To the two women who shaped my life. This is what they taught me
We all have strong, courageous women role models in our life. They are in our homes, in our workplaces, our industries and in our society. They live amongst us. They inspire, challenge, mold, support, advocate and pick us up when we fall.
With mother’s day fast approaching, I wanted to write a tribute to two amazing women who have shaped my life. I am who I am today because of them.
Talk about glass ceilings; my grandmother grew up in pre-war China. A China that still bound a woman’s feet, arranged marriages and sold daughters away. She knew there was a better way. She taught me to stand up for what I believe in.
She taught me that you can do anything you put your mind too. No matter what life deals you, you can rise above it. Her life was a living testament to this.
By the age of forty, she found herself stranded in a foreign country. Her husband died, and she had to find a way to raise seven young children. She did what she could to survive. She built a house with her two hands, collecting scrap timber. She raised rabbits to help feed her family. She made her favourite hometown kuehs* and sold them to pay for school uniforms. My grandmother was resourceful; she was determined. She wanted her children to have a better life, and she did everything she could to make that happen.
She taught me that it doesn’t matter what you have, you can give back. Growing up, I remember her annual pilgrimage. She would go around, collecting old clothes, she would buy bicycles and sewing machines and distribute it around her hometown village in China.
She didn’t have much but gave what she could.
She left us all too soon. There is a hole that will never be filled. I am who I am today because of her strength and her courage.
The second amazing woman is my mum. She didn’t grow up with much, but her childhood was filled with memories of family. She is a talented woman who won accolades at school but didn’t have enough money to study to her full potential. She found her way to a shipyard where she focused on her career as a ships draftsman. Although a male dominated industry, she thrived. She loved what she did and climbed the ladder as quickly as she could.
In 1986 our family moved to Perth, Australia. We came to the lucky country, to build a new life.
My mother had to walk away from a job and career she loved.
With all the unknowns of a new land, my mother made a choice to stay at home and care for my brother and me. She has instilled in me the value of family.
She has been my strongest advocate in my career. Early on, when I had an opportunity to move to Sydney, she said go. When I wanted to try a new career, she said, do it. When I had my baby, she was there. She spent a whole year with me in Sydney so that I could go back to work. When I started my business, she said I would succeed.
My mother has been there every step of the way. She is the voice of encouragement. She has taught me to dream big, to work hard and treasure those around me.
We all have strong and amazing women who have helped make us become who we are today.
Let’s honour them and celebrate their stories this mother’s day.
And remember, we too, have the opportunity to be role models for others. The very way we chose to live, from what we say to what we do. In our families, in our homes, our workplaces, our industries and in our society.
*Kueh – bite sized Asian snacks/ desserts