'Take things 1 step at a time': 3 women reflect on their mums' lessons on parenting

'Take things 1 step at a time': 3 women reflect on their mums' lessons on parenting
PHOTO: PHOTO: Jolene Tan (left) and Alicia Pan (right)

Mother's Day is a day to appreciate and recognise our mother's unconditional love.

As we celebrate this special day, AsiaOne spoke with three women from different walks of life, who have found inspiration from their mothers' teachings. 

From embracing timeless maternal wisdom to weaving their mother's advice with their own parenting style, these strong mothers shared their stories. 

'Take things one step at a time'

Amy Kang's late mother was her unwavering pillar of support. "I was diagnosed with schizophrenia [when] I was a teenager, and she was always caring for my health," she shared. 

Through it all Amy's mother had been by her side, both emotionally and financially, as she dealt with her condition. 

"She was always ensuring that I was aptly treated with the help that I needed. I was job hopping quite a bit too due to my condition, and she was constantly by my side and financially supporting me through it all," the 48-year-old mentioned.  

One of the values Amy's mother instilled in her is that "family means everything". 

"No matter how busy she was in providing for my siblings and me, she would always make an effort to spend time with us too," Amy recalled. "This is something that I hold very dear to my heart till this day, and I also try my best to do the same with my son."

As a single mother, this pearl of wisdom resonates with Amy. Working as a rider for Deliveroo since March 2020, Amy enjoys the flexible nature of her job. 

Amy Kang

It gives her the opportunity to spend quality time with her 15-year-old son. "We share an extremely close relationship, and I treasure every moment spent with him," she shared.  

Butsometimes motherhood can be overwhelming, and that's when Amy heeds her mother's advice. 

"My mother used to tell me to take things one step at a time," Amy said as she is aware that her mental health condition can be triggered when she gets overwhelmed or stressed out.

She uses that mantra to manage her mental health while caring for her son and following her passions. 

Outside of work, Amy is a mental health advocate, giving talks in the hope of helping to remove the social stigma surrounding mental health disorders. Besides on her social media platforms, she also hosts mental advocacy talks at workshops and events as a Beyond the Label mental health ambassador with the National Council of Social Service (NCSS).

Amy also has a keen interest in Chinese metaphysics as it has helped her to manage her mental health.

Chinese metaphysics is an ancient traditional practice which uses energy forces to harmonise individuals with their surrounding environment. It consists of various subjects including the more commonly known Qimen Dunjia, Feng Shui, Ba Zi, and Yi Jing.

She finds Chinese metaphysics as a means of self-improvement which help calms her anxiety and helps with her mental health recovery. Amy also offers consultations on a freelance basis, sharing her expertise with others. 

'Family is everything'

Meet Jolene Tan – a 33-year-old mother to a one-year-old boy and the founder of Wonderbewbz, a business venture that helps other mums to freeze-dry their breast milk. 

Jolene's upbringing was marked by tough love. "Openly showing love, saying 'I love you', words of appreciation and talking for hours over the phone are not something my family does. However, I do know for a fact that family is the most important to my mum," she shared.

Even though she noted that this dynamic is common in traditional Chinese families, she understood that her mother's unwavering support and silent guidance were rooted in love.

"While we do not engage in small talk much, when we do sit down and talk, we have deep and insightful conversations," Jolene said. "She shares her life story, how much I meant to her as the firstborn and how tough her pregnancy and delivery were, especially since I gave her a tough time!"

Now that Jolene is a mother herself, she finds herself relating to her mother more. "I would say that in terms of how we handle hardships, I am quite similar to my mum. We keep hardships to ourselves and do not really open up to ask for help even when we might need it," she shared.

These days, they are more open with each other and speak often. 

Jolene hopes to instil independence and self-discipline in her son, just like how her mother did the same with her, but with a different approach. "I will not be overly strict or protective, to encourage his inquisitive learning," she said, noting that her mother was a "tiger mum" when she was growing up. 

That said, she does admire her mother's grit. "What my mum did in her past, and how she overcame her problems was the most important takeaway for me. Now I am learning that same grit, and taking that into the challenges I face as a new parent in this era," Jolene explained. 

'The fend-for-yourself way of life is something that I put stock into'

Alicia Pan, the co-founder and director of Yoga Movement, shares a close relationship with her mother, even though she has lived independently since she was 19.

One of the values that inspire Alicia is her mother's patience. "I don't necessarily consider myself the most patient person in the family and at work, but I'm constantly learning. Trying to be patient with myself and those around me has helped me see a lot of things from a different perspective," the 38-year-old said. 

As Alicia embraces the unique challenges of modern parenting, she navigates the delicate balance between her mother's teachings and her own strong-willed nature.

"I've always been quite opinionated and stubborn, and when I have a certain set of teachings and values I want to impart on my kids, it's kind of non-negotiable because I believe up to a certain age, kids aren't always able to make the right decisions on their own and that it's the parent's role to shape them to prepare them for what's ahead," Alicia explained. 

Alicia draws wisdom from her mother's "fend-for-yourself" parenting style by instilling resilience in her children, emphasising the importance of learning from failures and bouncing back stronger.

"I think we can all agree that parenting back in the day is very different to what parenting is now. The fend-for-yourself way of life is something that I actually put stock into.

"Of course, I don't mean it in its entirety, but sometimes I do feel like too much sheltering can do more harm than good down the [road], " Alicia clarified.

Alicia still sees her mother often and is grateful that she is a wonderful grandmother to her three boys, helping to take care of them when she is up to her ears in work. 

ALSO READ: Mother's Day dining deals in Singapore (2023)


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