By Muneezah Jawad
I am a typical desi mom and I am proud of it. Desi, for those of you unfamiliar with the term means ‘of South Asian descent’. There are a few *ahem* ‘charming’ traits that we all have, some of which I am proud of and others I won’t admit to. There are also those traits that make me wait for the day my children become parents themselves. Then I will sit back, grin like a Cheshire cat and purr out ‘I told you!!’
So sit back with your chai and cake rusk and enjoy my list of things typical desi moms do. Read this listing of ‘traits’ with a healthy dose of laughs, it’s all in good humour!
All desis are related
We have a universal adoption policy. We insist that our kids call anyone older than themselves, uncle, aunty, apa (sister) or bhaijan (brother). This is regardless of whether they are family, friends or the local shopkeeper as long as they are desi. If we could we would even assign the next door cat a title.
I am not going to apologize for this. We have been taught to respect our elders and that means not calling them by their first names. It’s as simple as that. Since non desi’s won’t understand and will think we are forcibly trying to adopt them I don’t push my kids to do this with others.
Future doctors, lawyers or engineers
If we had our way, we would dress our babies in white lab coats over their diapers and give them a stethoscope for a pacifier, then we would proudly parade said future doctor in front of the millions of uncles and aunties we adopted as explained above.
Food is love
Someone coming for dinner? Time to whip up 30 odd dishes. Not only is it about food, it’s about a lot of food. It cannot do to cook just enough. No! There must be leftovers for guests to take home.
This brings me to another key point. We hoard countless empty yoghurt tubs to send leftovers home with people. This means we can keep our precious Tupperware safely tucked in warm and cozy in its shelf at home. We fear we will never see it returned, so we just don’t hand it out.
Comparison is an art
Whenever convenient we never fail to use other children to our advantage. Recently my nephew got outstanding results in his exams. I used the moment to hammer into my kids about how intelligent he is, how hard he worked and how lucky his parents are. However the minute one of my kids comes home saying Charlie came to school with the latest of whatever popular items that’s going around, my standard answer is ‘We should not compare one family to another’. Out goes the comparison. Works like a charm every time. One of these days I will get caught I am sure.
Beta, when are YOU getting married?
We all have been dreaming of our daughters getting married since the day they were old enough to steal our lipstick and play dress up. So it follows that we simply cannot resist asking any girl or even boy when they plan to tie the knot. It doesn’t matter that they are barely even ready to vote, we just need to know. If we don’t ask them the next target we corner is their mother.
The sun is not our friend
Yes, we avoid the sun like cats avoid baths. We like to be fair and we will go to great lengths to achieve this. Our most common accessory is a giant umbrella ironically when there are no clouds in sight. We are seen ducking in and out of spots in outdoor malls trying to walk along the shaded sides. Since I am naturally tanned and no amount of shade can turn me into Snow White, I am least bothered with this one. (When out and about in the sun, remember to put on sunscreen though!)
Hell hath no fury like a mother scorned
If our children even so much as hint at liking another mom’s brownies more than ours, that is it! We get our feathers ruffled, we get all teary eyed and generally walk around with an injured look. It takes days for us to recover and it’s done with much sighing and sniffing.
We are nosy
We love to grill our children’s friends for information. What extracurricular activities they are doing, where they are planning to vacation, what their report cards said. Why you might ask? Remember we love to use the art of comparison! I usually extract the information by luring them with a piece of chocolate cake and a glass of milk when they are visiting. Once they are at the kitchen table munching away that’s when my inquisition takes place, slow and subtle.
Dress code: Shalwar Kameez
We make sure our girls wear shalwar kameez for every occasion. I’ve had this done to me. I would be roped into wearing whatever garish outfit that was hanging around in my closet. Remember that fad that came in the 80’s when the shalwar(flared pants), kameez (long tunic)and dupatta(scarf) were all a different color that did not complement each other? Well I do. Need I say more?
I forgive my parents though, because those outfits really were the epitome of our culture, heritage and style. I just didn’t see it that way. If we don’t introduce our kids to them, they might never wear it. It will be looked upon as a costume. It’s imperative that our children know their roots and our clothes play a big part. I advise that they should be given choices and never be forced.
Hospitable to a fault
Aside from feeding guests till they are ready to pop, anyone who ever comes for a visit will always be escorted out the door when they leave. It’s like we want to make sure they actually leave. We will stand outside and wait till they are safely in their car and have driven off. It’s difficult to know when to stop waving. We wave, then they wave, which obligates us to wave back and on it goes. Sometimes we are standing on the driveway a good 10-15 minutes and our hands end up very tired.
I am so proud to be desi. We are the most loving, hospitable people and I would never wish to be anything else. I hope to instill a few of these traits in my future generations as well. It is what makes us unique and at the same times makes us stand out in society.
About the author:
Muneezah Jawad is the Social Media Manager at MuslimMoms.ca