Photo by Sheila Catilo

Photo by Sheila Catilo

Special thanks to Sheila Catilo and Love Ocampo for the photos in this post.

I’ve only been a mom of two kids for a little under four months, and suddenly I feel like my whole world is beginning again. And I don’t mean any romantic notions in that statement, I literally don’t know what the hell I’m doing most times these days. I know the regular maternity leave for moms like me is around 2 months, but seriously, I realize why motherhood organizations lobby for at least 6 months, or even a year. It’s because it’s so. freakin’. hard to be a new mother.

Sometimes I don’t even know who I am anymore. In between work pockets of between 2 to 4 hours (the most I can work uninterrupted), I have to deal with tending to a what appears to be high-need baby’s whims and requests to be carried, cuddled, conversed with and cooed to. I have to equally ensure that my eldest son doesn’t feel left out on account of this new baby sister. While we don’t have the typical “summer holiday” in our homeschool schedule, I’ve called it so, because I can’t figure out how to deal with school right now, unless baby anatomy is the main theme for our curriculum this quarter.

I am thankful, though, for my husband. As much as I would like to be the normally well-dressed, hairbrushed, fresh-breath’d wife he’s used to, he accepts me for my typically unkempt, oftentimes unwashed and sleep-deprived self these days. He’ll hug me and do what he can to make things easier for me, like take care of my share of the housework while I try to calm the baby on yet another early evening crying fit.

It’s been real, it’s been hard, and yes, also very happy these past three months. But I’ve been so tired.

And so, I was glad when my darling friend and #blissmaker Rhiza Oyos emailed me an invitation to a special afternoon of well-intentioned “me time.” Little did I know those few hours during the Pursuit Moms Gathering would be just what I needed to feel whole and complete again.

They called it “Thank God, It’s Mom-Day.” It was held in Karen’s Kitchen, a sweet and dainty cafe-bistro in Kapitolyo’s foodie district.

Photo by Love Ocampo

Photo by Love Ocampo

Pursuit Manila organized this wonderful afternoon last May 7 for the moms of the local Pursuit Community here in the Philippines. (You can read more about Pursuit Community on their official website.) Rhiza is the Manila head, and you can find all the Manila-related updates on her blog, here.

Aside: I am SO proud of Rhiza and her courage to spearhead Pursuit Manila! We always chat on Facebook on our late-night virtual meetups and just dream and ponder on ways to make our passions work and bless others. She is touching so many lives through Pursuit, it is inspiring! Love you, Riz!

karen's kitchen kapitolyo

Basically, any Pursuit gathering has one core purpose: To unite in the desire to create something “to reflect the beauty of The Creator” (from Pursuit Manila’s primer page.Pursuit Community is for the creative women–photographers, writers, bloggers, artists, song writers, calligraphers, designers, florists, stylists, crafters, creative business owners and the like. During each get-together (which are monthly), Pursuit women support one another, through praying together and sharing with one another, mainly about their creative pursuits and businesses.

For this gathering of mothers, it was only fitting that Karen of Karen’s Kitchen — a mother and a business owner — share her testimony.

karen's kitchen kapitolyo

Karen of Karen’s Kitchen sharing the story of her business. So inspiring! And she looks like she stepped out of a story book from Downton Abbey days! Photo by Sheila Catilo.

karen of karen's kitchen. Photo by Sheila Catilo.

Her story of how God orchestrated things to make Karen’s Kitchen a reality was truly inspiring.

karen's kitchen kapitolyo

So much charm in every corner!

What took away all the tiredness and haggardness for me that “Mom-Day” was really the love and service of the Pursuit community. As with all their gatherings here in Manila, each detail of the event made all the attendees — moms or not — feel special, thought-of and cared-for. (It also helps that the team behind Pursuit Manila is made up of talented stylists and photographers and crafters — just take a look at these snaps of the details.)

My place setting: Each guest's setting was adorned with their family photos and sweets.

My place setting: Each guest’s setting was adorned with their family photos and sweets. Photo by Love Ocampo.

Each mom was dolled up, too!

Each mom was dolled up, too!

pursuit manila

pursuit manila moms pursuit manila moms

The attention to detail reminded me that God is also concerned with the details in my life as a mother. A mom’s day is made up of details, from the way the kids’ meals are prepared down to how the house is cleaned. Being pampered through the Pinterest-worthy details made me and the other moms feel especially loved. It was nice having things DIY’d for us for a change, when we’re all so used to DIY’ing and life-hacking things for our families and partners.

The talks— by Rhiza, Ms. Karen, and finally by Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio—were much needed. As women, we bond through conversation, right? As moms, we bond through empathy, encouragement and mutual appreciation for all the things we go through. Rica’s message brought this to the fore, very poignantly. It was refreshing to hear.

rica peralejo

She also found time to help me with Krista! Hehe!

She also found time to help me with Krista! Hehe!

pursuit manila

Tears flowed freely, which was great. I’m not the weepy crying type when it comes to get-togethers, but trust me, you won’t be able to help your tears at any Pursuit gathering, so be prepared — prepared for how wonderful and liberating it feels. Talk about a sweet release!

The cherry on top of the event were really these Mom-Day boxes that we all received. Again with the details! Each box contained pretty gifts from each of the event sponsors, with the exception of an air mail envelope which contained letters from our spouses and children. By this point, there were no dry eyes in the place, and rightfully so!

Thanks, Pursuit Team, for that wonderful surprise!

pursuit manila moms

pursuit manila moms

Photos by Love Ocampo

We also had a chance to write back to our kids, which the Pursuit Team took care of mailing out to our homes so our kids could receive our letters in the mail. Can’t wait for Vito to read what I wrote him (which I’ll have to read to him, of course!)

pursuit manila moms

It really was the best Mother’s Day event I’ve ever been to. As a blogger, I’ve been to loads of mom-related events, and none could compare to this one. I know it’s because the entire team behind Pursuit Manila poured their hearts and hands into this gathering. I know it’s because the women who came together then were all relieved by grace, the kind of grace that can’t come from even the best of makeovers. I know it’s because that afternoon was an appointed time and place for all of us to be blessed by God, to be refreshed by His words through his servants, to be relieved temporarily of our duties as keepers of the home so that we could just be.

It was truly a Mom’s Day worthy of a celebration. And I’ll remember it as one of the best celebrations ever.

pursuit manila moms

Photo by Love Ocampo

pursuit manila moms

Marilen Montenegro (Marilen.ph), Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio (ricaperalejo.ph), Rhiza Oyos (chasing-dreams.net) and Sheila Catilo (catilo.net)

pursuit manila

Oh, I forgot to mention that all the moms had their portraits taken by the lovely Jamie Espadilla! Can’t wait for mine!

karen's kitchen kapitolyo

karen's kitchen

The ladies of Pursuit Manila

The ladies of Pursuit Manila

pursuit manila moms

A final group photo!

To know more about Pursuit Manila, visit their local page here: Pursuit Manila
View past Pursuit Gatherings here: Pursuit Gatherings
Visit the global community website here: Pursuit Community