In the second interview of our three-part series, we speak to our very own Founder and Creative Director, Joanna Wee, who is also a mother herself. Joanna has 2 young daughters, Tiffany (3.5 years old) and Elisha (14 months old), who mean the world to her. This week, Joanna reveals her thoughts on her mother and motherhood.
Blithe & Merry (B&M): What kind of mother do you think you are?
Joanna (J): I would like to think that I’m a fun mother - I try to do fun and silly activities with my daughters that get all of us giggling and feeling joyful. But I’m also quite a strict and no-nonsense mother. I have certain expectations of how they should behave, be it at home or outside, and any resistance is usually not tolerated. I'm also always looking for different ways to teach Tiffany about the world around her - I think it's important for children to have some awareness of their surroundings. For example, on her daily walk to school, I point out leaves of different colours which show the different stages of their life cycle and explain to her what happens at each stage. She's pretty curious at this age and I'm really blessed and delighted that she's quite thirsty for knowledge too, so I try to make learning interesting for her.
Joanna twinning with Tiffany during Chinese New Year 2017.
B&M: Tell us one thing you love and dislike about motherhood.
J: I’m a work-from-home-mum and the main caregiver to my children. Being able to take care of my daughters myself and to be there with them at their every milestone and to be the one to wipe their tears when they fall and share their laughter when they are having fun, is truly a privilege and is what I love most about being a mother. The thing I really dislike about motherhood is that I feel so tired all the time! Being at home with the girls also means that I have to keep my energy up in order to keep up with them (they are very active) and I always end my day exhausted. Not having enough sleep contributes to that too - it’s 4 years of sleep debt that I’ll never be able to repay.
B&M: What is the one important value that your mum has taught you that you would want to pass on to your children?
J: Resilience. My mum has been through a number of pretty tough times in her life but she always bit the bullet and broke through her circumstances. This is what I hope to exemplify to my daughters - I’d been through some difficult periods too. I want to show them that where there’s a will, there’s a way, just like what my mother did. And I also want them to know that the saying, “when God closes a door, He opens a window”, is absolutely true. We just need to persevere.
B&M: What is your favourite memory of you and your mum?
J: It has to be the time we went on a mother-daughter trip to the USA in 2008. I think it was the first time we went on a trip without my father and my sister, just two of us, and we had so much fun together - she’s a great travelling companion! I still think of the trip sometimes and I’ll look through the pictures we took during the trip from time to time. I sure hope to do a mother-daughter trip with my mum soon!
2008: Joanna and her mother holidaying together in the USA.
B&M: We all know it’s no piece of cake when it comes to starting a business. How do you juggle entrepreneurship with motherhood?
J: To be honest, I’m really bad at juggling both motherhood and entrepreneurship - after 4 years of entrepreneurship I’m still learning and struggling to balance both. However, I always remind myself that my daughters and my family comes before everything, so I focus on them first during the day and work on my business during their nap times (in the day) and when they have gone to bed for the night. In addition, on the business front, what I do is I start each month by writing out my business goals for that particular month and then I list down my strategies to reach those goals. And then I set myself deadlines for each strategy and goal to keep myself on track.
B&M: When it comes to your daughters, how uniquely different are the personalities of Tiffany and Elisha?
J: Elisha, my younger daughter, is very manja (Malay for affectionate). She could be playing with her toys and then she would suddenly drop her toys, toddle over to me, gestured to be carried, and when I carry her, she would gently lay her head on my shoulder. Tiffany, on the other hand, is not as affectionate. Usually we would be the ones to request for hugs and kisses. Elisha is also quite hardy in the sense that if she does something wrong, like snatching her sister’s toy from her, and we speak to her sternly in a louder voice, she would just stare at us without even blinking. With Tiffany, such treatment would make her start tearing.
Selfie time: Joanna with her daughters, Tiffany and Elisha
B&M: How would you want your children and grandchildren to remember you in future?
J: I hope they will remember me as a mother and grandmother who is loving, compassionate, generous, encouraging, and fun to be with.
B&M: In your opinion, what is the most rewarding aspect about being a mum?
J: Definitely, seeing my daughters bloom into fine young ladies. I try my best to inculcate the right values and also knowledge to them. And getting comments from Tiffany’s teachers about her improved behaviour makes me feel really proud of her.
B&M: What is an ideal Mother’s day to you?
J: Being able to sleep in, having a nice brunch with my family, and then bringing the girls to play at East Coast Park. Because I think that Mother’s Day should also comprise making my children happy. Oh, and cycling on the family bike (the one that sits 4 or 6 people and has a canopy)! I’ve been wanting to do this, but each time we get to the bike kiosk, it rains!