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Tyff Short: From Single Mom to Entrepreneur Mom

Tyff Short: From Single Mom to Entrepreneur Mom

From the time I met Tyff Short in November 2020, I already knew that we shared similarities, from our single motherhood stories to our love language which is “acts of service.”

While, in a different universe, there may not have been a chance for us to be friends, we knew that us meeting in this lifetime was no incident but, instead, part of a divine plan.

Hence my joy when Tyff said yes to this interview on short notice; my first interview on video since joining Hello Doctor as Editor-in-Chief.

Pardon my awkwardness; I have never been at ease in front of the camera. Enjoy Tyff’s story, her advice to other single moms, and her beauty both inside and outside. — KLM

[Transcript]

Kai Magsanoc: Hi, Tyff! How are you?

Tyff Short: Hi, Kai. I’m doing great. It’s been hectic, but fulfilling.

KM: Okay. Well, speaking of fulfillment, I’m just so glad you’re my first interview in Hello Doctor. So in my series of interviews, in the stories I will be doing for Hello Doctor, you’re my first subject.

TS: Aw, I’m so happy. The first of many great interviews for you, Kai, I’m sure. And I’m so happy to be the first one.

KM: Thank you, Tyff. Well, it’s May, it’s Mother’s Day Month, so thank you for — I know you’ve been interviewed so many times as a businesswoman, also as a mom, and as a woman. The things you’re into. But let’s focus on motherhood, because I know that it’s probably the most important role or the most important job you’ve ever done in your life.

So Mother’s Day was May 9. How did you and Keene celebrate?

TS: Well, for the first time, we stayed home. Of course, because of the lockdown and the restrictions. But also because he surprised me.

I came up to him, Mother’s Day morning, and I was like, “So what do you wanna do today? Should we just go around, do al fresco dining?” And then he said, “Well, I was thinking of cooking carbonara.” I was like, “What? For dinner?” And he said, “Yeah, I’ll try.”

So he cooked for us, for the first time ever. It was his first time to even slice garlic or peel up garlic, it was so funny but I was so happy. It was simple, very simple, but of course meaningful, and sweet. The only time I get to have rest days will always be when we get to have dinner together, we watch a movie, we bond.

So it was simple, we had dinner, and he also chose a movie for us to watch, and we did. That’s just about it, nothing fancy, nothing big at all. Very simple and just the two of us. I’m so happy.

KM: I’m so happy for you, I know the feeling. Even when my son cooks Spam for me, for me that’s the most delicious Spam.

TS: Yeah. It was funny though; he was kinda disappointed. It’s his first time to cook and first time to cook carbonara. He knows how to fry hotdogs, and those easy to fry foods. But this time, he cooked from scratch, and I was so proud of him.

But he was kinda disappointed ‘cause he wanted the carbonara to be creamier, but it didn’t turn out creamier. I was like, “It’s okay, I love it.” I ate two full plates para lang he doesn’t feel bad about it. It was really nice.

KM: That’s nice. So Tyff, I know it has been a while, and you probably have quite a long story to share, because Keene is already a teenager. How young is Keene?

TS: Not even, he’s 20. He’s 20 years old! He turned 20 last month.

KM: So you’ve raised a man, you’ve raised an adult. Congratulations, Tyff.

TS: Yes, I did, thank you.

KM: I know this might be too much, but can you share with us your motherhood journey? I don’t know how you’re gonna summarize 20 years in three minutes, but — we were raised to think that when you have a family, a family should have a mother, a father, a child, or more.

And we all aspired for that, but not all of us were blessed with that. You were given the important mission of being mom and dad to a man like Keene. So if you could share your motherhood journey…

Tyff with her son Rafael Keene
Tyff with her son Rafael Keene

TS: My gosh, this will make me cry. Of course it wasn’t an easy journey for myself and my son. I gave birth at a very young age, I was 18, and kinda lived in with my first boyfriend, which is his biological father. It didn’t work out, so before he turned a year old, I was already solely providing for myself and him.

It was pretty difficult, because being a teen mom, I had guidance from my mom, but she was out of the country most times. So pretty much, it was just myself and siyempre, you’re a teen mom, you don’t have financial support from anyone and from the father of your son. You had to do everything para makatipid ka.

So I would do cloth diapers every single day, can you imagine? And I would only use the disposable diapers at night, or when we go out, which we barely went out. And then I breastfed him for almost two years.

He was already growing up, I had to provide for him. I had a choice whether to pursue and finish 4th year high school — because I was not able to graduate 4th year high school — or to get a job and provide for the both of us. Of course, I chose the latter. I took on numerous jobs.

