How would you describe a supermom? For some it may mean being able to have perfect time management with household chores and work. For others it may mean being able to bake the best pastries and cook the most delicious food for everyday meals. For me however, being a supermom means making the most out of what one has and being able to prioritize and love her children wholeheartedly above anything else.
My entrepreneurship and business research teacher, Ms. Melissa Do, is a great example of what it means to be a supermom.
Ms. Melissa Do is a teacher, businesswoman, and mother of three. She continuously juggles teaching high school students, handling her businesses, and taking care of her children every single day. However, it’s even more of a challenge for her since her youngest daughter and son are both diagnosed with autism and is a single mom. How does she do it? She shares with us her journey and valuable insights below.
When did you find out that your two kids had autism? What was your initial reaction?
I have a daughter who is 8 and a son who is 9 years old. After I had my daughter in 2009, I had my son the year after. My daughter was delayed for 3 years and 6 months and was diagnosed with GDD. A year later, I consulted a different doctor and confirmed that she had autism. My son is more functional and was also diagnosed. When I found out they had autism, I was initially in denial. It was hard for me to accept. They looked so normal, and I couldn’t believe it so I talked to doctors and they told me the same thing. I thought they were just late bloomers and I didn’t want to accept the reality. However, I just tried to rationalize my situation and just make sense out of it. I would educate myself to learn more about people within the autism spectrum by reading more about them.
Did you encounter any signs prior to this that made you think that your children were different?
There were many signs that made me think that my children were different. When my daughter was in her developmental stage, she wasn’t able to do certain things her peers could do. She doesn’t sleep so well at night. I thought it was because of her excema at first since she had rashes all the time. But what really kept her up was her nature and inability to keep still. She also doesn’t really listen when you call her name and is very restless in general. My son is similar to my daughter, although he did more things. When you call him, he doesn’t look back and took him awhile until he was more aware of his name.
How were they when they were younger? What are their hobbies? Are they more into sports, arts, etc.?
My girl is into arts. She likes cooking, playing with animal toys (especially girraffes), and making crowns (the ones for princesses). She has a really wide imagination and enjoys pretend play. Sometimes she would even put makeup on our yaya! She is also more social with others. My boy on the other hand is really into musical games. He’s into patterns. He is very good at those iPad piano games and plays the drums whenever he goes to Timezone. He has great hand-eye coordination and is really fast. My boy usually plays by himself. Both my kids are into totally different things and they each have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Since they’re both so different, the don’t play together that much. They have OT, speech, and special school; teachers and counsellors deal with them differently.
How do you balance taking care of your children, teaching high school students, and handling a business at the same time?
It’s honestly really hard to balance. My kids need to go to school so I can work. Aside from teaching, I also need to handle my business well. Before, my husband used to oversee it. Since his passing, it got a whole lot harder. I get lots of help from the nannies since they help with alot of the household chores. As soon as I get home from work, I spend time with all my children most especially on the weekends. I try my best to avoid them from using gadgets and have quality time with them. So far, it’s been okay. I haven’t really reached my limits but it’s still difficult. I’m still firguring things out; it’s a continuous process for me. When my husband was alive it was like a well oiled machine. Now, there’s an imbalance with the time that I spend. I have to adjust the time I spend on a certain thing. I have to respond fast to situations or else things change. I also have to adapt to my kids. They also change throughout time. They grow up and each have different problems.
Did you encounter people who were apathetic to your children’s behavior? How did you feel?
Yes! People were apathetic. I would sometimes think to myself, how heartless can they be? They try to impose rules on people like my kids like they have the authority to do so. They don’t understand my situation and people within the spectrum. I personally felt upset and embarrassed. Throughout time, you just learn and you dont think about those people; my kids are more important. I’ve come to that point wherein I don’t care what people think anymore; if people stare they aren’t educated enough. They should know and be aware of kids with special needs. People have to get used to them because that’s reality.
How can people understand people with autism better? What do you think the youth and adults can do to create an understanding environment to people within the spectrum?
There should be more movements that promote awareness. I personally think it should start with companies.
Last December in 2016 my son wanted to order McDonald’s since it was one of his favorite foods. It was the 31st; it was New Year’s Eve and McDo closed earlier. My son along with his nanny got there at 8 pm and discovered McDo was closed. They asked if they could order just a box of fries. However, they dont want to open anymore. If there’s anything one needs to know about kids with autism is that they are OC; he wanted to get fries specifically from McDonald’s. My son pleaded and cried on the floor in front of the store. He tried pushing himself to enter and even the yaya and tried going in. My yaya just asked for a box and explained my son’s condition and they wouldnt give it. No one was there to help her. No one around cared at all.
I drove fast from Ddsa and picked him up and went to another McDonald’s branch in Greenbelt. Luckily, they gave me a box there. This whole situation made me sad since McDo is such a big corporation and they aren’t aware of people with special needs and the fact that they offer PWD discounts is just ironic.
I hope that awareness and more understanding doesn’t only stem from corporations but also to different individuals. I hope one day people learn how to incorporate them in society to learn how to act and behave towards people within the spectrum.
If establishments knew how to handle these people, it would be so much easier for moms and families like me who have kids or relatives with autism since we get to handle in public easier. I tried emailing organizations in the past and but there was no action at all. There was no follow up or reply whatsoever. In all honesty, half measures and discounts for PWD’s don’t help. There should be full awareness and understanding from society. For me, that’s what really matters.
After interviewing my teacher, I was really left in awe. All this time I had no idea what she had been going through. I was really enlightened and touched by her story. I hope this inspires you to keep going no matter what kind of hardship life throws at you. And never forget that your own mom is always there for you no matter what.
Here’s to all moms all around the world! You all are super amazing in every way.
Thank you, supermom!