Like most life experiences, becoming a parent changes a person in so many ways.
In the case of singer-songwriter Barbie Almalbis-Honasan, being a mother has taught her to become more patient, understanding, and appreciative of simple joys.
In a recent interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), the new ambassador for children's milk brand Nido, shared the biggest life lessons she has learned—so far—from being a mom to daughter Stina, 6, and son Liam, 4.
KEEP IT COOL. Barbie admits that in the beginning, "I really used to worry a lot kasi parang ang tendency ko is to control. Parang gusto ko lagi nandito na lang sila [kids], parang gusto kong i-control lahat ng bagay para hindi sila masaktan, iyong gano’n.
"Kasi, it’s like... They say nga, di ba, na having a kid is like having your heart walk around outside your body, so talagang nararamdaman mo, e, parang, pag natumba sila, it’s like your heart [gets hurt also]."
Reacting hysterically whenever the kids get into an accident—even something as minor as losing balance while walking—is one bad habit that the mom of two has learned to get rid of.
"Pag natumba kunwari si Stina, I would, like, sumisigaw talaga ako, nagpa-panic talaga ako, and then she would always cry.
"And then, one time, my wise husband, parang he realized na it was actually my reaction that’s making her cry; so sabi niya, gayahin ko daw siya kasi siya cool lang.
"So, iyon, it was… I realized din na totoo nga, and when I stopped really reacting that way, parang I’d say, 'Oh, you can do it, you can do it,' parang nag-stop din iyong [pag-iiyak] niya. She became more confident."
According to Dr. Lilian Leynes-Juadiong, child expert and associate professor at the Family Life and Child Development Department of the College of Home Economics of UP Diliman, children end up becoming better adults when they are given opportunities to learn how to assert themselves in stressful situations.
ALL CHILDREN ARE DIFFERENT. Another major lesson that Barbie learned about parenting is to keep in mind that not all children are wired the same.
She tells that Stina and Liam are "Super different. I guess like with most families din, sobrang… as in sobrang iba talaga iyong personality nilang dalawa.
"Liam is actually more… well, he likes to, especially now that he’s three, he likes to climb. Talagang tine-test niya iyong limits niya. Kahit ano kakainin niya. Basta iyong kailangan niyang masubukan lahat.
"But even if he’s like that, he’s really the more reserved one. He can just sit down, and then like, even watch a movie, talagang he can stay put.
"And sometimes... well, he loves airplanes now, so he can look at a picture of an airplane for 30 minutes. He will just sit there and look, ako naman nabo-bore na ako, parang 'Can we, like, watch a movie?' And he’s like, 'No, watch with me,' so iyon.
"Si Stina naman, she’s the total opposite. She likes interaction, talagang no dull moments with her. Parang, if I’m working, she’d be beside me and ask me a question all the time, so talagang [madaldal].
"And, right now, favorite niyang play is role playing, so she loves to ano, na lahat kasali kami. Ako iyong ganyan, siya iyong doctor, siya iyong cook, iyong gano’n. Basta laging may [diversity], so they’re very different."
In interacting with them, Barbie says she tries to keep up with each child's interest and give them each enough attention.
MUSIC IS A WAY OF LIFE. Being a musician, Barbie always thought that she would be the one influencing her kids to learn how to appreciate music.
But she was surprised to discover later on that her children are actually far bigger music lovers than her.
"Yeah. Iyon nga, you know, parang music is a part of my day now more than before.
"Kasi before, it used to be just my work. But now, you know, like even in our daily life, it’s something that we do together.
"And, yeah, the music they listen to, it’s also the music I listen to now. Actually, nagagandahan ako sa mga kids' songs ngayon."
She adds that her kids are, right now, very much into the songs from the Barbie movies, and the soundtrack of the Disney animated film Frozen.
"I think natural na yata sa kanila that they love music, ‘tsaka nagagamit namin kasi effective siya na [teaching tool].
"Like, dati hindi sila nagpa-pack away ng toys nila, pero noong ginawan namin ng 'Pack Away' song... Actually, ginaya ko lang siya. I heard it somewhere before, and now we do it at home, so now they’re very excited to pack away because there’s a 'Pack Away' song.
"So, gano’n, basta mga things like that, like if you say it in a song, parang they can’t resist it."
BOOST YOUR CHILD'S CONFIDENCE. More than singing and listening to different songs, Barbie is also introducing her children, at this early age, to songwriting.
The reason, she says: "Para lang hindi sila ma-intimidate about songwriting, para they’ll think that it’s something that they can easily do.
"Tinuturuan ko silang magsulat din para maging natural lang sa kanila magsulat ng song, so sometimes we would have play arguments, but it’s actually in a song form.
"And then sa instruments naman, like drums, they’ve started to play and they’re starting to have an interest in, like, sa ukelele, gano’n.
"We don’t really force it. It’s just a part of our play, music is a part of it."