Today’s guest post comes from Amira, who has lived, worked, traveled, and studied around the Muslim world. Visiting the Great Mosque of Djenne or the Registan of Uzbekistan sounds much more enticing than seeing the Louvre or the Colosseum. Fortunately her husband agrees and they have happily lived together in the Middle East and Central Asia. Unfortunately her children think their parents are crazy and wish for a quiet life in the U.S. Amira blogs at The Golden Road to Samarqand: http://amiralace.blogspot.com
We all sat at the table together over the leftovers from lunch. Bits of plov, pirok, slices of apples and oranges, salads, cookies, and napkins were on our plates. The conversation was in a language I couldn’t speak well, so I did lots of listening while the women around me talked about their daughters and their futures.
It started with Asel talking about her daughter, Amina, in the U.S. She left home almost ten years ago to go to school in the U.S. Amina now works as a nurse in Texas and hasn’t been back home in years. Asel wishes she had never sent Amina to the U.S. for school and she is very glad her youngest daughter, Wardi, is halfway through medical school in her home country.
Fatima jumped right in because her daughter, Layla, is nearly finished with high school and has an opportunity to go to university in the U.S. Fatima worries (or knows) that if Layla goes to the U.S. for school, she won’t come back, like Amina. Fatima’s sister moved to Germany years ago and Fatima feels like her sister is lost to their family. Yasmina, another mother at the table, agreed. It’s too hard for mothers to lose their daughters. It’s just the way a mother’s heart is, she said.
The daughters—Nur, Layla, and Wardi—sat quietly as the discussion ran around us. Nur is Yasmina’s daughter and has never left home. She completed a master’s degree in architecture about seven years ago but has never been able to find a job as an architect. She lives in an extremely well-educated country, but it doesn’t have jobs for all those well-educated people. Nur is at home with her mother, Yasmina. She told me she spends most of her time reading.
At one point they asked me how my parents felt about their daughters leaving them. But it’s different for my family, because my parents always expected us to move out and go to new places. And they themselves have left for missions in Russia and Lebanon. It’s not like in my friends’ country where parents usually expect their daughters to move a few hours away, at the very most, and only with their husbands and children. And I know plenty of American mothers who wish their children stayed closer when they were grown.
My heart hurt for Asel when she talked about how much she missed Amina. But how could I think Nur’s situation was any better? Is one way of thinking better than the other? Is there a way to find balance? Have you been pulled in different directions in your family? Does your heart ache for daughters (and sons) who are far away?