By Mumtaz Moosa Saley
Today was going to be a real test of my patience. I was taking my mother shopping and lo and behold, my mom-in-law decides that she too needs to shop too! On a normal day, this would be a walk in the park. I’d sit at the coffee shop while the two ladies fought it out over the last brick of butter in the store. But, today, I’d need to muster up all my patience.
Since my mother-in-law was closer, I stopped to pick her up first and, of course, she gets into the passenger seat next to me. This would definitely start an argument of note! As I got to my mother, she was waiting outside in the cold. Her tirade began before she even greeted! She complained bitterly about being left to stand in the cold because I was so late. Did I not care that she could die from being in the cold?! The tongue-clicking and ramblings continued until we arrived at the mall. Sadly, my mother-in-law was subjected to some subtle abuse along the way, after all, she had chosen to sit in front!
The bitterly cold wind hit us like a wet blanket as we got out the car and I almost dragged the ladies into the entrance. My mother pulls me aside before the revolving doors complete their full circle. “My child could you not pick me up first? Why must you always favour her?”, she asked accusingly.
But I refused to answer the obvious question. I knew there were better ways to win this after all holding my tongue was the best.
We walk into a clothing store and I leave the two oldies as I head to look at some pants on sale. The calm was shattered by raised, angry voices and I sighed loudly and made my way back to where I have left my mum and mum-in-law. They were in a tug-of-war over a table cloth! I had to forcefully step between them. The hapless assistant came over and whispered that she would check if there was any more of the table cloths available. To my amazement there was! Well, by now it may seem that my mother and mother-in-law Don’t get me wrong, my mother and mother-in-law are actually good friends, who get along very well but just not when shopping together!
The hours drag on as we visit almost every store twice and my feet are groaning and my patience was wearing thin by now. Just as I thought we had managed to keep the arguing at bay, my mother insists on buying the kids Eid clothes and the peace is shattered again! Just as I was about to lose it, I remembered the hadith “the strong one is he who controls himself when he is angry.” I decided then to follow the Sunnah.
We sit in silence on a bench and both ladies are sulking. I make a suggestion to them in the hope that we can find a win-win situation for all. So, we return to the store and my mum has decided she will the children pants, mother-in-law chooses to buy them shoes and I graciously agree to buy the tops. Alhumdulillah! That sorted them out even if for a short while and thankfully they were soon tired and choose to return home and come back the following weekend to complete their Eid shopping.
As we left, my mother picked up pace and walked ahead which I seemed odd until I realised she wanted to sit up front. I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry as my kids do the exact same thing! It seemed silly that such a little thing was so important to my mother that would choose to behave like a child.
The oldies were staying over for iftaar and as soon as they stepped in the kitchen, the old camaraderie was restored between them as they happily prepared the food together.
Ahmed winked as he asked me about my shopping expedition. My raised eyebrow and the wooden spoon in my hand put an end to his giggles. Actually, today wasn’t so bad I thought to myself.
As we finished tidying the kitchen, my mother-in-law walked over to me and gave me a huge hug, thanked me for taking her shopping and then she walked over to mother and taking a hold of her hands, thanked her for raising me well. Before, I knew it they were apologising to each other for their bad behaviour and promised to be better.
A little later, as I drove my mum home, she admitted that as the years had passed, she felt as if my mother-in-law had replaced her and it made her jealous and she fought for my attention. This made me realise that we all needed each other and that I should make more effort to spend time with her.
My patience was tested today, but I learnt that by practising a simple lesson from the Sunnah, I had helped to calm a storm. More importantly, I learnt that mothers are a gift unto us and their love is beautiful but that they were also human. Sometimes, they feel unappreciated and just need to be reassured. The little things we do for our mothers and mothers-in-law are blessings and certainly, carry a rewarded from Allah.