Entrepreneur Asther Lau is often on a tight and busy schedule so getting to spend time with her loved ones, especially her only child, is very important to her.
But she believes that appreciating loved ones, especially mothers, shouldn’t be confined to a single day in a year.
“I grew up in a very traditional family that doesn’t really celebrate many occasions, including Mothers Day, in a big way. So, when I got married and had my daughter, Haley, it was the same, ” recalls Lau, who hails from Kuching, Sarawak.
Celebrations were also few and far between partly due to her hectic, busy schedule, she reveals.
“I used to be a baby and family photographer, and I was often so busy remembering other mothers, planning for their Mothers Day photoshoots during the season that I often forgot to celebrate it myself, ” says the 43-year-old who lives in Petaling Jaya.
Last year, Lau officially retired from photography during the pandemic as although she had bookings, she wasn’t able to conduct outdoor shoots or open her studio because of the standard operating procedures during the various movement control order phases. She had to pivot her business and today, she runs a home-based business selling dehydrated fruit snacks and customised gifts.
“Usually, if it wasn’t a busy week, we’d go out for makan. And, I would wish my mum a Happy Mothers Day. Haley would always make me a card or handmade gift every year, since kindergarten. But there was never any special celebration that we would have on that day, ” she says.
“This year, however, we’re planning to have Haley’s godparents over for dinner on Mothers Day. But with the MCO, we’re not sure whether we’ll be able to do that, and we’re waiting to see what the condominium management’s policy on visitors is, ” says Lau.
“I already ordered a cake and was planning the food, so the pandemic does impact things somewhat, ” she says.
Appreciate your loved ones
If Lau had it her way, Mothers Day would be a very special day indeed ... for herself.
“Technically, it should be a day where as a mother, I should rest and not do anything, and everyone else should do everything for me,” she hints as her daughter looks on.
“But then, that never happens because motherhood never stops and a mother’s responsibilities are always ongoing. And life is the same on that day,” she feigns a sigh.
“But I can do the chores and help to wash the dishes on Mothers Day. And I’ll ask Daddy to help!” interjects her 12-year-old daughter, Haley, brightly.
“In our family, our practice is to try to appreciate each other daily, rather than only once a year on a special day.
“We try to remind each other that we shouldn’t take each other for granted because you only live once.
“If you don’t appreciate a loved one today, tomorrow there might not be a chance to,” says Lau.
“I love and appreciate Mummy because she loves me unconditionally and has taught me so much, and she’s always there for me,” interjects Haley again.
“My mummy gave birth to me, raised me, loves me, and she’s my family,” she adds.
“I’ve told Haley that as long as she remembers and applies what I taught her about life and responsibilities, it will make me proud of her already,” says Lau. “And it’s ok to make mistakes as long as she ensures she makes up for it, and not just let it be,” she adds.
“Sometimes, I even jokingly ask her if she wants to change her mother because others might have more money, be prettier or have more leisure time to spend with her,” says Lau, to which Haley glares and scolds her for saying so in mock anger, “No! Never!”
And the pair burst out laughing.
A practical solution
Lau says that her family often combines all the celebrations together, on their birthdays.
“So, we don’t really let the date dictate our celebrations, except for birthdays.
“To me, birthdays are the all-in-one, together with the other ‘close by celebrations’. Before the pandemic, we’ll often celebrate with a special trip,” she says.
“Life can be super busy, especially for me. It’s non-stop because I work day and night, especially when I was running my photography business.
“So when we can go for a holiday, that’s the time we celebrate everything together.
“And that’s the time when I can totally disconnect from my many roles and relax,” she reveals.
Lau's most memorable Mothers Day-cum-birthday celebration was a trip to Pangkor Laut Resort in Perak, one of her favourite places, several years ago.
“It was a family getaway, including my mum and in-laws too, so it was very meaningful,” she says.
“We also had our special family tradition during that time – which is to have a family photoshoot together,” she adds, saying that it’s important to capture all those special memories and moments together.
Lau adds that she’s also a “pet mother of two furkids” and they’re an important part of her family too.
“I’ve two dogs – poodles – called Meelo and Lexi, and they’re like my children too,” says Lau, who has been a volunteer for rescuing stray animals in her neighbourhood since 2019.