22 Sep Cat Juan-Ledesma
Okay we’ll admit it, we have a massive girl crush on Cat Juan-Ledesma. I mean, how could we not? Aside from obviously winning the genetic lottery, there’s a quiet grace and elegance about her that shows in every aspect of her life. Cat warmly welcomed us into her beautiful home and talked to us about accepting the fact that you can’t have it all, finding enjoyment in the simple life and the best gift you can give your children. Read on to see why we’re heading the CJL fans club and yes we’re accepting new members.
First thought that entered your mind when you found out you were pregnant?
I think disbelief would be the best word to describe it. I was shocked because we’d been trying for 6 months by then. As someone who has always believed that if you work hard, you get the results you want, pregnancy was a humbling experience. A higher power has to take the wheel, because at the end of the day, you can do everything you want to make it happen, but it just not might. There was only so much in my control. I always knew I wanted to be a mom, but I also had this thing at the back of my head—what if I couldn’t (biologically).
So once it sank in that we were really pregnant, I was absolutely overjoyed. I was by myself when I saw the stick with two lines, Carl at that time was about to fly back to Sydney (where we were living at the time) and I was going to stay in Manila for a few more days. I made an executive decision not to tell him till we met up in Sydney. It was like I had this little secret no one else in my world knew about. So I had my blood test, I got everything checked and proved that the lines on the stick were accurate. When I got to Sydney, I told him by giving him a little present. It was a book for dads. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he opened it and everything registered: shock, joy, happy tears all rolled into one. It’s one of my most cherished memories.
What’s the best thing about being a mom
There are so many! But if I had to choose, it would be the absolute joy they have in my company. At this age, your kids want to be your shadow. Honestly, that’s also one of the hardest things about working. I always have to toughen up when I leave in the morning.
I also love that being a parent is rediscovering childhood all over again. You’re excited to do even the simplest things because you know they’re doing it for the first time. You’re excited to learn new things because you’re learning with them. It feel like being a kid again in so many ways. I also love all the little worlds they create and invite you to be part of with them.
What’s the hardest thing about being a mom?
The hardest thing about being a mom would have to be the constant worry. Nara and Fin are two little people my husband were given who are now our sole responsibility. Their health, safety, happiness, and all around well-being are entirely ours to be accountable for. We take this job very seriously and it has given me a few sleepless nights.
It was also initially hard to accept that I couldn’t have it all. I knew early on in my motherhood journey that I just wasn’t the type of mom who would be happy to work from home. And my decision to return to be a working mom was one I didn’t make lightly. You can’t have all the memories and you can’t have your work which you often need for personal fullfilment. So there was this internal battle in me: Will I lose precious time with my kids? Will I lose first time memories if I give time to a career? Will my children hold it against me? I finally realized that it doesn’t matter to children whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a working mom. What matters is that you are a happy mom, who loves life and let’s that joy shine in everything else you do. I am fortunate to have found a job that allows me more balance than a standard 9-5. It’s a job that doesn’t require me to be glued to a desk everyday. Its work driven, so some days I can work from home and other days and I can be home by 2-3pm and go swimming or run around in a field with my kids before dinner.
On marriage and how it changed once you had children.
I heard this from someone, and it always stuck: one of the best gifts you can give your children is a happy marriage. Carl and I believe in prioritizing our marriage in many decisions we make. That’s what my folks did with me as well when I was growing up and I am grateful they showed me a marriage that came first. We don’t co-sleep every night, The kids negotiate to sleep with us around twice a week or during nap times on weekends. We feel that we also need this couple time together whether to watch a Netflix show before bed or to talk about our day. We also try to go on a trip, at least once a year, without the kids. Small efforts like these help remind us that we’ve got to keep our spark going too.
Philosophy on motherhood.
Motherhood is not a cookie cutter job. Everyone has their own opinions on how it should be done. For me, you should just go with what feels right for you and your family without judging the way anyone else is doing it. I don’t believe in preaching the way I raise my children. If friends want my advise then I’ll give it but if not, I never offer.
Fin was born early at 35 weeks. Still a bit of a preemie and as a new mom I was really concerned with his well being. So for the first year of his life, I kept following those books that would list milestones in development per month. After a while, It was stressing me out. Finally, it got to the point where I just gave the books away. Once I let that go, it helped me a better mom.
There’s no such thing as perfect motherhood. What works for me is to trust your gut. Trust the people that you’ve surrounded yourself with (pedia, school, household staff, etc.) to raise your children because it does takes a village. And don’t stress too much on the really small things, you just have to let it go.
Legacy you want to leave your children.
I’d like to impart on my children, the same things my parents gave me: to find what you love to do, that thing that will get you up in the morning with joy, and be good at it. Its something that I want for my kids as well. I want then to find fulfillment in their lives, I don’t want to put pressure on them to be anything else than what they want to be—but be good at it!
I also want to show them a life that is filled with enjoyment everyday. A simple good life. Not one lived extravagantly. My family never did. We grew up in a family where it was always about blessings and how they were meant to be shared. We’re fortunate, my kids need to understand that. But there shouldn’t be any self-entitlement. Carl and I would like to bring them up in a home where they realize that they are in a good place and they have to give back.
Advice to your younger self.
I think I put too much pressure on myself when I was younger. My life back then was one of constant worry, If didn’t pass this certain test with this certain grade, I’d panic. Or if I didn’t make this certain deadline for something, I’d think it was the end of the world. I just needed to chill because now who even remembers those things? Seriously? Who remembers that test? Who remembers that deadline? I’d like to believe it wouldn’t have affected the whole scape of where my life is now. I put a lot of stress on unnecessary things and my skin would actually be better now if I hadn’t. *laughs*
Characteristic you value most in people.
Integrity and kindness. I feel the world needs more of these traits.There are certain people who are only kind when its to their advantage to be so. And those kinds of people really turn me off. They may be nice to me but they’re not nice to someone who they think isn’t worth the effort. I also believe in surrounding myself with good energy. I’m the type who just can’t be be bothered if there’s too much drama in someone’s life. For me, it’s like, “I wish you well but it’s not going to come to my home.” My own energy gets affected by people like that, so I learned in my 20s to travel light. And Carl has been the best teacher about loving the now. He has very little attachment to the past and prefers to focus on his current life. He sleeps well at night. In a sense, I look for that in people. I am very fortunate that I do have close friendships with those who share the same sentiments and energy and they are the ones that have been here for decades.