Thankfulness (2): Parents

Bismillah (in the name of Allah)…

I just finished watching Silver Lining’s Playbook at the request of a friend, and like him to me, I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it (especially because it’ll make this blog post make more sense.) Thirty minutes into the movie when I realized it wasn’t the movie where Mark Wahlberg becomes an Eagles player (Invincible), I shifted my mental expectations and started noticing how special the movie was. Special not because of the love story, or the battle against mental illness, or even because I love Chris Tucker and haven’t seen him in a movie in while, but special through a different lens. It was because of how it painted the relationship between Bradley Cooper’s character and his parents, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver. The movie is filled with familial strife as they struggle to deal with both the father and son’s mental illness, but no matter what the parents are there for their son every step of the way. They might not know the perfect thing to say or the right thing to do, but they are there nonetheless. And isn’t that such an easy blessing to overlook? Just the social support given to us by the 2 people who brought us into this world.

I’ve been meaning to write a post about my mom and dad ever since I dreamt up this blog last summer, but I could never verbalize what they mean to me. I’ve often reflected about how so many different people can say things like, “I have the best mom in the world,” or can buy “World’s #1 Dad” mugs and really mean it. Surely not everyone can have the best mom or best dad, especially when my parents provide such stiff competition. But then I started thinking.. maybe everyone can say it sincerely and can be right – it’s a testament to just how important our parents are to us. Anyone who has experienced a mother’s love has the right to say she is the best in the world because it’s just that divine. Think of the purest image you can, and if I’ve successfully incepted you thus far then hopefully it’s something like this: mother-and-child-1902Maybe you pictured them in white, but hey it’s Picasso. I can’t begin to comprehend the love a mother has for her child (especially since I’m not a parent), and biologically I don’t think I’m even capable of expressing it. All I can say for sure is that I know it when I see it, and Alhamdullilah I see it whenever I go home.

The thing that amazes me most, though, is that there’s no perfect roadmap for parents. Most of them just make it up as they go along. And as scary of a thought as that is, it seems to work. As a kid it always seemed like my dad knew everything and that my mom knew what to do in any situation, but only as I got older did I realize that they don’t have all the answers. They make mistakes too. Most of what they know about parenting they learned from watching their parents, and just like them most of what I will do as a parent (God willing) will be because of them. Unfortunately, that’s why people who grow up in a broken home are more likely to have a broken home when they start a family. It’s crazy how in order to learn about Math, English, and History we take classes for almost 2 decades (only to forget most of what we learn), but in order to be good parents there are 0 mandatory classes. That’s just another reason to be thankful for our parents, though. No one can fully prepare them for the responsibility we children are, but we’re blessed when they give it their all anyway.

A little while back, I watched an amazing lecture by Imam Khalid Latif where he talked about showing gratitude, and specifically how he struggled to convey that gratitude to his mother (starting at 13:40, but I’d recommend watching the whole thing.) He acknowledged everything she did for him, but for some reason couldn’t tell her face to face how much she meant to him. So he wrote her a letter. After watching, I tried to thank my mom for all that she does for me, and I couldn’t do it either. So I too vowed to write a letter to both my parents thanking them for all that they do for me. Here’s an excerpt from the letter to my father:

I’m thankful for the genes you gave me, Waseem definitely means handsome and Biology has always been a breeze.

I’m thankful for our guy trips to Ocean City together.

I’m thankful for the countless times you’ve made me laugh or you’ve made others around laugh.

I’m thankful for the days when we watch football together and you always know what the penalty is.

I’m thankful for how you taught me what gup shup is.

I’m thankful that no matter when in my life, you’ve always been there for me…

I’ve finished the letter to my dad, but I don’t even know where to start for my mom. I plan on writing one for her still, but until that time I hoped to inspire anyone reading this to express their gratitude towards their parents. Whether it be a letter or simply saying thank you, just knowing their kids appreciate them is a joy for any parent. So go now, don’t delay! In the wise words of Kanye (don’t worry – it’s pre-Kardashian), “People never get the flowers while they can still smell ’em.”

Happy [grateful] Reflecting,

Naj