My Tiger Mom: A Tribute to my mother: October 2011

Mom and I: Last Time She was in Florida: Summer 2010

There is a huge brouhaha brewing about the concept of an “Asian Tiger Mom”, who is pushy and demanding.

As the child of such a Tiger Mom, I can attest that she was demanding; however, it was not always about getting an “A” in academics or winning medals. It was always about excelling and doing the best that I can do, in every situation.

The first recollection of her absurd demand was when I was maybe five or six years old.

She took me to the front of the High Court building in Dhaka (one of the tallest buildings a five year old can imagine), and told me that I strive to grow as tall as the building and always stand up straight. I had no idea how to accomplish this unnatural feat. Only today,  I realize what that powerful statement meant in a little child’s mind.

She defends her children like a real tiger; no one criticizes her cubs. She always maintains that her children can be anything they choose to be. This insufferable defense and dogmatic belief in our own success, makes one feel secure that you imagine that you can climb any mountain you choose.

I remember, during my Freshman year in college, during those pre-internet, pre-mobile phone days, my mother wrote me a letter every week. Having experienced her own “immigration” at an early age, she understood the loneliness of an international student away from home. Her weekly letters, with instructions of how to do laundry or how to cook Keema, were all behind my surviving the first year in college in a desolate, foreign land.

Later in life, to be able to enjoy the sparkle in her eye, sitting through my Master’s Thesis presentation or visiting my first home in Toledo, or my first workplace,  was amazing.

Last year,  she visited me at South Florida. I took her to my new office and asked her to sit in my chair. She had tears in her eyes – and the only thing she could tell me is that she wished my dad was alive today to see what I had accomplished.

Without her tiger-like inspiration and constant “nudging” to strive higher – everyday, it is hard to imagine, where I would be today.

Recently, I heard that a childhood friend lost his mom yesterday.

Next week, I start my eight thousand mile journey back to my birthplace; I know, from the moment of my landing, till the moment I leave, she will want to speak to me. She worries about my health, my happiness and well-being. Even at this adult stage of my life, she feels responsible for protecting me.

She sees me hurt and agonize over decisions; she urges me to pray, re-assures me, that everything will be ok; “Allah only gives challenges to those, that can handle the challenge”, she says on the phone.

From a thousand miles away, she feels helpless. Even with her crumbling health, she offers to come and help me in my distress. This is what mothers do.

So what, if a Tiger Mom is possessive and defensive about her children! So what, if they see their children doing nothing wrong! Without this courage to face off the complicated, angry world, our lives could be so different.

Mom, I know you have protected me all my life; I know you have prayed for me every day, sometimes, five times a day. In sickness and in health, you have asked for nothing back.

I wouldn’t have my Tiger Mom, any other way.

9 thoughts on “My Tiger Mom: A Tribute to my mother: October 2011

  1. Zain, you are an incredible person and a loving son. Your mom has to be so unbelievably proud every time she hears your voice, sees your face, and sees the beautiful grandchildren you have rewarded her with.

  2. A mother’s love and careing is forever, whether you are a child or an adult. I believe it is even stronger after she dies!

  3. Zain, your article about your tiger mom is very moving. Mothers are sacrificial and always want the best from their kids. They also have the most rewarding jobs in the world because their kids appreciate their efforts more and more when they grow to be parents themselves. Thanks for sharing your blogs with me. Always enjoy reading them.



  4. Zain, I am touched by your tribute to your Mother- I also was raised by a Tiger Mom- who raised 9 children practically on her own. I feel she was an amazing mother. I know Nilu Apa is proud of you and your sister as you are appreciative of her. It is love that works wonders- God bless you and your family.Love,

    Shelly auntie

    1. Thank you Khala. We are both blessed by Tiger Moms! I really liked your mother as well. I think the world would be a different place without their enthusiasm – specially for their children!

  5. So saddened and touched by your tribute to your mom! I do recall seeing her decades ago at your Paribagh residence. I will share with you one of the greatest tributes ever said which applies to every mom, whether that be a starving beggar mom lying dust-ridden with her dust ridden starving barely clothed baby on a sidewalk in Dhaka city or an affluent mom, “God cannot be everywhere, so he made mothers.”
    God bless the soul of your mom and reward her with Jannah.
    Saiful Amin Bhuiyan

    1. Thank you Saiful for your comment. Mothers are beautiful people. Not just because they held us inside them, nurturing our life -because they protect and love us unconditionally.

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