I am feeling doubly blessed this Mother's Day on my return this week from a trip to Morocco with my daughter Grace. In celebration of Grace's graduation from college, we journeyed from Marrakech over the High Atlas Mountains to the Valley of Roses near Ourzazate (to see the rose harvest and distillation process) and then down to the Anti-Atlas Mountains to pay a visit to the Berber women who produce Kahina’s argan and prickly pear seed oils and finished at the beach in Essaouira. This Mother's Day also happens to coincide with the Rose Festival at Kelaa Mgouna. The festival is an annual ritual in which the community celebrates the completion of the rose harvest. It is a kitschy affair, but fun to see the bustle of preparations being made in the small town.
Our visit was made especially poignant as we travelled through rural Morocco where most girls don’t have the opportunity to continue school past the third grade. Instead of going to school, young Berber women typically stay home with their mothers, helping with the chores and learning traditional crafts and skills. This is slowly changing with programs such as Education For All, which provides free and safe boarding homes for girls so that they may continue their schooling beyond primary school when schools become more centralized in the larger cities and too far for girls to travel to.
I am often struck by the physical closeness displayed between mother and daughter here, a lack of personal boundaries and self-awareness. This is nowhere more evident than in the public hammam (bathhouse), where mothers can be seen bathing their daughters and washing their hair. It seems such an easy, uncomplicated bond, and during our time in Morocco, Grace and I came closer to achieving something similar. In celebration of traditions and the bonds between mothers and daughters, I am delighted to share this Moroccan proverb:
“In the eyes of its mother, every beetle is a gazelle”
To mothers and daughters everywhere, Happy Mother’s Day!
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