Happy Friday everyone! Today’s post is incredibly special to me and probably my favorite post I’ve written because it’s all about my favorite person: my mom and what I learned from my mom! Today is her birthday and she is one of the hardest people to shop for because even when I do know what she likes, she never wants me to spend money on her! When I was younger, I had saved up money and bought her two sweaters from Ann Taylor, which she made me return because she didn’t want me to “waste” my money! Even now that I’m older with a full- time job, I had made surprise spa-day reservations for us that was supposed to be followed up with a trip to Dry-Bar and then a nice meal…. yeah she made me cancel that too because it was “too much”!! Needless to say, today we both have the day off so we’re going to the doctor because my mom is #responsible and wanted to take advantage of the day off. Then we’ll be grabbing lunch in Little Italy before walking around Chinatown which is actually our perfect day together.
In honor of her birthday, I wanted to make her the star of today’s post. As you guys may know, she takes all of my photos so she’s typically behind the camera so I wanted to bring her front and center. But, more than that I wanted to share what I learned from my mom. Obviously, I can’t share everything because we would be here all day, but a few highlights that I really live by. Before we get started, a fun fact about this shoot is that I had planned for us to match and wear the same shirt/different color and she refused to change! So I settled on a matching black/white theme because frankly she didn’t give me a choice!!
Work Hard, Even When No One Notices
My mom is the hardest worker I know and her work ethic is something I’ve always admired. As a single mother she did everything by herself. Worked a full time job to support us, while also still being there for me and giving me everything I could have possibly needed and wanted. Now that I’m older, I have no idea how she did it. But, from as long as I can remember, she has always gone above and beyond for her job. Anytime they asked her to come in on a random Saturday, stay late, come in early, even come in on New Year’s day to prep for the upcoming work week, she was always willing. Even when she felt as if no one appreciated her or she would get frustrated, she was always willing to work hard because she loved her job and cared about her team and I have always admired that.
Now that I’m an “adult” and working, I see how easy it is to get upset and frustrated at work. So many times I want to be petty or don’t want to make an effort because I feel as if no one is noticing or appreciating. But, then I think about my mom and the kind of worker she is. First of all, she didn’t sacrifice so much for me to give up so easily at work when the going gets tough. And second of all, I’ve seen how her work mentality has paid off over time. She is truly one of the most respected people in the company and pretty much everyone knows my mom. And we had the opportunity to travel to Miami last year because she was one of the best in the company. Basically, my mom taught me that in life you should work hard for yourself and not for the praise of others, but so you can go home at night knowing you tried to be the best person you could possibly be.
Growing up my mother used to always say that even though we didn’t have much, what we do have is worth sharing. Her and her sisters have always worked hard to send money back to Vietnam to support our family there. Even when money was tight, she was always willing to send extra if someone got married, was sick or needed something. Once I started working, I was actually pretty excited to be able to contribute and send money back to my family as well.
But, more than that she has always shown generosity with everyone, including my friends and even strangers. If I had a friend who couldn’t afford a metro card and she found out they were walking home, she would always give them a few dollars or buy them a metro card. She would pack extra lunch or snacks for me to be able to share with others. She’s always been a generous tipper at restaurants and to people who deliver food and made sure I knew the importance of tipping well. I think in this day and age, it’s so easy to get caught up in our own money struggle and thinking we don’t have enough so how could we possibly give any away? But, there’s always someone out there who is worse off than you and the little difference and contribution you can make is important.
Be Strong & Stand Up For Yourself
My mother is fierce. Growing up in New York City isn’t easy and it’ll toughen you up real quick, especially taking public transportation. The fight that could break out from bumping into someone or shooting them a wrong look would surprise you. I’m always so amazed that my mother who was a refugee from Vietnam and spoke little to no english came to the U.S and after years with her sisters, up and moved again by herself to New York freaking City! My mom has been through a lot in life and her stories are equally heartbreaking and fascinating. But through it all, she’s been so strong and has always fought for herself in life. She demands respect and knows her worth. I know I keep saying it, but my mother truly fascinates me because I don’t know how she has lived through and done half the things she has done in life, but it has taught me to be strong for myself and for her.
I used to think that one of my weaknesses at work was that I wasn’t a “yes girl” and while that may be true in some instances, it’s just not who I am and I can’t pretend to be that. I will speak up if I don’t think I’m being treated fairly or to give my opinion. When I first started in the fashion industry up until when I left my last job, I stuck by my belief that you have to treat people nicely in the work place. Even when I was told I was wrong or dumb for something as small as wanting people to say good morning to each other and something as big as having my boss treat me with respect, I stood by my belief. And now I work in a job where everyone says good morning to everyone and a team that respects each other. Stand up for yourself and your beliefs even when people are telling you otherwise. And it helps that I have the most amazing support system.
