I’ve got my own me to be

My sweet and beautiful mother passed away. May her soul rest in peace. It shook my whole world. Never again will I hear her voice, or be able to hug her. That one irreplaceable person is not here anymore.

As a Moroccan and a Muslim, I was taught that a mother is the most important person in my life. And she really was. As her children were to her. She was a good person, and the sweetest of mothers. Like all Moroccan mothers she would throw a shoe at us when we did something bad but, unlike other mothers, she always ‘missed’. I have been blessed with a great childhood growing up in a small town in The Netherlands, with so much love from her and the rest of my family.

That same love and warmth made it hard for me to stand up against my parents. I wasn’t really rebellious, but I didn’t quite follow the many many (unwritten) rules either. They just felt wrong to me. I never fought with my parents and avoided confrontations like a true Moroccan. My resistance was always on the down-low. It kind of worked, and they accepted me doing things differently and not living the life they wanted for me.

I am 35 years old. I have never been married; I have no children; I only wear the hijab with my family, and I rarely pray. The way I practice Islam is not the way my family practices Islam. They think I don’t fear God and death enough. They are afraid for me, for my soul. Sometimes, I start doubting myself. I wonder if I only ‘pick’ the fun things and avoid the hard things of our religion, as I’ve been told many times. But even then, I just cannot believe that God is a God of fear; a God of rules. Humanity, goodness, mistakes and forgiveness. That is my Islam, and that is my mother.

She has always been my guide and my inner voice. If I stayed out too late, would she be too upset? That vacation with my friends; would she forgive me for going? I always pushed the limit and sometimes went over it, but never so far that she couldn’t forgive me. I hope.

I compromised and pressed pause on my life. All these compromises were made at my own expense. I’m always on my guard, always aware of my surroundings. I can’t remember the last time I really relaxed or was able to just enjoy the moment and feel good without the buzzing feeling of doing something wrong or being discovered. It was the only way to be for me though. I learned to accept it. I didn’t want to fight with my parents and hurt my mom. I didn’t want to risk losing my family. So I carried her voice with me wherever I went.

And now she’s gone. After a life of tiptoeing around her, she’s not here anymore. Everything is different. I am tired of the way I live my life. I know it’s time to be my own. To step out of the shadows and into the sun. Then I ask myself, ‘Is she looking down on me now, not happy and proud, but sad and worried?’

She just passed away and I’m not in a hurry to make big changes, but I know changes are coming. It is going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Choosing a bit more for me and less for my family. And I know now the inner voice did not die with my mom; it will never quiet down. It’s become my voice, the struggle inside me. Alhamdullillah.


* Kimmy Schmidt in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, season 2, episode 11.