The Sisters Schulze
I knew these beautiful sisters long before they were the GLAM-O-MAMAS they are now (to FIVE lovely little girls between them). We know they come from the iconic line of Revilla beauties (their mother is Cecilia Revilla-Schulze) and have many beautiful cousins and relatives. What’s interesting is the predominance of women in not just their own families but in their large extended family as well.
I sit down with Lexi (one of my very dear friends) and her sprightly baby sister Georgia to find out what it’s like growing up in a family where estrogen ruled and how that affected the way they are now raising their own new generation of little girls.
Mom of three girls (Nadia, 7 years old, Sonia, 3 years old, Katia, 10 months old), Georgia Schulze-Del Rosario is always on the go, splitting her time between being a mother, wife, events planner and model.
If you look up multi-tasking mama in the dictionary, eldest sister Lexi Schulze’s picture will probably pop up. I know first-hand how busy she is (I’m always trying to get an appointment on her calendar to simply catch up). She is a TV anchor on ANC (the ABS-CBN News Channel), Managing Editor of Metro Society Magazine and an events host, not to mention wife to Javi Berenguer-Testa and mother to two precious little girls, sweet Alba who is almost 7 and feisty Bruna, 18 months.
G-O-M: Tell us what is was like growing up in a family dynamic that is comprised of mostly women? (two sisters, seven titas and innumerable female cousins on just your Revilla side alone).
Georgia Schulze Del Rosario (G-D-R): It was really fun! We always had a person to turn to whether we needed a partner in crime, a shoulder to cry on, a friend to laugh with or just someone to be with. Growing up, I was so blessed to have older sisters to look up to. they truly are my best friends. And my cousins and Titas are wonderful too. In fact, I will be spending the Mother’s day weekend with my daughters, my Titas and Bianca and Chelsi (Cousins) :)
Lexi Schulze (LS): When I was younger, it never occurred to me that—in the grander scheme of things—the women far outnumbered the men in my life.
I suppose it was because my dad was really a strong presence in terms of discipline and presence. Although he worked hard to support us, he would come home every night in time for dinner, and we would always sit together as a family.
In addition, I was a bit of a tomboy as a kid, so I far preferred playing soccer or being on a skateboard with my boy cousins than playing “house” with the girls.
It was really only towards my late teens up until now that I have come to appreciate the support system of the female power that is my family. Priorities change, feminine problems and issues arise that beckon the support of fellow girls, and experiences that one goes through as a woman in general are much more understood and appreciated through the wisdom and cooperation of other women.
For instance, I wouldn’t know what to do without my sisters. Though we are all completely different from each other, there is this unspoken vow that we are there for each other no matter what. Though I have many girlfriends that I consider “sisters,” there’s a natural tendency to lean on your own flesh and blood.
My mother and her sisters are another story altogether. Growing up around them, it was more of watching a cackle fest as a spectator. Now that my sisters, cousins and I have all grown up and are considered part of the adult world (more often than not), it’s one big party of fun when we’re all together—only now, we’re part of the show.
I guess you could say that having the privilege of being part of a family bursting at the seams with genuinely caring women allows you to thrive in whatever you choose to become because you have a support system full of love, laughter, and people who always have your back.
Would you say that this shaped you from a young age to truly understand the nature of women?
G-D-R: I would like to believe it did but I still think that my Mother played the biggest role. When I look at my life now, she is always a point of comparison and the ultimate role model. She taught me through example how to be a great wife because she was so good to my Dad. She also showed me what it was to be a mother. Today, she shows me how to enjoy your life as a woman, a sister and a grand mother by being such a poignant person in the lives of those around her. Most importantly, I saw how devoted she was to God and I truly believe that she lives such a blessed life because of that.
What important lessons did you learn from all these “maternal” and “sisterly” figures in your life?
G-D-R: Asides from what I mentioned above from my mom, I feel the women around me taught me how to feel comfortable in my own skin and allowed me to be me by accepting and loving me for who I was. They always affirmed the positive things in my character and forgave the flaws. It gave me the confidence to really blossom into the woman that I am today.
LS: In terms of the women in my family, the most valuable lesson I always seem to take away from them is loyalty. They travel in packs, these girls…and nobody gets left behind or thrown to the wolves.
And when loyalty is coupled with kindness, another thing I take away is that it is not worth it to fight enemies or naysayers head-on with fury and hate. When nasty rumors or unfortunate circumstances surround any of us, we get blanketed with so much support from each other that there isn’t any need to retaliate to gain a false sense of justice.
If there’s one thing that the Revilla girls do well, it is that they handle life with a lot of grace.
What traditions have you kept and what have you left behind now that you have a family of girls all your own?
