Dear Jawaher, the soul-stirring legacy between mother and daughter, marks American born, Middle Eastern Mona Al-Hajjaj’s debut not only as a writer, but as a mother as well. As Mona’s first book, which she claims, includes ‘tips to my daughter from the classroom of my life’, the messages conveyed from Dear Jawaher are the product of a passionate affair between writing and motherhood.
Mona states, “With writing this book, I’ve accomplished a long awaited dream of mine. At the same time, I realized the integrity of its content when I became a mother myself.” For many reasons, Mona delayed publishing her first work, such as working long hours before getting married and settling down to have children, or even living abroad to pursue her studies. However, as it is always the case with destiny, everything happens for a reason, and all good things come with time. She adds, “When you’ve been working for a long time, you really can’t sit and do nothing, and that’s where I saw the light through writing.”
Deciding to write about a subject she is passionate about, Mona felt like she needed to tell her daughter more about herself, her mother, where she came from, her background, and her grandparents. “Like myself, my daughter is a mixture of many different nationalities. Her grandfather passed away a month before she was conceived, this made me feel even more compelled to tell her more about her background. If I’m her mother, she needs to learn more about me, to know the person who is going to profusely influence her life.” Besides writing about the memory of the great people in Jawaher’s life, Mona insisted upon instilling her history to provide Jawaher with the tools she needs to arm herself with when facing life’s many challenges.
Perhaps, we may perceive this gesture as highly overprotective. However, when reading through the various vignettes, or chapters, which effectively describe phases in life, Mona’s take is quite the refreshing one. For, before Mona became a mother, she led a completely different lifestyle; it is not one that is necessarily crazier, nor busier, she simply describes it as ‘different’. Honestly speaking about love, marriage, how she met Jawaher’s father, mood swings, death, and even pregnancy, Mona explains that these are inevitable facts of life, she can’t sugar coat them even if she tried to. “For instance, death is a reality that is difficult to make peace with, and sadly, I cannot protect my daughter from it. Introducing death in a way that she can understand was important for me, we never know how long we are going to be here for.”
Teenagers, young adults and young mothers alike will find this book to be truly refreshing, and an honest guide to live by. On the single life and motherhood, Mona believes that motherhood is something she was never prepared for. “I got married at a later age, and I am still dumbfounded by the experience. Motherhood is frightening in reality, when you see a part of you, walking around. If we worry about ourselves so much, you can only imagine how much more you are going to worry about a part of you walking down the street. It’s crazy! How scared could you be?”
Once Mona made peace with that fear factor in her life, which she beautifully explains in the chapter about motherhood, she was able to portray these phases in her daughter’s life with a unique passion. She adds, “For me, this book is written to help my daughter throughout life. Teenagers, and young adults can find the answers some mothers refuse to acknowledge, a breed of honesty that is neither morbid nor too rosy, an ideal blend of both, sprinkled with the most important ingredient—hope.”
The last part of Dear Jawaher includes a series of poems Mona wrote at earlier, and various, stages of her life. She felt that the final message she wished to convey to Jawaher was her passion. A passion that she conveyed through the written word, Mona wrote poems depicting Palestine, cynicism, Kuwait and even education. These are all but some of the many subjects that have moved Mona in some way or another. On the end of the book, Mona states, “I would like to say that it is not a complete work. I’m still learning about life and motherhood, I’m already thinking of a second series as my education as a mother grows with its endearing, and sometimes frightening, experiences.”Mona hopes that someday, Dear Jawaher is read in schools, picked up by daughters like her own, and that she may also write a second book for her son, Majed.
Dear Jawaher is available for purchase on amazon.com, Mona Al-Hajjaj also regularly writes at jewelsinabox.com, a blog dedicated to her journey with Dear Jawaher and every daughter looking for answers to life’s endless questions.