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Celebrating Diverse Motherhood: Kim Raymond, Suet Li Liew, Nora Ismail and Nadia Halim Dziobkowska Weigh In

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Mother. Think, for a moment, of the images that this evokes in your mind. For some, the word “mother” is wrapped in fond reminiscence, coupled with the taste of home-cooked food, the sound of shared laughter, the scent of her perfume. A word that a 2004 worldwide survey determined to be “the most beautiful in the English language“. For others, the word “mother” is often attached to complicated memories and emotions, many of which we find difficult to dwell on.

Our relationships with our mothers have, for better or worse, helped to shape many of us today – and for many women who are mothers (or mother figures) themselves, we know all too well how much impact we can have in this role.

This Mother’s Day, we’re choosing to shed light on four powerful mothers and their diverse stories of strength, sacrifice and survival, highlighting the uniqueness of motherhood in its many forms – from young mums and single mums giving it their all, to new mothers and stepmamas who are continuing to buck stereotypes.


Kim Raymond

On life as a single mama

We’re quite sure you’ve seen the insouciant style and flawless fashion sense of this beauty gracing many magazine covers (and your Instagram feed!). Kim Raymond is a force to be reckoned with – moving through styles and social settings with effortless grace, and navigating life (and love) as a single parent with fullness of heart. Friends call her loyal and loving – her daughter, the adorable Skylar Raymond-Foo, simply calls her Mummy.

What does the word “motherhood” mean to you?

Motherhood to me is being able to see me in a little person, and getting to raise her and shape her into the best person she can be.

What’s the best parenting advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve ever received is – don’t worry too much about your child giving up little habits, like drinking from the bottle etc. Eventually, they will give it up on their own.

What has been the most challenging season of motherhood for you, and how did you deal with this?

The most challenging was when I first gave birth, because I was so adamant on doing everything myself and it was really very tiring. I did it for 8 months before I finally accepted help haha!

Looking back, if you could do anything differently as a mother, what would you do?

I have no regrets – I am quite relaxed when it comes to being a parent.

What is one thing you wish people knew about single parenting? How do you maintain an amicable co-parenting relationship with [local actor and former partner] Keith Foo, and still work together to prioritise Skylar?

I don’t think there is anything I wish people knew, but I do wish that more single parents would be more empathetic towards their kids and realise that anything and everything they do affects their kids, even if they don’t notice it. Keith and I have a lot of respect and understanding towards each other, and those are the most important things that allow us to co-parent.

What words of advice do you have for other mums (and mother figures) out there?

Don’t be too hard on yourself. All mothers are amazing, and we are all doing the best we can.


Suet Li Liew

On life as a first-time mum 

The path taken by Suet Li and her husband, Karthik, towards parenthood has been one fraught with immense highs – and deep lows. Now blessed with their beautiful young daughter, Maya, Suet Li continues to inspire others through the authenticity of her sharing – be it her past struggles with trying to conceive, or the exciting milestones she is achieving as a first-time mother. With education and equity at the heart of all Suet Li is and does, it’s no wonder that this powerhouse continues to make a significant impact in her role as a new mama too!

What does the word “motherhood” mean to you?

It’s such a loaded word for me now that I’ve experienced motherhood, and I’d describe it as a journey, one that is often precariously balancing between two ends of a spectrum – of longing and uncertainty, of being unfulfilled and fulfilled, of unbridled joy and intense pain, of the loss of independence and a newfound extension of one self (lost identity vs new identity), of “the days are short but the years are long”, of time spent staring blankly into space and time spent watching fervently for new milestones and development, of being emotional and emotionally-spent. I can go on and on, but I think that probably paints quite an accurate picture of how motherhood has been for me!

What’s the best parenting advice you’ve ever received?

That there are phases in parenthood: the beginning may be physically intense and draining, then emotionally intense and draining, then mentally, and that each phase will pass, and we will mourn for it. It helps me to stay in the present and to see things as phases to enjoy and learn from, rather than to just constantly look forward to what’s next. Especially true now in the early days of toddlerhood!

What has been the most challenging season of motherhood for you, and how did you deal with this?

It’s really hard to quantify as if there’s a rubric to score how challenging each season has been. From dealing with infertility and IVF, from pregnancy to childbirth (which, if I realllly had to quantify, is the least challenging part!), from the early days of breastfeeding and lack of sleep, to now dealing with meltdowns and an active toddler. For me personally, I feel that sharing openly about my struggles is the best way I’ve coped with things. I’ve always found vulnerability to be empowering and have found solidarity through sharing about all the downs of the journey, along with the ups.

Because it took us a while to conceive and that itself was an entire long chapter, I also struggle with how I should feel about the rest of parenthood. On one hand I feel immensely grateful to now have a child, [and] on the other, it can be so hard some days that I wish I was a little more prepared for the “after” of IVF…but I guess you can never really prepare for something so complex!

Looking back, if you could do anything differently as a mother, what would you do?

I’m sure a lot of first-time mothers feel this way in retrospect, but still wouldn’t change a thing –  [though one thing I’d do is] to be more relaxed about everything! Breastfeeding definitely, sleeping, feeding, developments etc. It’s a Catch-22 though: do I wish I felt more relaxed because she is now healthy and doing well due to all that effort, or in spite of?

What is one thing you wish people knew about being a first-time mum?

Having said all that I’ve said, I still don’t know if you can truly prepare or be more relaxed, as those are [nuggets of] wisdom that are gifted to you, as a reward for going through the journey. So perhaps, [I’d say] – to think of motherhood as the greatest learning you’d have and to treat it as the best self-help/development experience you’d go through if you actively immerse yourself and genuinely want to learn from it.

