I remember vividly picking up one of my daughters at her gym class, when she was 10 years old. As I walked in, the class was empty except for her sitting by herself, waiting for me.
“Where is everybody?” I inquired.
“They were all invited to a birthday party” she replied.
“Everyone? Whose birthday? Why weren’t you invited?”
When I found out that one of my best friends had omitted to invite my daughter at her daughter’s birthday party, the only one from the entire gym class, I felt angry. Disappointed of course, but so angry. How can someone be so insensitive? I just could not believe this close friend I liked and trusted could do such a thing!
I hugged my daughter, shared with her my sentiment but she just kept on repeating to me:
“Please mommy, please! Don’t say anything…I don’t care.”
You see, when I saw her sitting alone, my childhood came rushing back and I remembered how I was bullied, not physically but insidiously. Growing up in Paris, I was like her, a dark-haired, dark-eyed, olive-skinned girl, very shy and an outsider. I was often left out, with very few friends, living with pain. I wasn’t French enough, nor quite Persian. The effects of my childhood are buried deep beneath my skin and no one really knows about it, certainly not my mother who was busy raising her children in an unforgiving country. I was always craving to be seen, to be heard, to be liked. All these emotions were not in vain as they became the fuel to propel me to the mother I am today: fierce and loyal...and strong (still very sensitive :)).
Moving to NY and marrying David were big changes in my life but I made sure raising my daughters would be different from the way I was raised, that their life experience would be unique and remembered fondly. I never blamed my mother, far from it. She is a gentle soul, a selfless, giving, loving human being. Being plucked at 19 from Iran and moving to Paris without speaking a word of French was very challenging. Without the support of her own family, she did the best she could. I adore her and I will always be grateful for all the sacrifices she made to bring me here today. So I learned to fend for myself, slowing developing a hard emotional armor.
Growing up in NYC, my children knew that they were different but I made sure that their heritage and dark features were a badge of honor. I showered them with hugs and love, was transparent about their strength and weaknesses and supported them unconditionally. I protected my cubs with shameless ferocity.
So when I got home, I picked up the phone and called my friend.
I told her how I felt, my voice shaking with emotions running so high that I started to cry. I explained to her the damage she had done: to my daughter, to my friendship, that the example she gave to her daughter would impact her for the rest of her life. Her poor excuses did not assuage my sadness and after this incident we barely talked and lost touch. I just couldn’t help it, and may be it was the wrong thing to do and just ignore it. My daughter was embarrassed but in hindsight I have no regrets. I was able to show her my complete dedication and loyalty to her. She knew I had her back.
I am often asked why my business is small. I always respond that I was busy raising my girls. Being a mom is an artful balance, specially to three daughters. It is the most consequential job, requiring you to protect your children, unabashedly, unapologetically and unwaveringly. It's about expressing your love to them, every day, even when many times I am required me to say "NO". I earned their trust and their respect and they welcomed me as their friend. There are many instances when I disagree and argue with them but I have learned to shut up, knowing that the relationship is more important than my ego. They are not afraid to push back, always reminding me that they are the product of my raising them. They learned well. :)