Being the eldest of nine siblings, I’ve alway­­­s wanted to be a mother of a large family. Most people in my life know this, and yet now that I’m engaged, many seem surprised that I’m sticking to my guns.

I’ll admit – with my marriage coming up in about three months and the possibility of children now so much closer than before, it is starting to look a little scarier. Life won’t be just about me anymore, my body will change, certain attitudes will need to shift and, well, nappies will need to be bought. Not to mention that I’ll have the responsibility of lives – actual lives – in the hands of myself and my husband. But in my mind, it’s still worth all the fuss:  maybe because I’m crazy, perhaps because I’m used to a noisy household.

Or it could just be because my mum is amazing, and I’d like to be more like her.

I’d like to have the same level of selflessness, evident in the fact that she generally awakes before everyone and goes to bed last. In the fact that she looks after us all without asking for recognition, and most of the time – to be completely honest – she probably doesn’t get it. In the fact that she waits for Dad to get home, even on very late nights, before eating dinner, and that she facilitates multiple eating plans for various members of our little clan, depending on health issues or personal preference, without a complaint.

I’d like to have the same level of order in my life. She plans her days, sticks to the routine, and can still be flexible if need be. I sometimes forget what I did yesterday, and yet she knows where everyone in our family is at all times, and is available for all kinds of pick-ups and drop-offs. Plus I’m pretty sure she knows every birthday, anniversary and important date that’s ever been told to her – including those of our friends and of dad’s large extended family. Now that’s impressive.

I’d like to have the same inner strength that my mum has. She (and my dad) witnessed civil war in Sri-Lanka, moved to Africa and then immigrated to Australia, where they set up a good life for us – which must have been hard work, but it’s been great. From the stories they tell, we certainly weren’t rich, but I only have happy memories to speak of. I also know that she faced a fair bit of criticism from relatives or family friends for having so many kids – I can’t imagine how tough that would have been. And when Dad was really sick back in 2001 and had to spend about a month in the ICU, mum held down the fort and amazed us with her faith.

I’d like to be as beautiful as my mother is. I once read a quote that I thought really applied to her – I can’t find the exact wording, but it was something like this: “A child thinks their mother is the most beautiful woman on earth. Therefore it makes sense that the more children a woman has, the more beautiful she is”. Practically speaking, I admire the beauty she brings into our life: the effort she always manages to put into her appearance (despite the million and one other things she has to do), and the warm, welcoming home she has created and maintains.  

I’d like to be as generous as my mother is. Amongst everything she has to do, she still finds the time to ask us all how our days were and keep up to date on our friends, cook meals for families who need it, visit sick relatives and call friends, as well as pick up that medicine / ice-cream / stationery etc. that we may have mentioned in passing.

And last of all (I’ve got to stop somewhere or you’ll be reading for a very long time), I’d like to be as humble as my mother is. She does all of the above, but doesn’t wait around for our thanks or reward. She just does it, out of love. 

If that’s the kind of person you become when you’re a mother, I cannot wait. And to all the wonderful mothers reading this (especially mine!), you all deserve an excellent Mother’s Day.

Tamara El-Rahi is an associate editor of MercatorNet. A Journalism graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, she lives in Australia with her husband and two daughters.