When you are in school, one of your first essays you learn to write is about ‘My Mother’. So it is quite interesting that this Mother’s Day, as a grown up and a successful woman I have been asked to revisit this essay.
My earliest memories of my mother are those of a very strong, independent woman who was quiet and kind. She was a working mother who very skilfully juggled career, family and other responsibilities. I never once heard her complain or breakdown despite having three children and a full schedule. This is truly remarkable in a time when we spend so much time talking about work-life balance and the inability to cope with multiple responsibilities.
She had a long teaching career where she influenced many young impressionable children with her value system. Some of her words of wisdom are – “Do not beg, borrow or steal”, “Aim for the stars, at least you might end up on the top of the coconut tree”, “There is no substitute for hard work”. I have remembered these words and lived by them.
Having a mother who is a teacher is an advantage. We were encouraged to be curious, had access to libraries and therefore an unlimited supply of books which supported my love for reading.
Academically we were given freedom to find our own paths. I don’t recall ever being pressured to take up any particular stream of education. We felt totally supported in the process and encouraged to advance our knowledge in a variety of different areas. Once again this is remarkable given the competitive environment where parents and children lose their sleep over their children’s achievements and are never satisfied even if one has achieved 90%. I am sure her students too benefited from her empathy, kindness and value system.
I love baking and sugar craft. These are skills I picked up from my mother who is an exceptional cook. I recall when I was growing up, every Saturday was baking day and we would have a treat in store. Despite her busy schedule, she used to conduct cooking and baking classes over the weekends. Even today, my cousins and aunts all over the world call her for recipes or tips for traditional sweets during Christmas.
My mother has worked tirelessly over the years to hold the family together, put us through college and give us a quality life. So when I joined the airline business, I decided to travel with her. My first back packing trip to Europe was with my mother. We went to Israel, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium and the UK. This was the first of many trips which has resulted in my mother catching my travel bug.
I still remember this first mega backpacking trip. We were on staff tickets which meant that our seats were not guaranteed till all passengers had been checked in. I was nervous and afraid but having my mother by my side was a calming influence. She was and still is a very easy travel companion, much better than most of my friends. She is game for anything – museums, churches, new experiences, new food, off the beaten path travels. She allows me to plan and happily tags along but is always reassuring when things go wrong. Together, we have been to several countries and over the years she has learned to navigate the airline staff travel system which can be a bit nerve racking at times especially when flights are full.
One of my mother’s strengths is resilience in the face of adversity. Despite tough challenges on the home front, she never gave up. I am sure it must have been a lonely journey for her during the time but she always found a solution. Today this particular trait is considered to be one of the most important ones that global leader must have. Her three children, thankfully, seem to have inherited this from her.
Today, she is retired and spends her time between her children and two grandchildren who live around the world. She is still the strong quiet force that propels us forward and her kindness, empathy and love is perpetuated in instilling the values in the next generation.
Throughout my career – when I joined the airlines as a flight attendant, rose up the ladder taking up various positions, quitting an established airline to join a start up airline, making it to Vice President of an important department and then finally making a career switch to start Safecity – she has supported me, encouraged me and egged me on. She is my biggest cheerleader and I know that even if I hit rock bottom, she will pick me up.
They say that “Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back” and my mother has been a large part of that force. I gratefully dedicate my success to my mother Freda D’Silva.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory)
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