My Mom, Samira Shah
May 10th, 2019
Yesterday was Mother’s Day, so I’d like to take this opportunity to say that every wonderful mom in the world deserves endless love and respect for what they’ve done solely in raising their children. But I know on top of that, every one of them has individually done so much more, and I want to share my own incredible mother’s incredible story with as many people as I can. No matter how much appreciation I give her, it’ll never be as much as she’s worthy of receiving.
My mother came to the United States when she was three years old. English was her third language, (after Pashto and Urdu,) though legend says she was fluent after less than two weeks of living in America and it’s now her best. She later learned Arabic and Spanish, and is nearly fluent in French. She swore off of her family’s traditional career path in the medical field and decided to be a lawyer before she even went to college. She’s the youngest of her siblings and still became the first of her family to go to a top-ranked U.S. university when she was accepted to the University of Chicago at the age of seventeen -- where she met her husband and my father in her first year. She continued on to Columbia Law School for her graduate studies.
My mother is a corporate lawyer. She must spend half her life working, because she’s often up as late as I am with her own homework, but she still somehow has time to take care of herself and her family. My parents don’t hide that she’s the primary breadwinner, and she’s taught my sister and me from a young age that we can and will grow up to be similarly self-sufficient. She works in an office on the forty-first floor filled with natural light and pictures of her children, in a massive building in midtown whose lobby is vast and entirely white marble. She’s one of the only women working there who wears no makeup on a daily basis because -- not to put down anyone who does, myself included -- even though she’s got some grey hairs, she doesn’t need any at all.
My mother is an athlete. When I was five years old, my father drove my sister and me to Boston to cheer her on in the Boston Marathon. For as long as I can remember, she’s sent me off to school multiple times a week wearing her running clothes because she was about to leave for the seven-mile run to her office at 7AM. Other days she Citi-bikes there -- she’s such an avid user of the NYC bikeshare program that she’s invested in collapsible bike helmets for the whole family (though she’s the only one who uses them). Before work, she often Citi-bikes to the gym a couple miles from our house, where she took up squash two years ago -- she is now captain of that gym’s squash team. She’s an amazing rock-climber, and introduced me to the sport at the age of three (I joined a travelling team four years later), as well as an expert skier -- my thirteen-year-old sister is now at the top of her race team, and I began working as a coach when I was fourteen.
My mother is a role model in every way. She stays in touch with her mother and siblings on a weekly basis, and organizes destination vacations every year for her whole family -- between the four of us, her siblings, and their families, it’s about twenty people total. She supports me in everything I do, whether it’s athletics or my social life or my sexuality, and her abilities to listen, accept, and forgive have allowed me to talk to her about every little thing that troubles me. I have never doubted her unconditional love for me and support of my choices. Particularly in the last couple years, she’s taken care of our entire family through unfathomable traumas and crises while somehow staying sane, and I aspire to her accomplishments, her lifestyle, and the amazing family she’s created.