*This was originally posted in lizetteolitres.wordpress.com as a response to a Sunstar CDO article titled, “How to spot a fake hands-on mom of toddlers“. The response was worth reposting here to share to our readers. 

Plonky Talk Dearie,

I am typing this article with my meticulously manicured nails, wearing my 3-inch heels, blue business dress and fancy earrings, at a crowded airport waiting for my flight back home to Cebu where my cholokoy three-year-old son and nice smelling ever-supportive husband await.

I am waiting to board my flight and was going through my newsfeed and saw a link to your post to which some of my mommy friends have strong reactions to. The irony of it. Here I am, with my brain in a half baked state, tired, grumpy because of period cramps, hungry, homesick and excited to go home and I read your blog. And for a nano-second, I actually questioned myself. Was I really less of a mother and a wife because of my long, manicured nails and my high heels?

Consider this my dissertation of your so-called literary piece.

Point 1: This article is for all the women who have fraudulent orgasms.

You have been charged with first degree fakery by Plonky dearie. As an active member of the Global Institute of Multi-tasking Wives, under Section 8, Article 927, we are entitled to sporadic semi-grand verbal finales in relation to monogamous sexual acts under the condition of reduced physical capacity due to work-related and household-chore induced stress. There’s only so much we can do. Sigh. First of all, dearie, let me just put on record: Blessed are those who have T-I-M-E to fake orgasms. Blessed be! Round of applause for those who get to squeeze in some sexy time while juggling work and house chores and raising kids. Round of applause for the husbands who still find their wives sexually compelling despite seeing them in their most dishevelled fugly state. Sometimes, it’s the thought that counts. 😉 I could be wrong and you may be right about orgasms. 😉

Point 2: On a more serious note, Dearie, I believe in freedom of expression.

I am an advocate and a loud and proud one at that. But I also believe that with this great privilege comes great responsibility. Personal,  journalistic, communal, moral, whatever. I don’t know what your basis was for writing your article, where you drew inspiration from or what triggered you to write it but I’d like to know why you wrote this and who specifically you wrote it for. Because if you wrote it with someone in mind, then your point of reference is just a singular representation of the entire female population and at this age of gender empowerment, I would like to tell you that stereotyping my kind who have manicured nails while taking care of a toddler and labelling me as a fake hands-on mom is just fundamentally wrong. Dearie, how is saying’ SPOT A FAKE MOM BY HER LONG MANICURED NAILS AND HIGH HEELS’ any different from ‘SPOT A FAKE NUN BY THE ROSARY SHE HOLDS’ or ‘SPOT A FAKE DOCTOR BECAUSE HE CANNOT REMEMBER HIS LAST PRESCRIPTION TO YOU’ or ‘SPOT A FAKE HUMAN BECAUSE OF THE COLOR OF HIS SKIN’. Tell me how is it any different from all the other statements. It’s not. Because you are judging people by what you see and not by the facts that you took time to learn. Your intention may have been harmless, but you consciously pursued points based on a set of stringent personal generalisations. Dearie, stereotyping is a form of discrimination. And what you just did, you discriminated your own kind. My vagina,your vagina,still a vagina. Still a woman. Still a mother.

Point 3: Dearie, let’s time travel shall we?

How do you think your daughter will react to your article twenty years from now? Because, dearie, if I had a daughter, I wouldn’t want her to think or to feel that just because she gets a manicure every now and then for hygienic or pampering purposes, or wears heels while running after her kid, doesn’t mean she’s a second rate woman and mother. One of my favourite quotes of all time is “A man who treats his woman like a princess is proof that he was born and raised in the arms of a queen.” I’m not saying we, stiletto wearing kind are queens, but we’d like to think that we have some sort of semblance to Kate Middleton. And by this statement, just to expound for the sake of journalistic clarity, I mean, we look presentable and groomed and exude that kept-together-despite-sleeping-for-only-three-hours polished look. Heaven forbid but if my son should ever read your article, I certainly hope that we have taught him well enough on how to respect women. All kinds of women. Single, married, annulled, with kids, with adopted kids, those who have ten cats, those who wear crocs, those who wear Valentino, those who work, those who stay at home with the kids, etcetera, etcetera. All women are the same, and we deserve the same kind of respect. There’s no guaranteed formula for successful motherhood parenthood. We lead by example, our children will always mimic what we think, or do or say and if we judge people by the way they look, like what your article blatantly implies, then it makes us parents, poor leaders and our kids, shallow followers.

Point 4: I feel you Plonky dear.

