I waited until our date was over before I wrote this, hoping I’d be able to find enough words to keep this Mother’s Day tribute sweet and succinct without missing anything. But my mom isn’t the easiest to write about. What she is to me cannot easily be put into words, but here is an earnest attempt.
She is my first teacher. My mom started teaching (college English) when she was 19, and she was teacher at home, too. Along with my dad who handled the maths and sciences, my mom taught me how to read, write, and say my first words. The things she couldn’t teach, she enrolled me in classes for: ballet, piano, voice, arts, and many other things. The teaching didn’t stop at academic and creative pursuits. She taught us how to do housework, how to pray, how to handle different types of people and situations. I think the best thing she taught me, though, was how to be strong: my mother does not dwell in painful situations. For every heartbreak she experienced, for example, she would go to church, cry her heart out, reflect on the lessons, and wake up the next day without looking back or shedding any more tears. I can only wish I could be that way.
She is my first best friend. Having skipped a few levels, I have always found it a challenge to assimilate with the kids in school. The pacing and the social environment just always felt too rigid, too simplistic, too homogenous. It was either conform or be bullied, pretend to be someone else or fight for your identity. With my mom, I’ve never had to feel that way. She always tried to relate with my siblings and me and worked hard to bridge any generation gaps. Case in point: in senior high school, my first boyfriend broke up with me in January and I was so sad that Valentines Day was coming up. My mom had a young, cute employee buy a dozen roses and drop by my classroom to give the bouquet to me, in front of everyone there. Yep.
She is my first fan. I’m the first to admit that I’m not the least complicated person out there: my mind is always racing with ideas and theories and my emotions are quite often muddled up, thoughts of the past, the present and the future all swirling within me looking for a way out. My mom does this two-fold thing whenever the Pisces in me makes me a little too multi-directional: she supports whatever it is that I express interest in, and she sees to it that I focus so that I can actually excel. No matter what it is—a photoshoot like this one, a talk at a university, a hosting gig, or a short film, she drops everything in a heartbeat. I remember during my grade 2 Christmas party when I was six, I called her office from the school canteen and said I wanted to sing at the party. She went to school bringing a guitarist who rehearsed “Bizarre Love Triangle” on the way, so that he could accompany my singing. Too bad stage fright won and I ended up not singing anyway…
She is my first love. Her own mother died when she was only five, and her father remarried and lived in a different house, so she’s one of those parents who could use their childhood as an excuse to not know what a parent’s love is like—they either spoil their children rotten or end up being cold, distant or harsh. But she isn’t like that at all. While my mom isn’t perfect at parenting, I believe she comes close when it comes to loving. She is caring and smart, tough and open-minded, fair and forgiving. Her rules are never for power-play, and always for our well-being. She never wants for anything for herself—it’s actually weird saying prayers for her. Everyone else in the family would have all these things they want, while our prayer for her goes like this: “Good health, a long and fulfilling life, and whatever it is that the rest of us are praying for, because Mama is happy when we are happy."
I could write a whole book on her, so I’ll end with this: I can only wish to be as strong, wise, faithful to God, self-sacrificing, kind, and beautiful as my mom is. I think there is just no other way to be a mother than to be those. ♥
Photographed by Anton Holmes. My mom’s outfit (ForMe top and pants, Gibi wedges, SM Accessories necklace) styled by me. My outfit: Myeongdong top and skirt.
Project Boutique "Emma” sling bag. Sleek and stylish, this one’s perfect for carrying tablets or small laptops.
Parisian patent leather maryjane wedges. I love everything about these shoes, from the color to the cuteness to the comfort and height they bring. Plus, they match the bag perfectly even if I got them ten months apart.
Silverworks Muse mirror locket.
Yes, Silverworks now has a collection of vintage-inspired accessories like these. Check out the Muse catalog here.
Japanese Candy contact lenses, Forever 21 bow hairclip.
How was your Mother’s Day? Feel free to share with me any photos or stories via Twitter or Instagram @shailagarde, or leave a Disqus comment below this post. You can also ask for style advice here.