Metro.Style #HipAndHappeningMoms 2019: Vanessa Matsunaga-Sunga
These days, the hours of sleep she gets per night are practically down to zero, and getting her kids in the bath is the hardest thing in the world, oftentimes more complicated than rocket science. Don't even get her started about what it's like to keep a toddler preoccupied during a long-haul flight.
Vanessa Matsunaga-Sunga had always known that becoming a mother would be one heck of a challenge. But would she trade motherhood for any other experience in the world, one that doesn't involve energy-draining, patience-testing kids? Certainly, unequivocally, no.
She was built to be a mom, and there's nothing that could ever change her mind about the beauty of this life-changing milestone. Partnering with her husband Jun in nurturing their family of four, Vanessa knows she's exactly where she's supposed to be.
Having been blessed with a daughter, Isabella, and newborn son David, Vanessa has learned that all the chaos raising children brings can never eclipse the joy that comes with it. According to her, there's nothing in this world that can compete with the loving embrace of your children after a long day, or their uncontested belief that you are, indeed, the most super of all superheroes that ever lived. (Isabella thinks that Vanessa is as beautiful as Ice Princess Elsa, or even more so).
The truth is, the rough and tumble days are fleeting; what emerges from the (endearing) messiness of childhood is the forever bond between mother and child, and for Vanessa, nothing is too difficult to handle—not even picky eating habits—if this is what she can look forward to in the future.
Motherhood is tough, she says, but it's only tough on the surface. Underneath it all is one of life's most fulfilling journeys, one that Vanessa is well on her way on and is savoring every second, minute, and day of it.
How do you and your husband manage time with your kids?
"He works so I want to make sure that he has a full night of sleep, so most of the time at night, I’m doing the shift. But whenever he’s home, he’s 100 percent giving his attention to Isabella and David, and I love watching them. It’s such a sight."
What has been the biggest adjustment you've had to deal with when David arrived?
"I think the biggest adjustment that I had is the fact that I also have a toddler. I have to divide myself and attention, and make sure that both of them are taken care of and don’t feel neglected. It’s pretty tough. My sleep is down to zero now; I co-sleep with my baby."
How did you explain to your firstborn Isabella that she was going to be a big sister?
"She didn’t believe that I have a baby. She just thought I have a basketball, so every time she would see me, she would say, 'Oh, mommy has a basketball,' and I would be like, 'No, that’s a baby!'
"We didn’t know the gender until he was five or six months old. And when we found out, we said, 'This is your baby brother.' That’s when she started to understand that there was a baby coming, and we were very anxious—especially me. How was I going to prepare her? She was the center of my world.
"So before I gave birth, we bought gifts for her and we wrapped them for the time when she would meet her baby brother. We would tell her, 'This is a gift from your baby brother. He was so excited to see you,' and when she opened the gifts, she went, 'Thank you, baby brother.'
"We started there. It was actually the OB-GYN who told us to do it and it was the best advice."
How do you avoid favoritism between kids?
"There’s no such thing. They’re very different. You can't look at one and say they're better than the other one. You can’t compare a child and you have to know their value as individuals. You’re going to love them both; you just give all you have and you’re going to be the best mother to your children."
What parenting style do you and your husband practice?
"We have to be partners in terms of basically directing our children on what to do.
"Most of the time, I'm the bad cop, but it’s okay—as long as we don’t contradict each other in front of the children. That’s our rule. Even if I'm wrong, he tells me later. But in front of the kids, we need to be united. I don’t want them to go 'I'm going to tell mommy or I’m going to tell daddy.' I don’t want that kind of thing.
"They need to understand that we are one and that we are united—they cannot break that."
What advice on motherhood have you received from your own mom?
"Listen to your instinct. We just know. There’s this motherly thing that you know what’s happening with your child and what they need. So you have to listen."
"It’s amazing that when you get home, there’s someone running to you. That feeling is the most unbelievable and indescribable feeling in the world, and that’s what makes me love motherhood so much"
Photos from @vanessamatsunaga
Photography by Stan Ong
Production and set design by Indy’s Playground
Clothes from Gingersnaps, Talulah’s Closet, Monochromatic Baby, Billie Mallare, and Pottly & Tubby
Visit Metro.Style again for more #HipAndHappeningMoms Mother's Day special features.