March 31 2023 Making the Choice to Care Every child needs a mother who can give them the very much-needed love and care to grow up well and be the person they want to be. More importantly, the person needs to be someone who can accept the role of being a mother with their heart, whether sooner or later. Mama Beth, like many other mamas, faced struggles in motherhood before giving their all to caring for many children across the years. Finding Her Way through Doubt and Struggle Mama Beth is one of many mamas in SOS Children’s Villages Philippines, and she’s been caring for children for almost 20 years as of writing. But she was also cared for by SOS Children's Villages before. Mama Beth lived in Tacloban since she was seven months old, taken in as she was surrendered by her biological mother. She lived with SOS until she turned 21, having graduated with a degree in Broadcasting. She then left Tacloban to look for work in Manila after graduation, working two jobs before working for SOS Children’s Villages Philippines as a mama upon referral of a friend. "I wondered if I can do this, because I know that being a mama at SOS is not easy." Doubt can settle in quickly when you're new at work, especially when said work involves caring for children. Mama Beth spent her first month wondering if she's even going to last as a mother. On one hand, she has a lover in her outside life, and she could have had other opportunities outside. But on the other hand, she thought: “Who will take care of the children?” As time passed, she got used to the children's behavior bit by bit. Before she knew it, she has taken care of many children over the course of 20 years. Balancing Differences Settling and living with differences is necessary when raising your kids. As Mama Beth learned this, she noticed a few things about how different kids were in here time versus now. "Children nowadays are more expressive," she notes. Mama Beth used crushes as an example since that's one of many topics her children would talk about. "My childhood wasn't like that. We weren't as expressive due to fear, like how I couldn't talk about my crush to my parents." As she grew with her children, she was surprised at first at how open they are about their crushes and other aspects of their life, and she listened to what they have to say. "Whatever idea they conjure, they will do it whether it's good or bad." As a mama, you also know that there is no one way to raise children. “What they grew up with is different from what they experience here. Growing up in a different environment outside SOS means children behave differently." Mama Beth keeps this in mind when she teaches her children the values they need to have when they grow up. "Growing up putside SOS gives them a different environment; iba ang kinalakihan nila." Respectful manners like doing mano po to their elders and the usage of "po" and "opo" vary from child to child; some do it and some don't, for example. Mama Beth also experienced having to calm down some of her children who throw tantrums when they don't get what they want, a very familiar experience for most mothers. "I'm willing to buy what they need, but for their wants, it has to be regulated." But no matter who they are and what they do, she met them with patience and compromise. "I don't dictate what they do. I just have a proper conversation with them because they still have a different mindset." Mama Beth would listen to what they have to say, accepting that they would answer back at her before starting a conversation. But she would also draw clear lines for them, such as setting rules like the time they need to come home from a day of being out to ensure their safety. Children would rather play than sleep, even on a hot afternoon. That's why mama is there to make sure they're okay. At the end of the day, her children have come to love her one way or another. Love manifests in a child asking where she's going. During our interview with Mama Beth, one of her younger children would go to her from time to time before going to play nearby. The child thought Mama Beth was going somewhere because she changed clothes before the interview. Love also comes in the form of her children keeping in touch with her. Some of her children have lives of their own already, and they include Mama Beth by updating her with pictures from time to time. "Some of them have families, some of them are OFWs-- they all still keep in touch with me through social media." At the end of the day, she knows she’s the only one who’s there for the kids through the good and the bad 24/7. A Mama’s Wish for Her Children Mama Beth has cared for many children in SOS Children's Villages in Philippines for 20 years. Seeing them grow up well has been a worthwhile endeavor for her. Choosing to care for children and leaving some parts of your old life behind is a hard decision to make. Mama Beth held on to her faith and the people around her who also care for the children living in SOS us. She's not one to place very high expectations of them; she just wants them to do good. As long as their grades have no lines of 7, it's alright. “Whether they graduate or not, I'm happy as long as they they can stand on their own.” For her, the most fulfilling thing about being a mama in SOS Children’s Villages Philippines is to see them grow up to be good people. As for the children she once took and now takes care of from House 4 – Understanding, all she wishes for is a good life for them. "I still pray that at the end of the day, my kids are all happy and okay."