Mother’s are the quintessential extraordinary ordinary beings. All of them! Yours and mine… We are all here today because of the love, care & nurturing of one woman.. who carries us in her body for 9 months, bears the pain of childbirth & loses her sleep over our endless needs as a baby, toddler, child and even as a teenager. She juggles everything seamlessly from managing the home and her work, feeding us, raising us, teaching us and always cheering for us at our school plays, piano recitals & sporting events. Taking care of us becomes her only primary purpose in life and she doesn’t think twice before putting our needs above her’s. Her entire life revolves around us… and not just when we are dependent on our parents and living in their house, but it continues even after we are married and have children of our own…
All that we are or hope to be, we owe it to our Mothers.
This Mothers’ Day, I decided to pay a little tribute to the 4 motherly figures in my life.. and when I stop and look at them, there is one thing that is common in them.. they have faced the worst in their lives and yet stood tall… They have all been pillars of strength in any situation!
Meet My Husband’s Nani (Maternal GrandMother)
15 years ago when Moshin and I met, the one person that I loved meeting the most was his grandmother.. who we all call Nani (and now my children call her Big Daado…). Her presence reminded me of my own grandfather who I was very close to and lost when I was 17. At the time of our wedding, she was 71 years old and yet so disciplined with her lifestyle. Every morning after Fajr prayers, she would wear her walking shoes and go to the park for a morning walk (alone!), she would go shop her own groceries and she even cooked her own healthy meals. Her disciplined lifestyle amazed me!
As time went by and I got to know her more… I was awestruck by what a strong woman she is. Nani is from Nainital (India) but at the age of 14, she moved to Pakistan alone with her uncle, leaving her parents and siblings behind. She got married in Pakistan but it didn’t work out. She separated from her husband and raised my mum-in-law as a single mother. A woman making such brave decisions, without having any family support in Pakistan, MUST have been incredibly difficult in those days.
She is now 85 (MashaAllah) and still enjoys life specially Pani Puris and Fish & Chips 🙂
Meet My Bari Phuppo (Paternal Aunt)
My phuppo is the eldest of my dad’s siblings and now partially immobile, as she suffered a stroke a few years back. She studied Medicine and practised as a Doctor all her life! She was truly an inspiration growing up, as she was one the very few working mums in her time. She managed home, kids and her demanding profession seamlessly!
She is now in her 80’s and although she is now bound to the bed and her wheelchair yet she is still very much mentally alert and would often give her diagnosis on a family member’s health issue under discussion.
I never saw my Daadi (paternal grandmother, as she passed away before I was born), but my Bari phuppo has always played that role. My dad was the closest to her amongst all his siblings and would always tell us, that she is a like a mother to him. He would always stop by at her house to meet her before he came back home from work – EVERY DAY!
Bari Phuppo is one of the strongest mothers I have EVER met and known. I would have never guessed what she has gone through by looking at how calm and poised she always was! When I was much older, my dad told me her story that she lost 2 kids both at the age of 2, one after the other! Being a mother myself, I cannot even imagine what it would mean to lose a 2-year-old toddler. And not just once but TWICE! Kids are the cutest at that age when they just start talking, walking and basically are the centre of attention of the entire family. She lost not 1 but 2 boys! She has 2 more sons, but I am sure it crosses her mind every day that it could have been 4 sons today!
Meet My Mother In Law
My mother in law is one the most caring mothers that I have come across in my life. I often joke to her that she has always done (and still does) so much for her kids that they are all spoiled with the love. And she still continues to do that with all her heart. She is a woman who is all heart when it comes to her loved ones.
My mum in law comes from a broken home with her parents separating when she was very young. Her mother (Nani) raised her as a single parent. But then she met my father in law, who fell head over heels in love with her. He was a charmer and swept her right off her feet. Their love story is the sweetest thing!
What she missed growing up in her childhood, she found that in one man.. the unconditional love & care and the stability & support of a man in her life. They were the inseparable love birds and had a wonderful life and 5 kids together. But then things changed…
At the age of 49 (almost 20 years ago), my Father-in-Law passed away in a tragic car accident. None of the kids had completed their undergrad studies and the youngest one was just 12 years old. Unimaginable – the pain of losing your pillar of strength. My mother in law was 45 at that time and instead of breaking down, she became the strength of her kids. She, as a single mother raised the 5 kids, got them the best education possible and now they are all well- settled around the world and making her proud. And her kids are what they are just because of this one woman, who kept them before her even when the ground she was standing on was taken away. She is truly the wind beneath their wings!
Meet My Mum
And last but definitely not the least, my mother… I mean where do I even start. A woman who married and moved into a big family of 9 siblings. She was the eldest sister in law and helped my dad help settle down his siblings.She is the most amazing cook, the most organized homemaker and ran and managed not one but 3 entire households – her father in laws, her father’s (when my Nani passed away) and her own. My parents didn’t have it easy when it came to financials. My dad was an Ophthalmologist who believed in that good health care should not be a privilege only for the rich. His philanthropism resulted in more than half of his patients to be seen for free. Basically, my mum lived with a man who didn’t think twice before helping anyone without giving it a thought about how my mum would manage the rest of the month’s expenditure. Yet, she never let us feel that we couldn’t have what we wanted. My parents never believed in investments in forms of property or cash, but they invested all their money and energy on us… our upbringing and education.
Funnily enough, our relatives always thought we were quite well to do because of our lifestyle. We travelled for a holiday every year (within Pakistan), we studied in the best private institutions in Karachi, we ate out every weekend as a family, we hosted big parties and wore the finest clothes… My mum managed it all very wisely, as we say it in Urdu.. she is very Saleeqamand. For example, she never stopped us from buying new clothes, but then she would stitch them herself to save money… And even though our home was very middle class and humble, it was very (very!) tastefully done. Her artwork adorned our walls, her painted silk cushions added the life to our sofas and her paintings still embellish the walls of my office. When people say I am talented and artistic, I always tell them its all her genes! I am what I am because I am her daughter.
When my dad was diagnosed with Lung cancer, they both came back to Pakistan and sold off our home, which they both put their blood and sweat in making. I cannot even imagine what they went through when they did that. But they did it because my dad wanted to wrap it up and not leave any hassle for us to deal with after him. He knew what was coming ahead.
2 years later, he passed away and we all broke down. And although it sounds ridiculous, but instead of us being her support, she was standing there for us – even after losing a partner of 45 years!
A few months later, she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and before my dad’s first death anniversary, she had gone through a surgery and radiation herself. Her trips to the same Cancer hospital continued even after Dad’s radiation trips were behind her. The hospital staff used to have tears for her in their eyes, saying that they feel so sorry that she has to go through this so soon. Even I found it hard accompanying her to the same radiologist that my dad used to go… but she went through it.. stronger than even I did.
As a mother myself now, I drive my strengths from these women who I have grown up around and continue to learn from. I wish to pass on this tradition of care, compassion, selflessness, homemaking yet resilience, fearlessness and strength to my daughter, who will one day be in this role herself.And we also need to remember that to seek inspiration, we don’t necessarily need to look very far… as we will always find such inspiring women with enormous strength & resilience in our homes.. in the form of our mothers…
Happy Mothers’ Day to ALL the mothers out there…