“Many a times I hear comments like, ‘You’ve done so well for yourself, you have your own place, you guys are both excelling at your careers.’ More often than not, these compliments are quickly followed by, ‘I don’t know when we would be able to accomplish this. I wish one day…’
I was 21 when my parents migrated to Canada from Pakistan. Everything changed for us, the prospect of moving to Canada was both amazing, yet very, very scary. Our clothes, food, culture, language, and weather, everything had changed. I come from a middle-class background, so my parents had sold everything and moved here with the life’s savings – which wasn’t a lot, considering the money conversion.
We all had to work to make sure we had food on the table and bus money to go to school. My younger siblings were too young to work, so my mom used to work wearing steel toe shoes 8 hours a day, and my dad would work the night shifts at the local 7/11.
I used to work in retail, go to university in the morning and reach home after 11 p.m. most nights. Things were tough, but we were happy. Living in a 2-bedroom apartment, money was scarce, but happiness was in abundance.
I remember how we would wait for ‘Toony Tuesdays’ to eat from Popeyes or the only pizza we could order, cheese pizza (because it’s the cheapest), and we would make the rest of the toppings at home.
Eventually, I got married and sponsored my partner to move to Canada as well. I was engaged before I moved here. He was new here, and I was pregnant right away, working 12-hour shifts up until 1 week before my son was born.
Those days were tough. My UTI relapsed twice. I would take 2 buses to go to my doctor’s office – alone — because I had come back to Canada in my 4th month of pregnancy since my husband Danish’s spousal sponsorship was in progress and we didn’t want to mess it up. I would get my medicine with the canula tube taped to my hand. I would take 1 bus and 2 trains and go to work, work until 11 p.m., and reach home at 1:30 a.ml, only to leave again the next morning at 8:00 a.m.
I was very lucky to have my parents and siblings here. Albeit no fancy houses or cars, I was surrounded by lots of love.
Danish was quickly anxious to find work, and found a job at a call center. We both enrolled back in University, I, to complete my degree, and Danish, because we thought it was a good idea for him to go to school here too. We moved out of my parent’s house after 3 months into mature student housing at the university. Full time school, part time work, employment insurance payments and a baby.
We lived there for about a year and then moved out to a rental apartment because I had found a job. He continued to commute to the university, while working part time at Popeyes.
I still remember when he would sometimes come home, visibly upset, telling me ‘I had hundreds of people reporting back to me in Karachi, and here, the highlight of my day is how many pounds of chicken I have to wash and marinate?!’
I’ve seen him bawl his eyes out in front of me, and lose hope. We supported each other and continued on.
Then came the good careers, the cars, and we finally moved to another city and bought our first home together. We had another baby, we were happy, content yet striving to be better, working very hard to build our careers further.
Things were great, until they weren’t. I can never forget that day when I had called in sick because of a bad migraine, and an hour after Danish had left for work, he called to tell me he had lost his job. He was crying, I could barely understand what he was saying. In utter shock and disbelief myself, I asked, ‘How could this happen? How could we possibly afford to live?’
I knew I had to be strong for him, for us. I asked him to stay on the phone with me while he drove home. When he entered the house and sat on the staircase, with his head in his hands, he just kept saying, ‘Its over! It’s all over! I ruined everything! How will we pay for the cars, the house? Call the daycare and tell them we can’t send the kids anymore.’
It was a tough 8 months from there. Applications, interviews and rejection. I used to hide in the basement or in the bathroom to cry, and always kept my calm in front of him. Every penny was important, we were making excuses to friends and family for not showing up to parties or meet-ups because we just couldn’t afford to spend on food or presents.
Then things looked up when he finally found the right job again. I got promoted, all was well, until it wasn’t.
This time it was me who lost the job. Driving home from work that day, was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
I remembered entering the house, him offering to hold me and my things, I walked upstairs to my room, and I was in a weird state of sleeping, waking up crying, sleeping again. The next time I came downstairs, 2 days had passed.
When I lost my job, I thought this time, it’s over for sure. We can never recover from this, it’ll take me forever to get back here, and we have bills to pay. I took the kids out of the daycare the very next day. I even considered moving back to Pakistan at one point. To give it all up and go back. Go back and do what? Live where? I didn’t know the answers to any of those.
When I refused to leave the room, he would come to me, and just sit next to me on the bed, hold my hand and say nothing. Then he started bringing the kids with him and the boys would just hug me, and then kids being kids, they would start to complain about a toy or tell me about their day. Maybe that’s what kept me going, these boys and my mom, who always just kept saying, ‘I know you! You can do this! Everything is fine, you have family, you have kids, nothing matters more than that!’
Sure enough, things worked themselves out again. Careers, cars, house, everything is fine. And all these ups and downs have taught us so many lessons, but 2 most important ones.
1) This can happen again, any time. Everything is temporary. What’s permanent is the love you have around you. 2) Just like the good times, the bad times pass, too. You will be okay!
This too, shall pass!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Omaira Liaquat of Winnipeg, Canada. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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