My two sisters and I often speak about our mother. Her impact on us, even after losing her years ago, is both timeless and endless. I look forward to the conversations, as they are pleasant, warm and uplifting just like my mother was.
Every year when Mother’s Day weekend nears, my sisters and I have a tradition of gathering and recalling what we admire the most about our mother. This is not an easy task, because there is so much to admire about her. Celebrating our Mother this year, made us realize how much her qualities and traits have given us guidance during this current pandmeic. I couldn’t help but notice that we kept circling back to three main characteristics that dominated our conversation:
- She listened
- She truly cared about people
- Her beauty came from within
I can’t help but notice how these core elements of her character have helped me to navigate this unprecedented time and all the challenges it has brought. It goes to show that the life lessons she taught my siblings and I are truly timeless, and more relevant now, than ever.
I wanted to share them, in hopes that they might inspire you too.
The power of being a good listener
My mother had a way of winning the hearts with her soft energy and tranquil demeanor. She was first to listen and last to speak, yet she always commanded the full attention of her audience. She held onto her opinions and waited for others to be heard. Her companionship was sought even though she conveyed very few words. We all admired her poise, mannerisms, and calm demeanor, but I will always remember how humble she was about her popularity.
Lesson Learned: Parenting is listening
- My mother would always remind me to savor every moment with my family. One of the most impactful parenting lessons I remember from her is when she told me was, “Your boys may not listen to you much when they’re teenagers but that’s OK, savor every bit of it.” She encouraged me to always listen to them, and make sure they felt heard. Teenagers are not the best listeners, but my mother’s reminder has always kept me patient. During this pandemic, we should all take more time to listen. Not just wait for others to stop talking, but actually take the time to tune in and listen to the people we are interacting with.
She cared for others, and was not afraid to show it
She was always quiet, cool, calm and collected but we all witnessed her intense emotions when she saw others suffer. During the wars that she lived through, her tears became unstoppable when she witnessed family and children stranded at the border with no water or food. When people were in need, she wanted to help. I remember one time, she realized the security man in the building she lived in didn’t have enough to support his family. She helped him with food, clothes, and money as she did with so many other families. Towards the end of her life, when she found out that the government didn’t pay salaries of all the employees of the hospital she was receiving treatment from, she offered to pay their salaries from her own pocket. My mother was never wealthy, but always made it a priority to support others who needed help. She owned her vulnerability which only made her extremely relatable.
Lesson Learned: There is strength is being vulnerable
- My mother took care of all of us through wars, genocides, displacement and I am 1000% positive she felt very vulnerable during all of it. When I think about her strength, and ability to be vulnerable, it reminds me that as a doctor, on the front lines, it is okay for me to feel vulnerable. My mother’s voice telling me to always remember to help the poor and the needed still echoes in my head everyday. And it’s because of her, that I am coming to realize that showing emotion can be a strength. During this pandemic, I have heard many of my patients share their struggles, and their vulnerability has strengthened our relationships. During this pandemic, sharing your fears and being vulnerable will help you better connect with friends and family.
Her beauty came from the inside
My mother never used a drop of makeup, and I don’t think she understood what day cream versus night cream was. I definitely don’t think she would have comprehended the concepts of contouring, highlighting, or hair extensions, yet everyone was mesmerized by her beauty. Whenever we used to tell her how beautiful she is she would downplay it. The reality is that her energy was beautiful, how she listened to you with intent was magical, and her soft loving voice made me feel loved. Her beauty came from the inside, and she made sure that we knew the same was true for us. I truly believe it was her poise, mannerisms, and demeanor that reflected so beautifully on her.
Lesson Learned: Beauty is how you give
- She unquestionably was very humble about it. A big part of me wanting to become a doctor was inspired by my mother’s wanting to take care of people. Along with teaching me how to take care of others, she taught me to not judge, and not to not worry about being judged. She would encourage me to be myself, and never pushed me to wear makeup. As a doctor, I know that it does not matter what I look like when I get to work, and my mother was always a big influence on me becoming as confident as I am today. My priority are my patients, specifically helping them stay safe and healthy. I am working longer hours than I can remember, and feel like I have had more work at home than usual. When I look in the mirror each day, my first thought is not how my hair looks, or how big the bags are under my eyes. I look into the mirror knowing that I am doing my best to be my best. And I am at my best when I am serving others. Now, more than ever, we need to worry less about what we (or others look like) and be more focused on connecting and supporting each other.
I owe so much to my mother. She has taught me how to become the person, wife, and mother that I am today. Her lessons, like the lessons that your mother has taught you, are more important now than ever before. Mother’s Day or not, I encourage you to talk with your family about your mother, celebrating her, and sharing things you have learned.
Are there lessons that you have learned from your mother that are particularly of use during this pandemic?If so, please share as a reply or send me a tweet at @ReyzanShali.