The Mountain Reintroduced Me To My Daughter, and I'm In Awe

Shereen Abulhassan - Mar 11, 2017

As humans, we are naturally wired to reach out and connect. While we form many bonds and relationships throughout our lifetimes, there are many variables that define and shape those relationships such as the roads we tread together. In the 20 years of mothering Lina, my only daughter among five children, we have been through many ups and downs together; but of all that we’ve been through, I will always remember the time we climbed Mount Toubkal side-by-side, where every step forward not only strengthened our bond, but left me in utter awe at her resilience and strength.

I’ve always dreamt of climbing a mountain, a dream that I realized for the first time in March 2016 when I reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. When our journey started off, I didn’t know any of the ladies except for one friend of mine. Shortly into the trail, those who were once strangers felt like a second family to me away from home. When I went back to Saudi Arabia, I was a changed person – I was more understanding, more patient, calmer and definitely stronger.

However, no matter how much I went on and on about the way I connected to nature and how I found so much inspiration in the mountains, it was very hard to encapsulate in words the real magnitude that lay at the heart of my journey. Even though my words didn’t do my experience justice, they got my daughter curious about what I meant by all the sentiments I was trying to convey. That’s why when it was time to go on the next adventure to Mount Toubkal in Morocco, it was inevitable that Lina joined.

Unlike the first climb to Kilimanjaro, this time I was adventuring with my good friends and daughter which added to the excitement of aiming for the summit, especially that Lina’s time as a college student was becoming more scarce for our quality time. Growing up as a strong woman, I always assumed that my children would naturally take after me. What I learned though was that it’s one thing to assume your children have tough backbones, and a whole other thing to actually see them right before your eyes put on their armor suits and fight through hardships that are way out of their comfort zones. On Toubkal, Lina was the resilient warrior whose energy, calm and focus pushed us both to reach the summit – a goal she had intended to reach at any cost.

During the first two days, everything was going smoothly until the day prior to reaching the summit when altitude sickness started taking its toll on Lina. The next day when we were supposed to reach the summit, I asked Lina to stay put, a matter she fiercely rejected. “I’m not going to give up now,” she insisted. “I’m going to do my best.”

That day, we all reached the summit and a major reason why I was strong enough to complete the climb was my daughter’s strong words and even stronger personality. I was proud of all the ladies who made it to the summit, but I could neither take my eyes nor my mind off my beautiful dreamer and fighter.

This time, Lina and I returned with emotions and thoughts that were ineffable to say the least. Lost for words that can describe all the emotions and thoughts that one processes on an adventure, the only thing that becomes plausible to do is to advise friends and family to go on their own adventures and figure out for themselves what is otherwise hard to explain in words.

Back home, Lina was a changed person – a more loving and caring one, and certainly one who is willing to take new chances on mountains. As a parent, it is fair to say that I am grateful to the mountains for teaching my daughter a valuable life lesson which I’m certain to influence her outlook on life from now on; that nothing is impossible as long as you have dreams that you translate into clear targets.