*A man came to the Prophet PBUH to ask permission to go to war with him. The prophet asked him if his mother was alive and the man replied yes. He was his mothers only son. The Prophet told him to stay close to his mother and serve her for “Paradise lies at your mothers feet”
We are celebrating the 1 year anniversary of World Moms Blog this November. To celebrate, Jennifer Burden, the editor in chief of WMB, has asked us to write an entry about something in our own culture and motherhood so I am going to write about motherhood in Saudi culture and in Islam in general.
Our relationship to our mothers and grandmothers in our culture and our religion is something that has been on my mind the last few months. My grandmother has been unwell for a while now and it has been difficult not being in Riyadh where she is all the time. She has been in the hospital for a few weeks now. It all started with a break in her back caused by osteoporosis so it was a question of keeping her still so the break can heal while trying to make sure the edema doesn’t get too bad because she isn’t moving and trying to manage her pain without the medication having an effect on her blood pressure.
Since she first went into hospital we have come a long way (Thank God) and the pain is much, much less than it was and she is going back to her normal self. During the whole time she has been in the hospital she has never been left alone for a minute. My aunts and cousins have been there around the clock. We all take shifts of sorts so that someone is always there.
The western nurses found this all very strange to begin with. I would sit with my grandmother as she slept and hold her hand while one of my cousins or aunts held her other hand as it comforted her and eased her anxiety. We could sit there for an hour sometimes. We’d whisper to each other and talk and maybe watch TV while she slept. We wouldn’t let go till she let go first.
It’s a nice feeling. One day while my grandmother was napping they came in to do her physiotherapy. When I got up to leave the room so they can start, a nurse looked at me and said “we’ve finally saved you, quick run before she asks for you again”. She didn’t get it one bit. I paused and thought of saying “no, you don’t get it. I love being here” but I just smiled and left the room.
When i am old and frail I want to have as many people around me as my grandmother does now. Enough people to take care of me while not having to give up their life for me. This was one of the main reasons I wanted to have another girl. To say mothers and daughters are close here in Saudi would be an understatement. Now I am not the best person to keep in touch over the phone, none of my sisters are either. But if my mother and I are in the same city then I see her almost every day. If I am not having dinner with her then I will pass by her before I go out or after on my way home. If I don’t go to her house I would see her at my grandmothers house which I also go to almost daily.
This is not a chore, or a burden or something I am forced to do. It is also not unique to my family or my mother and I. My mother goes almost every day to her mother and so do all my aunts. Our lives are deeply intertwined in that way while at the same time I lead a totally independent life to hers. I make my own decisions, have my own “mini tribe” (my husband and kids) time, I have my privacy in my own home. My grandmother respected the privacy of her daughters in their homes and my mother does the same.
The beauty of this is that we all want to be with our mothers. The bonus is when you have many sisters as I do when one of us cannot be with her there will almost always be someone else there who will be with her. It does get tricky when you are an only daughter though. Although the majority of them will tell you that they enjoy all the time they spend with their mothers it could sometimes get restricting when there is no one there to cover for you when you want to veg out at home or when you are traveling for a long time. It is not that my mother cannot function without one of us there or that the world would end but it’s just not done to not be with your mother for a long period of time.
If this makes it sound like our mothers are demanding they are not, this is just the way things are and have always been and I hope will always will be. I want to take care of my mother when she needs me to as she took care of me my whole life. And I want my children to take care of me as well. The reality is I will probably expect more from my daughter than I will from my sons because, as a woman to another woman, we can share more than I can share with my son.
I always said I don’t want J to be an only girl so her life is not restricted when I get old and sick but seeing as the little one in my tummy is a boy the most I can do is promise her to do my best to keep healthy till she and her brothers have enough time to get married and have more girls to take care of me with them! That is the best I can do. (I am not having a fifth child on the off chance it will be a girl. With my luck it will be a boy. Or twin boys!)
A man came to the prophet Mohammed PBUH and said : “O’Allah’s apostle who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?” The prophet said “Your mother” The man asked “Who is next” The Prophet answered “Your mother” The man asked again “Who is next” The Prophet said “Your mother” the man asked for a fourth time “Who is next?” The prophet said “Your father”.
I love the way you book-ended this with quoted words.
I also love how seriously you take the role of mother and daughter, and how they pretzel twist to each other.
This is a lovely ode to both.
Thank you for the comment and happy you liked it :-)
Thank you, Mama B., for taking us inside your Saudi Muslim culture. The relationship between mothers and daughters is beautiful in your post.
I am wishing that your grandmother is getting better, and it is so nice that she is surrounded by those who love her.
I love reading these international accounts of motherhood!
And, thank you for linking up for World Moms Blog’s Blogiversary!!
l always wanted daughters and sisters because of what you describe here. Alas, I got a brother and three sons. I’m lucky because I’m close to my mum, my sister-in-law and my daughter-in-law, but sometimes it’s not quite the same.
I also wouldn’t trade my brother or sons for anything. Thank you for sharing
This is so beautifully written. Here, in Indonesia we have the same saying that paradise is on the feet of our mothers. I don’t have any sister but always wanted to have a daugther…maybe one day. Thank you for sharing this. Prayers for your grandmother.
Thank you for your comments and prayers. My grandmother finally went home yesterday! She’s settling back in there and hopefully will be happier to be in her own environment.
Thank you so much for your beautiful words. I remember that as an Italian family it used to be the same for us. Unfortunately that beautiful tradition was shattered (at least in my family) by everyone scattering to different parts of the world …. and different partners (my parents, aunts and uncle all divorced!) I have been blessed by a son and a daughter and I pray that when I am the grandma (Nonna) my daughter and I will set the example for those to come that the “old ways” are to be treasured! Inshallah! (forgive the spelling) but, of course,only if it be God’s will.