Being a mother offers a unique kind of satisfaction, one that can hardly be described, a sentiment emphatically echoed by Toni Gonzaga, the Philippines' first Multimedia Star. "Becoming a mom is fulfilling, rewarding. It's incomparable. It's nothing like I've ever experienced before," exclaims Toni, "I thought in my career, I've reached yung parang 'oh this is a dream come true, this what makes me, this is the essence of me - working, fulfilling my dreams.' But you know, the essence of a woman is really being a mom. It's serving your purpose here on Earth. It's like I fulfilled my purpose."
There is nothing that prepared Toni, also the latest Pampers ambassador, for her new role. "A mother's job is completely different from being in the entertainment business," observes Toni, "The only time na nagagamit ko yung showbuiness is when i try to entertain my son. I dance, I sing in front of him, I do all these crazy stuff, I invent rap songs for him, I invent nursery songs for him." Toni believes that by embracing the changes motherhood brings, she ultimately grows into a better version of herself as being a mother drastically organized her priorities in a completely novel way. "When Seve came in to this world parang there's no more 'me'. 'Me' is number 10 in the list. Number one is Seve, number two is my husband, number three is my family, number four is my household, number five is work then number ten na lang ako," confesses Toni, "I try to squeeze in time for myself pag may free time na talaga, when everything is okay, when I've settled everything with Seve and my family."
The star is first to admit that motherhood is a far cry from how it is portrayed in social media and publications. "There's nothing glamorous about it; it's really a 24/7, nonstop job. You don't get a day-off; you can't quit," shares Toni, "You can't say na 'rest muna ako, kayo muna dyan.' You are always on-the-go, you're always needed, you're always present, you always have to be there. There's no time-out to being a mom." One of her biggest surprises was the difficulties of breastfeeding. Toni relates that while she was mentally prepared to handle the pains of giving birth, no one revealed how painful breastfeeding actually was. "The first two weeks was the most excruciating pain I ever felt in my life. I wasn't happy, I was actually getting depressed na nasabi ko 'this is so painful, am I going through this all my life?'. Inspite of this, Toni nursed Seve for one year. "It was really challenging," Toni admits, "I was shooting a movie and I was sending milk. When I look back, I realized 'Paano ko kaya na-breastfeed si Seve ng one year?' Her family's trip to Europe showed Toni how essential having a solid network of support is to new mothers such as herself. "We had no yaya," Toni reminisces, "It was just my sister and my mother-in-law. They are there lang to assist, but the full production, ako ang gagawa. This enabled her to carve out pockets of time for herelf. "Nailaban ko pang mag make-up," laughs Toni. "I told Cathy to hold him [Seve] for five minutes. I put my kilay and some powder, just to look fresh in the pictures."
[related: Beauty Inspo: Ace Your Selfie Game By Copping Some Hair And Makeup Tips And Tricks From Toni G!]
With her journey as new mother off to a great start, Toni still considers herself a work in progress, where every woman's experience is uniquely her own. "I think that is the worst thing mom can do to their child and to themselves, comparing themselves to other moms and other babies," shares Toni, "Every baby is different. You create your own system, you have your own method, you have your own rhythm that you follow and that's just for the two of you."
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Photographs from Vyn Radovan and Pampers Philippines