Many years ago, in the second year of my marriage, during a shopping trip when we were meandering along the aisles, my mother asked “Rose Ann, when are we going to have a baby?” Turning on my heel, I faced her, saying “Mama, we are not going to have a baby!” End of discussion.
Yes, I had other plans, one of which included a year abroad and new experiences, especially since birth control pills were available. I bought 400 before my husband and I left for Ireland and England. Yes, I am a cafeteria Catholic and have no guilt issues regarding it.
Well, Mom evened the confrontation score three years later, when I was expecting my first child. I had invited her to help me set up the nursery. I was happy. Silently but dutifully, she looked over the nursery, picked up a couple of cutesy things, then began peeling price tags off the onesies. She was cool. She said nothing while I chirped happily. Well, I finally realized, she’s evening out the score. Cool, cool on the edge of cruel.
Cool on the edge of cruel was transformed when that three-weeks late baby emerged— a 6 pound, 9 ounce girl with big eyes and plenty of black hair. My first child. Mom’s second grandchild. Eventually there would be four, three boys and a girl.
My mother came from a family of eight children, six daughters and two sons. Except for two daughters, all immigrated to the United States from Syria.
Now how meaningful that mother-daughter encounter seems when I reflect on the loss of my mother and my memories of the joys she had with her grandchildren. Her smiles, laughter, teasing banter, and nicknames she pinned on them (Little kizzab, Mr. Steve). And the food – the fresh Syrian bread, the cabbage rolls and grape leaves she had ready for cooking the day before we arrived, the lamb shish kebabs threaded with onions awaiting the grill. On Easter in the dining room, baskets crammed with good chocolates and pecan studded nougat eggs that Baba bought.
Her standing in the door watching for us. And on our departure, my father always, always saying “You’re leav ing now?!”
American Mother’s Day is celebrated in May and is some version of cards, gifts, flowers, or dinner out. In Arabic countries mothers are celebrated on March 21.
The mothers of war-torn Syria are often alone, their men missing, enslaved, or engaged in a civil war that seems to have no end. The mothers of that war-torn nation pray that their homes will not collapse under the frequent bombings and their little ones not hit by mortar shells. If their government detained sons are lucky enough to escape, mothers tell them not to return for fear of reprisals. The women conserve what little fuel they have, they search for fresh vegetables, which they seldom find. They hope the bakeries will have bread. Many women have to leave their home and nest their family in one of the many camps. In those settlements they are at the mercy of predators who prey on women and children.
Syria’s never-ending civil war has broken the hearts of its mothers! Let’s pray for them!