Even Step-Mothers Wished For a Mother’s Day Celebration
The Mother’s Day aura of celebration comes to us way early before the exact day every May of the year. In fact, if you ask me; I actually have no idea which day is it really, but because my mom’s birthday falls on the 23rd, things get a little sneaky for me when it comes to the celebration. Much is said about celebrating mother and father’s days when you are a Muslim but for me, I stick to my principle that both my mom and dad deserve these two celebrations because I do not want them to feel left out when the entire world keep showing appreciation to their parents. With or without these celebrations, my love for them is never lacked by the days or time and I devote myself more on these days so that they are affirmative that they matter to me.
I have been putting up statuses on my WhatsApp of my mom’s beautiful features as well as a video which she never knew I recorded. It was a time when we all gathered in a hotel room because she wanted to do shopping and did not want to think of the house chores. She was so happy she looked like a child playing giant musical instruments. That was a sight of her I do not always see although she is most of the time happy. I had been posting a lot about my mom because this is May and the mood for Mother’s Day is strong in me but I had forgotten someting. I had forgotten that this is 2019. This year, a big part of myself has become very different. Not only that I have to wish my mom during Mother’s Day away from her and perhaps will be out of her sight when I do so, in actual, I can receive the same too this year. This is the first year of it and I should remember this time for the years to come. This year, I am a mother myself. But I am only just a step-mother.
Suddenly a broad puzzle box scattered in my brain. I began to figure out the big picture – what would happen on Mother’s Day for me?
Earlier on I had been thinking if putting up so much about my mom on my WhatsApp status would belittle my children knowing that their parents have separated but then I consoled myself. They have their mother still. Two of them are with the mother at this moment and I deserve to put my mom as high as I believe she deserves it and they can do the same because it is their right and I would not care less about that.
So, finally it’s Mother’s Day. It fell on a Sunday – what a great opportunity for everyone to celebrate their mothers. I was at home. In my bed, reading to be precise. Then, I scrolled my phone and looked out for my mom’s photos. I have not been seeing her for almost a month and every time when I decide to prolong my visits, I have a great fear that I would miss the chance entirely. The dread of sudden death, either to occur on me or my parents is a real big deal. I pray that it is not a mistake to prolong my visits. She does not mind it but I usually do not keep her away from my sight for long. I found a very beautiful shot of my mom with my dad beside her. I shared the photo on my WhatsApp status and quoted: Happy Mother’s Day, beautiful lady.
She’s a lady. Always is. And she’s so beautiful – in so many ways. She is as pure as anyone can be. So true to me although it can be blunt sometimes. I adore her more now that I had become a mother myself. I realise now that I am what I am today because of who she has been for me. I would not be a kind (if not good) step-mother if I was not taught to bring the best in everyone who come to our lives. I would not be able to cook meals daily for this bunch of strangers I married myself to that the rule of life forced me to adapt and accept they ARE called family if my mom had not showed me how to do good things to others even if they are pedestrians, they are of different colour skin tones and background. I would not be able to do this without my mom. Never. I would not be humble enough to be able to be suddenly so strong and determined to transform this strangers’ house from a heap of mess into a space I can firstly accept that Allah had placed me if it is not because of my mom who taught me to be strong the days when she had to withstand the terrible days my late grandmother and in-law put her through. If it is not for the kind words of my mother, who always tell me to love Allah and Rasulullah s.a.w. first, I do not think I will learn to feel at home where I am today with the strangers I finally see that they also had compromised a big part of their lives in fitting me into their own space.
By 1.15 p.m., my eldest son (I don’t call any of them STEP. They’re just my children – without the idea of step) sent a file in the family group.
“File cannot be read,” I wrote.
A minute later, a Happy-Mother’s-Day wish popped in pink with some roses around it.
I laughed in joy. I thanked him and dissolved into my thoughts again.
Not long then, my third son wished me with 5 love emojis. I replied with 3 because he is the third son. What an idea, I smiled.
And that was it. 2 out of 7. Not even one extra from my husband. I figured all this butterfly-in-the-stomach kinda stuff is not what he really is but, that is what he really is. He kisses me in public. But it is just not this one, perhaps.
It was already 5.00 p.m. after I had performed my solat Asar and I saw all my clothes are still on the lines. I asked the youngest daughter to help me with my clothes. A request I do not always ask simply because I do not think I need much help when it comes to my personal stuff but that day was different, I wanted her to pamper me a little. Just a little.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s not like it’s going to rain,” she said.
My feelings shattered. I turned back into my room.
