I am a mother of two children now and I was brought up in an environment that evolved fast with many changes in our lifestyle. My life transitioned from a traditional lifestyle to a more modern one, a change made possible because of the friendship my mother had with my father as life partners. My parents were determined to improve their standard of living for themselves and their eight kids.
My parents’ story began when my father, an orthopedic surgeon, migrated to Pakistan. He started from scratch to provide us with a satisfactory home. He was serious only with regard to our studies, and would not accept anything but best efforts. To help fulfill my father’s wish, my mother strived hard, too. I remember people saying to my parents that they were quite smart to spend their money on their children’s studies. Although we started with a poor house in a remote area of Pakistan, we moved on to better locations. My parents believed that the environment is important and as we got older, they focused on friends, schools, and community.
My father was a busy man, but my mother kept a close eye on our friends and our school companions. She knew all of our friends and their parents and families and their homes. She also believed, “Have the discipline to save money, even on the most modest salary.” She saved pots of money for all of us and would not allow us to spend uselessly on food in the markets. Each of us got two dresses for each season of the year, and not more than that. Our school uniform and school shoes were new each year, and she sewed our school bags for us at home. She covered our books with newspapers and shopping bags so they looked just like the ones you buy.
I admire my mother. She was illiterate, but she was better than millions of literate mothers. The role she played was key to her living well and to all of us thriving. She was an active mother who cared about our health, hygiene, studies, sports activities, and social lives. Without an alarm clock, she limited her sleep to five hours a night, rising early each morning to wake us with a jug of fresh juice in her hand. She served us a glass of juice and then directed everyone towards the washroom to shower, have breakfast, and prepare for school. When we returned from school mid-day, she had fresh bread and lunch. Our home was clean, our clothes all organized and clean. We took a nap and then she awakened us for more studies, sports, and finally dinner with our father.
Our diet was balanced and my mother detested wasted food. Our meals were always fresh and plentiful for the family with twelve people, including my grandmother and uncle. My mother is much loved by my father. I remember the sweet gifts he used to bring to her. They were not expensive but she would accept them in a way that would make my father happier. She is by nature caring and sweet, which earned her much respect in our family and community.
My mother is religious, and her only disappointment was with our laziness in praying regularly and finishing our chores on time. Life was difficult. We had no multichannel TV to occupy us but at night she told us fairy tales and Islamic hero tales that usually had a moral to help build out characters.
She is very beautiful inside and out, tall with a sweet smile on her naturally pink lips. She worked hard to keep us healthy. Our school did not allow more than a week of leave, and the all the credit of keeping us in school goes to her.
She is someone I would like to be, but I cannot. I am a working mother and can only provide my kids with three hours of time at night and on weekends. I may have provided my kids with more advanced living standards, but not that special love and care that we received from our parents. I am still learning from her and my married life is better because I am the daughter of such a brilliant, sweet-natured, and soft-hearted mother.
Sweet mother, you are the woman in me, of which I am most proud.
Photo by Michael Foley.