Mom couldn’t afford lessons for me, but I knew what I wanted the music to sound like. Singer Justin Bieber (R) and mother Pattie Mallette arrives at the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on January 31, 2010, in Los Angeles, California. could feel it whe, the chords and melody together, the same way you can feel it when your shoes are on the wrong feet, he wrote in his autobiography. As much as he loved playing instruments, it was the sounds of singing that most often filled their household.


I went along to the meeting and sat with her while she battled through tears to find out what assistance she was eligible for. She was adamant that she wouldn not need it for long, that she would declare every dollar she earned through picking up extra nursing shifts, and that she would upskill to become a full-time registered nurse to increase her income. She was lucky to have a really understanding and empathetic case manager. Upskilling meant signing up to a polytechnic course in New Plymouth, an hour away from home. Mum would travel there three or four mornings a week for classes, work part-time at Hawera Hospital doing shift work, then come home to spend time being a mum. She had to leave the house at seven-thirty every morning, which meant I would get my three sisters ready for school, make breakfast, prepare lunches, and make sure they got to primary school in Manaia just after eight in order to get myself to high school in Hawera on time. One of the teachers at school reported Mum for leaving me in charge of the younger ones, as I would have been just under the legal age. Mum was devastated, of course, but fortunately her case manager stepped in and helped her sort out the issue with the authorities. The school made some allowances for us and we made some adjustments to our routine. My mum has been a huge inspiration to me; she motivates me to work harder, complain less, push for more and stand up for what I believe in.

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