What words of advice do you have for other mums (and mother figures) out there?

This is something I actually need to hear myself now: that there’s so much power in being able to consciously choose to do things. I chose to be a mother, I chose to accept this as not a loss of an identity, but an extension of who I am as a person. I now choose to be where I am, and that changes how I parent daily. To not just go through the motions with dread, but to choose to be present and enjoy the fleeting phases of motherhood.


Nora Ismail

On life as a stepmum 

This one hits close to home (in the best possible way)! This woman of many talents is not only makchic‘s Social Media Editor, but is also a hobbyist cake artist, and a stepmum of two (a 5-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy). While she has been a stepmum for only a little over a year, she was her stepkids’ “auntie” for 1 and half years prior, and would like to let you know that it’s entirely different being the funtie (fun auntie) vs the boundary-setting maternal figure – although both are equally delightful (and tiring!).

In her own words: “becoming a (step)mother at 36 was never the idea, but neither was having a miscarriage at 26, being a divorcee at 30 and remarrying at, well, 36″. Naturally, her mantra is…trust the process.

What does the word “motherhood” mean to you?

To me, the word ‘motherhood’ conjures up pictures of chaos and peace, all in one – the fine balance between being your own person, and also dedicating a substantial part of yourself to your family. Exhaustion all muddled up with joy. It is those blissful images portrayed in advertisements, with a whooping side of perpetual bone-tiredness. Strength and vulnerability, all in one.

What’s the best parenting advice you’ve ever received?

Parents are not (and will never be) superhumans. We hear so much about being a present parent and all that…and it’s a lot to live up to! Being present for your family 24/7 just isn’t attainable – but choosing moments where you make a conscious decision to be present (even for just 15 minutes of uninterrupted one-on-one time every day) is what’s truly important.

What has been the most challenging season of motherhood for you, and how did you deal with this?

Being a stepmum, I take on the responsibilities of caring for my stepchildren with open arms. But being a stepmother also means you may fulfil the role of a mum when the children are with you, but understandably, you don’t have the ability to make big decisions or have a say in a lot of those decisions. I’m a person who likes to be in control and for a moment, I felt like I was losing control. And then, I decided to shift my perspective. I realised I am now free of that mental load and able to focus on other things and decisions instead.

Also, it’s incredibly important to nurture your relationship with your partner. My husband is (and will always be) my greatest ally in stepmotherhood. In my case, he is the reason I’m a mother of sorts.

Looking back, if you could do anything differently as a mother, what would you do?

If younger me (or anyone else) asks if I think they should take the stepmum route, I would definitely say no. I don’t regret my decision at all, but it isn’t the easiest path. I’m incredibly blessed to have a good relationship with my kids, but I know for a fact that there are lots of stepmothers out there who are struggling with their stepchildren, or their partner’s former spouse (yes, I read online forums!). So, I count my blessings every day.

What is one thing you wish people knew about being stepmum?

That you don’t need “your own children.” You can, if you wish to, but society needs to stop pressuring people (women, especially) to have children, period. Also, that whole “evil stepmother” thing in fairytales needs to go in the 21st century. Bad apples, you know?

And no woman ever plans to be a stepmum. We didn’t grow up thinking we’re going to get married and have stepkids, so understand that we’ve thought this through many, many times. We also may seem like a part-time mother, but even when the children aren’t around, we’re still thinking of what groceries to stock up for them or what clothes we need to replace as they grow bigger.

What words of advice do you have for other mums (and mother figures) out there?

Ask for help. You don’t have to do it all – you’re not any less of a mother for asking your husband to help out with the household chores, or for your parents to babysit while you finish some work sometimes. It really does take a village – and if you know anyone out there going at this alone, please extend your circle to them.


Nadia Halim Dziobkowska

On life as a young mother

All hail our undisputed local Queen of the Reels! This content creator and educator never fails to brighten up the darkest of days with her hilariously spot-on videos and relatable parodies – we can’t get enough! But beyond the laughter also lies her heart of substance and strength – from helping to build AMAN, a social enterprise that helps refugee mothers and provides refugee children with education, to sharing about her journey as a young mother to her daughter Amanda, whom she had at a very young age.

What does the word “motherhood” mean to you?

Motherhood means I am a mother now. Can’t act like a child no more (kidding, there’s always a child in me.) 😜🤣

What’s the best parenting advice you’ve ever received?

“What is best for you as a mother might not be the best for your child. Think twice and make a decision that benefits both.”

What has been the most challenging season of motherhood for you, and how did you deal with this?

The challenging season was for the past 2 years (since Covid). It was hard for my child to be away from her friends, and was not able to do as much outdoors and socially as before. Trying to make her understand the situation with the world and how to best support her through this [was also a challenge].

Looking back, if you could do anything differently as a mother, what would you do?

I wouldn’t change a thing. Every mistake and every win I had were meant to be, [they] made me who I am today and I cherish every moment.

What is one thing you wish people knew about being young mum?

That 11 years later, it works a lot better for you. You grow with your child, you understand them better, you are young so you have more energy to do more things with them. That’s the best part about being a young mum!

What words of advice do you have for other mums (and mother figures) out there?

Teach and show your child the reality of life, don’t put them in a bubble because your child means the world to you, but they [might] not necessarily mean the world to others. Toughen them up! They can adapt, and they will adapt.

[The contents of these interviews have been edited for brevity and clarity]

by Kimberly Lee 


Thank you, mamas, for sharing your amazing stories – and Happy Mother’s Day to our wonderful #makchicmumtribe!

 

From our team of purposeful, multi-faceted mummies. For editorial or general enquiries, email to us at hello@makchic.com.