I told my boys I got these for their cousin when he first moved to Houston because he was nervous and scared about being away from his mom and sister. He had never lived away from them and he wasn’t sure about a lot of things. At the same time he was excited about all the new and fun things that were about to come his way. So, I had said put these in your room and whenever things look tough look at these and repeat whatever these say. It was cheesy and dorky, we both laughed but he bought them.
I told the kids, now that he’s in heaven you guys can take one each, and maybe you can look at this and repeat what this says and see if it helps you remember that I’m always near even if you can’t see me. Sometimes the smallest and cheesiest gestures help us over the toughest hurdles.
Have you heard the expression, being uncomfortable in your own skin? That’s me when I’m out here. It might even be an understatement. You see we live in an ever changing world. Yeah, that’s news to you isn’t it. What would you guys do without me! Right?
Seriously though, I am…me, and I have always allowed myself to be at least that much. Nothing more, nothing less. I have had experiences. I’ve been places. I’ve met people. I have seen a lot. When I say a lot, I mean it. I have been around the world, back, and then around again. This is meant to be a metaphor just as much as it is literal. In all this going around, coming, and then going. One thing I have always been sure of, is who I am. Born in one country, raised in another. Then living in a few others does a number on your body and soul. One’s gotta hold on tight. You gotta hold tight to what’s inside because what’s outside has to change with culture, time, people, and even age. Yeah you read correctly. Not a typo. I said age…I’m still admitting NOTHING.
Point is, so much changing, giving into the environment around you takes a huge toll on one. This takes the kind of strength that is hard to explain. You are questioned for simply existing. No one means to do it to hurt or offend. As a result though, you do get hurt and offended. You start to wonder wouldn’t it be easier to become like everyone else, and be invinsible? No one will question you. No one will know that You’re not from here. No one will know that you carry in your soul so many parts from so much of the world. Wouldn’t it be easier to pretend to be something your not just for a little while? That’s how it was for many people around me. They became something they were not. They faked it. I honestly don’t blame them because it seems so much more convenient.
On the other hand after building up from so many parts and pieces I feel I’ve created something rather unique. I can share something original with the world. This new world I’m in, however makes me uncomfortable on a whole new level. This world makes my skin crawl for some reason. Well, I shouldn’t say for “some” reason. I know the reason. I think I now truly know the meaning of the phrase “being uncomfortable in your own skin”. That’s when you don’t know your own identity. That’s when you don’t know your purpose. I’m unique and original but I’m somehow wrong and not worthy. I’m not supposed to BE.
Not. Be. Not. Accepted.
Just recently, at a reastaurant my husband took the kids to the toilet after sinner. I asked the waiter to pack up the left overs, and bring the bill. The leftovers came but the waiters kept hovering around. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Finally, my husband, and the kids came back, the bill arrived as soon he returned. Now I understood. The waiters were hovering, waiting for him to return. How would I, a woman be able to pay? They had to wait for the man to come back to the table. Even though I asked for the bill. This doesn’t happen everywhere. But, it does happen sometimes when I go out with my husband or another male figure. This is the land of the male royalty. All the time. All. The. Damn. Time. We went to a different city.
I tried to find a female spa. Spend about half a day doing that. Most fancy hotel spas were male only, at least in that city. I eventually gave up on the idea because it got too late. Also because I was frustrated.
So my female skin is crawling, and is extremely uncomfortable. Because in most places it’s not acceptable. In most places I have to change and adjust to what everyone else wants me to be. What everyone wants me to be is not entirely me. I have to be slightly subdued. I have to be accepting of the role of men as everything from protecters to owners.
Here, I am not the descendant of the likes of Ayesha the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and Fatimah the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). I’m Just. A. Woman.
They were not anyone’s property. They lived their lives on their own terms. They taught men of high caliber how to be honorable men, and those men felt no shame in being their students. There was honor and status in it.
I don’t use my religion in writings a whole lot because I write about my life and my struggle. I want people to know what happens to a woman, a parent, a person everyday. Sometimes religion fits in. Sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t feel it’s for me to throw it in other people’s face to justify my life.
