On International Daughter’s Day, the walls were flooded with parents celebrating their daughters with beautiful words and actions. For some reason, I found it hard to write about what my daughter means to me. You see, she wasn’t just a daughter to me. Over 6 months later it seems the right time to put it all down in words.
I remember as a child aged eight, I desperately prayed that I would have a sister as I was so lonely amongst four brothers, even though my youngest brother was my partner in crime. There was always something missing. I envied every other family of sisters that I came across. Female cousins and friends vaguely filled some of the void but the hollow hole was quickly apparent at any crisis or test of kinship ties.
Despite my desperate prayers, the sister I was given was born with Downs and so we couldn’t fulfil that typical ‘sister’ relationship – she instead became my baby. My mother was ill from cancer and the generation gap meant that the hollowness in my heart was not filled for many years to come.
Losing my mum at the age of fourteen simply cemented the fact that I will now not have a mother, nor a sister in the traditional sense. I went about covering that black hole of longing by creating beautiful friendships with sisters-in-laws, nieces and cousins, all of which though beautiful and meaningful, were sporadically poked and peppered with more cracks blowing my ‘cover’, frequently revealing the hole of emptiness; mocking me and reminding me that I am truly alone.
I then met my husband and he fulfilled most of that need – he became more than my family, my rock alhamdulillah (may Allah always keep it so ameen).
After the first year of marriage, I was pregnant with a shy soul. Even at eight months into my pregnancy, this babe would not reveal itself to me. I remember at a private baby scan, they made me belly dance, jog up and down the stairs with Lucozade and a Snickers bar, but nothing worked. She wouldn’t wake up and hid inside of me. I had to come back another time to do it all over again, and finally we caught her in colour, yawning her way out to the surface, not wanting to be introduced to her mother until the time was right. I couldn’t even wait one more month. I just had to see her and find out what I was having!
Oh my, that first glimpse of her smile. I knew already she was beautiful.
It took everything out of me to get her out, my first-born. Once I’d walked over hell’s hot coals, she lay across my tummy and in a movie-moment, she looked up at me and our eyes met for the first time and a second later, she smiled. My heart skipped a beat and how I wept. There are no words to describe this moment. Only mothers will know.
This butterfly grew to develop me as a person. I learnt so much from her. I am still learning. My first-born, my experiment, my learning curve. My heart.
Growing up, everyone kept telling me how beautiful she was. I kept praying her character would surpass it. Growing up, everyone kept telling me how lovely her character was. I kept praying her spirituality would surpass it. Growing up, everyone kept telling me how clever she was. I kept praying her wisdom and understanding would surpass it. Ameen. Ameen. Ameen.
A few weeks ago, my now 11-year-old daughter started secondary school. And as excited as we both were, my heart broke a little. She has already had her first secondary heart-break when another child wanted to make her peers laugh at her expense. She remained polite, didn’t show her hurt to them but couldn’t contain her tears when she saw me outside the school grounds. A few days later, she tells me, ‘She’s actually nice and I’m friends with her.’ She doesn’t backbite about anyone and always tries to see the good in people even when they are not so good to her, mashaAllah. It wounded me and made me proud at the same time, to see her resilience and positive attitude in spite of the circumstance.
I am unapologetically over-protective, overzealous and like a tiger when it comes to her. All my life, I’ve never had anyone over-protective, overzealous and like a tiger over me. I want to ensure she knows I am there for her insha Allah. I want to make sure she has no black holes in her heart and that her heart is always full with unconditional, ever-lasting love. She also doesn’t have a sister and instead has three brothers. I pray their wives become wonderful sisters to her one day, ameen.
This daughter of mine is not only my daughter – she is my sister, she is my mother, she is my world.
A constant dua I make to Allah is to let me live long enough to see her and all my other children through to adulthood inshallah and ameen (not like my own mother, who missed all of our lives). To see them graduate, marry and have a family of their own, to be fulfilled and happy with a strong sense of deen and hikmah, inshallah and ameen. I pray the same for all your children and loved ones too, ameen.
To read about my daughter’s hijab story click here.
By Nafisa Rahimi
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