Our Mother’s Daughters


By Sheba Siddiqui Life Writer email Sheba: life@masalamommas.com

@shebasid and online: shebasworld

Life Writer, Masalamommas


As mothers, we try our best to guide, encourage and lend support to our children but sometimes it can be a challenge. Many women are lucky to have a lending hand from their own mothers when they need it, whether to change a diaper, babysit or help to teach the next generation how to maintain a strong cultural identity. Often, our own mothers can be a great source of knowledge and inspiration into how we can become better mothers ourselves.

Oakville’s Saima Khan is a mother of three children, ages 7, 4 and 3 and believes that the most rewarding aspect of being a mother is watching her children grow, play and laugh. Khan’s mother Tabinda Akhtar, raised seven children as a stay at home mom in Saudi Arabia while her own parents were living in Pakistan. Khan remembers her mother always doing something, whether it was cooking, cleaning or teaching them; she never had a dull moment and this is what inspires Khan to give everything she has to being a mother. Khan’s mother Akhtar is a snowbird, traveling between Canada and Saudi Arabia every six months, so Khan acknowledges that raising three children without her mother here half the year requires a lot of patience, which some days can be difficult to muster.

“I believe they are a blessing, a gift, my purpose to live and I love them more than anyone else in the world, but there are times I want to eat them alive!” said Khan.  This in turn has helped her realize just how much sacrifice her mother made for her and her six siblings. Khan also realizes that as a stay-at-home mom, she may sometimes be perceived as having it easier than a working mom but she says that from the moment she had her first child, she knew she couldn’t go back to work and that she belonged at home with her children.

As much as Khan turns to her own mother for advice on parenting, she admits that there are some key differences in their parenting methods. Khan does not believe in spanking for example, which was a prominent disciplinary method used in her and many of her friends’ homes growing up. For now, time outs seem to work for her children and Saima plans to keep it that way. South Asian culture often also holds boys to a higher measure than girls. And so another issue she tries to keep in mind in her own parenting style is the differential treatment of boys and girls. As a mother of two daughters and a son, Khan has no intention of treating her son any differently than her daughters.

“This is also a very big problem with our culture,” said Khan.  “Now that I am a mother, I can’t imagine favoring one child over another based upon gender.” Khan tries her best to keep in contact with her mother when she’s away, often calling for recipes and sometimes just needing to hear her mother’s comforting voice until she gets on the next plane back to Canada.

Often, having your mother live close by can be a lifesaver in staying sane with young ones. This is the case with Calgary’s Nisha Charlton, who is the mother of two girls, ages 5 and 2. As a mom, working full-time from home, Charlton believes that different stages bring different rewards.

“When they were babies, there is nothing quite like the feeling you get when your child reaches up for you because they are hurt, or tired, or hungry or just want a cuddle,” said Charlton.   “Knowing that you are the only thing that they want in the world is one of the most amazing feelings in the world.”   Charlton loves watching her girls develop and grow and believes her own mother, Bharti Jogia, is a large contributor to that.

Charlton believes her mother is a constant source of support and guidance – without being overbearing with her advice. Her parenting style is often by trial and error and she feels very comfortable asking for her own mother’s opinion when she needs it. Charlton also believes that because she had her children in her 30’s, a luxury her own mother did not, she was able to finish her education, establish her career and find herself. Jogia, who was married at 16 , had her kids in her early 20’s and then immigrated to Canada, had responsibilities that her daughter can’t even imagine having at that age.

Charlton believes the biggest change in mothering from when she was a child to now is that discipline is not used as often as it should be. She remembers being disciplined by her mother.

“At the time, I’m sure I sometimes thought she was downright mean,” said Charlton.  “But, it shaped me into the person that I have become, so she had a plan, though I didn’t know it at the time.”  Charlton realizes now that it is much harder to stand strong than to cave in to your children’s demands, which has helped her see the method to her own mother’s tactics.

“My mother, and others from her generation, quite clearly got that they weren’t helping us by giving in to us.”

Charlton feels very blessed that her mother lives so close and is always there when Charlton needs a helping hand or even a break. Her daughters have grown up with their Nani and she hopes to pass on what her mother has taught her to her own girls. Charlton passionately believes that her own mother is the epitome of what a mother should be…loving, caring, patient and most importantly, always a constant source of unconditional love and support, no matter what.

Most women dream of the day they will become a mother. We have names picked out, decide on how many boys and girls we want and think about all the great things motherhood encompasses.  However, Markham’s Amreena Nawaz was quite the opposite. After working in a daycare as a teenager, she made a pact with a girlfriend never to have any children. She realized how demanding and time-consuming kids could be and had no intention of going down that road.

Nawaz was married at an early age and her own mother Ismat Hussain wanted her to wait to finish school and develop a stronger relationship with her husband before having a baby. However, due to spousal pressure, Nawaz succumbed to the idea of motherhood and was pregnant a few short weeks later. As anxious as she was about becoming a mother, she says,

“The day my daughter was born was the first time I ever felt that I could be a mother, that this little person was someone that was a part of me. I know its cliché, but I fell in love with her the first time I saw her.”

Nawaz believes she could not have done it without her own mother. Hussain quit her job shortly after Nawaz’s daughter, now 10, was born so that Nawaz could finish school and then enter the working world. Another reason she holds her mother in such high esteem is because Nawaz herself is now a single mother, with her estranged husband having left her and her daughter years ago. As she states, “I always knew my mother was amazing.  However, her patience, with both my daughter and I, has been unrelenting; especially after my separation.”

Nawaz realizes she is not the norm in her community as she lives with her parents and brother and feels incredibly lucky to have their emotional and financial support for her and her daughter. She does not need to worry about childcare, is able to spend time with friends when she needs some me-time and is learning that the sacrifices her own mother made, raising her and her brother in a remote community in Ohio with no help, are all an inspiration as she goes at it as a single mother. Some days are more difficult than others and Nawaz realizes how blessed she is to have the love and support of her own mother on a daily basis.

“I think she knows how hard it is on me sometimes and has this sixth sense about knowing when to step in,” said Nawaz. I’m grateful for her.”

As the saying goes, it really does take a village to raise a child. If you can manage to take what you have learned from your own mother and incorporate that into your parenting, your children will thank you for it in the years to come. Whether as a stay-at-home mom, a working mom or a single mother, having the extra pair of hands and knowledge that only your own mother can bring, is often enough to get through those days when it seems bedtime won’t come soon enough.


What have you learned from  your mom and how has it affected your own parenting? Let us know in our comments section below!













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