While he was growing up, and I was working, I would always make him understand the value of money, especially that I came from nothing. I didn’t come from a well-off family. I remember, he would always say when he was growing up, everytime we go to a supermarket, a grocery store, and he wants something, even as simple as bacon, or a little toy, he would be like, “Mom, if you have enough money, if you get to save enough money, can you buy me this?”

So I knew that moment I was doing something right, because he was finally getting to understand the value of what I’m working hard for.

I didn’t want him also growing up hating on his father, or growing up to have resentment, so everytime he asked about his father, I would just simply tell him he’s busy, or he’s busy with his school, he’s busy with work. I wasn’t also the type wherein just because his father was not financially supporting me, I would be selfish and not let him visit my son.

It was pretty difficult, but I think after a year or two, he started visiting my son. So he grew up knowing his father, but then again, no financial support, no other support. I didn’t hold it against him, and I just wanted him to grow up not having any resentment.

There are times, though, that I would ask him, even now, even today, I would ask him, “Have you ever felt incomplete because it was only myself? And you didn’t have a dad to grow up with?” And he would always say no.

For me, that’s fulfilling, and I would always assure him that, “I know, in your school, you’re surrounded with your friends, and they have a ‘complete’ family, they have mom and dad. Even if you don’t have a father, even if it’s just you and me, we’re still complete, and I’ll do everything possible for you to have the best life and the brightest future. That’s why I really worked my life night and day.”

The best part is that every Father’s Day, he greets me. He would always greet me, “Happy Father’s Day, Mom.” He knows I’m the mom and the dad of the family. And everyday, his smile and the simple hugs and kisses I get from him, it’s already a true testament and proof that I did something right. And the fact that he’s a selfless, amazing, wonderful human being, it’s enough.

Of course I had self doubts before, but I continuously just kept telling myself that I’m enough, I’m enough for my son, and he grew up to be this wonderful person. I hope I answered your question.

KM: Yes, of course. Tyff, you’ve raised a man, a young adult. What was it like when he was going through his awkward years? Adolescence, he was discovering girls. When he had questions about relationships and intimacy, is that the kind of relationship you had with him? That he can talk to you about anything?

TS: Yes, but also at the same time, there were topics that were too awkward for me. Excuse me, everytime I talk about my son, I cry, it’s such a tearjerker. Everytime I go back or think about all the things we’ve been through, it triggers the emotional side of me.

There are parts that are yes and no, because there are parts that are awkward. He grew up to be a very cautious kid, cautious in a way wherein he values how much I work hard, and I’m usually straightforward with him. I’m not like, “I have to talk about the birds and the bees.”

No, I’m very straightforward and I tell him, “You know mom’s story, I gave birth to you at a very young age. So I’m gonna be very clear with you right now, I’m not ready for that. I know you’re responsible, and I know I can trust you. I will support you, with your girlfriend, whoever you fall in love with, whoever you’re happy with, but I don’t wanna be a grandmother yet.”

I tell him, “Just be responsible, I know you already know this, and I fully trust you. I don’t want history to repeat itself. I want you to have your family of course when you’re ready, when you can provide for your family.”

But of course, if it’ll be given to us, if that happens by accident, of course we will accept it. But for now, I give him those reminders. And of course, he would spend time with his father, twice a year. So they get to have that conversation.

There are topics that I leave it with him and his father. Or of course, I also ask my close male friends, like if they could talk to my son. It’s still awkward for me, I swear.

There was one time I found a condom in his room, and the yaya came up to me and said, “Ma’am, there’s a condom in his room,” for the first time. And I was like, “Okay, we just have to accept it, at least he’s being safe.” It’s all about acceptance, and just trusting him and continuously reminding him.

He assures me that he’s not ready for that, he doesn’t see himself having a family at a young age. He really wants to pursue his goals and ambitions and what he wants to become when he’s ready.

KM: So you’re a mom-dad all these years. You don’t show it, but I know it’s so difficult. There are many times where you feel like there’s nothing more that you can give, but you still have to give. They say you can’t pour from an empty cup, but when you’re a single mom, no matter how empty that cup is, you have to be ready to pour.

TS: I’d say that I just have to make sure that I never run out of cups, or I never ever will have an empty cup. It always has to be overflowing. Before I run out of what’s in my cup, I have to take a break and recharge, put my own oxygen first. Because if I go empty, I’m gonna lose my mind. Especially when he was younger.

Unlike in a normal family setting, wherein when you’re tired of your child, you just ask your partner, “Hey, take care of your child. I can’t deal with this now. Do your thing with him, take care of him.” There’s always someone that you can just pass on your responsibility to.

