Mothers Who Inspire: Datin Dian Lee, founder and managing director of Clearwater Group
Prioritising what's important and making time for oneself are Datin Dian Lee's secret to having it all as a wife, entrepreneur and mother to three children.
Mother’s Day may have been two weeks ago but a mother’s job, love and care never cease. Following up on our ‘Mothers who Inspire’ series, we speak to Datin Dian Lee, founder and managing director of the Clearwater Group, about the trials and tribulations about being a mother and what being one to three beautiful children has taught her.
A life-long calling
Being a mother was something Datin Dian always knew she wanted. Maybe it was a calling that stemmed from her own mother who had her at the tender age of 24, but babies and children were something the graceful and soft-spoken socialite adored ever since she can remember.
“I’ve loved babies and children all my life,” she shares over a tall glass of orange juice. “I also always knew that I wanted kids so might as well have them young.”
Following in her mother’s footsteps, she had her first-born son, Jedi, with husband Datuk Jared Lim when she was merely 24 herself. A daughter, the quick-to-smile and quicker-to-love Jora Dream followed and just less than two months ago, her youngest son, Jaan completed the little family. If Datin Dian’s glowing complexion and wide smile when speaking about them were anything to go by, being the mother to these three looks to be the single proudest achievement of her life.
That’s saying something because her resume outside of being a mum is an equally impressive one. She founded and currently runs not only the Clearwater Group of boutique apartment developers, but also two of the trendiest restaurants around town. Anyone who has sampled the food at Ploy or the new modern Chinese restaurant, Way, will know she is excelling at both. The question that plagues many people’s minds is how exactly does she juggle all that and still manage to look as good as she does at social events?
“It is really important to prioritise,” says Datin Dian. “I strongly believe that just because you become a mum, motherhood doesn’t become you.”
Making time for oneself
She sees to it that she gets time to herself to achieve the most ideal balance as a wife, entrepreneur and mother of three all rolled into one. Spreading oneself too thin and burning out serves no benefit to any party.
“I make the time for myself. I find time for myself, that’s so very important,” she stresses.
She is an avid gym-goer, who makes it a point to go at least twice a week. “It used to be four to five times a week ,but now with the baby and with everything that is going on, twice a week is my target,” she states.
That system works for her but she is the first to admit motherhood is different for everybody.
“Everyone is different,” she says. “There are pros and cons to having children early or later, but being a mum was very natural for me.”
On top of that she is quick to quip that everything she has going for her has only been made possible due to the support system she has at home. Whenever things get too much for her to handle, she can always rely on her family whom she calls her "infrastructure of support" to be right there behind her.
“My husband, Jared has been a great partner and that has allowed me to be a better mother. Also, my in-laws and my parents, I am lucky I have my family supporting me all the way.”
Motherhood, the multiple of love
Some time in the interview, Datin Dian herself joked that it would seem like she spent her entire 20’s getting pregnant and having babies. Illustrating her sense of humour, it also drills home just how much becoming a mother at such a young age makes her stand out from her peers.
“Being a mother requires you to be patient,” she says, a virtue most young people do not have and take too long to learn. Motherhood, if anything, sped up the process and taught her selflessness and sacrifice better than any school ever could.
“Motherhood has taught me to put myself last and always put my family first,” she puts forth.
Did she feel like she missed out on her 20’s because she was at home caring for her babies when her friends were out enjoying their youth? Absolutely not.
“Being a mum is only part of your identity; it should not become the whole of you,” she says without the slightest hint of doubt. Leading by example, she has arrived at where she is today by living as boldly and going after her dreams as fearlessly as any woman her age without children.
“I try to not let being a mother define all that I am,” she adds. “It is very important as a modern woman that besides being a mother, you also recognise who you are and who you want to be.”
As matter of fact, being a mother whilst going through all these processes and achievements has only made every success that came her way all the sweeter.
“Everything I do, all the happiness I feel, is made doubly more when I share them with my husband and family,” she shares with a smile. “Being a mum, it multiplies all your joy.”
This Mother’s Day, one can say Datin Dian probably already has the best present a mother can ask for – three beautiful children who bring her more joy and love than anything in the world.
As she puts it herself, “Being a mum is just pure joy. The whole process from being pregnant to giving birth to watching your kids grow up – it’s one of the most beautiful and joyous experiences I’ve ever felt.”