Young moms of the new millennium

By Joyce Reyes-Aguila

 

For all the grief and bad press that so-called Millennials (or people born anywhere from the ’80s to early 2000s) get, Millennial women are more likely to “interrupt their career for family,” according to a Harvard Business School alumni survey shared by New York Times columnist Claire Cain Miller in “More Than Their Mothers, Young Women Plan Career Pauses. ” In it, she wrote that “37 percent of Millennial women and 42 percent of those already married planned to interrupt their career for family…compared with 28 percent of Generation X women and 17 percent of baby boomers.”

These days, young mothers who have demanding careers will not think twice about scaling back work for the sake of their families. Millennial moms are finding ways to integrate their home life with their professional life, as Panorama learns from three busy mothers who have careers in the fields of public service, entertainment, and television/movie production.

So, how do Millennial moms get through the expectations and demands of all their roles?

Rep. Em Aglipay-Villar and daughter Emma Therese

Rep. Em Aglipay-Villar and daughter Emma Therese

Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar

DIWA Party List Representative

A demanding legislative role used to take precedence for Democratic Independent Workers’ Association (DIWA) Party-list representative Emmeline “Em” Aglipay-Villar.  She would attend every single affair she was invited to, travel around the country to visit projects, conduct activities for her organization, and speak with its members even during weekends. “I am a workaholic, and work has been a priority in my life,” she admits. “But I always knew that once I have a family of my own, it would have to be the priority.”

So when she and her husband, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar, welcomed daughter Emma Therese in September 2015, the youngster became the center of their lives. “Mark and I are hands-on parents,” the lawyer and member of the University of the Philippines Order of the Purple Feather Honors Society shared. “I am a co-sleeping, breast-feeding, cloth-diapering kind of mom. I try to personally prepare Emma’s food (and) educational activities for her at home, bring her to play school, read her books…” Free time during the day is also spent with their child.

Rep. Em Aglipay-Villar, a lupus sufferer and advocate, and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar with their firstborn and pride and joy, Emma Therese

Rep. Em Aglipay-Villar, a lupus sufferer and advocate, and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar with their firstborn and pride and joy, Emma Therese

The first-time parents are learning to integrate family time with their work that, at times, requires attention even on weekends. Often, Emma joins her parents on work trips and enjoys the sights via an extra day. When the congresswoman is scheduled to visit DIWA bailiwick province Bohol, for example, the cabinet secretary would schedule infrastructure inspections in the area to get some work done at the same time.

“Emma and I have not slept apart since she was born,” the 10 Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of 2012 for Public Service awardee said. “If I have to stay overnight somewhere, I would bring her with me (and) find a suitable place for her to stay.”

After each session day at the Lower House, Em gets home when their baby is about to sleep or is already asleep. “If she is awake, we shower together and do our nightly rituals like reading books and praying,” she says. “Mark also usually arrives when Emma is asleep already. In the middle of the night, he helps me change diapers.” To make up for his busy schedule, the secretary makes sure he spends the weekend with his family. And if work entails him to be away, Emma sees a lot of her dad through numerous video calls a day.

“These are just minor adjustments,” the legislator said. At present, she juggles her time with her congressional duties for DIWA and Las Piñas—Mark’s elective district where she is the designated caretaker, and her responsibilities when she was the chair of the Committee on Women and Gender Equality. Em is also currently busy with her Masters in Law studies, and advocacies such as the Hope for Lupus Foundation. Being a mom, she said, has not allowed her to work out daily or go to the salon regularly to get a manicure-pedicure. “Now, I am only able to cut my hair when people already bug me to cut it.”

Last Christmas at the Villar home

Last Christmas at the Villar home

“I do not feel bad about this. I choose to do all these things. I just face the challenges with a lot of positive vibes—always facing each day with a strong spirit and passion for my work, all the love in the world for my family, and a grateful heart. I’m just brimming with excitement for all these. Having love for what you do is the best way to get through the challenges, since you are able to bear the hardships that go with achieving your goals, whether personal or professional,” she added.

Recently, stress took its toll on Em, and she experienced a lupus flare. She had first manifested the symptoms of the autoimmune disease in 2007. She has had to cut down on her work, adding that she wants “to live long and be healthy for Emma and for Mark.” Her Hope for Lupus Foundation was founded to help patients who cannot afford treatment, and effectively diagnose those suspected to have the malaise. The congresswoman initially had second thoughts about establishing the foundation, scared that her illness would make people judge her unfit to be a public servant. But when she experienced complications in 2015 that almost made her lose her battle to the illness, Em decided to “lose no time in doing what (she had) always wanted to do.” She established the foundation, is writing a book, applied into her dream school, and continues to do everything possible to be a good wife and mom. For her, family always comes first. Villar believes in setting priorities in order, and training people so one can delegate tasks at work instead of “delegating your task as a mother to someone else.”

“Though I have always dreamed of becoming a mother, I only understood what it truly meant when I became one,” says Em. “I am still able to reach my general career goals while at the same time being physically present for Emma. I want to be the best mother that I can be and, if I should be forced to choose between my career and my child/children, I would always choose the latter. Nothing could be more important than them.”