A piece by Ambreen Khan, an occasional blogger for peace, mother, wife, but first and foremost a daughter.
At this time of year it’s usual to say goodbye to the happenings of the past year (2018 was crazy, no doubt) and to spark up new hopes and resolutions for the year to come (for me, another mind-boggling year is on the cards). Yet, one thing totally forgotten is what and ‘who’ we take with us into a new year or moreso a new chapter and new journey in life. And to remember who and what helped support and shape us to reach these new experiences.
So, this post is not about new year’s resolutions, you might be relieved to know, but about my foundations…my parents.
On this occasion, I felt the need to write a piece about one particular human being that has left in an imprint on me so deep and overwhelming that to not write something and share it would be an injustice to myself alone (although, these mere words I jot down here will still fall far short in doing justice to the role and person I write about).
This person I speak of is, of course, my mother. This is Part 1. (Sorry dad’s, you shouldn’t have to be left till last, you are the unsung heroes but I’ll get to part 2 about dads later!)
“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother” – Abraham Lincoln
Each moment, each day, each text message, each interaction shared with my mother is something I always, without hesitation, take for granted. Hands down. Nevertheless, this time I wish to encapsulate it, remember it and reminisce as I pray for there to be many, many more decades of interactions with her.
Let me start with some context. As I sat last year, 5 months pregnant feeling like a beached whale having just recovered (narrowly) from acute appendicitis and a good few months of Hyperemesis (severe dehydration and vomiting) I couldn’t help but smile and wonder what I did right in this life to deserve such unwavering care, love, support and tasty food forged by the beautiful hands of my beautiful superwoman mum who flew 3500 miles, leaving everyone including her new job, to be here, to be with me. And to be here to be a mother to my 4 year old gymnastic, enthusiastic and sometimes moody but cute little girl.
“Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.” – Sophocles
The very fact that I am typing this on my laptop is the result of my mum getting me a gift as she boards the flight to see me despite her evident worry for my health as a gestating mother. She even thought that far to cheer me up and keep me connected (as my previous Mac died a slow death of old age).
What I am trying to express in one way or another is the awe I am in when I think of how my mother is capable of doing so much, all at once, all the time, relentlessly (her name does mean “excellent” so maybe thats the trick to it). And how I pray the many thoughts that cross my head and heart that she is blessed with health and longevity in this life but also that I inherit or learn and become capable of exhibiting at least some of the strength, courage, wisdom, resolve, love, faith, multi-tasking mastery and genuine whole-heartedness she carries in her being and spreads about like she often spreads a beautiful feast of food for everyone who enters her home (which she manages to cook up within minutes it seems).
“We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth” (Qur’an Ch.46: v.15)
After having watched her through her life-trials, suffering the loss of children and watching her exude a soft, calmness in the face of devastation is a life-long image I can and never will shed. Watching her comfort me as a young 11 year old girl as she held my baby brother, her dying baby in her hands was phenomenal (not quite the word that fits) yet I feel its something that is rarely experienced as such a time of grief when the common phrase “a parent should never have to bury their child” exists. Going from that to watching her care for her own parents until they parted this world and seeing her continue with strength despite seeing the glimmers of deep sadness when she misses them each and every day.
Watching her with her grandmother hat on, single-handedly undertake “brat duty” looking after eight lively and challenging grandchildren of all ages and maturities who need entertaining, playing, feeding, teaching and sometimes disciplining while I struggle sometimes with just two small people! It never ceases to amaze as she does it so effortlessly and smoothly (although, very verbal with how tiring it is at which point she retreats to her bed with her long flowing comfy nighties)…but she still manages to leave each grandchild pining and moaning to stay with her longer and not return to their “owners” or their own abodes. How blessed our children are to have her love and care too, they will do anything to have a sleepover at my mum’s!
This saying of the Founder of Islam, “Paradise lies at the feet of your mother” [Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) – Hadith from Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Majah] couldn’t be more true. These eight words place both an esteemed status and a unique burden (of love and “mothering right”) upon the very existence of a mother. Obviously, I’m not speaking of parenting which is both a mum and dad’s responsibility, this very hadith is multi-dimensional and its power should never be displaced or dismissed!
The role of a mother is often under and overestimated at the same time. As Sophia Loren once stated, “when you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” Following those often exhausting and sometimes, uncomplimentary dual thought processes, decisions have to made often in support of “survival” of your child or placing their needs first. The role of a mother is then overestimated in thinking she can always do it right, do it best, do it selflessly, do it with infinite energy and most of all with poise and grace. This cannot be fair to expect and not human to always deliver. A mother herself will forget or choose to not “self-care” or be limited by her very own limitations thus marching forward and simply overdoing it by neglecting/overlooking that mothers are human beings with complex needs and an evolving soul amidst the beautiful chaos of existence. How “basic” and simple it is to believe, foolishly (of which I am guilty), when a mother is born she comes complete with full spec of superhuman energy that recharges itself, she comes equipped with seemingly unburdened shoulders to cry on that also offer wise advice and love mixed in, she is fitted with a 3D printer that produces real and nutritious food that tastes amazing and she concocts such dishes in no time with any ingredients. to add to this eternally overbrimming cup, she works another job within her 24hr mothering job. And the list and hats go on and on.
As I ramble on, I try to find my actual point which I’m evidently struggling to be breviloquent about. My mother has taught and shown me a great many things about my mind, existence, life, faith and about my own mothering and motherhood…and yet I am still at the start of this chapter of motherhood because there are volumes to learn! Mountain sized epic volumes! I’m simply grateful to have the example of my own mother and despite the many regrets I have including not being geographically near enough to her to start to repay a debt I will never actually be able to repay, I feel contrite in my childish behaviour towards her at times and feel sadness at not having her with open access due to her other intensive and considerable life commitments, during my “ugly duckling” years (that me and my sister fondly refer to as our young teenage years!). I am blessed eternally to have had and to still have every minute with her on this earth. Every minute. She has given me the love and the means to reach and embrace this chapter of my life, to be who I am. Furthermore, to strive to be who and how I wish to be as I grow in my own shoes as a mother, evolving mind and pulsing soul. Although no human is without flaws and weaknesses, I will throw no shade in this piece especially as I crafted it without my mum’s permission and she will probably kill me once she finds out! (Luckily, I havent revealed her not so glorious traits such as a deep and tenacious aversion to a messy kitchen or her utter offence taken at the noise of a football match on the TV unless its the world cup!)
Lest I forget, behind my mother is my father, without him my mum wouldn’t be able to be here to nurture me. Without God’s Grace I would have struggled and suffered without caring parents in my journey through life. Without the unit of my parents I would feel an unimaginable void…
I pray they enjoy a healthy, fulfilling, soul-satisfying and contented life here on earth and in the Hereafter. Ameen.
With love and prayers from Ambreen, your youngest child, “the spoilt one!”