A Woman Defined

Art & Culture by Mahvash Mossaed

Mother, Dear Mother

December 14, 2018

Mother, dear Mother, since you are gone, the sky is not quite as blue,
in praise of the strong women, by whom we are inspired, whom we love and admire.

I get emotional every time I write about my life and especially, about my mother. It kind of feels as though I am writing in my old robe and my old slippers, with my hair all in rollers and my mascara smeared — I am not wearing my fine party clothes for you. I am not hiding a thing, and let me tell you, every time, I am completely petrified that the curtains will be pulled back, and it will be me standing on the stage in my robe and rollers for all of you to examine! 

I have a picture of my mother from when she was young. Of course, since that picture, so much has happened, including the fact that my mother has long gone and has left this world. Looking at that picture makes me think of how everything in the world then was different as it is now. Our lives and styles, for sure, have changed. For example, we don’t wear our hair the way my mother wore it in that picture anymore. Even the furniture in the background of the photographs in our family album have all disappeared from our family home, which were all overused and worn out.

My mother, from the first moment that I was placed in her arms, her face became the face that I have engraved in my memories and in every object of my childhood. I have stored the memories of her like precious garments, folding them carefully and placing them in the chest of my heart so that sometimes I can go back, pull them out, and examine them like treasures.  And every time, they don’t fail to bring a faint smile to my lips. As a child, my mother was my god, the god that I trusted, the god who was not afraid of going into a dark room alone. She gave me the feeling that I could follow her blindly just about anywhere and not be afraid of losing my way or falling. I can’t forget how strong, determined, and resilient she was. I often think so much of her strength came from her ability to tolerate and endure just about any kind of hardship. Indeed, as a middle eastern woman, she had so much hardship to tolerate.

Growing up in Iran, my mother was surely the very first and the very best role model I could ask for. She had gone from being a housewife to entering the legal world. She had the honor of becoming a judge, a humanitarian with high charity goals and ambitions, completely devoted and busy with her grand dreams to advance the women movement in that part of the world. She sure had a voice and also made a point for me to understand, as a woman, how important it is to have a voice and use it for the good of not only myself but also for everyone else. She had a message that she wanted everyone to hear, loudly and clearly. She gave speeches for a stadium full of thousands of people.

My mother was a positive and self-assured strong woman who did not want to be be put into a square box. She did not accept to be molded by anyone. Setting her own life and character as an example, she taught me so much. I still carry the life manual of her teachings in my memory up to this day, and I refer to it in every event and incident which comes up in my daily life.

She never judged any one and always tried to look at the bigger picture of things and people. She made sure as not to plant any seeds of blame and hate in the garden of her life. She would say that those seeds will grow and will turn into weeds of anger and hatred. They will take the room of all the beautiful flowers of love, hope, and positivity that might have grown there.

She had blind faith in people and believed that people are basically good. She always tried to look for the best in everyone and everything. She would repeatedly remind me to always have faith in people with the understanding that no one is perfect, and setting high expectations of the ones around us can easily end up in our being disappointed and hurt. It is best to expect very little and try to accept and enjoy everyone for their good qualities. She made sure that I learn the importance of being brave – brave enough to swim against the waves, brave enough to have convictions and not to ask permission as to when I am allowed to speak out the truth. She herself was brave enough not to conform, for she believed by conforming, we lose part of our individuality and uniqueness, which makes us who we are.

My mother was not afraid to take risks and take a chance with the unknown.  She would say that it is only when we dare to face our fears and are willing to endure that very certain kind of pain which comes just before we grow, that we become free, and we are awakened to our best potential. It is only then that we experience that ultimate self-assurance and self-satisfaction, which is the foundation of success and happiness. She would say, “Don’t try to be a follower. Just be yourself, unique and different.” She would then smile and add, “After all, if everybody were made into the same mold, then the world becomes a boring place.”

In every opportunity she would get, my mother tried to teach me how to enjoy all the details of life fully, like walking in the woods, meeting a friend for lunch, having a warm cup of tea while reading a book. She would say that after all, everything wonderful in life is free and accessible to all of us.

She made sure that I learn the importance of  always being grateful at all times, for my blessings as well my struggles. She would say, “It is through hardship that we build strength and character.” I think the most important advice she passed on to me was teaching me to always believe in myself, to never give up my goals and my dreams, and to still know that dreams are just the seeds we plant, and from there, we still have work to do to in order to nurture and flourish those seeds. 

I, myself, think believing in ourselves is everything. It is the key which opens many doors. To me, believing in oneself is like a sliver of light in our consciousness, which is coming in to us from a narrow crack, an indication, a confirmation to say that everything is possible. Rest assured, for we are not abandoned, fatherless children left all to our own to defend for ourselves in this vast universe. We belong and we are protected and are cared for by a source much larger than ourselves.

I certainly carry the life manual of all that my mother has taught me, with much love and care, in some permanent place deep in my heart. Come to think of it, we all have this invisible life manual of what our mother has taught us, somewhere hidden in us, and in turn, we will be passing it on to our daughters and to our sons, so they, too, can carry it in their pocket like a sacred book. 

Mahvash & her mother
from Mahvash Mossaed Family Album

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Posted in LIfestyle, Mahvash Mossaed, Miscellaneous & Opinion |

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