Amanda Griffin-Jacob, Patti Grandidge-Herrera, Tricia Centenera, Cristalle Belo-Pitt, Vanessa Matsunaga-Sunga, Prasana Lee, and Jes Tan Gan celebrate the power of coming together for something greater than themselves
Motherhood has gone through a bit of a makeover throughout the years. Needless to say, we’ve come a long way from the timid housewife of the 50s but the age-old adage continues to ring true: it takes a village to raise a child.
Modern parents everywhere built communities around them. People to ask, people they can turn to, and more importantly, people they can trust. It’s a new form of chosen family, one that aims to provide not just advice on childcare, but bonds to be cherished.
Amanda Griffin-Jacob formed the Baby Bunch back in 2018 and describes it like a crazy game of telephone, “I got in touch with Patti. Patti got in touch with Cristalle and it just snowballed from there,” she began. “We just did playgroups. It’s kind of like a support group and I’m so happy because through the babies we all became good friends.
From the Beginning
“We all had our babies at the same time. I personally wanted Kyle to have friends his own age and I wanted to have friends that have babies because most of my friends are done having babies since [Kyle’s] my fourth,” began Amanda.
Much like a game of telephone, Tricia Centenera says it all happened organically, “I think it was just a matter of mummies wanting support from each other. Our kids were all born within a 6 month span. We all work in the industry and we’re all friends with each other. We thought ‘why don’t we just throw our kids into a photo and see how it goes.’”
And so it began. Coming back from Singapore, Amanda invited Patti Grandidge-Herrera on a playdate with her son Neo. Patti brought Jes Tan Gan with her, and from there they added Cristalle Belo-Pitt, Prasana Lee, Tricia Centenera, and Vanessa Matsunaga-Sunga.
It reminds Amanda of a mini-version of her other community, the Glam-O-Mamas, but what’s different this time around is that the Baby Bunch gives her a fresh point of view that she had missed dearly. “I get to experience first-time motherhood again through their eyes as a veteran with four babies. I’d forgotten what it was like because my first baby was 10 years ago and I just love hearing about their experiences and what they think about it. It introduced the wonder of motherhood back to me and it really makes me appreciate and cherish those moments.”
Cristalle Belo, on the other hand, is in fact a first-time mom, and she’s equally grateful for having the Baby Bunch to guide her. “You can read about motherhood online, but what really helps me is having this community of moms, especially those who already have experience” she shares.
Beyond the nuggets of wisdom, it’s also the sense of camaraderie that gets them through, Cristalle shares, “It’s funny, the things we talk about go from the grossest to the funniest. Poop, snot, vomit, and all these other things and it’s just the funniest stuff. It’s comforting to know that you’re going through the same things. Sometimes we’d text each other in the middle of the night because we’re all breastfeeding so there’s always someone to talk to.”
When it came down to a name, they admit that it took a while to get there. Vanessa Matsunaga-Sunga shares, “It was an ordeal, we were talking in the chat for a long time. Throwing names here and there. Then ‘Baby Bunch’ came up and everyone absolutely loved it.”
Parenting Then and Now
The age of information opened a floodgate when it came to parenthood, and the changes have been obvious.“I think compared to my parents, now there’s just so much more info and resources that we read about everything,” shares Patti Grandidge-Herrera. “I feel like our parents just did it on the fly and for our generation, we like knowing our options and reading up on everything and doing what resonates with us. Maybe we’re a little bit more crazy but it is what it is.”
Tricia Centenera adds, “I think social media used correctly is fantastic. I mean, look at the Baby Bunch moms. We’re using it in a positive way. We’re using it to spread a positive message to moms that it’s okay to not be okay. If you need help, ask for it. No one is gonna judge you. Different mothering and parenting techniques are okay. If you’re doing your best that’s all your child needs of you. That’s the message we’re trying to spread.”
Things like mom-shaming have luckily been scarce for their community but they’re not throwing caution to the wind. “I don’t think I’d be the mom I am today if it wasn’t for social media and the availability of information so I’m very thankful for it, but I also do recognize that you have to have your limit,” shares Jes Tan Gan.
Sharing a space that’s free of judgement and encourages thinking and new ideas has proven great for the moms. There’s an understanding among them that parenthood isn’t one single formula. Jes makes it clear: “All of us are different moms. It doesn’t have to be by the book, and at the end of the day everyone who loves their kids will be fine.”
She adds, “Sometimes I think we get so overwhelmed with information that moms just constantly question themselves, but the fact that we’re all doing it differently and everyone’s turning out fine proves that we’re all gonna be okay. I think the most important thing is trusting your instinct, listening to yourself, and knowing yourself and your children.”
Learning (and Unlearning) the Meaning of Self-Care
If there’s one thing the baby bunch universally agrees on, it’s that self-care is essential. Much like parenting, there’s no one way to practice self-care but there’s actually a wrong way to do it. Patti learned as much through her own journey, “It took me a while. I was doing little things. I was doing mani-pedis and massages, but something that I’ve taken on now is pilates. The benefits of pilates are gonna be longer than a mani-pedi. Also, I’m happy that I’m slowly making time for myself, cause it’s truly important.”
She shares the same love for pilates as Amanda, while Tricia and Vanessa share the same devotion for their faith. “I think everything comes from within even if I don’t take care of myself on the outside, as long as I keep myself sane and in a good position inside I’m good,” shares Vanessa.
On Their Journey
Much like most of life, there is no set path for parenthood. As the kids grow older, newer, more complicated challenges will arise. This doesn’t even factor in how different each kid is, but no matter how hard it gets, the Baby Bunch is there to offer support. Jes elaborates, “We always share information with each other, whether it’s taking classes about child development with Cristalle or Amanda and I both being green mamas. All of us talk about mom hacks like when our kids are sick. It’s a safe space for us to talk about anything.”
At the end of the day, the important thing is that the kids are alright. Amanda candidly explains, “I’m trying to raise them to be good people and sometimes it terrifies me. It’s what keeps me up at night because it’s such an awesome responsibility. Every day with my children is such a blessing. It’s chaotic, crazy, hilarious, and full of so much love but it’s also challenging. It’s the most rewarding role I’ve ever had and I love being a mom.”
For every fear that a parent has, it’s important to keep centered by a guiding principle. Patti shares, “I think just being present. Just being there for him. I just think it’s so important to bond and connect with your child. Like you could be sitting next to him but no connection. Be really present and I think the rewards are priceless.”
Tricia and Vanessa, on the other hand, believe in the value of valuing themselves so their kids have role models to look up to. “Motherhood is part of who I am, and I love it, and I’m passionate about it, but I’m also passionate about being the best that I can for myself because that will spill on to my daughter,” shares Tricia, while Vanessa believes in the power of confidence, “You have to be confident to inspire confidence in your kids. I want them to be confident that they can do things because I think that really makes a great change in the future.”
Jes closes, “You can try to prepare for everything but that’s the beauty and challenge of motherhood. It’s not linear. The community, the tribe is so real and that’s what’s so important to me.”
Photo by Dix Perez/Art by Camille Manaligod