America Matters Muslim Matters Immigrant Families
Swati with her son.

By Shireen Qudosi

Years ago, I met Swati in her place of work at a UPS store. We bonded immediately as immigrants often do when we recognize someone as being from the “old country.” She is from India; I am from Pakistan — two countries only recently separated in the grand scheme of time, but who continue to share a rich culture and language.

Swati and I also shared something else. In learning about each other through the exchange of parcels and post stamps, we found out both of us have little boys around the same age, both of us are were first time mothers, and both of us loved our heritage.

We also embraced being American.

On Easter weekend, I saw Swati again to notarize documents — a dull and technical chore that gave us a precious opportunity to reconnect in the midst of our busy lives.

We chatted about our Easter plans. Even though neither of us celebrate Easter, we believe in celebrating Western traditions and celebrating life with our sons.

America Matters Muslim Matters
Me with my son.

I told her about how I got my little one a basket of goodies and planned on dying eggs with him.  I secretly lamented not having a garden to do an egg hunt in and that I couldn’t partake in the madness of community-held egg hunts that are overwhelming for both me and my son. I gave him the basket of chocolates the Saturday before Easter because I couldn’t wait till Sunday to surprise him; and I misplaced the dye-kit, so we colored boiled eggs with markers a week later.

Then I listened to Swati and was deeply moved by her spirit and resilience. She told me about how she’d be celebrating on Saturday night since she works Sunday. And even though she also didn’t have a yard to hide eggs in, she was looking forward to just hiding them around the house — and I thought what a brilliant idea!

Swati went on telling me about how she’s learning about American traditions with her son. Last month, he came home with a school project on drawing a Leprechaun but making it ‘different’ somehow. He asked her what a Leprechaun was, and so both mother and son Googled it together. Swati told me that she had to look up what a Leprechaun looked like before they could change something about it.

“How was I supposed to know what to change so that it’s different somehow when I don’t even know what a Leprechaun looks like,” she recalled, half laughing with the effortless happiness she always radiates.

It is through our children that Swati and I both become more American. Even though I was raised in America from a young age, the traditions didn’t become a part of my identity until my son was born. Every year, Swati and I get to become a little more American, embracing but also adapting in a way that fits who we are as immigrant women. And along with Spring, we get to renew ourselves and bring to life a richer sense of community and belonging.