Mu­tual Ad­mi­ra­tion

Sin­gle work­ing mum ML Radeethep Devakula and her teenage daugh­ters Ka­mon­phorn and Supipa Bu­ranasiri talk to Pri­jayanant Kalam­pa­sut about fa­mil­ial roles in an up­bring­ing bound by love

Thailand Tatler - - AROUND ASIA -

Pri­jayanat Kalam­pa­sut talks to sin­gle work­ing mum ML Radeethep Devakula and her daugh­ters Ka­mon­phorn and Supipa Bu­nanasiri about their roles, re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and re­la­tion­ships grow­ing up in a tight fam­ily unit

Car­ry­ing a child in your womb for nine months and then giv­ing birth forges a unique life­long at­tach­ment be­tween mother and off­spring but nur­tur­ing chil­dren and be­ing a good role model is no piece of cake, even more so if you’re go­ing about it alone. The chal­lenges of be­ing a sin­gle par­ent are man­i­fest but who’s to say one can­not do a good job fly­ing solo.

ML Radeethep Devakula, daugh­ter of MR Thep­kamol, former diplo­mat and privy coun­cil­lor, and his wife Khun­y­ing Kwanta, is a Lon­don School of Eco­nomics grad­u­ate and cur­rently as­sis­tant VP for cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Thai Bev­er­age. Prior to this, she held sev­eral fi­nance-re­lated jobs in­clud­ing at the Bank of Asia and Kasikorn Bank. As a sin­gle mum of three she is some­thing of a trooper, car­ing for daugh­ters Ka­mon­phorn Bu­ranasiri, or Nook, Supipa Bu­ranasiri, oth­er­wise known as Mim, and son Vu­tichart Bu­ranasiri, or Mapp.

Fol­low­ing her di­vorce in 2011, she has been a sin­gle par­ent for six years and de­spite hav­ing to work at the same time, it is a role she seems to ex­cel at. In fact, even when she was younger and preg­nant she was never one to shy away from her goals and the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties they en­tailed, even if it meant man­ag­ing sev­eral things si­mul­ta­ne­ously. “I had Nook when I was about 28 years old,” she says. “While I was preg­nant with her, I was work­ing in a bank and pur­su­ing my master’s de­gree at Sasin at the same time.” She con­tin­ued to jug­gle moth­er­hood and a ca­reer just fine un­til, as she read­ily ad­mits, the birth of her son Mapp. “Two kids were man­age­able but three re­quired much more of my time as a mother,” she smiles. So in order to fully de­vote her­self to her chil­dren, she de­cided to leave her job. It wasn’t un­til her two daugh­ters were in their teens that she re­turned to work with Thai Bev­er­age.

One of the big­gest chal­lenges as a par­ent, Mook says, is to not spoil her chil­dren while still be­ing able to of­fer love and sup­port. Al­though she could eas­ily shower them with gifts and ma­te­rial pos­ses­sions she is adamant that they learn to work, to save up and buy things for them­selves. One of the most im­por­tant val­ues she con­stantly tries to in­still in them is the con­cept of be­ing in­de­pen­dent and self-re­liant. “I want them to learn to stand on their own two feet and not sim­ply wait around for oth­ers to take care of them,” she says. “At the end of the day noth­ing is cer­tain in life so you have to be able to sur­vive on your own.” When it comes to ed­u­ca­tion how­ever, Mook im­poses no re­stric­tions, as long as learn­ing is in­volved. “What­ever it is that they want to study, I will al­ways sup­port them,” she says. “I just want them to be happy. I truly be­lieve that even if you pur­sue a ca­reer that doesn’t pay well, if you do what you love you will be re­warded.”

Her el­dest daugh­ter Nook, who is now 19, is cur­rently study­ing English and psy­chol­ogy at Ge­orge­town Univer­sity while 18-year-old Mim is about to be­gin a de­gree in health sci­ence at Bos­ton Univer­sity. Like most moth­ers out there, be­ing apart from her kids is a per­pet­ual worry for Mook. Thank­fully, to­day there is LINE, What­sapp and FaceTime, which al­low her to be in touch with her brood ev­ery day when they are abroad.

