Project Lilo | Amber Smith-Folkman
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Amber Smith-Folkman

We’ve been friends and fans of Amber for quite some time now. Her genuine love for the Philippines and enthusiasm for all things Filipino is infectious, her daily commentary on being a foreigner raising 3 boys in Manila, hilarious and her honest reflections about the ups and downs of traversing Pinoy society and culture real and refreshing. We spent the day in her Piña Home and got to know more about being A Momma Abroad, trusting your instincts, and how we can contribute to the world by raising decent human beings. 

First thing that entered your head when you found out you were pregnant? 

Overjoyed. We had been told it would be a long and difficult process because of some misdiagnosed health issues. It was a huge relief and blessing to know that we could have children.

“The whole reason why we have kids is to supply the next generation. The kind of people we let out into the world is our responsibility.”

What’s the best thing about being a mom? 

There are two. The first is unconditional love. You could be playful in the morning and then tired and impatient in the afternoon but then 30 minutes later they’re like, “I love you mom, you’re the best mom.” Kids are so forgiving, and they don’t see you as someone who makes mistakes. They just see you as their mom, this perfect person.

Second, being a mom is rewarding. Most of the time I get stuck in the daily grind of diapers, school, behavior, and just dealing with boys that I forget: Jake and I are raising decent human beings. With all the attacks happening around the world, I feel so removed because I live here, far away. I also feel removed because admittedly I don’t want to know about it because I feel like there’s nothing I can do. Then I realize that our home is a good human factory. The whole reason why we have kids is to supply the next generation. The kind of people we let out into the world is our responsibility. To me that’s so rewarding, to have the opportunity and ability to help the human race by raising our children well. I think often times we don’t even see that. This is our chance to leave our imprint on humanity and I want it to be a good one. I hope I instill in them the qualities and values that are important to make the world a better place. I feel that I forget that too often. I just get stuck in the mundane and the frustrations and I forget that this is really important, what we’re doing here. There’s a reason why we teach our kids to be kind, there’s a reason why we talk to them kindly, there’s reasons why we’re forgiving. This is why we teach cooperative play, this is why we teach them about jobs and chores, its because we’re training them to be good people. That’s the whole point of it (parenting) and I would like to remember that more often. Because I think in these times where you’re feeling so frustrated with them, then having this perspective will let the pressure release a little bit.

Also, kids say really funny things.

On life with three boys: “It’s loud, it’s a little bit gross, it’s a lot sweet.”

What’s the hardest thing about being a mom? 

 Sacrifices. Your children are such huge blessings but in turn, you sacrifice a lot. Sleep, food, bodies (perky boobs and a flat tummy), careers, money, life style just to name a few.

Motherhood, it breaks you a little bit. All your walls are broken down, sometimes even your dignity. It goes back to self reflection and you realize you have to be better. And that’s hard. Its easier to not be better, its easier to not be more patient. Its difficult to be better. You give everything you have to everybody and then you have to give more. Often times when we’re dealing with a difficult situation we think “Oh I’m going to do the right thing, I’m going to mom so hard and that’s going to make everything perfect.”—but then it doesn’t and it breaks you down again.

Amber and her husband Jake with their three sons, Aaker, Oz and Wells.


On marriage and how it changed once you had children.

Women are amazing. We are literally growing a human being up in there. Be patient with one another. Be kind. And give your wife whatever she damn wants. After the babies come make sure you take care of yourselves individually but also take care of your partnership. I highly recommend once a week date night and get away at least one-two times year without kids. You still want to love each other and want to be around each other after those kids have flown the coop.

“Every situation, child and mother are different. Find what works well for you and your family. “

Philosophy on motherhood.

Every situation, child and mother are different. Find what works well for you and your family. Mothers have divine instincts, follow those and don’t second guess yourself. The older my children get the more I realize I need to be an advocate for them as well. Remember, they are human beings also who deserve to be heard and respected.


“I always tell my children, I want you to be funny but always kind. “

Legacy you want to leave your children. 

Funny but always kind. I want them to look back on their childhood like I see mine. Magic in traditions, laughter in times of hardship, and strength in trials because we have each other. I want them to always know and remember how much their mother loved them and how much happiness they bring her. My mother has somehow tricked all of her children into thinking they are her favorite, I want my children to feel the same.


Advice to your younger self. 

Keep making the right choices, you’re on a good path and will know great happiness.



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