Miscarried Dreams

I stack up the memories of my defeat, one on top of the other, until a mountain of setbacks is facing me. Once again, I am my mother. I am the dreams she had to bid farewell for the sake of a happy marriage, a happy husband, a happy family. I would rather we were miserable — since dreams that don’t live long enough to see the light always turn into nightmares ready to hunt down our peace of mind.

I often observe my mother’s blank face. I wonder in what alternate universe her dreams would have become reality and what she would have had to sacrifice in the process. I wonder if she often imagines a child-free life as her own, if she embraces, when no one’s looking, the possibilities that she left behind, and if she would have had any regrets in the depths of her heart had she prioritized academic success over the mechanized duty of motherhood.

Now that I think about it, almost every single one of my aspirations had something to do with my mother’s miscarried dreams. She wanted to go to med school, to become a university professor, to have a career in writing, to live in the United States. And when none of those dreams came true, I dreamt of doing all those things on her behalf. I sit alone, I wonder and wonder, but I never find the courage to ask her. What if she finds it insulting that I would ever think her life didn’t go as planned? What if she wasn’t even aware of her potential when she settled for a regular job that kills creativity, a slow torturous death?

My mother wrote a whole dissertation about the evolution of Muslim societies when it comes to women’s assumption of leadership roles. She made sure I read her work before I was old enough to understand the dynamics of sexism in academia, before I could even comprehend the weight of being a woman and a scholar — the responsibility and the burdens, the times when giving up feels like the best option at hand, the state of being in the shadow of your male colleagues or in the outskirts of your professor’s vision. My mom’s dissertation made me think that I knew it all, that I’ve officially found the ultimate cheat codes, the road that leads to academic success even when your crippling sense of self feels like the biggest obstacle in your way.

 I smiled every time someone reminded me of the similarities between me and my mother. “Even your dreams and life goals are similar” they say, not knowing that it was all too deeply engraved in my conscience, that I had planned every part of this puzzling resemblance that they now praise so effortlessly with words so easy to utter when you’re not the one putting in the work.

My grandmother’s face comes to mind whenever the word resilience graces my hearing. I remember her miscarried dreams too, and when I do, I find myself trying to overcome a strong urge to cry. My grandmother was married off at fourteen, forced to let go of what her once young heart desired. Her brothers grew up to become successful in their fields of study — one is a lawyer and the other is a doctor of medicine. While they worked hard to achieve their goals, she cooked and cleaned and raised the children who came from her infantile uterus. At sixty, she learned to make bitter jokes about the childhood stolen from her, careful not to laugh too hard at what still pains her heart until this day. Her youth a ripe fruit, a blossoming flower, carelessly thrown away.

My womanhood has taught me to live for the sole purpose of embodying the dreams of my female ancestors. Despite all the stories of the unfulfilled desires of the women in my bloodline, I long to dream freely and live my life in service to every dream that got away.

Aya Anzouk is a college student from Morocco, Rabat. She‘s pursuing her higher education in Clinical Psychology and Sociology. She’s an opinion writer for Arabic Post, formerly known as HuffPost Arabi, and an Arabic fiction writer for ida2at and The New Arab. Aya enjoys reading in her free time and is interested in philosophy and history. One of her favorite books is The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord.

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