by Harleen Kaur

From the day I was born, she showed me how to sacrifice, giving up her own career to stay at home with her newborn daughter. She called me her “best friend” and the gift she had always wanted. She shielded me with her love, bundled me with her joy, and wrapped me up in kindness. I could not feel the pain of the world.

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My mother, Amarjeet Kaur, and me.

PicOn the first day of school, she taught me the lessons of Mata Gujri Ji, telling me to defend my faith and who I was, never letting another person tell me otherwise. She told me that I would often be the only Sikh; they would always see me as different in some way. But, she also told me that it was okay. More than okay. If I held my head high and spoke with confidence and pride, no one could defeat me.

When I dealt with my first bullies and their ignorance, she taught me the bravery of the chaar sahibzadey. Although there would be times when people told me that my looks, beliefs, and values were not right, it was up to me explain myself. Actions spoke louder than words. If I focused on how I wanted to act and present myself, others would appreciate my differences for the unique beauty of them. I could prove them wrong.

As my brother and I grew older, my mother taught us the compassion of Guru Harkrishan Ji, teaching us the importance of thanking those around us. Although it was embarrassing at the time, she had us give “Thank You” notes and gifts to every single teacher we had from preschool through high school graduation to show our appreciation. Ironically, or perhaps incidentally, this is a practice I continued with teachers even after moving away from home for college.

IMG_1421Time and time again, my mother has shown me the courage of Mai Bhago. There have been times when we have seen the deep scars of humanity, the pain that ignorance and hatred can bring, and the dangers of forgetting the truth of Ik Onkar. She has taught us that it is important to combat hatred with compassion, only using our fear to embrace the messages of the Guru further and fight for the purpose of the Khalsa Panth.

Most importantly, she has shown me the power of love that is imbued within Sikhi. My mother’s love has been my protection and preservation, even years after leaving her household. Today, I know she is my best friend and the greatest gift I have ever received. I can never thank her enough for all the sacrifices, love, and support she has showered me with.

Happy Mother’s Day to all our moms! Thank you for all your sacrifices, love, and support. Most of all, thank you for teaching us how to be Sikhs.