There is an ocean of cliches that we could be swimming in when describing the awesomeness of women. A dimension even, if it’s women we love like our mothers. I could tell you about the time my mother taught me how to fight, or how to be a good man, or how to tie my shoe laces, but I’m not going to.
Instead, I’d like to share with you a defining moment in my life when things weren’t exactly all blue skies and sunshine. What time is life truly like that anyway?
I was 20 years old, a year into my college studies as an engineer. Yes, my first two semesters were spent slowly but surely spiraling downwards with the ever so relentless agony of studying mathematics, physics and chemistry. All subjects that I hated, a phase in life which I blame on a plethora of reasons but that doesn’t matter at all. God is good, always. Time, on the other hand, fluctuates between good and bad, between excellent and dreadful. That’s just the way it is.
Nonetheless, I hated that point in my life because I had no idea what I was doing with my it. Like a meaningless flame dancing in the daylight, everything seemed so redundant and stagnation seemed to cloak itself with the arrogant denial of reality by my often deluded youth.
I was depressed. Clinically. Diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, suspended from university and down on my luck in almost every category of life. And no one believed me.
Except my mother.
The only light in the darkness that consumed every corner of my mind, my then-apartment and my journey in life. I had straight F’s, a GPA of 0.46, a failing body and an exhausted mind. I had no will because I had no aim, I had no aim because I had no guidance, and I had no guidance because I didn’t know my passions that well. I knew myself but I didn’t know my passions, and that my lovelies is a special kind of hell.
I was going to drop out, go back home to Kuwait and join the army. A star student in high school who had fallen with no grace at all in a bottomless well of self-loathing.
In December 2013, I broke down and called my mother. I told her everything. She cried. We shouted at each other about my mistakes, about her disappointment and nothing mattered after the phone call ended. I just wanted to slither away into a hole and die.
My mother, a tougher than leather kinda woman, called me the day after. This is a woman who would defiantly out-drive Saddam’s soldiers during the 1st Gulf War, the kinda woman who taught her two boys a warrior ethic, and the kinda woman who beat breast cancer. By the grace of God, this is the kinda woman who’d look an 8-foot ogre in the eye and smirk unflinchingly. Maybe even slap it silly if she wanted to.
As soon as I answered, she said “here’s the deal, you’re going to get out of this stupid slum that you’re in or die trying.”
She was always like that, a one shot one kill approach is usually the first resort. She said “no more wallowing, no more weeping. We’re gonna face this as a family and you have a year to fix your shit or else you’ll have to live with yourself as a failure.”
It was a moment where I couldn’t feel my cheeks from smiling ear to ear and a moment where my eyesight was constantly blurred by agonizing tears. It was particularly confusing to hear my mother speak in a continuously breaking voice, I knew she was trying to be tough and delicate at the same time but it’s always hard to see her be both. My mother is of Persian descent, tough? Sure. Delicate? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone can get used to seeing their loved one tormented by anything
Her bloodline comes from a small Iranian town dating back thousands of years, even though she’s a third generation Kuwaiti, longer than my full-blooded Arab father’s family. The town, Tangsir, is said to contain the children of Cyrus the Great and Xerxes, the ancient emperors of Persia or Persepolis. If you think she’s tough, you should meet my grandmother, she was Mike Tyson before Mike Tyson was Mike Tyson.
My mother continued her Braveheart speech of life and death, success and failure. She said “I’m with you, I believe you. Whatever you have or feel, I am your mother, my first obligation is to take care of my children and there’s no way a son of mine will live life defeated and crushed.”
She said “if you object to anything, if you want to be weak and allow these pathetic circumstances to consume you then you’re better off dead.”
She was right. As usual. No life is worth living in defeat, no body worth having with a broken spirit.
And that was it, it was that simple and mundane of an event. One phone call, one conversation. Her toughness transcended hemispheres, relocating itself from her heart of hearts, through the phone, all the way to my soul. From a middle-aged elementary school superintendent to a 20 year-old kid, trying to keep his chin down in the 9th round with life.
My mother picked me up like a florist saving the last rose that had managed to grow on arid soil. And no other man, nor woman, could have done what she had.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. My mother is a dimension of fortitude with one successful battle after the other, since birth until this very day, and never have I, or my brother, or my father, or anyone else, has ever heard her grunt the slightest oomph of a complaint.
A proper warrior. My mother. My woman of the year, of every year.
May God bless mine and yours.