I'm surrounded by smart, funny and beautiful women in my life. These women inspire and encourage me to be the best possible version of myself and to keep working toward my goals. I'm forever thankful for them.
Today, I want to tell you about my mom, or "moja mama," as I say in Bosnian.
Life wasn't always easy for her. She was born and raised in a small town in present day Bosnia and Herzegovina and all her life dreamed of leaving and doing wonders in the world. Her life's passion was fashion and design — she made beautiful clothing for people in town — but her father quickly told her that while she was under his roof, she'd have to pursue a more sensible career.
She rebelled — as all the greats do — and decided to do her own thing and live in different parts of Europe during her 20s.
By the 1990s, her life changed in a way she never expected. Ethnic conflicts led to a 10-year war in then-Yugoslavia that would displace thousands, separate families and break up the country. My mother, who loved her family dearly, had to leave them to escape the conflict and survive.
Traveling with my grandmother, the two, now refugees, found refuge in Denmark for a few years, cramped in an icebreaker vessel with hundreds of other former Yugoslavians before moving to another center. She felt every human experience possible during this time: fear from not knowing if the rest of her family was alive, pain from being treated as less than a human being and anxiety over what would happen next.
It wasn't until the two — along with a man who would later become her husband — made their way to Germany where they felt things might be looking up. When she became a mother, she finally felt the happiness she was searching for for so long.
Despite having to move — this time to the United States after the German government ordered all Bosnian refugees to leave the country — and starting over from scratch again, she felt stronger, and had to be, because she wanted to give her daughter a better life than the one she had.
My mama has given me everything possible in this world. I was aware of the hardships and sacrifices made in her life, but it took me some time before I truly could understand the gravity of it all. I don't know if I'll ever be able to express to her just how much I love her and appreciate all she's ever done, but I just know I'm eternally thankful to have her in my life, and I hope she knows that. She may not be ruling the international fashion industry, but she's impacting people around her every day.
This month's issue is focused on women in our community and all the wonderful contributions to society they are making, and I love that so many readers have shared beautiful submissions about their mothers. I know what perseverance, hard work and strength look like from my mother, and I'm sure a lot of us out there do too.
To all the mothers in the world, thank you for all that you do. To my mama, volim te ("I love you").