Monday, January 20, 2014

Looking For Mother

"Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so he spread his wings to take them in and carried them aloft on his pinions." Deuteronomy 32:11

Naheed hobbled painfully down the hall with her walker to her suite. Her mother met us in the hall and exclaimed, “You are Naheed’s mother!”  “No, No, Sahar, I am not Naheed’s mother. You are her mother,” I stated strongly. How quickly our Muslim friends can look to us as their mothers. It may feel like a high honor being bestowed but in reality it is a situation we need to be wise about.

A Muslim family desired to return to Iran to teach in a university. They wanted to leave their two teen-age children here so they would have more freedom and opportunities. I’ll never forget the evening the couple came over to our home and asked us if we would be the children’s mother and father here. We were not prepared to take that responsibility on and declined. Instant wisdom is needed in these kinds of situations. We believed it was best they all stay together which was more important than freedom and opportunities.

Amina is a stressed out university student. Her stress had been building for years because her mom and dad fought continuously. She made an unusual cultural decision and moved out on her own which brought disapproval from her community. She planned to distance herself from her mom and dad. Barbara felt sorry for her and began acting like a mother to Amina. An unhealthy possessive relationship developed where Amina began feeling trapped.  One day when the stress became too much she moved back into her parent’s home temporarily. Barbara became confused. By all appearances Barbara’s goal had not been to encourage reconciliation between Amina and her birth parents but to satisfy her own need of having a daughter.
If there is one thing Muslim women have in common it is a love for their mothers and an overwhelming desire to have them close by; especially when they immigrate to the west. They feel lost without them.  Their search and yearning for mother reminds me of a clip on YouTube of Dr. Seuss’s book, “Are You My Mother?”(click). This is an excellent story to discuss with Muslim women. It is natural for them to gravitate towards us to take the place of their mothers. However, this comes with high expectations which we can not possibly fulfill and  may produce confusion and disappointment. I have needed wisdom to understand what my role and boundaries should be. The same goes for when a single mom decides my husband should be the father for her teen age sons. It may all seem honorable and exciting for a time but then we realize their expectations are too high. I’ve learned to be cautious about becoming someone’s “mom”.  I prefer to have them think of me as “auntie” which doesn’t come with so many expectations, or simply a friend.  Even then, I have discovered that Easterners have a much greater expectation of auntie or friend then we have in our culture.

Ultimately, we are all searching for our heavenly Parent, who can truly meet our needs.

Dear heavenly Father, please help me to understand my role. In Jesus’ name, Amen.