(This article is part of a series, “A Mother’s Journey” – a collection of stories in honour of all mothers, and those who are a mother at heart and spirit. I hope this would inspire and help other parents in some ways.)
Note: I have heard enough mothers with this advice: Spend time with your children.
She smiles and good at using it to cover any turmoil that is going on in her day, and still be able to offer others help, that is Noemi Catacutan, 58, mother of five adult children.
This single mother raised three of her 5 children alone. As the breadwinner she often works, spent less time with her children. Her journey as a single mom in a foreign land was definitely a challenging one. She just immigrated to Canada when her marriage failed and left with the responsibilities of raising the children alone.
Nevertheless, she stood up and kept going for her children. Noemi says, ”Motherhood is not just about giving birth. It is way larger than life’s responsibilities and challenges.”
She adds, “But as a woman, the sweetest moment is during labour when you are about to give birth. Yes, it is a lot of pain but that pain goes away the moment you see your baby, and to me, that is the joyous moment as a mother.”
Now that her children are all adults, the youngest just finished his college education, Noemi finds it frustrating. “When they are all grown up, you can’t do anything anymore with the decisions they make. You can only be there for them to remind and support them, but in the end, it is up to them. It frustrates me that as they grew, I also hardly see them.”
As a single mom, Noemi realized her strength as a woman, as an individual. She said, she never thought of giving up in all the hurdles that she went through.
“I’m proud to have been able to stand on my own, raise and support my kids. There were some difficulties along the way, but whatever we had and went through back then moulded us to be tough and geared us to be ready in whatever lie has to offer,” narrates Noemi.
She admits, “Raising my children alone was tough. When they were young especially because I needed to cope and catch up with them, and yet I am always short of time. I had to work hard, sometimes many hours to make ends meet. My two young children were in elementary, and at such a young age, they learned to be self-reliant and responsible. I’m proud of them. During those times, they made it easy for me and yet feel guilty too.”
Noemi says, she feels guilty that she wasn’t spending enough time with her children due to work. But she cannot neglect her work too as it was their only source of income, and bringing food on the table was equally important as well as providing for the children’s other needs.
“Balancing time for work and family was the most challenging for me,” says Noemi. “Spending most time with your children is important. Spending less time with your children will eventually be like building a wall between you and them, and it’s the hardest.”
Noemi adds, “If I could change everything and turn back the hands of time, I will just be with my children than anybody in this world.”
Now that all her children are grown up, only one is left living with her, she holds onto their good times together, “I would keep those days that we spend time biking, walking and playing in the park.”
Ultimately, Noemi says, as a mom, “I wish all my children will have a happy life despite any life’s challenges. I pray that they will learn their way back in having faith in God.”
For single moms out there, she encourages you to be strong and never give up.
“Stay put and be with your children as much as possible especially while they are still young, and never let go of your faith in God and to yourself,” says Noemi.