Little Irwena Barton never considered herself a pageant girl. However, there was one that always piqued her interest- the annual Mother and Daughter Pageant. Year after year, Irwena found herself glued to the television screen so that she would not miss any second of the glitz and the glamour of her favourite pageant. She loved every aspect of it- the fun dresses, the whimsical matching, the routines and the love that beamed from the mom’s face as she looked at her daughter and vice versa. Though she loved the pageant dearly, she never thought of proposing it to her mother since she considered her extremely timid and shy.
As fate would have it, several years later- not only did Irwena get to live out one of her dreams but she managed to win the same pageant she grew up loving.
Recounting the events leading up to the crowning moment, Irewena Barton and Melissa Smartt in an Interview with Nightly News shared their journey. A now 23-year-old Irwena said that “Miss Fung (one of the pageant’s coordinator) was the person who saw my mom and I sometime last year and told us that we should enter into the mother and daughter pageant. However, when my mom got the phone call about the pageant, we were actually surprised that she remembered. But I always wanted to participate in the pageant from a very young age, but my mom has always been shy and so we never followed up”.
But a mother’s love knows no limits, bounds or limitations, so when they received the call, Smartt decided that she would finally fulfill her daughter’s desire and join the pageant. “When she got the call from Miss Fung I guess my mom built the courage to give me my hearts desire.” Irwena said.
Her mother’s selflessness paid off since the pair will now reign for one year in their glory. 45 year old Melissa Smartt said that this was a moment she would cherish forever- not only because of the win but because she was able to make her daughter happy. “I am happy that I was able to fulfill a long awaiting desire of my daughter and doing it at this stage of her life where she can feel the love and we can both express it on stage means the world to me. It is just a marvelous experience and this memory will forever be part of our lives.”
Although they are a bit disappointed by what they dubbed as a negative response from the crowd, they both expressed that they both were able to become better versions of themselves during the process and would do it all over in again without a second thought. “ For my mom she was able to face her fear of being in the spot light to face a large audience and for myself I achieved the ability of gaining a new experience and unlocking another level of my creative side and it was so amazing that I got to do that with my mom.” The young stated.
Irwena stated that “We did not expect to get such a positive response from the audience and that of itself fuel us to have even more fun in completing our unique routine and show the judges and the audience the bond we have as mother and daughter. I was expecting my mom to be super nervous but she wasn’t she was confident.”
She went on to touch on what she believes cemented their win. ”Our routine was unique since it had a story line. The crown you saw my mom wore on pageant night was not only a crown but it was her knowledge, wisdom and beauty in which she has passed on to me now that I am older and I am venturing out into life. I also personally think the choice of song we used. My mom isn’t into music however, I grew up listening to UB40 from my dad constantly playing their music and she knows some of their songs and this song in particular she knows very well since I myself play their music around her and I knew she would have enjoyed modelling to this song and we would have been able to show our connection through that song.”
Beaming with love, adoration and pride, the two touched on their mother and daughter relationship. “ My mom has forever been my best friend, I talk every and anything with her even when I know a lecturing follows. Sometimes I tell myself I would not tell her certain things but I am so comfortable with her I may end up saying exactly what I was trying to hide and I think she appreciates the fact that I can be able to tell her all aspects of the events that occur in my life.”
“As a mother I was able to build a relationship with my daughter from a very young age that is based on trust, I encouraged her for me to be her best friend, but I clearly distinguished the role of a mother and a best friend and so we were very comfortable with any topic. I give guidance, support and show love at all times irrespective of the situation.” She went on to give this message to mothers- “I just want to encourage mothers, to listen to their daughters and always give them a hearing so that they can develop that trust no matter what the situation is.”
Smartt who has been employed at the Bank of Guyana for 25 years serves as an Assistant Records management officer, while Barton is currently in her final year reading for her International Relations Degree at the University of Guyana.