It is a curious Western tradition that today sees many people around the world celebrate their Mother. There is no doubt that the intention behind the idea of singling out a specific day to dedicate to all mothers, in recognition of their unconditional love and service to their families, is a commendable one. However, I am a cynic.
The status of Mother is, unquestionably, the highest platform that any woman can hope to achieve. I would argue it is nobler than any paid job. A mother takes on her role with a dignified sense of duty and knows this is a responsibility for life. She has committed herself to the most difficult job in the world without any previous experience – a meeting of two extreme situations. Yet, more often than not, many wonderful women take the role in their stride and flourish.
As individual as we all are, so too are the ways in which we raise our children. There is no agreed formula with which we work. There is no parenting handbook. There is no guarantee things will turn out OK. It is a pure labour of love which leads to a constant tussle of decisions of the heart vs. the head on a daily basis. No other job in the world calls for so many ad hoc decisions. There is no written contract for guidance, no remunerations and no chance of promotion.
I understand Mother’s Day does not undermine the other 364 days of the year where women also wear the label of motherhood. I acknowledge the day is an opportunity to highlight the noble position and sacrifices a mother makes on behalf of her children and family. Yet, to be honest, this is a sentiment that should be consistent and pervade throughout the year. At no time should this fact be forgotten. Ever.
In my observations of Western society, however, I see that Mother’s Day, (like so many other man-made, farcical celebrations such as Valentine’s Day), is a very disingenuous display of affection. Ostensibly, some fuss is made for mothers but this is a lamentable tribute to the uncountable days, weeks and years a mother invests in her entire family and not just her children. When Mother’s Day is over, weary mothers put their apron strings back on and return to the dreary routine once more. They are taken for granted yet again. Meanwhile, their children can feel pleased with their own meagre efforts of repayment.
In stark contrast, a Muslim knows that every day is Mother’s Day. Kind gestures to our mothers, such as giving flowers, serving breakfast and just being there, are ones which a Muslim mother should be able to take for granted. Always. These are some of the most base level things a mother can ask for. Never, in a functioning Muslim household, is there a moment where a mother is displaced from her pedestal and set down elsewhere. As long as she respects and honours her own position, she can safely assume the reciprocal relationship follows naturally.
Islam acknowledges the sacrifices a mother makes from the moment of conception of her child to the responsibility she embraces for the rest of her, or her children’s, lives. In a previous blog post, I quoted the famous Prophetic hadith (saying), where the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), when asked three times about who is most deserving of good treatment, replied on each occasion, “Your mother”. On the fourth occasion, he replied, “Your father.”
There is a very interesting point to note here. I read the hadith as a stark warning for men to beware of their own lesser position relative to women. It is a tragedy that too many Muslim men walk the Earth with puffed up pride and seek to undermine their womenfolk when Islam does exactly the opposite. Isn’t that an irony? Whilst it is important for mothers not to abuse this divine favour upon them, it is equally important for husbands and fathers to understand that the hierarchy has already been set. Alhamdulillah, a mother’s honorary position, in the eyes of Allah, and even her children, is unwavering. This is very much nature as it is nurture.
So, for me, Alhamdulillah, every day is a day in which I celebrate motherhood with my children. We have our angry outbursts, our disagreements and even moody silences. However, Alhamdulillah, these are the rarer moments that punctuate the mutual respect and love that flows between us. I may not get served breakfast in bed but I am served respect and love on a daily basis, Alhamdulillah. The intangible items speak volumes compared to the tangible ones.
Anyone reading my post may totally disagree with me. But I accept that. Life teaches us to have different perspectives on any one theme. I prefer consistency in expressions of affection rather than short-lived, fake outbursts. The longer-term consistent actions are testimony to a deeper respect than the shallow, temporary gestures. Am I too demanding? For the selfless sacrifices I have made for many years as a mother, and now as a mother on her own, I believe I am well within my rights.