My mommas name is Marjan Azimi, and shes one kick-ass human being. The layers of her kick-assets will never be measured, for each dawn has highlighted new parts of her eternal soul. Like spring in purple Santa Barbara trees, my momma is regrowth, always blooming in place of lifes peeling grip on her flower core. This blooming of life is why I am alive as well. I am alive because my mom cherished my dependent self within the homes of her insides, but I am deeply existing because her creation of life beyond the womb is limitless.

It is in understanding her that I have understood life. But I have only begun to understand her as a person because I use the word Iway too often when describing my mom. Iand momare the problems in getting close to who a mother is as human. “I, I, I,” but I am not why my mother is a person. On Mothers Day 2016, I realize my mistakes in loving my mother because my love for her was only strong when her love was loving me the right way.” This Mothers Day, I dedicated time to learning about her.

On Mothers Day 2016 there was no social media post about her being my mother and her giving me all that she has given me because I looked at her today trying to see past a mother. In us being together every time we are, I have been trying to let go of the imprisoning standards of what it means to be a good momand what it means for her to be herself. In my world, there have been misunderstandings of momma for too long.

What does it mean to understand a mother, though? But more importantly, what does it mean to grow up and understand that a mother is more than a mother? And how can we understand a mother as a person, when being a mother seems like the best identity one may harbor, with sacrifice, unbounded nurturance and caregiving this role gifts and demands?

My belief is that in understanding a mother, we must understand who they were before they were a mother, whom they continue to be as a mother and who they are outside of the mother life (although my mom has told me that sometimes being a mom is life). My mom says that being a mom is the greatest thing to happen to her, but I have to think, has being a mother to my sister and I and dealing with our unrealistic expectations for her hindered her relationship to herself and our relationship to each other as individual people?

My belief is that in understanding a mother, we must understand who they were before they were a mother…

As I look across the table today, I wonder who my mom is with great curiosity. My mothers name is Marjan Azimi-Anaraki. She is a magical woman. She is magical as a human and her magic as mother is revolutionary. I see her sip some coffee. Mothers drink coffee. I notice her getting distracted. Mothers dont get distracted when their kids are talking though, right? Here is the wrong.

I am guilty of placing my mother in a box by only acknowledging her motherhood by some list of World’s best Mom” I made up. I want to know her for real, and I see that the mistakes we all make are in her, too. I see that the ferocious passion of love is untamed and it is wild within her heart. I thought mothers had to be tame, but mothers — as mother Earth herself — lead wild, imperfect lives.

It was always her as a mother I was able to be around. Her, with traits nurturing my own personality traits, and her as my friend, with spunk bringing out my own funk, was someone I liked to be around because it was the only way I could function comfortably. I did not care to know Marjan Azimi for who she is and whom she aspires to be, and I did not make time to be her friend the way I love to be a friend. But Marjan Azimi is a wonderful universe I have only started to get to know. I remember her universe beyond motherly norms would come out sometimes to breathe and play, but I shut this universe down. It was unknown to me, and I didnt know how to love her other parts.

I thought mothers had to be tame, but mothers — as mother Earth herself — lead wild, imperfect lives.

Marjan is a woman that I used to shame when she was not abiding by the quintessential motherly role, like when she wore halter tops to visit my school teachers or when she was cooler than me and all my friends wanted to be around her instead. Marjan was not a mom I was comfortable with when one of my ex-boyfriends swooned at meeting her and later told me that she was so insanely hot. Marjan was not a mom I understood when she told me to open up to her about romance, sex, my anxieties and everything I keep to myself way too often. Marjan was rejected as a mother when I didnt know how to love her as a mother because she wouldnt go to PTA meetings and she didnt cook Persian stews and she loved to listen to pop music and she had a Facebook before my sister and I did and she told us we deserved more from men.

Marjan is a flower goddess, as I can see her now. It feels weird to call her Marjan, but I have to, because it is Marjan I need to get to know. I remember not being able to call her Marjan and never recognizing her as a deeply unique person. Why are we told not to call our moms by their first names growing up?

I was told it is because of respect because our mom is not someone to just call Marjan. But thats her name, and it means so much. Today it is appropriate for me to learn how to say Marjan comfortably, how to pronounce it the right way and how to learn about her.

A photo of the author's mother and her friend

A photo of the author’s mother and her friend

Marjan is the baby of her family, but she is tough. Marjan is independent, graduating college at the ripe age of 20 and getting married to my father, Teimour, at 23. Marjan is very intelligent, so good at math and she is a philosopher. Marjan is into adventure and she loves to travel. Marjan is down-to-earth, although she enjoys luxuries. Marjan reads a lot and she is moved by people trying hard to better themselves. Marjan is empathetic and wants to help others. Marjan is a beautiful soul. Marjan, I want to get to know you more. This is only the surface. Marjan Azimi, I hope you let me into your world beyond mother and daughter.

You were always my best friend, but it was a one-way friendship which isnt really a friendship at all. Let me be your best friend, too. Let me listen to you vent on the phone and let me check up on you on random days because thats what Im here for. I hope you feel comfortable enough to cry in my arms and let me stroke your hair. I hope you let me be with you when youre happy and angry, and I hope we can travel together. I hope we can learn how to cook together (ha), and I hope you hug me when you need a hug. I hope you need me sometimes, too. I love you.

I hope you get to know your mother if you are like me and never thought about doing so before. I hope your mom or your guardian or your best friend — whomever is a mother to you — is cared for, understood and loved limitlessly. I hope this person wants to understand you and love you how you need love, too. With understanding, we will create relationships unimaginable. With understanding, we can learn how to love people in a way that frees them. Let us be free through love, together.


Leilani Leila Riahi encourages you to understand your mother in her own light, as her own person.