Mompowerment: Leona Panutat, Empowering Moms to be Their Authentic Selves

Mompowerment: Leona Panutat, co-founder, Project Lilo

Leona Panutat finds her mompowerment moments in helping moms with their parenting journey through Project Lilo, a website that she and her partner, family photographer extraordinaire, Sheila Catilo, put up together.

“Project Lilo was born in August, 2016. In this day and age of social media, you see these mom goals, you see women with perfect lives but it’s not true. They don’t show the bad stuff, they don’t show the sad stuff. Everything’s curated. Sure, you want to show the highlights of your life, which to me isn’t a bad thing at all. But what we want to show other moms is that not all moms have it together—motherhood is a journey that has its’ up and downs. And it’s okay to not be a perfect mom. It’s not the same for everyone; you have different children and different ways to do things. That’s what Project Lilo is all about. We want to show that your mom goals or your fave mom out there, they do have their hard days. And they share their hard days in our site as well as what they’ve learned during this time,” Leona shares.

Asked what makes her smile about her mommy passion project, Leona replies, “Probably seeing #momgoals in our social feeds. I think it’s nice to have someone looking up to you. But don’t put pressure on yourself to be the perfect person. Nothing is going to make that happen.”

Another thing that makes Leona happiest is when moms share their stories with each other. “When we do interviews, we learn from other moms. And we always end up crying because every answer is different and every experience is different. So I appreciate it when readers say that the interview was really inspiring. Because I loved going through it, I loved reading it. And most of all, I love that other moms discover they too have struggles and it’s okay not to be perfect, she shares.

Project Lilo taught Leona so much about being a mom to Wyatt, 6 and Paul, 3. She shares one of her favorite quotes from Cat Juan Ledesma; “Children don’t care if you’re a perfect mom. What they care about is that you’re a happy mom.” And that really resonated with me – because I try to be the perfect mom. I’m sure all moms try to be the best for their kids. But at the same time it exhausts you and then you’re not the best mom anymore. Sometimes I catch myself being so hard on my children. I see it in their eyes. And it freaks me out a bit. I’m doing all of these things for them but at the same time, I see they’re not happy, then I’m not happy. I want them to grow up with a mom who is happy and lets them be children who play and have fun and have a childhood. I want them to have, not perfect memories, but happy memories. So I’m hoping Project Lilo will teach me how to be a better mom to my children,” she shares.

When asked about work-life balance, she quickly replies, “There is no such thing--- it doesn’t exist. One day it’s family, another day, it’s work. What’s funny is that they say you should prioritize. But the thing is, when you say priority that just means one. You can’t prioritize ten things. Deal with each day because it depends on the day. Sometimes you have to choose—today, family, then tomorrow, work. And there are days that it should be about you. You can’t be the best mom if you have nothing to give.”

Project Lilo is a space created for moms to be their authentic selves and in one’s motherhood journey, that may be the most empowering gift of all.