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On Mother’s Day, handwritten words from the heart

By March 20, 2018 March 21st, 2021 5 Comments

I reminded my girls this morning on our way to school that Mother’s Day was around the corner. I half-jokingly told them it meant more to me than celebrating my birthday, especially lately. I don’t think I felt deserving of being celebrated as a mother before. For the longest time, I thought I was playing pretend. I was young, alternating between giddiness at having my own baby to dress and play with to delirium associated with lack of sleep and exhaustion. Those initial novel years soon turned into panic and worry, and delirium associated with lack of sleep and exhaustion. These days, I feel a massive shift toward a sense of awe and gratitude, in a heart-opening, tear-jerking kind of way. Time is simply flying by, and also stopping still. The girls are growing overnight —and so am I. My relationship with them is evolving, or my outlook has changed. They most likely still see the worried, sleep-deprived, manic parole officer they have always had stationed at home, who occasionally is fun to hang out with and can at times make a decent whole, plant-based pizza.

I tell them I do not want gifts. I want handwritten cards, from their heart.

Then I realize this is too much to ask of teenage girls busy with their social drama and argumentative essays.

One afternoon 30 years ago, on our way back from school, when all good conversations take place, I asked my mother a question I will never forget. She used to pick me up from school on her way back from her government job in her green Honda Civic. I would entertain her for the 20-minute ride [we lived in the boonies] with stories about our antics in class. She laughed because we were really funny and borderline criminal. (For the record, children, I have a decent sense of humour, but I was a very nerdy student who cheered her classmates from the sidelines and NEVER got involved in anything illegal. Also, despite rumours to the contrary, I excelled at maths and physics.) As we drove down Mecca Street, I asked her how she managed to raise kids she could trust. How did she trust we would do the right thing when we were on our own? She told me she did not DO anything. She said she and my father simply WERE. They were the people they wanted their children to be.

Here I am, being the daughter I want my girls to be.

Mama, as I write, I look around me at the black and white pictures of you in your younger years: fashionable, stunning, funny as hell —and really good at maths and physics. I see the trailblazer young woman you were before motherhood came to officially certify your grandeur. I am biased. Of course I see you as the greatest being ever to walk this earth. It wasn’t until recently that I saw the same love and awe in your students’ eyes. I am sure they have always been there. I think I just have stronger glasses today. You light up my girls’ world. No house can have that warm, safe, welcoming scent of home quite like yours. No one on this planet can love like you do. Nor smell like you. I do not think we will ever have a meal as divine as one prepared by you. And when we make you laugh, we know we are enough.

Only yesterday, a Palestinian social media celebrity posted a very moving tribute to mothers after witnessing the birth of his child. In the wake of his post-labour trauma, he announced that mothers whose deliveries were supported by drugs deserved 10 gifts on Mother’s Day, while those with natural deliveries sans drugs earned 1000 gifts. I wished I could tell him our little secret: when the baby is ready to come out, it will. We have no choice in the matter really. So as much as I would love to take credit for my prowess and threshold for pain, the truth is I had little choice in the final outcome. I am not sure that earns me any medals.

On that happy and painful note, I would like to take this opportunity to issue a public apology to my mother for the hell I put her through on my way out into this world. I wish I could take back every second (all one billion of them) of agony I caused you. Right from the beginning, I chose to be the contrast of grace, although eventually I made up for it with humour, maths, and physics.

I do not believe the physical act of birthing a child, as moving and life changing as it is, makes the mother the glorious being she is. I believe it is the moments after that make all the difference. And that moment that tops the list: that’s TRUST.

It is no coincidence that we celebrate Mother’s Day in the Middle East on the first day of spring. Mothers and spring are birthers of life. They literally bloom with splendour. They never lose faith that after the rain, the flowers blossom. The leaves grow. And the grass turns green.

I still don’t know how you do what you do. But I feel it. I live it. I experience it. And I absorb it. I relish every ounce of your being, trusting that the peace and confidence it has given me is going to seep into my girls.

Prophet Mohammad Peace Be Upon Him said,

“Your heaven lies under the feet of your mother.”

Heaven is where mother is. Only today, I finally trust. Because I have grown in your home, a home that simply IS: love, authenticity, faith, and simplicity. Heaven.

May all mothers everywhere BE.

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