A Bittersweet Mother's Day
Maybe it’s just me, but hasn’t the commercialization of Mother’s Day in Lebanon shot through the roof this year? Wherever I go, I see elevated levels of hype surrounding the date, with competitions, campaigns, sales, promotions, festivals, and giveaways all to mark the occasion.
The Spot Mall in Saida organized a campaign where they reunited an expatriated Lebanese with his mother on its premises. Nearly every vendor on Facebook, from OMT to Allo Taxi, is soliciting followers to contribute their fondest memories of Mother Dear. The best one fetches a coveted prize. Even my bank surprised a handful of lucky mommas, catching them off guard in branches and presenting them with bouquets of flowers or cute little knickknacks.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticizing, and you’ll never catch me proselytizing. I, too, am of the school of thought that mothers are our angels on Earth, and that no one will ever love us more unconditionally.
From the minute we are conceived, they carry and nourish us. When we are born, they cradle and nurture us. As we grow, they become our friends and closest confidantes. No matter how old we get, they perpetually want to feed, comfort, and envelop us in their arms. Nothing and no one can hold a candle to what mothers do for our well-being.
So why am I peeved about March 21’s status as Christmas the Second?
My fate in life has thrown me 7,500 miles away from my mom. When I wake up, she’s preparing for bed ten time zones away. As I get off my shift in the early evening, she’s starting her day with Nescafe. She and my father continue to reside in my hometown of Riverside, California, and I occupy their country of birth here in Lebanon.
I never planned it that way. In fact, the intention couldn’t have been farther from reality. You see, I always thought that by moving to Lebanon, I would be the anchor that pulled my parents back to their homeland.
My mother’s constant reminiscences of her childhood and life in these parts convinced me that this was indeed the Promised Land, and I wanted to facilitate her and my father’s way “home” to their roots. By settling here, I would be providing an irresistible incentive that would result in a “happily ever after” post years of longing and nostalgia.
Bizarrely enough, I am reliving my mother's story, with locations swapped. She left her mother in the midst of a war-plagued era, marrying my father and relocating to the US. I left her and the American dream for the enigmatic beauty of Lebanese living, eventually meeting and marrying my husband and remaining here.
Everyone is always dumbfounded as to what I’m doing in Lebanon when I could opt for the easier path and return to my first-world origins. That doesn't agonize me as much as the realization that I'm half way across the globe from my parents, and none of us is getting any younger.
Having resided in a variety of countries and settings, I've learned it's not the land that draws you in, it’s the people. Lebanon is not attractive on account of its pristine nature, nor does it lure the outsider because of its unparalleled infrastructure.
Likewise, the US is no place for bending rules or flirting with chaos. No one seeks out America because it is steeped in centuries of history and tradition.
As we become more self-aware and less prideful, we realize we just want to be happy, in the company of family and loved ones. And for me, that means being reunited with my mother and father, and certainly my two brothers.
So on this precious day to crown all days, I wish all of you that privilege and gift of being joined with your mothers. Because it’s rare and never to be taken for granted, just as she is rare and pearl-like in my teary eyes.
|Isn't she beautiful?|