The Importance Of Saving Money
My mother is honestly probably laughing right now because it’s pay day and my money is now gone to pay off the credit card. We are truly the opposite when it comes to money. I’m a treat yo self kind of gal and she’s a “buy one shirt every two years” kind of gal. She’s taken care of me my whole life and now that I’m able to I just wanna spoil her and buy her everything so she has to reel me in and bring me back to reality. As much as she would beg to differ, I do think I’m pretty smart with my money for my age and I’m more responsible than my peers. Since my mom works for the bank, she has always managed my money. Even before I had my own money, she would manage it! I remember being young and having a Hello Kitty wallet and she would give me $100 to keep inside of it. If we went to the mall and I wanted something (probably something dumb to be honest) she would always tell me I have money, I could buy it, but then I would have less than $100. It almost became a game for me, like I didn’t want to spend anything because I loved the feeling of having a whole $100 in my wallet.
As I got older, specifically in high school, she would give me like $10 a week and would ask me everyday how much I had just to make sure I had some kind of cash on me in case of an emergency. But, it also made me more accountable since I never wanted to tell her I spent it all on candy or fast food or something equally as dumb. While my friends would spend $20 at H&M and have nothing for the rest of the week, I was just too scared of my mom to be honest to waste money like that! But, even as an adult, I feel guilty making a purchase without consulting with her first. When I was young, there were certain clothing items that I insisted I loved and needed in my life and if she disagreed I would be so upset. She would tell me to trust her since she’s my mom and knew best and of course I was stubborn. But, every time we bought something when she advised against it, I would wear it once or get over it quickly proving she’s right, she does know best and is literally always right!
Which is why I always need to consult her on purchases! The moral of the story is, she has always taught me the importance of saving in case of an emergency, always having cash on you because if something crazy happens like a black out, your credit card is useless, paying off my student loan just to get it over with, having a 401K is so important because you should invest in your future, and every purchase is not necessary because if you can’t pay off your credit card bill with your paycheck then you have no business spending that much.
What Unconditional Love Looks Like
I saved the most important and sappiest one for last. No secret that my mom is a single mother. I make no dad jokes on the daily even though it makes people feel uncomfortable, but personally I find it hilarious. People have always asked me if I’m mad at my dad or sad that he isn’t in my life and I can honestly say no. The reality is, my mother gave me enough love and care that I never felt as if I was missing anything. Growing up, we were and still are so incredibly close and she really is my best friend. I had such a happy childhood and never felt as if I was missing out. I never realized how much she sacrificed for me until I got older. She would never buy anything for herself, but would buy everything for me. She recently admitted that she hated going to the movies cause she hates sitting still, but would always take me since I loved going. Anytime I had any crazy idea like starting a YouTube channel or starting this blog she supported me 100% percent. When I was in college, she would pack pb&j sandwiches for lunch just to save money to put towards my education.
I know it sounds silly since she’s my mom and obviously has to love me and all that, but she really has always put me first and supported me even now that I’m older, she’s just as protective, supportive and amazing as she has always been. It’s just shown me what unconditional love looks like and if you really truly love someone, you put them first and their happiness is your happiness. You guys know my weakness is designer bags and my mom has always saved up money to surprise me with one for important birthdays. For my 18th birthday, she gave me a personalized Louis Vuitton Neverfull bag. Even though it was a gift to me, she was so proud of herself to be able to buy me something that amazing. I probably sound like a spoiled brat, but I think we can all agree we didn’t realize how much our parents did for us and put us first until we got older. And now that I can, I want to do the same for her. Obviously no amount of money or material items can ever pay her back, but it really does make me happy and excited to get her an amazing gift or to take her out to lunch or even to be able to now contribute to our bills.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is…
I would by lying if I said I didn’t tear up writing this. There’s truly no way for me to put into words how much my mother has been through, how much she has sacrificed for me, put me first and is still my biggest supporter, but I hope this post got my point across. I’ve learned so much from my mom in life, but I really am the person I am today because of her and everyday I see more and more that I really am her daughter because we are so alike. So I just wanted to wish a very special Happy Birthday to my mom and even though we’re currently not getting a facial and massage since you made me cancel it, I love you nonetheless.
I hope you guys enjoyed this post. It was so special to me and I truly hope you liked it. Have a great holiday weekend!