Having worked with fashion magazines like Elle Canada, Glow, Fashion, Canadian Living and Marie Claire Indonesia, and entrusted to paint the tips of celebs such as Carly Rae Jepsen and Hilary Duff, Melissa Forrest has serious beauty cred. To the fashion set she’s known as part of an all-star team at Tips Nail Bar, but she’s also one cool mom to two daughters, age 20 and 18, and admits that motherhood continues to teach her so much more about herself.
“As a parent, I think we need to share our experiences with our children. They have to know that parents make mistakes too, and maybe over and over again. They need to hear about struggles, and we need to show them a healthy way to handle them. The pressure to be an amazing mom is actually lessened because I can be myself. Most of all, I try to teach them, but also learn from them.” #whatshesaid.
WHAT HER KIDS HAVE TAUGHT HER
Trust goes a long way. “I’m a single mom. It’s just me and my girls and they don’t have much of a father-figure. I think this is why my eldest daughter chose to experience the things that she did. She started dating an Indian boy who was Muslim and even taught herself Bengali. She wanted to learn about his culture and be accepted in his family. This led to a bigger conversation about religion and when she was 17 she decided to convert to Islam. Of course it was hard for me to accept internally, especially with everything that’s happening in the world. But I thought this is what works for her right now. I can’t think about what’s going to happen because that’s the stuff that’ll make you crazy. Instead I told her that she didn’t need my permission—that she’s a big girl and only she can decide where she wants to put her faith. Nobody can teach her that. I didn’t have a religious upbringing but I understood she needed spirituality and wanted to connect with a higher being.”
Support them in everything. “After she decided to convert, all I could do was be supportive and understanding. So I went out and bought her prayer beads to hang outside of her door—when she hung them, her sister and I knew she was praying and didn’t disturb her. When she decided she wanted to wear a hijab, I embraced her decision with her. We went shopping for scarves and even watched tutorials on how to wear it. The day she told me that she wasn’t going to wear the hijab anymore, I booked her an appointment at a hair salon. I told her that she’s going to get a fabulous haircut and leave with a fresh start. Whatever decision she makes, I’m there for her.”
They are stronger than you think. “After converting, my daughter realized her spirituality wasn’t fulfilling her the way she hoped it would. She found out for herself that you can do what you think everyone wants you to do, but in the end you have to do what’s good for you. Today she doesn’t practice Islam but she’s a more confident young woman, doesn’t put up with everything and is more self-aware. I’ve told her that further down the road if she feels she needs to explore her religion again, then she should. Kids need room to spread their wings and to learn for themselves. You can’t stifle that or you’ll push them away.”
And so are we. “She taught me that I can be strong too. Over the years I think I lost that strength that I had as a child. I was a tomboy and grew up on a farm that only got running water when I turned 13! I was married at 20 and somehow lost my way. I wish I had her strength and conviction at her age. Her younger sister is very strong and extremely supportive too.”
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. “It boils down to, ‘how would I want to be treated at her age?’. As a mom you have to be selfless. It’s not about how it affects you, but how it affects them. Many people have knee-jerk reactions about how their kid’s decisions look on them. But it’s not about you, it’s about the child. If I was a 17-year old girl, what do I need ? Well, I would just want my mom to accept me. I love sharing this story because I love my daughter and I’m so proud of her. She also taught me so much more about religion. I was admittedly struggling with her decision and I reached out to a Muslim mom in my building and asked her to help me understand my daughter. We’d meet in the laundry room and have these heartfelt conversations. I was able to enlighten myself about Islam and in the end, learned so much more.”