When you are a mother, you will know. This is usually the closing statement at the end of a long-winded argument between mother and daughter. The two bicker over everything under the sun, from what outfit the daughter should wear to Aunt Aliya’s dinner party to whether she should take up the job opportunity in Way-Too-Far-To-Even-Discuss-Town, USA.
Dominant cause: the generation gap. This phenomenon has led to the all too familiar “FINE!” which usually leaves a smoke cloud spelling the word irony, as both mother and daughter march off in opposite directions in a huff.
Therefore, in an effort to better understand my mother’s vantage point, and to finally purge myself of an embarrassing memory—picture an eleven year old girl, about to hit the popularity jackpot with new friends at a picnic, interrupted by a loud reminder from across the park to use the bathroom—I have decided to use an effective psychiatric tool: role play.
(Begin magical, glittery, “Bibbidi bobbidi boo”-esque transformation from hot-blooded 25-year-old dressed in head-to-toe New York and Company pieces, to quiet, regal 53 year-old suburban “mom-arch.”)
How can I allow her go to Atlanta all by herself? If she was married, sure, she could go with her husband. She would be taken care of, and we wouldn’t have to worry about her safety and security. Not to mention the burden of answering to the community! What will people think? That we are so westernized that we would let our daughter roam around the world as she pleases? Allah save us from ever getting such a reputation! It was risqué enough to let her go away to university. If she had gone locally, she would have done just as well in her studies, and probably would have found a nice boy to boot…
Come to think of it, had she remained at home after high school, she would have surely been married by now! We shouldn’t have let her talk us out of considering those proposals. Well, Allah knows best, but I really do hope that we can get her married off this year God willing. Now if only we could find her a nice, handsome, tall boy, preferably a doctor or a lawyer.
Oohhhh, my head. I think I need a Tylenol. Worrying about her is taking a toll on my health! Can’t she see that I am falling ill? Maybe that is her silent wish! What did we do wrong? Hasbunallahu wa ni’mal-wakeel. Allah is sufficient for us and is the best One to put trust in.
Oh, how I want grandchildren. Her father and I just want her to be happy. Or rather, happier. I know she is a hardworking, intelligent girl, and I thank God for blessing us with the means to give her a good education. Inshallah, she will land a decent job. I worry though with the economy being what it is. Had she enrolled in medical school like I had hoped, she would be having a far easier time now, but no one can force this generation to do anything. We are soft. If she were a doctor, we probably would have found a nice boy…
People tell me not to worry so much, but sometimes I feel they pity her. They look at her as if she is deficient in something because she is single at her age. Her friends are all married. It’s like wherever I turn, I see a pattern… a pattern that my daughter does not follow for some reason. It feels like we are doing something wrong! Sometimes the pressure is too much. She will be fine though, by the grace of God. She does not need anyone’s pity! Not at all!
Watching her from the doorway as she combs her hair and gets ready to go volunteer at some event (I can never keep track of her engagements), I am suddenly nostalgic for my youth, when I too was a campus queen, and involved in a number of activities at my college. Elections were always the most exciting time. How everyone cheered when I passed through and stood at the podium to deliver my speech. I know she thinks I’m just her nagging mother, but she doesn’t know how popular I was amongst my peers!
It’s quiet now.
I don’t like it when she leaves. I tell her that, but she is quick to tease me with her always ready response- What if I meet my future husband there, mom?
Her hobbies are definitely not cooking and cleaning. She would rather be on stage. When I ask her to sweep and mop the kitchen floor, it has to become a Broadway production. She is so care-free and silly sometimes. I hope she continues to have that spirit. I want her to be happy… always.
(The clock strikes midnight. Cue piano music. “Abracadabra”…and POOF! Daughter returns to her original place.)
Mother, now I know…
Shazia Kamal is a contributing writer to Altmuslimah.