Written by Mariem ELTagoury
Lately I’ve been trapped in a dark place that has me either not thinking or over thinking, both which would never lead one to the path of writing. You see, my mother has been suffering for a while now from a rare form of pancreatic cancer and ever since, we’ve been stuck in a troubling struggle fighting cancer. Today I write about the love of my life, my one and only, my teacher, my soul mate, my mother. She had dedicated her life to passing down her endless wisdom to me, which I dedicated my foolishness to avoid receiving in every way possible. Nevertheless, I owe her everything I know today, I think all what I’ve learnt from this wonderful lady could fill an encyclopedia. Today, I write about the most valuable lessons I learnt from my very wise mother, the most vital and wonderful lessons she bestowed upon me.
1. To believe in, to have faith in, to love…God
She taught me to find God through my mind, there was never a question she left unanswered. When I was a teen surrounded by the blabber of peer pressure and the media gibberish extremism all around she always told me “think”. My mother is a modern career woman to the core; she taught me that it is possible to balance virtue with modern life. I can’t ever be more grateful to my mother for the gift of knowing that He’s always there for me.
2. The love of reading!
I was only six months old when my mother started reading my first books to me. My father thought it was a waste of money to buy books for a baby who could only gag and bang. But my mother knew better. She could detect the parts of the story I liked through the gleam in my eyes. By the time I was able to hold a book in my hands, there was nothing that could separate me from the limitless boundaries of the lives and characters within the pages.
3. To be patriotic
As a child, My mother and I would spend our weekends visiting local attractions. I don’t claim to have seen every part of Egypt but I’ve seen enough beauty and have been taught much love. Instead of constant criticism, my mother spoke highly of our pros rather than drown me in the negativity of the cons. Patriotism isn’t born within us, it’s taught by others, like my caring mother. It’s that which always gives me hope for change, to strive for a better future for my country and what binds me from ever running away.
4. To embrace others unconditionally
If you walk through life looking for people similar to you in race, religion, language, traditions, or any other list that might come to mind, you’ll likely end up leading a very monotonous life with a tolerance span as big as a toad that’s smaller than your palm. My mother wasn’t that kind of person. She taught me to accept people with their differences no matter how small or big. It surprises me how little we know about each other’s religions and traditions in spite of living in a multicultural society. Part of embracing others is, knowing and understanding one another, and to share love…unconditionally.
5. Never lose your sense of wonder
I’d like to thank Lee Ann Womack for the “I Hope You Dance” lyrics which helped me word this one out. Ever since I was a kid, my mother had this habit of stopping to admire just about anything. It could be a bird, a tree, a cloud, the moon, a building, or even a pebble. When you’re a baby, this is very amusing, but as you grow older into the arrogant child that everyone has to be, it starts to get annoying. I never got why my mother always did that, until I became an adult and started to travel on my own. I found myself admiring the small things she once did, finding the beauty in the things she used to point out to me. I’ve realized that my mother’s habits were worth her efforts; I now know how to enjoy life’s smallest details.
6. The value of privacy
My mother always made room for my privacy. When I was a child, I liked to live in my own imaginary world called my room. While talking to thin air might seem scary to some parents, it never seemed to startle her. If she’d walk in on me talking to the mirror or plain nothingness, she’d see my awkward face, simply smile and say “oh sorry you’re in the middle of something. I’ll talk to you later,” and leave. She never asked me about my awkward conversations. My mother taught me the value of having my own privacy and to always keep it in mind to respect others’ privacy. It’s a certain safe space which keeps everyone happy.
7. To love my self
I wasn’t a pretty child. I was constantly bullied for my appearance: my bushy hair, very thin figure, hairy limbs, the list goes on. There was always something for someone to mock. I cried a lot through my childhood, but my mother was always there to give me support. She’d tell me every day “you’re beautiful, you have a beautiful soul; they’re just jealous of its beauty, don’t let them turn it into something ugly like theirs”. When I started college, I developed an eating disorder because I was trying to over eat in the hope of gaining weight! I was sick of the continuous comment about my stick thin figure. I ended up with painful severe colitis instead! When she found out, she got angry and reprimanded me for not being grateful for what I was blessed with. Rather than be something others wanted me to be, she encouraged me to love who I am, just as I am. And she was right all along; I only became beautiful when I decided I was beautiful, that I was worth loving me, just as I am.
8. Sometimes it’s good to break
One time I had this huge presentation for some student activity that I was so excited about. It involved a VIP speaker and a huge audience. I’d just been promoted and I totally fucked up. When I went home I told my mom, she said “Ahsan! you deserved it”. I smiled and asked why, she simply said, “Because you’ve been so full of yourself with all these successes lately, you needed something to break you.” Sometimes we need to break to be humbled, realistic, to give ourselves time for self-assessment, because no one likes a stuck up.
9. To value sacrifices
Every mother spends a large chunk of her life sacrificing so much for her children; sadly we grow up with the selfish assumption that all what our parents have done for us was their duty! In Egypt, most parents do a lot more than their basic duties for their children. We all know that, but never appreciate it enough. When I became a woman, the knowledge of these stories about my mom’s sacrifices that she so humbly recounted made me realize how much she had done for me. It gave me room for appreciation. Only through appreciation can one truly evolve into an adult willing to give similar sacrifices for the care of loved ones.
10. To stand up for women’s rights
I recall how my mother would always insist on stopping to help a female beggar on the streets (when I was a kid street begging wasn’t a business yet, it was actually poor people who needed help), she’d observe the high numbers of women on the streets and blame the unjust patriarchy that doesn’t give fair chances for girls’ education, and less job varieties. Whenever a women icon appeared on television she’d call me in to watch. She gave me stars of a different kind, not the fancy movie stars; no real women with unique careers, making better lives for women. Those would be my icons growing up. I guess it’s no surprise that I would become the pro-women’s rights person I am today.
What lessons have you learnt?
Tell us about your lesson! Every mother has a valuable lesson of her own, what lessons come to your mind at the moment? Which of them do you believe could benefit society today? Please share your experiences with your mother in a comment below!