First off, I want to say a huge thank you to all the mothers, grandmothers, cool aunts, and mother figures out there! There truly is no one like a mother and we couldn’t do it without you. And now, I want to tell you about my own amazing mom.
On paper, my mom and I are relatively comparable since I’ll be following in her (exact) footsteps by attending Wayne State medical school, her alma mater. But the thing is, that’s where the similarities in our stories end. My mom fled Saigon with her family the day after her high school graduation just days before the city fell in 1975. She welcomed adulthood by starting college in a country she didn’t know, speaking a language that wasn’t her own. Whenever she tells the story she always says how she ended up in the medical field on accident. She started with a nursing degree and thought, “why not try becoming a doctor?” and then somehow stumbled into radiology which, ironically, is now one of the most difficult residencies to land.
Although I can’t possibly relate to the struggles of fleeing a country in conflict and navigating a new country in a second language, I know firsthand just how grueling the journey in medicine can be. There have been times when I’ve been wallowing in my own self-pity after bombing an exam, thinking of when to schedule my next tutoring session and I simply sit back and wonder how on earth my mom did this with almost no resources. The feeling of humility that washes over me levels me to the ground every time when I think of how hard she’s worked for the success she’s earned and how she’s used that success to give me everything. I’m so blessed to have been given an education along with every resource I could need and even then, some days the journey feels infinitely hard. All I can do is be grateful for everything she’s given me, put my head down and keep at it. I can only aspire for that level of success one day.
Over the years my mom has become my rock and my best friend. It is a bond that has truly been forged in fire. The hardest thing we’ve ever been through was unexpectedly losing my father just before Mother’s Day 11 years ago. When I think back on those times, I can’t even tell you how we survived it, just that we did it together. In my state of shock I did what I could to keep going but I realize now that, while my mom was doing the same for herself, she had the added task of looking out for me too. My mom has always worn many hats: doctor at work, mom, chauffeur, sideline tennis coach, and algebra tutor to me, but for the last 11 years she’s taken on my dad’s hat as well. Not once have I ever felt like I missed out on the experience of having two loving parents because she loves me enough for two. All single moms must be superheroes to do what they do and in my eyes, my mom is the greatest of them all.
Each time I reach a new milestone or celebrate a new success in my life, I can never forget that I owe it all to her. Although we come from vastly different beginnings, I hope the rest of my story will reflect hers. I am so excited to become the next Dr. Nghiem and will be so honored to have her put on my white coat as I begin my journey in medical school. One day if I’m lucky enough to have kids of my own, if I can be at least half the mom she is I’ll be more than pleased.
Alright, before I make myself cry while writing this in the middle of Starbucks we’re gonna launch into something a little more lighthearted. Being related to someone as fashionable and classy as my mom, no photo shoot would be complete without coordinating bags and outfits! Again, I have to say a huge thank you to Katelyn Wollet for doing this shoot with us – be sure to check out her work here. Remember those jeans from 7 For All Mankind that I was raving about a while ago? Well I convinced my mom to buy the exact same pair so now you have double the reasons to go get some for yourself! I also was getting super jealous of my mom’s gorgeous Gucci belt so I caved and got myself the slightly subtler, slightly more economic version. I don’t think I even need to comment on the matchy mother-daughter bags – they’re just adorable. The rest of our outfit details will be linked down below. I hope you’re all having a wonderful Mother’s Day. Give your mom a hug from me!
My mom’s outfit:
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