G-D-R: I feel like we left behind how we were spoken to growing up. When we were little, our titas and parents baby talked us and as children, conversations were so different between the adults and the children. I speak to my girls and my nieces in a way that allows them to feel they are at our level. I believe that that confidence will bring forth independence which is so important in today’s world. When you allow them to make their own decisions, they learn early how to make the right ones. Of course, topics of conversation are selective and always age appropriate. I have kept the tradition of loving them to bits and showing them everyday just how special they each are.
LS: Togetherness is something I still am very much a fan of. Being surrounded by family has gotten me through some tough times, and I’m certain it will help my girls in the future as well. So whether it be Sunday lunches with my parents, siblings and their families, playgroups with the cousins, or random gathering with our aunts…I will always be there if I can.
Would you have liked to have had more of an equal ratio of men in your life growing up?
G-D-R: NO, hahaha! I love how we did (and still do) outnumber the boys. My husband grew up with all boys…. I love them but in small doses. I am the epitome of a girl’s girl!
LS: I am who I am today because of both the men and women in my life. As I mentioned earlier, my younger years, I feel, were dominated by a strong dad and boy cousins. So I do believe there’s a part of me that’s taken in some fierceness from my male relatives, sprinkled with a lot of feminine spice from the rest of the brood!
Georgia, you became a mother at a very young age. Was it a difficult transition?
G-D-R: No, I was born to be a mother. I believe that with all my heart. Having daughters was truly the greatest blessing. Each one of them is special and unique. I don’t know how they managed but each one, in their own little way, owns my heart.
Lexi, your first daughter Alba was born premature. How did this shape you as a mother?
LS: You’re never really ready for motherhood. No manual can give you the proper tools for it. You learn it and get shaped as you go along. Alba’s entry into the world at 27 weeks and a pound and a half was completely unexpected, but it’s part and parcel of my story as a mom. My original plan was to play it all cool and not worry about scrapes and falls, but having to nurture a preemie into the rainbow of height and weight normalcy—and watch for any signs of abnormalities due to low birth weight—made me anything but cool.
Yet I survived the rough patch and am the proud mother of the most wonderful almost seven-year-old. And with her kind and warm demeanor came my eventual calm-down mode as a mom.
And much as the image of my first born in that incubator under saran wrap and bilirubin lights will never ever leave me, I don’t give her special treatment in terms of rearing and discipline. I am stern when I have to be, and always tell her that she is capable of achieving anything she wants to in life.
Premature babies is an advocacy so near to your heart. Tell us about it.
LS: I am a total believer of paying things forward. After Alba’s rough start yet amazing recovery, I try and reach out to other preemies every chance I get. Whether it be giving humble donations to the neonatal unit of the PGH, or helping mothers of preemies source viable breast milk…it’s my little way of thanking the universe for looking after my early warrior.
How would you say that motherhood has changed both of you?
G-D-R: I think it one of the bigger steps toward really becoming a woman. Each person will have a different process. For some, it may not be motherhood but it definitely was the case for me. A real woman is unselfish and there are few things that will make you forget yourself completely as becoming a mother will. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it took me from being a girl into really becoming a woman. I did have to go on the fast track toward maturity, which has its pros and cons. Other than that, I think i am the same person I always was, just with better sense and a much bigger heart.
LS: [Add a bucket of tears here.] I am an emotional mess, with high highs and low lows—but I am happy to have been given the opportunity to offer up my existence for the greater good of other people (i.e. my children). It is the best way to learn about complete selflessness.
Georgia, what are the advantages of being a young mama?
G-D-R: Growing up with your children, learning as they learn. And it does’t hurt looking more like a sister than a mother… and having an easier time maintaining a figure that I am happy with.
G-D-R: The same, growing up with your children and learning as they learn… You want to be the best you you can be when they come along and some of that comes with experience and maturity. I would have liked to be selfish for a bit longer and see more of the world and discover more of my passions. It is a trade off for sure, the key is to focus on the positive.
Lexi, the age gap between Alba and Bruna is quite big. Are you different as a mother now as opposed to your first time around?
LS: I wish I could say I was more relaxed the second time around, especially that Bruna came out at close to 38 weeks with hardly any glitches (save for my gestational asthma…yes, it exists!). Alas, it was almost as if I had to learn everything again!
But I think I am most wound up during the first year, when babies are most fragile and susceptible to illness. Bruna is now the most rambunctious one-year-old, super confident, brave as hell, and never willing to back down from getting what she wants. I foresee a lot of pushing and pulling with this one. And yet, when she smiles with those four teeth exposed, I try hard to fight my surrender. She’s a charmer, this one.
Being a working mother, do you consider yourself hands-on?
G-D-R: I am fortunate enough to do a good 70% of my work at home. It is not exactly quality time when I am on my computer or taking calls but at least it is time and they feel my presence. Long days away like when I am working a wedding or have a long photo shoot is still tough but it is easier now that they have their sisters to keep them company. I remember loving the company of my sisters growing up.
