Life Lesson: Books and Bottles

If a student’s typical day involves notes, homeworks and social networking sites, Jann Alen Mendoza is not our typical college student. Recently, this BS Psychology graduate spent his last two years in college holding a baby bottle and a textbook.

On this day, here is Alen, who shares the same sweat, tears and laughter with the rest of the fathers in the world, in his own story.

Changing life, changing diaper

The baby bottle is for Tobias Aleph Vincent E. Mendoza, or Tobi, the fruit of Alen and his wife, Gaze Ebreo’s love. At 20 years old, Alen explains that his son’s name was derived from ‘the goodness of God’ for Tobias, ‘first’ for Aleph since it is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and ‘conquer’ for Vincent. When combined, the name means that the child is first to conquer the goodness of God.

Since Tobi was born on April of last year, Alen’s old ways of playing computer games, drinking and frequent hanging out had to change. Former habits had to be reevaluated. His carefree lifestyle was gradually tailored to Tobi for his development.

“All of this was unplanned,” Alen said.

With the urgency of parenthood, the couple had a difficult time financially. Fortunately, his parents, closest relatives and high school friends supported them. Even their respective guidance counsellors also tended to them to help them adjust to a new life.

One of the greatest challenge Alen mentioned was the ‘f*ck boy’ stigma he received when the news broke out. Many tried to lecture him about how he made a mistake and concluded that he would never succeed in life. People even doubted that he would ever receive a diploma.

“There are so many doubts and we can’t do anything about it. All we have to do is prove them wrong,” he said.

Balancing books and baby bottles

Moreover, when academic life and parenting were both knocking at his door, sleeping became no longer an option.

Alen was in his internship when the baby was born. After a whole day at work, he would often sleep for only two hours. His daddy duties would drag on until five o’clock in the morning of the following day.

Gradually, being sleep-deprived affected his performance in his internship. There were days that he caught himself sleeping during his working hours. He would administer tests and would sneak a little nap while he waited for test takers to finish.

One time, Tobi was confined in a hospital and after Alen was done with his part-time job as a call center agent, he would take care of him for the rest of the day. Alen worked non-stop without rest just like any other parent worried for the health of his or her child.

“It felt like I’m the one next to be confined,” Alen joked.

During hard times, Alen is thankful to have the companionship and aid of his wife. She continues to motivate him to be the dependable, responsible and caring father that Tobi would look up to. Truly, one look at Tobi and all of his stress instantly fades.

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Having to live not only a student’s life, but also a parenting life at a young age is an enormous amount of responsibility. It comes with pouring support, acceptance and sometimes harsh criticism. At the end of the day, holding his little one–reminding him of the miracle of life–leaves him directed to a better way of living. Being a father makes him feel alive and a man with purpose.

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