Betty’s Story

MaryRose Cobarde Candare
5 min readMay 27, 2024

Even before the advent of the WFH or work from home setup, I had been telling my school friends that my mother worked from home. This was over 35 years ago.

My dearest Mom Betty

I guess I was ahead of my time but to me it made perfect sense. My dear mother who looked after all ten of us children was at home, working hard.

Back in the day, I bet my classmates thought that perhaps it meant my mother had some kind of home business. These days, when someone is labeled as working from home, they actually hold professional posts or jobs that operate remotely. At the time and especially nowadays, surprisingly and sadly enough, when someone is not professionally employed, they are said to be “not working,” something which I have always found an outrage, particularly for stay-at-home mothers who labor hardest and longest to keep a healthy, happy home.

People would then quickly add, “I mean they don’t have a job,” which is hardly any consolation because it still does not recognize the hard work that comes with dedicated homemaking, day in and out, weekends, holidays and every minute in between. It minimizes the noble decision of focusing fully on the family particularly when the kids are still young. Nor does it give justice to the hardest job on earth — parenting, motherhood in particular.

Many stories have been written about shifting paradigms when it comes to stay at home mothers. But this is my story about my dearest mother Betty, or Mamu Boop as I called her.

This is Betty’s story.

My mother studied to be a teacher and ended up transforming her dreams into all that motherhood could offer. She used every skill, spent all her time, energy and focus on her family even before the birth of her first and long after the birth of her 10th child. I recall asking her, in her later years, why did you have so many children? Didn’t you ever want a break? I know family planning was not a big thing in our neck of the woods in Southern Philippines back in the 60’s and 70’s but surely the sheer exhaustion of it all, not to mention the financial toll it inflicted, would have led you to find ways and means to control the size of the family. She would just grin — the kind of grin that told me she had been asked the same question many times and still could not find the words to describe how it all came to be. She was not sure what to say, but I was certain she did not regret it even for a minute. This amazes me to this day.

Mama would cook and clean like no other. She tended to her plants the way she tended to our childhood wounds, with care and attention. She was driven to get up every morning, through sun and storm, by the never-ending tasks that lay ahead of her. Dawn was never too early, and midnights were common hours when she would nurse us back to health. With her ten children being mostly two years apart, she had the challenge of mothering college, high school and elementary students all at the same time. Without the luxury of automatic washing machines and electric irons, she broke her back making sure our uniforms were super neat and very well pressed. Seasons of sickness one after another stole what little rest she’d have after long days of chores and challenges.

Motherhood (as is fatherhood, I must acknowledge) is not merely a full-time job, it is a lifetime calling which beckons everything noble and nurturing in one’s character.

For those who, by choice or circumstance, end up working fully and exclusively at home, why not afford them the dignity they deserve and recognize their endless, often thankless job as real life’s work?

I say to all stay-at-home mothers, stop limiting your value with the usual, “I am just at home.” Do not think of yourself as less capable, less smart, or less deserving of respect, regard and yes, even reward. Your work matters in ways that are much more meaningful and profound. More permanent and transformational. Yes, don’t look down on yourself and don’t ever lose sight of your dreams.

On this note, this becomes my story, too. I never thought motherhood would make me change my mindset about personal success and achievement until I became a mother, surprisingly for a 3rd time, 11 years after my 2nd child. At the time, my first two children had reached an age where they were becoming less dependent on me. I was poised to pursue new possibilities. Then came my precious Max and all at once I was transported back to full on motherhood. All kinds of work taking a backseat. I became like my mama, but seven children less.

On second thought, I could never be like my mama.

Here’s why. One memory that stands out and speaks volumes about her tireless devotion are those noontime visits to our high school to bring warm, homecooked lunch for me and my sister Marge (the two youngest). That meant that after sending us off to school and doing her chores, she had to make her way to the market, then back home to cook, then take the long trip to our school to deliver lunch right on the dot. Can you believe that? I say only supermoms could muster that energy.

So yes, I could never be like my mama. She took it on with grit and grace. I am just getting by on goodwill. I’d often find myself asking, how would Mama deal with this? Yes, this is how I muster the energy and enthusiasm at home — by recalling how my mom did it all those years. With her sacrifices as my inspiration point (and a high bar at that), I carry on trying to be at home with being home.

I have been mothering through most of it — full-time job, freelance gigs, active and passive income. Amidst all projects and prospects, I could hear my Mama’s voice in my head telling me, “You go out and work.” She had always taken pride in my achievements. She would tell me I belonged far out there, beyond the home.

It was always I that reminded her that her youngest child could never do any work half as important as what she had done. She worked from home. Created a home. And that home will always be in my heart.



MaryRose Cobarde Candare

wonderer, author, content creator, editor, teacher and lifelong learner