Mother's Day 2021: Queenie Lee on the Perks of Being a Stay-Home Parent
When she was younger, Queenie Lee made a bold move to launch Aveneer, a business and tour consultancy in Kazakhstan. Then last year, when she gave birth to her daughter Anaya, Lee and her husband, Don Cheng, made yet another unconventional choice that both parents would step back from work so that they could devote their time to their newborn.
In a way it was a timely move as the pandemic had brought the tourism industry to a standstill, Lee reflects. But most of all, it allowed both of them the opportunity to bond with their baby. At the same time, this has given Lee the chance to pursue a new business idea, which she hopes to launch later this year. She tells us more about how having a stay-home husband has been a boon for her journey to motherhood.
What is your parenting style and philosophy?
Queenie Lee (QL) I would like Anaya to be able to live life extravagantly. Not in terms of money and resources, but to have the opportunity to experience the quintessential elements of growing up as a child. That she is not constrained by homework or pressured for good grades but to be able to enjoy the outdoors, find what gives her joy and makes her tick. I firmly believe that when a child is able to discover who they are as a person, they will naturally excel in other aspects such as education and sports.
Please describe your relationship with your daughter.
QL I see Anaya as my best friend and companion; someone with whom I constantly have conversations (although they are only one-way conversations for now). She is also my pillar of strength, as whenever I look at her, most of my problems fade away. I hope that I too will be her best friend as she grows up.
How did you and your husband come to a decision to take a step back from your careers to spend more time with your newborn?
QL Growing up, I never saw my parents as often as I would have liked as they were always busy working so I told myself that if I had a choice, I would like to be there for my daughter as much as I can. This is why my husband and I made a collective decision to both stay home and be more hands-on with Anaya.
What do you appreciate most about having your husband as a stay home dad in your parenting journey?
QL That Don is here with me each step of the way—we do not miss out on her major milestones and can be there to witness them together in person. He has also been of great help in taking over the night feeds so that I can get some proper rest. He also took up the responsibility of giving her baths during my confinement as I was advised not to be in contact with water as much as possible. These moments are really precious and it has been very endearing to see my husband bond with our daughter in this manner.
How has becoming a mother changed the way you live your life?
QL I am very blessed that Anaya has eased me into motherhood pretty smoothly as she rarely fusses or cries over anything. One of the biggest changes so far would probably be waking up extra early to have breakfast with her as I am not a breakfast person and also not going out for extended hours. However, I don’t regard any of this as a sacrifice as I genuinely miss her whenever I am not home or when I do not see her through the night when she sleeps! *laughs*
What is the greatest joy you derive out of motherhood?
QL Just watching my daughter grow up, mature and become more independent every day has really been the greatest joy but also my greatest sorrow as I often wish time would slow down a little. I can’t agree more with the saying: The days are long but years are short.
Are there any lessons you have learnt from your mother as you navigate motherhood?
QL I have always looked up to my mom and grandmother. My mom taught me that you can be a working mom but still strive for a balance between work and children. Although I did not see much of her when I was younger, we have always remained close. I genuinely feel we are even closer now that I have a daughter on my own.
My mom’s advice to me would be that each generation has to be better than the one before and that it is only when I become a mom that I will understand the type of sacrifices one would make for their child. This rings true now. My grandmother was one of the toughest, resilient and loving souls I have ever met—she taught me about sacrifice, unconditional love, respect and to put everyone before myself.
Related: Kate Middleton Talks First-Time Parent Jitters, Mum Guilt, and The Importance of Early Years in an Intimate Interview