But Im mentioning it here because every time women are being abused, and every time any woman’s spirit is being crushed it’s being done in the name of my religion. When the truth is utterly different. These women were empowered by this religion. These women were empowered by their husbands, and their fathers who were all Muslim men. These women knew how to stand on their own two feet because they knew their own rights as Muslim women, and they wouldn’t let anyone stop them BECAUSE of this religion. So, here I am permitting my religion to do the same for me today.
Well those were a lot of fancy words, and emotions. So, how much of truth do they really hold? History is history, can’t be changed. As far as I’m concerned. I have come this far because I live in their shadow, and these women have taught me to be this person. The person that never to gives in. This is the reason I get bothered by this. This is the reason I want a spa. This is the reason I sometimes want the bill to come my way, and still not pay. This is the reason I sometimes want to be able to sleep in without being looked down at as lazy…wait, wrong article. Well you get the main idea. I should be able to do whatever I want without feeling like now I’m not good enough because I chose something or the other.
A few days a go I got a call from an unknown number, which I missed. It was the middle of the day. I kind of mildly panicked. Tried to call back. Checked every possible way that I could to make sure that it wasn’t my kids’ school. If I ever nap in the day or if I’m ever anywhere where it might be noisy I turn up my phone to its full hearing capacity.
It’s not paranoia it’s just being a parent. Once I called I called one of my kids’ schools friends mom during schools hours, she didn’t know me at that time. For the first 15 seconds of the conversation I could hear the fear and panic in her voice. I didn’t understand why she was so freaked out. Then when she calmed down and I explained to her who I was, and why I was calling, which was just to rsvp to a bday party invite, she calm down. She explain that because it was school hours she for second thought I was calling from school, and thought something was wrong with her child at school. Parents, right? Worried about everything, anything. For no reason. Did they eat their lunch? Do they have too much work at school? Are they under too much pressure? Sleep on time? Move up bed time. Not enough rest. Too many hours. Not enough hours. Homework. No homework. Is he coming home too tired? Is he coming home at all? Is this this the day he’s getting shot? Was this his school? Did he get shot? Is she dead? Was it her best friend? Was it him who was taken in an ambulance? In critical condition? Did I say goodbye properly this morning? It might be the last time. Never again is today.
When school shootings started in the US I did not have children. Then when I had children, and they started school I left the country. So I’m not really anyone to speak on what it must be like to send your kids to school not knowing. All I know is being a parent is hard enough without this added fear. What I can tell you is that parents every where can relate just a tiny little bit because we are parents, and we care. Every time I hear the words “school shooting” or read the words written across my screen my heart sinks because I know too many people across the country that have children who go school. Even if I didn’t know them, a child is a child a parent is a parent. No one should have to face this, ever.
In the end: Ignore everything else and focus on the children in your life that are alive. Love them, hold them tight. Then think of those who cannot do that anymore. Then demand change. We have watched from the sidelines for far too long. We cannot hope that it wont happen again. We cannot pray that next time it won’t be us. It will be someone. Someone like you, and me. Some innocent child who did not deserve it; Parents who didn’t deserve it. I don’t deserve it. You don’t deserve it. Next time around you and I may not have the chance to breathe a sigh of relief. Ask. Demand. Change.
Have you ever had that moment where everything is surreal? What is this place? Where are you? What is happening in your life? Sitting here watching my kids play in front of me, pretend to be one superhero or the other; hulahoops. No, now it’s cars. It’s changing, going by so fast. I can remember a time when they weren’t here, and we were trying so hard to bring them into this world. They were not getting here fast enough. For years we tried so many things, it seemed like it would never happen. Now that they’re here it seems like that time was just a dream. That time when they were not here or when we were trying to get them to bless us with their presence just didn’t exist. Now, I’m just looking for a break. Looking for a moment of peace from them. A moment to even think to myself. Everything without them around is surreal.
He keeps tripping over the hula hoop. That’s the only thing that’s real. I can’t imagine a life in which he doesn’t exist. Adam keeps telling him, “just wait for mom, she’ll help you with it. You’ll trip and break your face.” That’s all I can remember. Anything farther back is too far back. My mom brain blocks it out. I hear crying, screaming, and the words, “you have to share”, that’s my cue. Now I gotta go deal with reality.