Must I tell her that I wished it is her reward for me on this Mother’s Day? No, I said to myself. Respect and love are to be earned not gained. So, I went out again and told her I needed help. Reluctantly she did. But it was full of reluctance she only picked those on the hangers and left all on the lines.
When I stood by the door after receiving a verbal Mother’s Day wish from my third son, my heart sunken when she did not pick up all the clothes on the line.
“Why did you leave them?” I asked.
But my question was nothing but a voice projection to the wall. She had turned her sour face to me although she had began to help whilst the third, knowing it would be his duty on weekends, offered to help and together with me, he received the sour face.
My feeling shattered like a piece of glass being thrown a rock. I raised my voice to her and told her that I actually need no help at all to manage my life but what she had forgotten that on daily basis when she hangs the clothes, I have been the one picking up for the entire house WITHOUT EVER MAKING A SOUR FACE THE WAY SHE WAS DOING TO ME. It was just that time that I asked for her kindness and in all fairness, what is she lacking from me that she cannot do another kind gesture for me? Tears began to well-up her eyes, for reasons I did not know. But for as much tears she thought she could cry, I was more devastated to experience that on a Mother’s Day from a daughter I fairly love without a single thought thinking that she is not mine and she shall leave me one day for her biological mother irregardless how good I look after her or even the rest of the house.
I gathered my calmness in the kitchen, knowing too well she would not appear to help that day irregardless if it was Mother’s Day or what. I noticed the third son was on standby all time in the living room in case I would call for help. I did not that day. I was very very very busy digesting and crying inside me wondering why all biological mothers in the world are off the kitchen on that day and be celebrated outside with good food while here I am! A step-mother whose feeling is stepped to crush cooking for the entire house on a Mother’s Day that even the father failed to notice! Far from thanking. The Cinderella tradition had created should change her into a step-mother NOT a step-daughter. The world needs to know the real thing! The heat from the cooking made both tears and sweat collided and I kept thinking, is this how a Mother’s Day should be for step-mothers? Is this how all biological mothers think we love their children less and those outlookers try to teach us with their pre-text that they are actually trying to make us know how to be like real mothers? Then, do REAL mothers know how it feels to walk in step-mothers shoes? Do they know that it is equally sad and good to love someone else’s children whom you nearly can guarantee yourselves for life that one day, one good fine beautiful day, they will still choose the mother who carried them for nine months and not these mothers who had burned the midnight oil for them, shared the same flu and fever when they are sick, cried in their triumphant and losses? Are real mothers ever ready for such lost and this constant emotional battle?
What are we? What are we, these step-mothers? Are we not the women who raise children with love and all the things children need? Are we not humans that is why our feelings get disregarded? Have we not been motherly enough than biological mothers? And if everything is never the same like how the children wished the step-mothers have done for them so that we become more of their mothers than we are to ourselves, how much wrong are we really? How wrong have we raised you that you have grown into bad tweens and adults? Are step-mothers really that bad to biological mothers and children that we do not equate to them at all?
There is no way one can take a place of a mother. Not even her very own biological daughter can imitate or BE her mother. What is perhaps close; is resemblance. Nothing more. God does not make a replacement for any mothers and that includes step-mothers.
It was perhaps too sad for me I did not cry on that day but it gave me a lasting impact and a new preparation for the future that I should expect less or the best is, nothing from anyone. Somehow actually, motherhood had taught me to expect nothing from humans even if that human is your beloved husband. Yes, that’s motherhood. It teaches you life.
Ever since my article entitled Dilema Si Ibu Tiri was published in akuislam.com I had received a lot of responses from mothers who are mostly step-mothers like me. They expressed their sadness and tears and likewise, I learned from them too. They are a few occasions in which I am more lucky than them and in some instances, some are just luckier than any of us. Whatever it is, I look forward to knowing that somedays children who undergo this know that no mothers have replacements. Not even if they intertwine the two of both biological and step-mothers. We are both different individuals loving them unconditionally. And for that, to all step-mothers out there, do what you have started and keep going. In case you are unlike me; who do not receive a Mother’s Day wish at all last weekend, here I am wishing you a very deserving Mother’s Day wish. You are strong and needed. We are not here by chance.
Note to my little girl:
My dear Alya,
You may not see me becoming your mak. Nor that you will see your sister could agree much on me because I do not decide and accept life the same perspectives mak had brought you all with. But I promise you, I will give you my everything and the best I know. I am not here to replace mak. I will not because I am not her and she is not me. But I hope you treasure our presence while you still can. For that my dear, you should be grateful that you have someone extra who loves you so much and that someone is me, your step-mother.