Six Powerful Lessons I Learned From My Mother.

by Patrick Liew on February 24, 2014

My mother gave me something that no other person could give me – my life.

She has moulded and shaped me more than anybody else in the world.

When I was born, she gave her heart to me.

Since then, I have carried Ma’s heart with me and will do so till the end of my life.

It was strange that even though Ma was not quite educated and have never gone through a course in motherhood, Ma lived out her role almost naturally.

Her love was unconditional, a love that never falter and lasts forever.

Ma was a full-time mother and a full-time laborer, an act that only true mothers could do.

After a long and hard day at work, she would return home and ensure that everything that needed to be done would be done.

The family would be together and there was warmth – enough for seven of us in a very small house.

There was not much material comfort but nobody ever complained about a lack of love, care and concern.

Lesson #1 – Self-Regulation

From Ma, I learned about self-regulation.

Self-regulation is the discipline and competence to control and direct our thoughts, emotion and behavior.

It is the basis for us to plan, make decision and carry out our action effectively.

I have learned that people who are self-regulated are in a better position to make the right choices and be successful in life.

Lesson #2 – Grit

When I was young, I took for granted that Ma had to go to work everyday to help support all of us. I never knew what she had to go through until she brought me to work one day

Ma did it to keep me besides her, and mainly to keep me out of mischief. For me, it was an eye opener and a shocking experience.

I saw Ma working alongside burly-looking men at a construction site.

The sun was beating cruelly on her suntanned and sweaty body.

Ma had to mix concrete and scoop them into buckets.

She had to carry them to brick layers before the concrete set and therefore cannot be used. Time was of the essence.

In between tasks, she had to lift up bags of cement and throw it on her shoulders and then carry them up uneven and uncompleted steps in a multistory building.

She worked almost non-stop.

The only breaks she took was to look at me every now and then. She had to make sure I was safe and well occupied.

That heart-wrenching scene never left my mind.

Ma worked very hard to make sure all of us grew up well. We received a good education and were able to find our place under the sun.

By watching Ma, I learned a powerful way to do well in life. It’s about developing grit to press on to success.

Success is not a sprint. It is a marathon.

To achieve success we need to have the grit, tenacity and perseverance to overcome challenges.

We need to have a growth mindset. A mindset to continue to learn, improve and achieve better results.

Grit is a platform to strengthen our passion, interest and effort despite failures, setbacks and plateaus along the journey.

Lesson #3 – Resilience

There was not much to eat during our meals at home and I remember we would normally finish the rice first.

Then, we would slowly savour the few pieces of meat and vegetables that we had to share among ourselves.

We might have an orange at the end of the meal. We would slice it into eight slices to share with each other and with our grandmother.

Years later, it dawned upon me that Ma never had a share of the orange, not even a small slice.

She gave the whole fruit to us – and never showed any desire for it or at least, that was what I thought.

We lived with simple meals for a long time. Ma would make sure our stomach was filled before she filled her stomach.

She made many other sacrifices for us.

I have never heard her talk about them or grumble to us about the hard life.

One of my brothers passed away when we were young and Ma never talked about him since then.

I knew, like any mother would know, it must have broken her heart to lose one of her own.

Ma carried the pain in her heart. She lived with the sorrow like so many of the other tragedies in our family life.

She bore the burden of every sadness and never for once did she share any of the burden with us – a sacrifice that only mother could make.

Ma demonstrated to me what it means to have resilience.

Resilience is the discipline and competence to learn from failures, adversity and challenges.

It is the strengthening of the mind and heart so as not be pulled down by these setbacks.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from an obstacle to become a better person and be more empowered to achieve goals and vision.

Lesson #4 – Character

In terms of child education, Ma was ahead of her times.

She did not emphasize getting good grades as much as developing a good character with sound values.

It was almost instinctive to her that what matters most was not what was printed on the Report Card but the track record of how I have lived my life.

Ma believed in developing a good character.

A sound character is one with integrity. It is wholesome, balanced and complete with good values.

These values include love, compassion, kindness, patience, humility and having a peace-loving nature.

Character is like a vehicle that will carry us to our destination in life.

Lesson #5 – Giving Back

Once, I jumped off from the top off a cupboard, pretending I was Superman and trying to save the world.

Unfortunately, I slipped and my forehead landed on an empty Milo can.

I had a deep slash on the top part of my forehead, the scar of which remains until today.

Ma and Papa rushed me to the hospital. She sat besides me while the doctor performed the operation.

Ma held my hand and stroked my forehead in the loving and gentle way as only a mother could do.

Stitch by stitch, as the doctor sewed and closed up my wound, Ma must have felt pain and anguish stabbing her heart.

I am sure she would have done everything to exchange place with me.

Her heart must have been broken to see her child screaming in pain.

What happened next was an experience that would be etched in my mind forever.

My parents bought me my favorite bun, a rectangular-shaped bread with sweet creamy fillings.

I sat between them and felt like a prince. We were sitting so close together.

The feeling of love still coast through my being as if I was there again.

Ma’s love goes beyond any other earthly love. It’s a selfless love that embraces me no matter how bad or disappointing I might occasionally have been.

In that love, I can always find comfort, kindness and compassion – and it’s priceless.

I have seen Ma extend the same love, care and concern to many people around.

Right now, even in her eighties, she’s looking after her friends, some of whom are older than her.

Ma inspire me to give back to the community and society.

Ma showed me how to serve from the heart and make a positive difference to others.

Lesson #6 – Hope and Optimism

Ma devoted her life to looking after us and making sure we do our part for the community.

I have always felt that at another time and place, Ma would make a great leader in any organization.

Now and then, I would joke with her that she should stand for election and be a leader in the government.

I learned from Ma the power of
holding on to dream, hope and optimism.

All her life, Ma believes that life will get better. She is filled with hope and is optimistic that we will improve and have better achievements.

Without dreams and a sense of looking forward to the future, life will be boring and meaningless.

Dream, hope and optimism can help us to live a meaningful, exciting and fulfilling life.

The good news about these six lessons is that they are not a genetic trait. They can be learned and taught.

I believe these lessons can help us achieve better results and become more successful in life.


As an adult, I feel like a ship.

I can be tossed by choppy water, suffer through stormy weather, and sail to unchartered territory. Deep in my heart, I know I can always return back to the safe haven of my mother.

Ma’s thoughts were about me when I was born. I know she will have me in her thoughts until the end of time.

Without Ma, who am I?

I am nothing.


By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at

For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at

Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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