Newfound Ways to Appreciate my Mother
Yesterday afternoon, I called my maternal grandmother in India just to catch up and ask her how she was doing. As always, she was delighted to hear my voice and we spoke about how we were spending our time during these last few days of Ramadan. Towards the end of our call, she made sure to remind me again to pray for the well-being of both my uncles and their families.
Then, as we were about to say good-bye, she felt compelled for some reason to add ‘don’t forget your mother.’ Although she and I have regularly spoken about keeping my mom in our prayers, her additional comment felt emotionally charged with a sense of longing. Thinking about my mother and hearing my grandmother mention her so unexpectedly, I could not help but begin to tear up slightly and coincidentally, I heard my grandmother beginning to weep over the phone. We said good-bye and hung up.
Later that night, I went to bed and woke up around 315 AM to perform the ritual prayer before having my pre-fast meal. Since I am currently staying with my aunt, cousin, and nephews, I tried my best to remain quiet in waking up and preparing myself for worship. With the lights off, I situated myself in the living room and began praying.
Throughout the prayer, occasional thoughts about my mother and faint memories of the sacrifices she made in raising my sister in I came to mind, most likely as a result of what my grandmother said to me.
As part of the last portion of the prayer, I chose to read the Chapter entitled “The Sincerity.”
Upon finishing the second verse in which God says “God, The Eternal One” I hear my two-year-old nephew beginning to cry from the bedroom upstairs. I then hear my cousin waking up, doing her best to attend to her son while remaining cognizant of her other two sons who are sleeping in the same room. She then comes down to the kitchen with my nephew, not too far from where I was still praying, to get him his milk. Having brought ease to my nephew, she takes him back upstairs to put him to sleep.
I believe there is Divine Wisdom behind every event within my reality. When I finished reciting “God, The Eternal One,” trying to think about how I am ultimately wholly dependent on Him and what He Provides for me, the incident with my nephew provided me with an immediate reality check as to what it means for God, not myself, to be the truly Eternal and Self-Sufficient One.
I often find myself at school or in professional settings thinking constantly about what I have been able to accomplish and how I can market my skills to others. Sometimes, I fall into the trap of feeling as if I have achieved certain milestones solely based off the efforts of my own two hands. Additionally, when people choose to recognize things I may have done, they will offer words of praise without being exposed to the source from which the final product they experience has been derived. Ultimately, as someone who has been living on his own for a few years now, I get lost within my own realm of affairs, slowly convincing myself that the mental, social, emotional etc. traits I possess have come from within and that I as a person have successfully become self-sufficient.
I hear my helpless nephew cry, my cousin immediately respond, and then bear witness through the sounds of footsteps of a mother displaying her eternal love for her son, only realizing now that these are the very footsteps that my mother also once took years ago. I cannot help but weep.
I know, and we all know, that it is important to remember our mothers, our parents, and those who raised us so we can be grateful for the people who served as the cultivators of the unique character attributes that we often arrogantly claim to possess as wholly our own. For every time I put forth a bit of patience in a difficult situation, it is not me being self-sufficient, but rather me once again relying upon the years of advice and wisdom instilled within me by a gracious mother in order to produce thoughts and actions that embody who she is.
However, I believe we are unable to truly develop a greater mindfulness of our supporters until a much later stage in life, when we no longer feel that complete sense of helplessness. Being 21 years old, I can attempt to think of what my mother has done for me, but it is impossible to bring to mind and be mindful of the thousands of moments where My Lord, the Eternal and Self-Sufficient One provided me with this powerful and continuous source of ease and guidance.
Thus, me being here, being with my cousin, being with her sons, serves a firsthand experience by which I can, to an extent, observe the joys and challenges that my mother experienced when I was a child. Whether it is the happiness my cousin experiences upon returning home and seeing her sons, the anxiety she feels when unsure exactly where one of her children are, or the moments of stress she faces in which she must sacrifice her physical and mental strength to ensure her kids are put to bed before anything else is completed, I can utilize these moments of her experience to further contextualize my past and further piece together my collected memories of the obstacles my mother silently navigated through when I was young.
“God, the Eternal One.”
The One who provides limitlessly without requiring anything for Himself.
The One who places signs within my reality so that I may be better able to recognize, appreciate, and pray for the individuals who have raised me from a state of helplessness.
The One who simply inspires me to assess and reflect upon my experiences continuously, especially at a time when so much else is also going on around the world.