My social media newsfeeds are filled with posts of my mommy friends on glamorous trips displaying their shiny bags and heels and jewelry. And more often than I would like to admit, I end up feeling sorry myself because I can’t afford to go on vacays or buy that new Prada bag or 10-carat diamond drop earrings or go to a party because really,  yaya-less moms like us,  we’re too busy washing our kid’s bottles and making silly Play-Doh animals and wiping his rainbow poop – EVEN WITH MANICURED NAILS. Add me up on Facebook if you’d like photographic evidence. But that’s them and this is me. And that’s you and this is me. You can’t tell my IQ by looking at the food pics I post, can you? A picture paints a thousand words, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Also, it does take a village to raise a child (I can never thank the heavens enough for the parental efforts of my sister, my mom, my stepdad, my in-laws, aunts and uncles and cousins and next door neighbors because they are integral parts of my son’s holistic growth. And because when they are around I get to sleep because nowadays, sleeping straight through the night is much better than getting new jewelry and new shoes and yes even better than getting orgasms). It also takes a village to look like a bajillion bucks for a photo (think HMUA, stylist, photographer, graphic artist, sponsors, yadda, yadda) so who am I to judge them? We cannot gauge one’s capacity to nurture because of their selfies. Duh.

Point 5: As we are already embattled in a passionate discussion regarding parameters of parenthood, why don’t we also discuss the term hands-on as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

The full definition of Hands-on is relating to, being, providing, direct, practical experience in the operation or functioning of something.(ex. Hands-on training) also involving or allowing use of or touching with the hands; characterized by active personal involvement. Let me ask you this Plonky dearie, would REAL moms really let minor details such as nails hinder their involvement in bringing up their children? Dear, I bet the REAL moms, even if they had no fingers or arms or legs or feet, they would find a god damn way to raise their kids the best way they know how. My point is dearie, there is no right or wrong way to bring up children and there should be no labels or sub-categories to define who we are as parents. Because at the end of the day, at the end of our lives, we all want the same thing, to bring up our children the best way we can, and we do what we have to do because we want to make this world a better place for them. Is this universal opinion explicitly stated in your article? Who is right and who is wrong then?

Point 6: I value reading.

My favourite pastime is to read. Newspapers, blogs, books, magazines, I read it. And as a MassComm graduate, I value journalism. I learned how to read and write by pointing out letters in the headlines of Sunstar and doing the crossword puzzles. I have utmost respect for the publication and the people behind it. And I’m a firm believer that print is not a dying medium. But I will be honest. Together with hundreds of mothers, regardless of size of claws and length of heels, we were a tad bit disappointed when we clicked the link of the blog and it directed us to Sunstar Cagayan. As a member of the workforce, moreover, as someone whose professional background involves marketing and public relations, I understand how important it is to sustain interest in a traditional medium in this age of digital communications. Traffic is important. A reaction is a reaction nonetheless. But are we really willing to risk the very tenets of responsible journalism for the sake of driving up statistics? Is the scarcity of sources for online content a major determinant nowadays? More so, may I kindly ask, for a point of future reference of course, what are the qualifications needed for one to be able to write a column for a respectable institution such as Sunstar? Because, judging from Plonky Talk blogs, any educated reader, writer or editor could say that blogs such as ‘How to Spot a Fake Mom’ and ‘Battle of Claws’ and ‘I am Woman. I Menstruate” are pathetic attempts at satirical blogging. Not only are we talking about a judgemental so-called literary piece, but it is an insult to those who have studied journalism and clawed (no pun intended) their way to the top of the mass media ladder. It doesn’t take much nowadays, does it. And just as I claim that this piece does not reflect the views and opinions of my family, my friends,  the company I work for and my manicurista, I also know that there is a subtext disclaimer to opinion columns such as Plonky Talk, that her writings do not in any way reflect those of Sunstar and its management.

My dear Sunstar CDO and Grace Almasin, Editor-in-Chief, indeed, your columnist has a face on your paper, as you said in a message to one of my mommy friends, and really, honest to goodness I say, good for her. She has accomplished what a lot of communication graduates strive for: their own column. The power to be heard, the power to speak. But again, accountability and responsibility should be espoused in any form of journalism work. However, this is in no way an implication that any form of abdication be done in relation Plonky Dear and her blog, because it does pose some sort of entertainment value, though not the positive kind, rather what I’m saying is, there is a lot of room for improvement. A whole lot. Plenty kind of lot. May these serve as points for professional discussion between EIC and columnist on the grounds of journalistic responsibility, facts or opinions or anything else in between. We want you to know that your audience, we, the faceless people, are your market, we buy your product and the services of your advertisers, and we want it to be known that we find it appalling to have a substandard and discriminatory piece of writing attached to your company’s reputable name. And how a follow-up article with mild assertions that short-clawed mothers are STILL better than long-clawed ones became published is BEYOND me. Column writing is a privilege, and to see privileges like these be awkwardly and stubbornly used for derogatory and baseless opinions, with obvious intent to be presented as generalized facts, AND be linked to a publication with the highest esteemed status, is BEYOND me.