But when you’re a single mom, acting as the father and the mom at the same time, there’s no one else to do that. You have to be the one to deal with it, or face the good, the bad, and the ugly, and those different moments you’ll have with your child. So I cannot have an empty cup, I always have to ensure that it’s overflowing so I can continuously care for him as a happy mom.

If I’m not a happy mom, we’re both gonna be miserable. I think that’s the best part of — not the best part, but the best way to deal with an ugly situation or those moments wherein you have to deal with your child in a not-so-ideal way is you have to be happy. If you’re a happy mom, it’s easier to deal with those things.

KM: So how has motherhood changed you as a woman for the better? Let’s talk about the 3 best things about motherhood that has shaped you into the entrepreneur that you are today, for example.

TS: Wow. Of course, when you’re a mom, there are always fears that you never knew existed. It’s like you’re always feeling mixed emotions. You’re scared, you have self-doubts, like, “Can I do this? Can I raise him? Can I provide for him on my own?” And it still applies now. What happens if this doesn’t turn out well? Sa’n kami pupulutin ng anak ko? Or should I just give him back to his father, like, “Ikaw na bahala sa kanya, I can’t do this anymore.”

I guess it taught me that it’s the grit, having that grit whatever happens.

Also, simple as it is, just looking at him, I’m always grateful. It’s just radiating more gratitude every single day.

And 3, it really taught me to be selfless. Truly selfless. If it’s not for myself being a mom, especially being a single mom, I don’t know if I can — I’m actually weak, I’m a very weak person.

When I gave birth to Keene, that molded me to become a strong woman, independent, and now I can just truly feel that I can take on anything, and just conquer the world because of what I’ve been through with my motherhood journey, which is not easy and is not your normal motherhood story.

Those qualities I guess now are also what I use to sustain the businesses or the companies that we have right now. I look at him, and he just fuels me to keep going. It’s a reminder of everything that we’ve been through. Because of him, I just keep going.

I continue to have that grit, gratitude, resilience, and being selfless in a way because he has a good heart, and I would always ask him, “If it’s just you and me, it’s easy to migrate to another country and start a new life, live a simple life. Mabubuhay tayong dalawa, we don’t have to be responsible for so many people.”

And I would kid around and say, “Pack your stuff, are you gonna go with me?” And he’s like, “No. Why would you do that mom? What’s the sense, you have all these pople depending on you. There’s no use if you give up now, you might as well just keep going and continue what you started.”

It’s also because of him that I continue to build these businesses, these companies, continue to work hard. Not because of the money, not because of acquiring material things, but because we just want to make a difference and continue to be selfless about it. My personal savings — and he knows that — “Love, your future is already in the company for the employees’ salary.” He admits also about helping other people and becoming selfless and he just gives and gives and gives.

KM: Okay. I think I originally wanted to segue into the second part of this interview to your many businesses, but I think if we do that now, it would take away from the beauty of what you just shared about Keene. Let me just say that Keene’s life now is so intertwined with your causes, and I think it’s wonderful, it’s exciting, because he will be continuing the legacy you’re building, Tyff.

TS: Yeah, but he doesn’t want to be my successor. He’s like, “Mom, I’m sorry, I cannot take on — I can’t be your successor. I see you cry, I see you work, I see all your anxiety, your stress, I don’t know if I’m ready for that.” But of course, he’s just messing around with me, but yeah.

KM: But that means he’s already thinking about it. I’m confident. You’re still raising him, so I’m pretty sure he’s still emulating you, Tyff. And that’s great news for everyone in your different businesses.

TS: Yeah. I did ask him last week, during our Mother’s Day dinner, I asked him, “So what’s your plan? Are you still going to become a pilot?” He said, “I would love to, mom, but then my — ” Kasi he has poor eyesight. “But then also because of what’s happening, I’d have to reassess my goals in life and my plans.”

And then I assured him, “You know, Love, whatever you want to pursue in life, whether you still wanna become a pilot or whether you want to be — anything to do with computer programming, cloud security, security engineer, whatever you want — I’ll support you all the way. I don’t want you to feel that just because I’m a single mom and when the time comes you’re gonna have your job, and you’ll provide for yourself, you’re gonna be successful, you’re gonna be earning, I don’t want you to think that you’re financially responsible for me. As long as I live, I wanna be that parent wherein even if I’m already 73 years old, I can still reach out in my wallet and give him whatever I have like, ‘Here’s P1000, buy whatever you want’.”

I told him, “I didn’t bring you into this world to work and provide for me when I grow old. I want you to live your life how you want it, as long as you’re happy, as long as you’re gonna be healthy, as long as you’re gonna be with someone you truly love.” So we do have our own talks.