LS: Oh, the working mom vs stay-at-home mom debate—this is a tough one.
To my standards, I am hands-on. I am on top of their schedules, what they eat, when it’s time to go to the doctor for shots, what clothes they need. I am aware of everything that goes on in their days at all times.
Though I can’t say I am the best when it comes to being at my girls’ beck and call time-wise, I know that having a career makes me a better mom for them. Having my own identity outside of the home makes me more well-rounded as a woman, and I tend to appreciate going home all the more—knowing that I get to hear my girls laugh (the best sound in the world) as we stay in bed together reading stories and playing tickle torture until they finally nod off.
How do you balance motherhood with your career, husband and social time?
G-D-R: I try, but I do not always succeed. Some weeks I feel like it is all about the girls while other weeks I feel as though I lost so much time with them. That is usually when it is a heavy work week. I just try to make up for it. Individual time with each child is SO IMPORTANT. I will take Nadia (7 y/o) to have her hair/nails done, just the 2 of us. If it is alone time with Sonia (3 y/o) it is to Gymboree, Jamba Juice or to the park. Katia (10m mos) is easy, I just strap her on while I do my errands and she’s a happy camper.
Time with my husband is a different story. It is a 2 way street so it is so dependent on him as much as myself. He is an entrepreneur and a professional athlete which makes his schedule not just tight but erratic as well. But we try our best. date nights are sacred. My kids are usually in bed by 8:30 so if he is not training that is OUR time. If he is in training than it becomes ME time which is great as well. I go meet my girlfriends or the other soccer wives for nice dinner and drinks. Because I did start with my children young, I still enjoy the occasional night out on the town where I can get dressed and let lose.
What are you future plans? You’re not yet 30. Have you finished having kids? Or might there be more in the future?
G-D-R: Still undecided on more children. I am satisfied and happy with these 3 beauties but I would love to know what it is like to have a son. I would love a little boy that looked just like his Dad. But if it isn’t in the cards for us, I am happy to have my hands full with my tres marias!
Lexi, how different are you as a mother compared to your sisters?
LS: I’d say I am a combination of both my sisters in terms of mothering skills. Nicole is an advocate of the Montessori method of progressive learning coupled with strict rules of avoiding TV and junk food at all costs, and Georgia is the more lenient one who doesn’t sweat the small stuff. I try to emulate Georgia’s more natural, relaxed way, yet try and keep to my personal brand of discipline. I wish I had more of Nicole’s structured attack of mothering! Yet I do what I can as a working mom.
Who do you turn to for mothering advice?
How important is it for women to have a balance in their life between all the roles they take on (mother, wife, career woman, friend, individual)?
LS: Take time for yourself, WOMAN!
Case in point:
I recently took a three-week break from my life. I left my girls in the very capable hands of my husband (with help from my mom…and I suppose his as well), took proper leave from all my jobs, and rediscovered myself by going to America and just, well, being ME.
Lots of moms I knew gasped in horror (and probably judged me) at my bold decision to do so.
Others, though, applauded my efforts.
Mind you, it was not easy. Everyday, I looked for the smell of my one-year-old and the stories of my six-year-old. Skype was difficult because I wanted so bad to reach out and hug them.
And yet, in the blink of an eye…I was back. I got to know myself again. I have new and exciting goals. I have much more fervor for the work that I do. I am even more excited to be around my girls. And yes, I gave myself a chance to miss my husband (I am sure he welcomed the break from his Commander-in-Chief).
Moral of the story: never forget about the very important factor in the equation that is your life…YOU.
Any advice for mothers out there on how to achieve this much coveted but more often than not elusive ideal?
LS: All mothers have their own lives to lead and stories to tell, so it’s really hard to write out a good formula that will work for everyone.
With me, I do two things:
First, I have every activity and appointment penciled in; without this, I cannot move or function.
Second, and more importantly, I just really do what I can—I wake up, take a deep breath, and focus on each task I have ahead of me to the best of my abilities. Wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, I’m there 100%.
And finally, what is the secret to your happy families?
G-D-R: There is none… There will always be both good times and bad. I think I try to enjoy the good when it is here and be thankful for it. As for the bad, there is nothing else to do but brave the storm and know that it does not last forever. It is all in the way you look at your life. You can choose to see what is positive or you can focus on the negative. Though it isn’t always easy, the former truly makes things better.
LS: Although true balance is a myth, I think the honest intention to do so helps a whole lot. As long as there is true love and devotion there—love of husband, love of children, love of work, love of self…things work themselves out.
Of course, great sex helps too. ;)
July 24, 2012 by Amanda Griffin-Jacob