As Expo Mom celebrates its tenth year, the longest running event of its kind pays tribute to #TeamMoms that have served as a lifeline for mothers all over the Philippines. Here, women who’ve known each other before they even got married journey together through motherhood and beyond.
Weddings are the stuff of daydreams. Lurking behind the wedding preparations, however, are all sorts of potential disasters, from suppliers who don’t deliver on time to wedding gowns which suddenly can’t fit. When then newlyweds John and Bennette “Benz” Rana put up Weddings@Work, an online community for couples getting married, they did not anticipate how popular it was going to be. They also did not expect the relationships and friendships it would foster and nurture through the years.
Jenki Fernando was a member of Weddings@Work. She so enjoyed the friendships she made in the community that she eventually moved on to Newlyweds@Work after getting married.
After a woman gets married, her concerns change, explains Benz. She’s now thinking about pregnancy, breastfeeding, finances, in-laws. That’s why Newlyweds@Work was created. It is there to provide support to newly married women. Benz says, “What we did not anticipate is that it will last this long. So even if some of the members are already 15 years married, they’re still called N@Wies! We never thought it would last this long.”
Through the years, the connection between the N@Wies would only became stronger. Online conversations found their way offline in real-life meetups for merienda or coffee. Online concerns found real-life solutions. Online exchanges of photographs came to life as they met each other’s husbands and children. The online community came to life, and for the women, it had a most empowering effect.
Clarice Avinante says, “Whatever you’re doing or whatever stage you’re in, it’s always important to have support. Motherhood is so challenging. It’s one aspect of life that you thought you’d be very good at. Prior to becoming a mother, you may have already thought that you’d be this or that kind of a mom. But when you’re there already, it’s very different from what you had expected. Normally, you become different than what you thought you’d be. Having a #TeamMom, a support group, would make you realize that what you’re going through is normal.”
While the N@Wies is one big community, there are different subgroups dedicated to different passions and pursuits. There’s a subgroup of women who love traveling and another who like reading books. There are moms who share recipes and others who go on challenges.
Kendz Chao actually joined one of those challenges: the one which asked women to get back in shape. With the motivation and encouragement of the N@wies, she lost 30 pounds.
“I am the mom I am now because of the N@Wies,” reveals Kendz Chao.
“I was really clueless. When I was pregnant, I asked them about pregnancy, breastfeeding, how to raise a child. I didn’t even have to research on the internet; I just had to ask them. When I gave birth to my first child, I had trouble with breastfeeding. Benz and Clarice came to me. They helped me,” she adds.
Candy Tuliao says, “There are a lot of subgroups. There’s something for everyone.”
She adds, “It’s very important as a mom to keep your own identity. In that sense, you get to learn about new things and you get to share about topics you are an expert in. What I like about the group is they don’t judge. A lot of us are new moms with not much experience. When you’re a new mom, you don’t want to be how it was like during your mom’s time when they were just winging it. With this group, you get more than you can get from researching because it’s all first hand experience. It’s what really helped me. You don’t feel shy about asking. You find out that whatever it is that you’re going through is very normal.”
Because their relationships have reached such a level of security and comfort, they are honest with each other. A mom can be candid with another without fear that her fellow mom will take offense.
Clarice explains, “You won’t get mad because because you know that it was harder for her to tell you. Even if you don’t agree with her, you won’t get mad because you know she’s coming from a place of concern and genuine care.”
“And that person who tells you wouldn’t mind if you don’t listen. She’s just speaking because there’s a point to be made,” Benz says.
At this point in their lives, the N@Wies are only too thankful to have found each other.
Benz says, “I am so alike with a lot of the other moms in N@wie. My N@wie friends know me more than my other friends.”
Kendz says, “I gravitate towards them when I have problem.”
Clarice says, “I am so happy to have found new friends at his age.”
Jenki says, “I wouldn’t have thought of joining the Trying to Conceive journey without them. I wouldn’t be able to do it emotionally without their help.”
Candy says, “We help each other.”
Now ain’t friendship grand?
Every mom has a #TeamMom cheering her on. Share your #TeamMom story on social media. Join Expo Mom #TeamMom as it continues its nationwide roadshow on July 15 and 16, 2017 at TriNoma. Bring your #TeamMom along and connect with other Team Moms.
Join the Mommy Mundo #TeamMom Grand Giveaway!