The older I get, the more I understand my parents' pain.
As I age and continue to embrace my own womanhood, I find myself drawing closer to my mother's experiences and all that she was left to endure.
Each milestone of my own journey circles back to my appreciation of her – although I struggle to always show it.
See, my mother was exactly my age when she welcomed her third child.
I know – 3 children by 23.
I can barely carry myself through the day at the age of 23, yet she was tending to a husband, taking care the home that nestled three young babies, and somewhere amidst that, she kept her own emotions at bay.
If I was to describe the life of my mother – I'd say it's one that's been woven in hardship, marked by solitude at times, yet radiating nothing but unwavering strength and determination.
Combatting negative thoughts, like many of us, yet effortlessly poured nothing but positivity into her own kids.
If I could take just one thing away from my childhood, it would be the image of my mum smiling at me anytime I looked at her, while I remained completely oblivious as to what she would have been going through.
The thing is, as a young girl, you don't understand the world enough to fathom that your parents could even experience anything other than joy.
Most kids are shielded from such darkness.
But the truth is, as you grow, you begin to see things and people for what they are – the cruel nature of this world reveals itself.
It leaves you curious as to what our parents felt at times.
You begin to realise that they – like you – are people with real anxieties, real dreams, real aspirations, real grief.
The innocence fades and you're left with what feels like a mirror. You become a mere reflection of your parents as you both stand as independent adults in this world, carrying a whole heap of emotions and experiences by this point.
You begin to understand your parents as people, rather than caregivers or providers.
You learn their likes and dislikes, their triggers, their weaknesses, their traumas – and all the intricate details that make them who they are.
You realise that adulthood scares them too.
This doesn't mean you're meant to love or respect them any less. In fact, its these intricacies that should draw you nearer and allow communication to flourish on a deeper level.
As a teenager (and still to this day), I find myself so busy growing up that I forget they're still growing older too.
As dad's beard grows more grey and mum's energy doesn't allow for those late-night evening chats anymore – these moments you witness remind you of how fleeting life can be.
It's scary, I know.
You're probably thinking, "how do I make my time with them last?" – if you're blessed enough to still have both of them with you.
The truth is, deep down, our parents love watching us grow. They only want to see us happy in a world that's filled with so much hurt.
But it's for us to start letting them in.
Pause for a moment to share your day with them and give them a window into your mind so that, as we continue to navigate our own path in this dunya, they can walk alongside us at every turn.
I know it's hard, sometimes.
Culture clashes, generational divides, technological leaps, miscommunications, language gaps, and contrasting mindsets – I understand it all.
But take it from me, invite them wholeheartedly into your life because thats what will make them feel as if their sacrifices were worth it.
Allow them to bask in your successes with you, or, when needed, envelope you in comfort during trying times.
And remember that your parents, too, are people with real emotions, real anxieties, real hopes, and real dreams.