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  • Writer's pictureRebekah Qu

Where’s Mommy: Reia Grey's Heartwarming Story of Family, Work, and Filipino Heritage

Where’s Mommy: Reia Grey's Heartwarming Story of Family, Work, and Filipino Heritage

Reia Grey (@Reia.Grey) is a mother, wife, full-time working professional, and now, author. Her debut children's picture book, "Where’s Mommy?" (@TheWheresMommyBook), follows a young Filipino-American boy discovering that his mother's love is never far away, even when she can't be by his side.

In this interview, Reia shares the inspiration behind her touching story, the journey of balancing motherhood and career, and the importance of cultural representation in children's books. Join us as we delve into the creative mind behind "Where’s Mommy?" and explore the journey of this talented debut author.

Reia Grey with her book Where's Mommy?

What inspired you to write "Where's Mommy?"?

My personal journey of balancing a career while raising my children inspired me. I wanted to convey two important messages to my children: First, mommies can have fulfilling careers and should pursue their dreams. Second, even when Mommy is away at work, she always thinks of them — and will always come back to them. Through this book, I hope to reassure children and celebrate the strength and love of working mothers.

As a mother and a full-time working professional, what personal anecdotes or experiences from your life made their way into the story?

One significant anecdote is the theme of family, friends, and community supporting the little boy throughout his day. Being a working mom would not be possible without my husband, my family, and the community we've built around us.

Fun anecdote: the cute outer space themes in the book are directly inspired by my son, who loves all things outer space.

a page from Where's Mommy showing outer space items in the little boy's room when his mom returns from work

How did you work with the illustrator to bring your story to life? What was the process like, and what role did you play in the visual aspect of the book?

Creating a picture book can take eight months to a year, but we completed ours in just two months. The process began with her storyboarding basic sketches and selecting a color theme. Once we finalized those, she hand-drew and hand-painted everything. After that, she scanned all the pages, made some color corrections on her computer, and added the text. I was involved in every step, providing feedback and ensuring the visuals perfectly complemented the story.

Can you share some challenges and rewards you've encountered while balancing motherhood and a full-time career?

Balancing motherhood and a full-time job comes with challenges and rewards. Some challenges are managing my time and ensuring I am also present for my children, all while fulfilling my work obligations. One of my biggest obstacles is fighting the guilt of being away from my littles, but it also makes our time together much more precious.

On the other hand, the rewards are immense. While being a mom will always be my number one priority, having a career allows me to pursue my passions and set an example for my children: They are boundless — they can dream and achieve anything they put their heart and mind to.

What message do you hope to convey to working mothers (and their children) through your book?

To the working mothers — Don't feel guilty for being away from your little ones. You are modeling for your children to pursue their dreams and passions.

To the children — Mommy is doing important things at work! Mommy is always there for you, even when you think she isn't. Mommy will always be close to your heart.

Can you discuss the importance of representing Asian-American cultures, particularly Filipino-American culture, in children's literature and how you approached this in your book?

Representation in children's literature is important because it allows children to see themselves and their cultures reflected in the stories they read. For Filipino-American children, this representation can instill pride in their heritage and foster a sense of belonging. In my book, I incorporated subtle and significant elements of Filipino culture: family dynamics, cultural characteristics, and even specific foods familiar to Filipino-American families. With all of this, I hope to provide a mirror for Filipino-American children to see their own experiences realized and to offer a window for others to learn about Filipino culture.

The little boy in Where's Mommy enjoying eggs and rice for breakfast.

How did receiving the 2024 Mom's Choice Awards® Gold Recipient feel? What does this recognition mean to you?

This recognition means the world to me. It validates that stories of working moms and Filipino culture are essential and need to be shared. I am grateful for this honor and continue to look forward to sharing this story with a broader audience.

Is there anything we haven't discussed that you'd like to share?

Yes! I want to address a common misconception about working moms: the impression that they prefer to be away from their children. Everyone is different and has different circumstances, so this is a gentle reminder to please be mindful of your words in casual conversations and how they might be perceived. And to all the working moms out there, don't feel guilty! You have to do what's right for you and, more importantly, your family.

Follow Reia Grey at @Reia.Grey and @TheWheresMommyBook on Instagram to stay up-to-date on what Reia is doing next!


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