we need in our side. Sometimes, we have to seek them out. And now that we have online communities, we can find the tribe we need for us to bloom to like Bagong Nanay.
This is also me. When I started Studio Maria, I was not part of any mom community and I didn’t know any mom entrepreneurs. But slowly I started opening up and joined community events, talked to fellow moms and mom entrepreneurs and just slowly built relationships with other moms. I super appreciate how other moms in this community show support through encouraging words, advice and even just a listening ear.
6. In only six words, describe what kind of Bagong Nanay you are.
Artsy mama who will make everyone a statement shirt.
I am Chesca Susmerano from Las Pinas.
I am the Bagong Nanay of Likha, 3YO.
When I’m not being a mom and working on the small biz, I meditate and paint flowers.