Sonya D. Sanchez
The ever-cheerful 27-year-old walked up to me somewhat uncharacteristically and spoke to a hush voice, “I’m sorry but I have to leave at 4 today because I have to go home to take care of my twins.
This simple statement goes a long way in showing Sanchez has prioritised her children above all else. "I can’t express enough how much I wanted this,” she says. "If I couldn’t sleep at night, I’d think about having children, and how that would feel like, and that would put me at ease and put me to sleep.”
When Sanchez entered a beauty pageant at age 19, she proudly proclaimed that all she wanted to be when she grew up was to be a mum. “People were saying they wanted to be astronauts and lawyers. I understand that having career aspirations is the norm in society but I never cared too much about it,” she explains. “Everyone tried to change my mind, even my family members. They said things like, ‘You're too young to get married,’ and ‘You need to live your life first’.”
Advice like that hardly made sense to Sanchez who wanted nothing more than to have children. “Why did I have to live a life I didn’t want to live before having kids?”
Prior to becoming a mother, Sanchez had been a model for 10 years. “My life was a mess,” she laughs. “I wasn’t focused. My mind just wasn’t in the right place. But when I had kids, my life came together so perfectly.”
Today, Sanchez spends her days taking care of her twins, and speaking directly to a diverse audience of just over 300,000 via her social media account that offers a candid peek into her glamorous life as a mother of two. She’s also in the midst of starting a website, which she will announce by the end of the year.
“For me, living simply and just focusing on what’s important is the message I want to spread. Health, passion, family, relationships, and contribution to society are what’s most important, and anything that doesn’t fall within those things aren’t worth doing.”
Bella Koh didn’t initially want to have children. “It wasn’t a life my husband and I felt we wanted. I think the fact that we had eight cats shows that,” she laughs. “But then we started asking ourselves what we were going to do when we’re 70. Are we just doing to sit down and stare at each other? It was about legacy. We wanted someone to carry on our values, and beliefs.”
What may have started as a desire to pass on knowledge and values became a journey of self-discovery for Koh. “As happy as I was to be having a child, I still found motherhood and being a parent daunting because I didn’t think I had natural maternal instincts,” Koh recalls. “Maybe I was a little selfish but I couldn’t see myself giving up my personal time.”
All those feelings, however, quickly dissolved two weeks into becoming a mother. “I remember sitting there and breastfeeding my daughter. And it just dawned on me how much she needs me, and how responsible I have to be for her. Everything changed from that moment,” Koh recalls.
Becoming a mother meant that Koh was able to almost live life all over again through her daughter. “When she goes through certain events or emotions, I think back to when I was her age, and reflect on what I went through. It’s funny now that I’m in the position of a parent because now I understand why my own parents did certain things,” she laughs.
But more than that, her daughter has given Koh direction in her career as she crafts and conducts cooking workshops and recipes, as well as jewellery designs for S L O W H O U S E — a food, parenting, health, clean beauty, conscious fashion and lifestyle destination that provides consumers and brands a glimpse into their creative process while concocting holistic meals and calm spaces.
“It may not be able finding a balance between family and career,” Koh explains. “I am more purposeful. My daughter is at the centre of everything I do. She has brought everything together. And I feel that, in many ways, she is leading me."