Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Raised in the West, it is all too easy for us 1st or 2nd generation kids of immigrants to feel frustrated with our parents and families, to spend much of our adolescence & even adulthood butting heads, clashing over culture & personal priorities.
It's all too easy for us to lose our tempers, for resentment to simmer, for family gatherings to feel tense and unpleasant.
But when that happens, we don't realize how much we are losing.
I'm not going to be cliche and say that since I've become a parent, I realize what parents go through - I'll be honest, I still fight with my family and we have our dramas. At the same time, though, I have never loved them more. I've never appreciated my dad's awful jokes more than I do now; I've never savoured teasing my mom and harassing her lovingly than I do now; I've never felt such a rush of sisterly protectiveness (and obnoxiousness) as I do now.
As much as I'll pretend to be annoyed, I treasure our weekly family dinners and missing one leaves an ache that won't leave until I see them again - in the meantime, I will harass them on our family group chat.
There is a reason that the ties of kinship are called Silat al Arhaam: we truly are connected by the wombs, & there is a tug in our blood that calls to us, the inclining of our hearts towards mercy even when we squabble and cry and argue and glare in steely silence.
All of this is to say: don't underestimate the importance of family. Don't devalue their love for you or your love for them. As much as they can feel like a source of strife, they are also a source of comfort and barakah. Parents and grandparents, siblings and aunts and uncles... they share something with us, blood and DNA if nothing else, but it is that which binds us more closely than we often realize.
Look at your parents and remember the times of silliness and joy and the way they stroked your hair when you were young and the way they constantly feed you and scold you and demand to know when you're getting married or having more kids... know that this is love.
Our families may not look like the ones on TV or in the movies, they may not be as prim and proper as we imagined others to be, but in the inevitable chaos of our in-between languages and cultures and ideas of education and career and marriage, lies indescribable beauty.
O Allah, have mercy on our parents, as they raised us when we were young.

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