Mother’s and what constitutes good mothering have come into focus lately in the UK following the highly publicised cases of Shannon Matthews and Sufiah Yusof. In Shannon’s case, the nine-year old went missing for more than three weeks and was recovered safe after a massive search. This led to questions about the living arrangements of her mother Karen Matthews as well as the home environment that Shannon grew up in while police investigation now leads to suspicion of involvement of her stepfather. As her mother is purportedly unmarried, I am wondering why he is referred to as her stepfather? Ah well, whatever? To add another grim twist, there are reports that say her mother has gone into hiding as there have been death threats following media reports that the entire kidnap may have been a “stunt for cash“? Omigosh, I just don’t understand all this????
And then there is another mother who is just so glad to know her 23-year-old daughter is still alive that she struggles to come to terms with the situation that has pushed her beloved child into the limelight yet once again and this time no one is rejoicing. I read this story on her mother’s angusih in the Daily Mail online and I hope Sufiah is hearing her mother’s call as I can’t imagine how horrible her anguish must be!
Until a week ago, her instinct was always the same: any time she was away from home, Halimahton Yusof would scan the streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of her daughter’s face. “I always looked for her. For the past few years I didn’t even know whether she was alive,” she says, her eyes moist with tears. “Every time there was a story on the news about an accident, or a death, I feared the worst. I just wanted to know she was alive.”
No matter what anyone says about the choices Sufiah made in her life, this is a broken family! While this is nothing new in todays fragmented society, the family must live their lives under the full glare of the media with no way out for private atonement, making amends, reconcialition and healing. Can public interest in the sordid details of her daughter’s current lifestyle protect her daughter from the fate that awaits her should she re-emerge to be with her family? As a mother of a soon to be 22-year-old daughter myself, my heart goes out to Halimahton whose love, as any mother should, is unconditional. To the world she is a fallen genius turned hooker who will help sell bloghits, newspapers and TV news stories but to her mother, she is her baby. And all Sufiah and her mother needs is to be a family again.
“I was shaking when I found out what had become of her,” she says in her first interview since her daughter’s lifestyle was exposed. “No mother expects that, and part of me is haunted by the notion we had driven her to that. “I have no idea what is going on in her mind, but I refuse to judge her and I want her to know my door is always open, that I am here for her. “We have been through so much, but I have to believe that at some point in the future we can become a family again.”
My point here? I just wonder what being a mother means in this day and age? When does the choices a mother makes guarrantees perfection? As a single mother myself, I opted for a divorce due to irreconcileable differences in an arranged marriage that failed. It was an option made for the sake of my children as my personal unhappiness had impacted greatly on their well-being. Had I made the right choice? I know I did and now that my son and daughter are older, they both agree that it was the right decision. Since my divorce, my children have been my foremost priority as I fiercely protect them from any intrusion into their lives that would upset them. It was not an easy battle to gain custody for them in court and it was a battle that only I alone could fight. Don’t go looking for sympathy and never bother to expect anyone to understand the reasons nor to expect respect for the all feared “janda” status. It has not been easy having to bring up children without the support of a husband but it is not nearly as difficult as watching yourself and your children slowly dying in a living hell. Let me tell you that public condemnation is far easier to get than a helping hand. Support from my family and strength of faith in Allah is what helped me through the turmoils and travails of single-motherhood. What I feel for Sufiah and Halimahton is sympathy as a woman and empathy as a mother who loves her children no matter what. I would give my life for my children and I send both Sufiah and Halimahton my prayers. May Allah giuide you both to the right path.
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