Both girls are for­ever grate­ful for their mother. “She’s a real trooper mum,” says Nook. “She man­ages every­thing for our fam­ily and goes out to work ev­ery day. And with me be­ing over­seas, she has to also deal with a dif­fer­ent time zone.”

“She is such a hip mum and ex­tremely easy to talk to,” says Mim with a laugh. “She’s not just a strict mum, more like our best friend, some­one we can talk to about any­thing. Not ev­ery­one can say that about their moth­ers.” Nook adds, “It’s just com­fort­ing when you are abroad. When­ever I am con­fronted with per­sonal is­sues, which I am not com­fort­able shar­ing with my friends, I know I can al­ways turn to my mother for ad­vice and guid­ance.”

When re­call­ing best child­hood memories, kids of­ten pick that thrilling mo­ment when their par­ents took them to Dis­ney Land for the first time. For Nook, the best mem­ory with her mother was when she first moved to the United States to at­tend board­ing school. “Even though she’s al­ways busy with work, it meant the world to me that she dropped every­thing just to come and help me set­tle in,” she says with a smile. “She took me

shop­ping to buy bed linen and other use­ful things and taught me how to do laun­dry. I re­mem­ber it as if it were yes­ter­day.” A lover of dogs, Mim’s favourite mem­ory is of her mother sur­pris­ing her with a puppy a few years ago.

So what does it mean to be a good mum? For the girls it’s about find­ing a happy equi­lib­rium be­tween be­ing a guardian and be­ing a friend. “I think it’s im­por­tant to know how to dis­ci­pline your kids without risk­ing los­ing them—set­ting rules and bound­aries while still show­ing them love and friend­ship,” says Nook. The trio cer­tainly has a spe­cial bond, a balance be­tween dis­ci­pline, mu­tual re­spect and un­con­trol­lable laugh­ter, al­though Mook says her jour­ney as a sin­gle mum has had its ups and downs. “I think the hard­est thing about be­ing a sin­gle mum is that I also work,” she says. “And be­ing there for my chil­dren all of the time is not al­ways pos­si­ble. I couldn’t make it to Nook’s com­mence­ment cer­e­mony at Ge­orge­town be­cause of an im­por­tant meet­ing. It’s a sac­ri­fice I have to make. But it’s im­por­tant to work to set a good ex­am­ple for them.” A mil­lion books on par­ent­ing will never truly pre­pare you for the world of par­ent­hood and Mook is one of the first to ad­mit this. “I’ve read many books but noth­ing com­pares to learn­ing as you go from real life ex­pe­ri­ence,” she says. That said, Mook is for­tu­nate to have had ex­em­plary par­ents who, she says, were and still are the best men­tors when it comes to rais­ing kids. She has clearly done things right as all three of her chil­dren have turned out just fine. Nook has as­pi­ra­tions to be­come an English pro­fes­sor one day while Mim sees her­self work­ing for an NGO mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the world. Mapp is still young at 12 years old but is al­ready at­tend­ing board­ing school for the sum­mer. One thing Mook makes sure to re­mind her chil­dren of is their roots and her­itage. “No mat­ter where you grow up and no mat­ter what kind of ed­u­ca­tion you re­ceive, you have to know Thai val­ues. What­ever hap­pens, when you look in the mir­ror you are Thai,” she says. “I made sure my youngest served as a monk for a month, which he did when he was 10 years old.” What’s the best part of be­ing a mum? “I’m in con­trol,” says Mook with a loud laugh. “Se­ri­ously, of course there are dif­fi­cul­ties and chal­leng­ing times but hav­ing chil­dren is such a re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. It truly is a gift.”

fab­u­lous three Radeethep look­ing ra­di­ant in an Alice and Olivia dress ac­com­pa­nied by her two daugh­ters Ka­mon­phorn and Supipa in Her­mes and Dior

Best friends Su­per­mum Radeethep in Dior and Swarovski; our cover stars Supipa in a Marni top and Ralph Lau­ren jeans, Radeethep and Ka­mon­phorn in Stella McCart­ney

fam­ily above the rest The si­b­lings strike a pose in Ralph Lau­ren and Alice and Olivia; (op­po­site) Radeethep rocks in a Her­mes dress

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