In the second wave of Lebanese migrants my mother, a young 18-year-old woman and my father found their way to Australia. With no formal education they emigrated to improve their standard of living and commence their family in a foreign land.
Our local Mosque and ethnic organisation extended their generosity and helped build our strong and internal constructs. It enabled us to live harmoniously in the early and challenging years of Multicultural Australia.
One of ten children, my late mother exemplified selfless love. Her role was to serve the patriarch, as well as tend to the immediate needs of her young family. What was her life’s purpose? Restricted by culture, gender inequality and working opportunities, she sacrificed all her personal dreams and paved the way for the second generation to succeed.
As a bi-cultural woman, I felt both obliged and inspired to carry on mother’s role and responsibilities. I lived to replicate her recipe of a humble home environment. However the rising home prices were a driving force and so I joined the ranks of working men, working the 9-5 treadmill. I understood well what was paramount in harmonising a home; I continued to instill tradition, culture and religion. Small wins such as preparing and sharing of food with family and friends and fulfilling religious obligations to the wider community, were not hard tasks.
Looking back on life, my world was surely a balancing act. I lived the life of an educator, parent and dream catcher; tirelessly giving and doing in the hope I may pave the way for the third generation.
Today’s women are unquestionably privileged compared to what my mother experienced. Women of the past focused on family and home, serving others and balancing cultural expectations, today women cry out for autonomy and the right to free will. This has not gone unnoticed.
Met with liberation, independence and a maze of choice, undeniably our Western-Muslim women face additional challenges impacting many areas of life. For example, the wave of technology, consumerism and erosion of values can jeopardise the family construct. The intertwining of busy lives, changing roles and insurmountable responsibilities lends itself to distraction, destruction and devastation.
Nonetheless, success is bestowed upon those who embrace and embody the mantra, “the family that prays together, stays together”.
I stand back in awe of how my daughters’ serve me and make my family proud. Following the footsteps of their grandmother, prioritising family, social and religious values, they are able to uphold an Australian identity while they implement an important pillar of Islam, prayer.
Adjusting to daily peaks and troughs both within and outside the home, they stay in touch with Allah and are forever reminded of the importance of human interaction; trust, respect and pure intent.
We are woman of diversity spread across three generations.
Simple acts of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness have helped our family weather the unexpected tides of a fast-changing world.
Eat, Pray and Love.
Harmony begins at home.