It was around 6am on a Sunday morning when I heard the door creak open.
In my semi-conscious state, I wasn't entirely sure who could be entering the house so early.
I was at home, with my three siblings and my dad, and we all knew my mum was away studying for exams. So, I assumed we were getting burgled.
My mum, or ma as I call her, was training to be a radiology consultant at the time.
During the day she pulled full shifts at the hospital and in the evenings she would stay up late, till around 3 or 4am, studying.
Too lazy to run downstairs, I stayed under the duvet. I wanted to have five more minutes before the burglars reached my room.
At around 9am I showered, got dressed and went downstairs. No, we hadn't been burgled but there was an intruder and whoever he/she was, knew their way around a kitchen.
By the time I reached the lounge, the strong aroma of an Indian roast hit my nostrils and I knew ma was home.
Even as a teenager, with little experience of how the world worked, I knew she would have sacrificed a lot to be there that morning.
She probably started driving at 5am, after an hour of sleep, just to make sure she saw us for a few hours before going back to her studies.
When I asked her why she was at home, making a full-blown Indian roast, she shrugged it off.
Looking back now, my mum shrugged off quite a lot.
She was born in Tamil Nadu, south India, at a time when society gave women specific roles to play.
However, ma always knew what she wanted out of life and never settled for less, paving her own way regardless of the expectations around her.
As a result of this, her road has been a particularly arduous one.
She would hate for me to share her personal life story in this blog, so I won't. Suffice to say, her path is not one that many (including me) would have the guts to walk.
However, my mum is where she is today because she chose to never settle for less.
She has ticked most of the boxes she set herself as a student and I have often said that when I grow up (whenever that happens), I would like to be just like her.
But learning not to settle for less, is a humbling journey riddled with disappointment and failure.
It's a constant balancing act of knowing when to keep the peace and when to make war, when to stay with the pack and when to break away, when to speak up and when to shut up.
When I trip up and inevitably end up putting more distance between myself and the goalpost, her calm response has always been "we're all still learning."
It's her voice I carry with me when I'm tempted to settle for less than what I want.