I am a Hudson Valley Parent Asma Kader

Strength in numbers

history, culture, teach, Bangla, Asma Kader

Asma Kader has an ageless humility about her life story and parenting.

Kader, whose family is from Bangladesh, including seven sisters and one brother, is the mom of two boys, ages 10 and 17. Parenting them has her limiting her work hours as a substitute teacher in her kids' Newburgh Enlarged City School District. 

Now, it turns out, neither Kader nor her boys go to school at all, since the buildings have been closed temporarily due to COVID-19 restrictions. Instead, both boys are doing their classes online, with the elder one accepting of the idea that he will likely not have a regular graduation.

"The lessons I've always taught my boys about the importance of learning how to share, how to help others, how to be with others is what everyone is facing now," the New Windsor mom said. "Right now, I'm teaching my youngest our language. We have a basketball hoop in our back yard and although my eldest really wants to practice his tennis, he's safe at home."

In fact, of the strange behaviors that have come to the fore of late in response to quarantining measures related to mitigating the spread of COVID-19, Kader keyed in on people's unusual hoarding products toiletry products. But she's no stranger to tough times. She's lived through floods in Bangladesh, where the waters would rise for days, sometimes weeks, forcing people to higher floors. The water would go bad, she said. It would be weeks before systems were restored.

While the COVID-19 crisis has others bristling at shelter-in-place directives or stressing out about the contracting economy and lost jobs, Kader and her husband's culture of large families where people who love to live together, is the norm. 

"We know how to survive this stuff," she said. "I know how to live. My older boy is a Boy Scout. All of us in our family stays in touch."

Her parents are gone, but the rest of the family stays connected. 

"When I was ten my dad died," Kader said. "Mom took care of us. Now she's no more. I lost my grandma many years ago, but I have a mother-in-law. Most of my siblings are still home in Bangladesh but I have a sister in New York."

Today, she's sharing the ways in which the Bangla culture that she comes from with her boys, passing on to them, "... a real respect for our older people," she said. "We listen to them, we believe them."

Kader is proud of her eldest son, Safwan's, chess competitions, years playing soccer, participation on his high school's varsity tennis team, and that he'll be attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute come the fall. She also loved her younger son, Sayhan's, attendance at programs at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center, which offers educational, athletic and civic programs, before in-person gatherings were put on temporary hold due to COVID-19. As well, Kader admires her husband, Nurul's, work with an interstate development corporation. For herself, Kader enjoys crafts, including drawing and sewing, and makes, rather than buys, clothes for herself and family. 

For Mothers' Day, Kader will focus on family, here and in Bangladesh, across her and her husband's sides of their family. "We are all very close, even when we're apart," she said.  

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