A terrifying incident happened last week that gave me goose bumps all week long. The police, after being notified by a neighbourhood that continuous loud screams were heard from a certain apartment, discovered that a 3-week-old newborn has been left on the kitchen floor alone. After further investigation, it turned out that the mother was a poor widow who no longer had the physical, the financial, nor the emotional capability to raise the newborn, and decided to stay away from her child for a day or two until she felt stronger. How shameful! Now, before reading any further, I’d like to somewhat apologetically tell you, my dear reader, that the story above was merely a figment of my imagination to prove a point below.
Firstly, think about the thoughts that went through your head while reading the story: “That mother is horrible”… “Selfish”… “That’s no excuse”… “No matter what she’s gone through, nothing justifies her actions”… and so on. I’m not saying your thoughts are wrong, as a matter of fact they’re absolutely normal, but because you thought of them means that you have a pre-defined view of what the role of a mother should be. Ideally, mothers are giving, loving, sacrificing, devoted etc. that whenever they do anything against these standardized descriptions they would normally be criticized and disapproved of.
Unfortunately, our other roles in life are not as standardized as a mother’s. For instance, the role of the eldest sister in a family could be to take care of her younger siblings (in various ways depending on the family’s culture, financial and social status etc.); ensure that the siblings are always close to one another; to aid and support them in education, work, and overcoming any obstacles she herself has encountered before them (as she is older than them). Now the few characteristics I’ve just described may not all be important, let alone exist, for the “eldest sister in a family” of many families/cultures around the globe. Hence the role of an “elder sister” is not universally consistent.
Now because of this lack of standardization/consistency in defining our various roles in life, the society does not push individuals as hard anymore to perform their roles perfectly. Consequently, we become lenient and easily give ourselves excuses for not being, for example, the ideal sister, employee, driver, son or manager. Perhaps the role of a mother is extremely important, and that is why it is clearly defined. Yet no matter what the reason is behind these inconsistencies, the fact remains that other roles do not get the same “attention” as a mother’s, and this allows us to tolerate others' imperfect performance(s) more easily.
So let’s reflect upon this. Whatever roles you currently have, or you anticipate to obtain in the future, are important. Think about them, each and every one of them, and think about what would make you the perfect person when executing them. Just because society isn’t there to push you shouldn’t allow you to relax or be negligent. In my view, a successful person is one who fully understands all his/her various roles (e.g. as a daughter, wife, employee and Muslim), and does their best to perform them proficiently.
Be that person.