Creating Home for Family
Eman has the kind of smile that lights up the room—it is warm and hopeful. We talk together in the workshop where she makes candles, in the company of other makers, friends now who love her. We talk about her daughter and her grandsons, and it’s impossible to miss this web of love that surrounds her. Eman has this way of making others feel at home.
”It was my responsibility when I got married, when I gave birth to her…” Eman talks about her earliest days of motherhood with fierce mama-love. “Everyone said ‘take care of yourself, don’t take care of your daughter’. But this is my responsibility. I needed to raise her, safe and secure.”
After just one year of marriage, Eman found herself young, divorced and raising a daughter alone. In North America that might not be a big deal, but in Iraq–twenty years ago–this was a very big deal. Most in her situation would have sent their child to be raised by grandparents, while she started life over with another husband, building another family. But that wasn’t Eman’s way. Having only a vague idea of what she was committing to (does any new mother ever know what is in store for her?) Eman devoted her life to raising her daughter herself. In Iraq, the decision to not remarry meant also committing to live with her siblings—people don’t live alone here, particularly not women.
Everything she has done in life has been for her daughter—for raising her well. She shares her experience and hard-gained wisdom with her daughter, as her mother did with her, as her daughter raises her own children. Eman dreams that her daughter would have happiness, that she gets to raise her children, that they would have health, wellness and success—normal ‘mom dreams’.
Now, if you want to see Eman’s face truly shine, ask about her grandsons. “They are the light of my eyes!”
Eman’s greatest happiness in life is when she gets to pick up her grandsons and take them to a park to play games. The last time she got paid for making candles, she took her grandsons to play arcade games at the mall. They all had such a good time, she felt as if she was the one jumping around and playing the games. It gives her so much joy to give her grandsons the things she couldn’t give her daughter.
Creating home—that is Eman’s life.
Candles Light the Way Forward
She started making candles to finally do something for herself. With her daughter married, Eman could start thinking about her own hopes.
We ask Eman what she dreams of for herself. She answers in broken English, eyes welling with tears “…just for me—house.”
It’s been her dream for a long time to have a small house just for herself. Houses in her city are very expensive, and Eman knows her dream might always be out of reach. The money she currently earns making candles doesn’t provide much to save—it covers her expenses and gives her money to spend on her beloved grandchildren.
Candles provide Eman what she needs to make home. And Eman hopes that one day candles will provide what she needs to make a house too.
Creating “Home” for a Wider Circle
If you think of the current trend of hygge borrowed from the Danes (“a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”), one of the first images that come to mind is a cozy space filled with candles. Home-makers curate spaces for the wellbeing of their family and friends with carefully chosen items like candles. Behind those comfortable spaces are people like Eman, who carefully craft candles that create a feeling of contentment and well-being.
It’s no surprise to those who know her that Eman’s talents and time now create a sense of “home” for people on the other side of the world. Eman spent the first part of her life creating home for those around her: her daughter and grandsons, family and neighbors. Making candles has simply widened the circle.