And he always asks me, “How about you mom? Don’t you have plans like dating?” But he knows me so the focus is work. He worries at times. “Mom, if you keep being scared, you’re gonna end up alone. Of course, I’m still gonna take care of you, but I want you to be with someone. Someone to grow old with.”

KM: That’s so nice of him. Well, I look forward to meeting him.

TS: Yeah, that’s why when you’re ready I can now — by the way, Rockwell just said I can now accept 5 guests in my unit, but of course we’re still careful. Sabi ko nga sa ’yo, if you’re gonna come out here, you’re gonna be my first guest. My last guest was Gretch back in Feb(ruary), so yeah. It should be fun. I’m just here, it’s just me and Keene here at home. And employees lang, they come here if I can’t go to the office. They come here but they stay at a staff house so they’re still safe.

KM: Okay, okay. My last question, Tyff — lately I’ve been meeting a lot of young, single moms. Imagine Tyff, we had a chance to work real jobs. Get out there, network, and meet people face to face. These young, single moms today are having to make ends meet by working virtual jobs.

There are some of them who work more than one, more than two, maybe. There’s that added burden, not just to the mom, the mental and emotional effect of the pandemic, the anxiety. Especially if their kids are babies.

So your word of advice to them, Tyff? How do they pull through a time like this?

TS: Gosh, I love that question. I do get a lot of messages and questions on my Instagram a lot, and I believe about 70% are single moms who follow me on Instagram.

I want them to keep telling themselves that they are enough for their child. Most single moms would stay in a bad situation with their partner because they’re having so much self doubt, that they have a mindset that they won’t be able to make it if they don’t have their partner with them, even if it’s already an ugly situation.

They’re also scared because of the financial burden, because again, when you’re a single mom, you’re basically carrying a load that is meant to be for two. There will be constant self-doubt when you’re a single mom. And I’ve been in that situation.

So, to all the single moms out there, continue to believe in yourself. Do not entertain self-doubt, that will be your number one enemy. If you entertain self-doubt and your fears, you won’t be able to raise your child. Emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, it will be really tough.

So just continue to believe in your capabilities, keep reminding yourself that there shouldn’t be anything to hinder you from providing a better future for your son.

If you’re in an ugly situation with a partner, please leave that situation. Again, you’re enough. It’s still gonna be complete, even if it’s just you and your child. You have to stay strong, be more resilient than ever. You’ll be needing this, for yourself and for your son, and of course you have to have a strong support system. Don’t deprive yourself of a support system, you need your friends around you.

You also need to take a break. There will be times wherein you just wanna lock yourself up in a room and scream your heart out, and tell yourself that you can’t do it anymore, your child is next door crying and crying. It’s tormenting. It can be really tormenting. That’s why you need to take a break.

Do not feel guilty if you have to leave your child with a friend or your mom. Take advantage of that situation. This is the time wherein you can take a reset, reenergize, take a breather. You know what they always say during flights, you have to put your oxygen first before your child, because if not, you both will not survive.

So you have to take time to take care of yourself. It always starts within you, it always starts with yourself. You’re not gonna be able to take care of your child if you cannot take care of yourself.

And of course, as much as it’s easy to hate on the father of your child, don’t do that. Don’t ever say anything negative to your child about his or her father. If not for him, you won’t have your child. Every child is a blessing, and you don’t want your child to grow up with resentment. You also don’t want him to grow up carrying that anger, that hatred, that you’ve kept telling him. It’s easy na, “‘Yung tatay mo, iniwan tayo.” Don’t. Just don’t say that.

Focus on yourself, focus on your son, focus on the many things that you can do to provide for your son. There are many people who are always willing to extend help. So when people extend help, assistance, take advantage of that and use it to your advantage in a way — like a stepping stone to build your future.

Like if your mom is there to take care of your son, use that to start building, so you can focus on work, then start thinking how you and your son can have your own house, or how you can provide for him, those little things. There are a lot of ways for you to do that.

And then you’ll just be surprised, when you look at him, everything’s just fulfilling, and just focus on the good. It’s all worth it.

And when the time comes that he can speak and he greets you “Happy Father’s Day,” that’s the best feeling in the whole world. You have “Happy Father’s Day” and “Happy Mother’s Day” in one year. That’s about it.

KM: Thank you, Tyff. You’re really someone that — younger moms and career women who are so driven to succeed but don’t know where to begin — you’re really someone they can look up to. And of course, this ends our first interview with you, we’re gonna have a lot more things to talk about in the future.

One Earth Organics — your organic beauty solution — is the company Tyff founded to help women start their own business. Their products are available in Beauty Bar, Watson’s, and SM stores nationwide. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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Written by Kai Magsanoc Updated May 28
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
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