My recollections of my mother is all based on the time before I left home for boarding school and moreover, my perspective of who she is, is also based on my own observations and limited encounters with her over the subsequent years.
In my eyes, my mother is in some ways like Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady.
My mother was a Principal
She was a true entrepreneur from the very beginning. She and my father set up a kindergarten and all my siblings and I studied there. In a short span of time, they extended the kindergarten to offer daycare services to working parents. I remember growing up calling my mother “Principal” when I was in the school. The kindergarten had at least 200 students and over 20 teachers. My mother was not only the principal but also the teacher. She was the authority, everyone including the parents and teachers all looked up to her, especially at the end of the school year graduation where she gave her speech, which was held in City Hall in Central. She was a natural public speaker and was, what we now call, an influencer. You could felt her presence from a far distance. Her hard work and utmost dedication to the school, parents, students and teachers was well known, admired and respected.
I called her an Iron Lady because I have learned only when I became a mother myself that she worked until the day she went into labor and she resumed work the day after she was released from the hospital. There was no such thing as maternity leave in her dictionary. She did not look at herself any less than her male counterparts. She was a true believer in the idea of never relying on others if you can do it yourself.
My mother was a Business Woman
After maybe 15 years, my parents closed down the kindergarten and took a venture in the business world. This must had been in the mid seventies when China started opening up to foreign trade. Among the few business ventures, the one that made the most impact was the opening of a department store in Shenzhen. I believe my parents were either the first, or at the very least among one of a very few who were given that opportunities to bring in foreign goods into China. Retail business was new to my parents and to China; any foreign investors at the time who wished to do business in China had to partner with a local joint venture, typically the government.
I called her an Iron Lady because she dared to try, she didn’t let doubts get in her way, she refused to bow down to challenges. Doing business with China was not easy at all, especially during those years because it was a very male dominated world there and also because doing business with China was all about connections, relationships and drinking. My mother is a woman and she doesn’t drink and she was the only woman in all the meetings and dinners with the business partners. Yes yes, my father was there too….but you know what, despite everything that my mother was not, the only person these business partners would enter any business deal or negotiation was with my mother. The only time they would agreed to set up any meetings or dinners was if my mother was there too.