Don’t get it confused. The title may read ‘How I Met My Mother,’ but in fact, I’ve known her all my life. Since the day she gave birth to me I’ve been captivated by her strength, grace and humility. Like many of you, I don’t believe there’s a thesaurus big enough for all the glowing words I could lavish on her.  But for the purpose of this tale I’ll stick to one: quiet. It’s not the shiniest of adjectives, but it accurately describes a woman who listens more than she speaks, demurs in mixed company and eschews drawing attention to herself.

That’s the mother I knew—until I met the other one.

She debuted her alter ego at the last place I ever thought I’d find her: modeling at a photo shoot. My mother, my sister and I were invited by luxe label, Calypso St. Barth’s, to be part of their Generations of Style Mother’s Day campaign. Along with others like Michelle Patterson, former First Lady of New York, and Hannah Bronfman, entrepreneur, each family was asked to style themselves in Calypso’s bold tunics. The mom I knew would have immediately turned this down—but this one quickly said yes. That should have been the first clue there was a new girl in town.

Days before the shoot she dove into preparation by shopping for crisp white jeans, scouting stylish tan sandals, and getting a chic—and edgy—hair cut to boot. Once on set, the woman who always wears a muted berry lipstick and minimal make-up, quietly pulled me aside to share that while she loved the upgrade to her everyday look—but was open to something bolder.


After hair and make-up was complete, Mom held court with her new friends: schmoozing with the photographer, chatting it up with the hair stylist and giving me pointers on how to sass up my look. If I thought this was a momentary lapse in personality—I had another thing coming.  Once we moved in front of the camera, I discovered my mother was a natural. She moved gracefully from pose to pose as if she were Iman, Beverly Johnson or Pat Cleveland. And, really, she might as well have been. I know all three icons about as well as I knew this stranger who was stealing the show.

Still disbelieving that this bold, outgoing diva was my quiet, conservative mom – I baited her. I requested a Beyonce song and commenced dancing. My expectation? For her to pull back, say no, even tell me to calm down. Not this woman! She responded by moving, grooving and dropping it lower than me and my sister! At the end of our dance off, my sister and I burst out in laughter – and applause. You always assume there’s another side to your parent –  but you’re never prepared to witness it. By the end of the day our petite mom had imparted a powerful lesson:  having children doesn’t mean loosing your style, swagger or sexiness. Afterall, ‘Mom’ is just a title – don’t get it confused.

Follow Zandile Blay on Twitter @Zandile