Point 7: And the last point of this incredibly long reaction piece, to the author of Plonky Talk, Ms. Kathy Car, I respect hands-on moms like you.

In fact, I envy you. You get to enjoy the little moments that most of us working moms don’t get to. Like personally wiping your kid’s poop, or running around with them during afternoons or being there when they wake up. I envy you. I do. I have a whole lot of respect for women who give up their careers for their families. Any mom would leave her day job if we could support the family without going to work. Not all of us are born into wealth and not all of us are presented with doors of opportunities. We do what we do, not because we want to, but because we have to. I’d take not showering for two days over two days away from home because of work. I’d take peeing with the door open any day over closed door meetings and presentations and field work. I’d run a thousand miles in my stilettos if it means running WITH my son or running TO my son. Heck, I’ll bind my feet, cinch my waist, walk on water, breathe in fire if it would mean putting food on the table and giving my family the kind of life they deserve. And they deserve the best. And I do what I do because of this. Let me speak for those you unwittingly labelled as ‘fake hands-on moms’ out there. Please, don’t judge me by the length of my nails or the height of my heels or if I can’t remember the color of my son’s last poop (I can’t even remember the size of MY last poop). Please don’t judge my ability as a mother and a wife because of the pictures I post. These are but captured moments but those do not define who I am. Please don’t judge me at all. Because you don’t know me and you don’t know the silent battles I go through everyday. And because of what you wrote, you made me think I was less of a mother.

I always thought there were unspoken rules of motherhood. No shower, no brushed teeth, no clean clothes. Zero fucks should be given. Motherhood is a sacred sorority and we must all understand that we go through a post partum identity crisis at one point or another. And that is okay. Instead of saying short-clawed mothers are better or those who have manicured nails are fake moms, it would have been better if you said ‘good job fellow moms, we might not be doing it the same way, but that’s okay, this is okay, you are okay, I am okay’. So this piece, is for all mothers out there. There are no written and concrete rules to parenting, you only abide by those you deem fit. It’s like a religion. You follow your own, you respect what others believe in.

This piece is for the discontented husbands out there who think their wives are sloppy and compare her to other women. There is no such thing as a perfect wife.  If you think of your spouse as a lesser kind of wife because someone does what she does better, pack your things, get out of the house and run. We love you but it’s not all the time we want to get our war paints on (ie. Make-up) and it’s not all the time we wear our battle gear (ie. Nice dress and fancy shoes). In marriage, you say for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, til death do you part. We never said anything about looking like Victoria Beckham all the frickin’ time.

This piece is for all those who are dreaming about getting a husband and having kids (though not necessarily in that order.) Yes, the horror stories about motherhood are true. You become a woman of many hats, smelly insane mom hat, bossy stage mom hat, weepy drama queen hat. Many,many,many hats. You lose yourself every once in a while with all the different roles you have to play but all are equally rewarding  when you see your beloved spawn smile. The benefits, not to mention, the joys of motherhood are far more rewarding than any description that can be put into words.

Plonky Dearie, don’t kid yourself and say you’re glad your article caught our attention. It did, for all the wrong reasons. And the statistics you presented, it may have driven traffic to your page, but it also damaged your credibility and reputation as a writer, not to mention, dragged down your publications impeccable name along with it. And don’t thank us for reacting to what you wrote; thank us when you accept the obvious answer to your own question: Who is right and who is wrong? Ask yourself, have you become a better person because of this? Were you able to make the world better a place or did you just make it a little more complicated than it already is? Because you know, isn’t that what mothers do? Just try to make the world a better place for our kids, for our husbands, for our families, for ourselves? In the spirit of Women’s Month and mommyhood and solidarity and non-fakery and RESPECT, holler at me through lizetteolitres@gmail.com. One year’s worth of manicures at your preferred salon from me to you. Because you deserve it. Happy Women’s Month and more girl power to you.

 

Lizette Palermo-Olitres

Crazy wife. Loving mother. Corporate slave. Writer. You can read her blog here.

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