As the endless stream of lunch promotions and flower bouquet ads on our newsfeeds are reminding us – Mother’s Day is just around the corner.
More than just a wonderful occasion to pamper the maternal figures in our lives, their stories of love and sacrifice, along with the ups and downs of the unbreakable bond between mother and child, deserve equal fanfare.
Every mother loves in a different way. From a single mother to a young grandmother of two, The Pride uncovers some of their stories this Mother’s Day.
Son gives single mum strength to overcome the odds
Flying was my comfort zone. I was an air stewardess for 14 years when I left to have more time with my son, who was a toddler then. Around the same time, my marriage started to break down.
Working as a ground staff, I knew I couldn’t provide for my son on the income I was earning, so I went back to school in my 30s. Acing my exams and getting a better-paying job as a customer relationship manager really gave me confidence when previously, I had no corporate or work experience apart from being a stewardess.
Although I’m a single mother, I’ve always wanted him to feel that he still has a family. After our divorce in 2009, I wanted him to know that even though his father and I are no longer together, we both love him very much.
My boy is quite cheeky – he knows when to talk, when he should comfort you and when he can be a kaypoh. His father and I have our differences, and sometimes we argue on our annual family trips. Back in the room, my son will come up to me, hug me and ask if I’m feeling OK.
Once, after I casually remarked that I had a long day, he surprised me and said, “Mum, let’s have some pillow talk”. It’s become our own bonding activity, where we lie in bed and just spend some time telling each other about our day. He would press me to tell him about my problems at work and even tries to offer solutions to help. That’s when I realised, my son is becoming a young man.
As a divorced parent, I’ve always thought either your child turns out very selfish because he’s spoiled and over-protected, or he turns out very sensible, knowing that his parents are working hard to provide for him. Now that he’s 12 years old, seeing this caring and thoughtful side to him makes me feel very happy and contented.
– Sharon Lai, 42, customer care manager
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Mum is her shoulder to lean on through good times and bad
When I was very young, I would run around the dining table while my Mum chased me with a cane. The funny thing was, while she was strict with us, we were not afraid because we knew she was only trying to scare us into doing what we had to do.
Mum was never a disciplinarian. Her approach was always to sit us down and talk it through. When we didn’t do well at school, she would just encourage us to try harder.
She knows all my friends by name. I update her constantly and she’s very interested and involved in my life. I can go to her with whatever struggle I’m facing and her first reaction is never to judge. Mum has always been that constant pillar of support, that listening ear. I guess that’s what most of us need sometimes, to just have an outlet to air our thoughts and know that whatever we share is safe with that person. And my Mum has been that person to me.
Growing up with two brothers, I especially treasured all the girly things we did together as mother and daughter – shopping, hanging out like friends and just spending quality time together. Mum doesn’t really express herself through words, but she shows her love through acts of service, from driving us around to taking care of our needs and checking in on how we are feeling.
Would I want to be like her when I become a mother? Yes and no, because she’s really naggy! Before I can be like her, though, there are many things I’ll need to work on, like cooking well, and having the patience of a saint.
– Bernice Peh, 26
Both mother and daughter work together in the family’s catering business.
A mother’s love spans time and borders
‘Do what you can now to give your kids the best life and the best future possible.’
That’s the most important advice my own mother, who raised my three siblings and me single-handedly, passed down to us.
I had my eldest son Jules when I was just 21. My two elder daughters, Ina and Isha, followed a few years later. Bringing up three kids as a young mother was a part of my life that most resonated with my mum’s.
She was a single mother, while I felt like one – my then-husband was unemployed, and I was the sole breadwinner of our family. I took on several jobs to make ends meet, starting up a small bakery, and later teaching beadwork and crafts at my aunt’s shop.
It reminded me of my own childhood, when my mother was always working to provide for us. An immediate relative would look after us while she worked, and we rarely went out as a family. I only understood her difficulties when I became a mother myself.
When I remarried later, my husband, Raymond, became my rock, and we have two children, Justin and Paigie, from this marriage.
Watching my kids grow up well is the most rewarding part of motherhood. Jules and Ina have graduated from tertiary education, and Isha will be next. Justin and Paigie are also doing well in school.
Jules even has two boys of his own now – David and Parker. During a difficult time adjusting to parenthood, he wrote me a letter to express his gratitude and appreciation for everything I’d done for him as a parent. It makes me proud to see him become a father and a provider himself.
I moved to Singapore from the Philippines in 2009, and initially found the transition tough. I was extremely homesick, and asked my mum to live with us for a while. She spent years going back and forth between Singapore and Manila because she couldn’t get a long-term visa. It was costly, but she made the sacrifice to help me ease into life here.
The bond between my mother and I grew even closer. She would wait up for me to come home, and we’d trade stories over dinner or a midnight snack. I realised then that no matter how old you are, you will always need your mum.
– Pearli Bersamin, 47, office manager
She’s not afraid to stand up to stigma and social conventions
The whole journey of motherhood has been a rollercoaster ride. Not that I was scared of it but it has been good and enjoyable. And as a wild child before, I feel like my daughters have kept me grounded and made me more empathetic.
Personally, I never felt that being a young mum was a problem. That never affected me. What affected me was that society deemed me an unfit mother because I was 23. A lot of people assumed I was out partying while someone else took care of my daughter Kiara.
That wasn’t true at all.
Though we agreed to co-parent, and Kiara’s dad remained involved, I was a stay-home mum and taking care of Kiara 24/7 while I was studying for my diploma. It was important that she felt no difference between having single parents and married parents.
I was at home every day with her and I witnessed every single one of her moments. The only time my mum helped me was when I had night classes, and once every few months, she would ask to have Kiara for the night and offer me a night off.
It felt like society treated me as a bad mother because I was an unwed mother, though I did everything in my power to raise Kiara well. I didn’t have equal rights. I wasn’t eligible for subsidies and I couldn’t get a house unless I got a husband or bought a condo. That was my biggest struggle – that society didn’t accept me.
But this has made me stronger because with every setback, it’s up to you to decide how you want to tackle them. I could have been angry and indignant but I realised that our society was young and needed time to grow. I know that people like myself, single parents, aren’t ashamed of who we are although we are often made to feel that way.
Sticks and stones can hurt you but with the words and attitudes of others, you control how you feel. I’ve never shied away from telling anyone that I was a mother. It’s about being proud of who I am and what I am. I want my daughters to learn to be proud of their decisions and not let society dictate what they should feel and do. I hope they will be as strong as I am, and regardless of what is thrown at them, they will be brave enough to face up to any challenge.
Always be gung ho, that’s my motto.
– Cheryl de Mello, 29, HR manager