An Ode to Lebanese Moms

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This day is different from the other 365 days because it is made to celebrate the person who brought us into this world. We have a hundred different memories of our mothers, a few more prominent than the rest, but they’re all funny, warm, and loving. My mother is a life giver, a home, a friend, a gift with no ribbons, and a star with no award.

Lebanese mothers are a breed of their own. We would all be different people if it weren’t for the extra special care that our moms provide us with. The building blocks of a person’s character is correlated with the affection and love they receive from their mother as they are growing up. Our mothers do an amazing job showering us with their affection and  maybe sometimes a bit too much! Lebanese moms have become a sort of caricature. In this little nation of ours, everything takes on a special character and a life of its own. So here it is for the funny, amazing, crazy, loving, and mind boggling relationship we have with our mothers…

Our moms live in fear that we might starve to death, that our kids might starve to death, and that food in our homes is in short supply. The need to constantly ask us if we would like something to eat or if there is food for our children daunts them every hour of the day. If, like me, you are constantly receiving food from both your mother and mother in law, then the Tupperware becomes another issue that is an open ended question in your home. Their Tupperware collection defies logic and returning them urgently is a must or else you will get the phone call “shoo sar bil Tupperware il akhdar yalli ba3tilik fi il kafta, hayda Pyrex, ma tinsso traj3ou” (what happened to the green Tupperware in which I sent you the kafta? This is Pyrex, don’t forget to return it).

Another amazing thing about our moms is the fear that we will catch a cold or as they call it “saf2it hawa” (literally means to be hit by the wind). Comes March and the weather in Beirut is beautiful, the sun is out, the birds are singing although barely audible with the city’s hullabaloo and my mother’s only concern is that I am leaving the house not wearing my “collant” (tights). “ya Karen, please ino ba3do barid, hala2 btikle shi saf2et hawa” (Karen, please it’s still cold. You will catch a cold). Needless to say for someone who has lived in London for 10 years 20 degrees is considered an amazing weather and we would be in bathing suites in the park.

The more I think of Lebanese mothers, the more I realize that their lives revolve around fear. Fear of the road, is another example. Going to the beach in jbeil in summer with the kids, my mom calls me “ino bale hal mishwar, hala2 douroure ta2douwa a3l tora2t?” (Don’t go on that trip, why do you need to go that far on those roads?)

Lebanese moms will say wonderful things that only Lebanese mom say like to2borne inshallah(may you bury me, god willing), habibi (my love), habib albeh (the love of my heart), habib el mama (mom’s love), albeh (my heart), 3youno (her eyes),  rouh alb el mama (the soul of the heart of your mother), and ya rouhe (my soul). Their eyes will lit up with pride and joy as you walk into the room and the eyes being the mirrors of the soul, that twinkle in their eyes the minute they see us, is by far the most endearing feature about them. They love us to such an extent that our perfection, that is only visible to them as the saying goes (il irid bi 3ein immo ghazeil, the monkey in the eyes of his mom is a deer), they worry that every living creature will “yissibna bil 3ein” (nail us with their evil eye).

What would this life be without a Lebanese mom? Nothing… They will do absolutely anything for their kids. They’ll put themselves in front of a moving truck to save us. Havoc will happen if we get the slightest sickness. We only need to mention, in passing, that we like something and they  will go and get it for us. Their happiness and success in life is defined by ours. Their biggest source of contentment is through our well-being and the best compliments anyone can give them are in relation to us.

To my mom: You are the light in the sky of my life, my strength and fortitude in all my troubles and challenges, a bright loving divine spirit, intelligent, caring so much for me with nothing in return. I may not be the best daughter as I am stubborn and always do what I want, I am not always good in expressing my feelings but these words come straight from my heart…. I love you Mamy… You are the best. Allah yakhlile yeke (may God keep you for me).

These are some of the beautiful women in my life who have shaped me and my friends into the people we are today. Happy Mother’s Day to all, ALL, the amazing moms out there…

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