Life Lessons from My Mother – An International Women’s Day Tribute
Article by Jacqueline Arnold @ TwentyTwo13 (8 March 2023)
f you have nothing nice to say, it’s better not to say anything at all”.
Looking back, I think this guidance from my mother may have subconsciously steered me into the public relations (PR) profession.
Mum had always wanted children; a single parent to three school-going children by the age of 35, her children became the centre of her universe.
She raised us on a civil servant’s salary, supplemented with taking in sewing, crocheting, and knitting.
I became her assistant, my speciality was hemming.
Eventually, mum taught me how to sew and I tailored my own clothes throughout my late teens and into my twenties and early thirties.
We lived modestly, and yet I don’t recall ever thinking that we were missing out on anything.
In fact, the neighbourhood kids loved hanging out in our house because we had the coolest mum.
She enthusiastically supported the diverse interests of each of her three children. The only mother/woman at football and rugby matches, mum was way ahead of her time.
Mum had lived through the Japanese Occupation of Malaya during World War II. Times were tough then; food and other necessities had been in short supply.
Consequently, she taught us to never waste food or water or electricity; basically, don’t waste anything. Period.
“Money doesn’t grow on trees” was a favourite expression. To this day, my brothers and I finish everything on our plate. “It’s a sin to waste food,” mum said.
As a family, we managed to have fun on a budget. Mum took us to places that were free, like the museum, the National Monument, Batu Caves, and Morib.
Camping trips to Port Dickson became a school holiday ritual. Back then, even the dads in the neighbourhood had never taken their kids camping. So, our close friends enthusiastically joined us.
We pitched a tent which accommodated 12 people comfortably. We had so much fun, and to this day, everyone recalls these trips with great fondness.
I was born when John F. Kennedy was President of the United States of America, and he and First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy were in the news constantly. Hence, my name.
(Children from left) The writer’s brother Raymond Arnold, her other brother Ian and the writer, with their mother, Marjory Fernandez. Image by Jacqueline Arnold
Mum obviously had high hopes for me (and I’m still trying to live up to them) but she never outright set targets for me or my brothers.
“Whatever you do, do it to the best of your abilities,” was all she would say. She was instilling good work ethics in us, even before we knew what that meant.
She didn’t tell me at the time when I took a leap of faith into the PR profession, but she had hoped that I would become a consultant.
This was her dream for me. She got the idea while observing IT consultants who were on a project at her workplace.
Lo and behold, here I am 20-odd years later, still a PR consultant, and I love what I do.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, to all women and mothers, especially single mothers, I say: Have dreams for your children and support them in achieving their fullest potential.
Life may be challenging at times, but always stay focused on your children.
Communicate with them, spend quality time with them, do things together as a family. When you connect with your children and teach them good values, everything becomes possible.
My mother didn’t have many opportunities back in her day, but she lived a much more exciting life through, and with her children. And it gave her great joy.
Thank you, Mi, for being both a mother and a father to us, for your sacrifices, life lessons, the best foundation for life, and the best memories.
Dedicated to the loving memory of my mother, Marjory Fernandez (main image), my confidant, my best friend.
And to all the ladies out there, Happy International Women’s Day! Dream big and reach for the stars!