Just recently I’ve written about how hard it is for us moms to get out, and chill. Sometimes in comparison to dads, sometimes at all. There is one aspect of it that I purposefully left out. I wanted to write about it separately. I didn’t want that side of it to get lost in being a mother, in just being my kids caretaker. That side takes so much from me that it does not get seen. like the rest of me it’s unseen, unspoken. That part of me is forgotten. It’s burden takes so much yet it’s as if it’s not there. There’s something noble about being a mother. I can claim raising a generation. I can claim being someone’s something. However, when that other thing weighs on me, and makes me tired people think I am just a complainer.
This is coming out to be somewhat of a rant. It’s really not. Okay, it really is.
Here is the issue though; when people get tired from their work it’s right in front of everyone. You go to work, you come home tired. Then you take care of your kids. Help your wife, your partner, put away a few dishes, and whew, that is just the end of you. Understandably it’s a lot of work. When the STAHP complains about their day you say, “I help you. In fact I put in more hours then you do. At work, and at home.” That shuts them right up, doesn’t it? Yeah. You see them walking away with those clenched fists. I’ve had those. What are the charges for punching your spouse in the face? I’ll have to look that up. Unclench, and walk away. Absolutely NOT a true story! Moving on.
I can lie, and say I’m not bitter but that would be a lie. I’m trying to figure things out as I go along.
I’m also trying to take out my frustration. Along with all that I’m trying to clear some things out.
My closet mainly. What is the point? Laundry, dishes, cooking, picking up crayons, markers, so many papers every where, paint. Crayons are back on the floor. There is so Much bending all day. Why do they have to pee so much? Oh I should let them wipe themselves. Yeah. I do. Every time. Only they announce when they enter the toilet. Then they announce when they are done peeing. Then they announce when they’re done flushing. Then they announce when they’re pulling up they’re pants. Then they announce when they’re washing they’re hands. And they don’t move on to the next step until I respond. Also, I have to tell them to stop washing their hands, turn off the faucet, and come out. Also, sometimes they ask me if they need soap or not. Then sometimes we have a healthy discussion about why or why not they need soap after urinating. All the while I’m either picking up crayons or putting away paint for the 5th time. Or Adam is waiting at the bathroom door asking Dawud to hurry up because he has to use the toilet because he is does not want to use the 3 other bathrooms in the house.
You see it’s these things…ALL of these things that we can’t repeat when people ask why we are so tired all the time.
I can’t hang out tonight because my sons peed 6 times each today. And I put away paint 3 times. Also blocks. They are so tiny, and they are every where. I looked for a Lego-man for 2 hours. We’re not done looking for him. He’s supposed to be old McDonald you see. So I’m gonna skip the hang out. He’s important. He’s so important, there will be bloodshed if he’s not found, we want to Dubai for him. How does one explain this? So we say “I’m tired” instead of what we want to say, which is…
It’s barely 6 pm on a Friday night and I’m done for the night. One of my kids has been sick with a tummy ache and nausea. The other one can’t be happier because he gets all the toys and gets to have the iPad without anyone timing him. Yes, this is one of those mom posts where I tell you how many days it’s been since I’ve showered. Also, I’m adding vomit to the mix, so…fun! Have you ever wondered how gross it is to announce all this stuff? I mean even if you do have vomit, and booger on you at all times, and you don’t shower for days, why would you want people to know?
I mean I would want people to think that fresh breeze coming out of me is actually fresh breeze of clean water, soap, and sunshine. Not of some fancy STRONG deodorant that I bought to hide the fact that I just don’t have time to shower after every accident, and tummy trouble.
Anyway, moving on…as I was sitting by myself having my third cup of coffee. A mother is never truly by herself. Yet, she’s always by herself. Let’s explore that for a sec, shall we? Because like I said my day is over, and we have time to explore all sorts of nonsense. Where IS everyone? When people need us there are herds, and I mean HERDS surrounding us. Yet, here I sit alone, with my thoughts, which oh my God don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for, however, where do all of those people disappear to when the children are sick or I need a shower?
I truly understand not wanting to sit with someone who is so tired she’s not able to speak in full sentences and obviously looks like she smells, and is starting to smell like she looks. But that situation didn’t happen alone.
I sound like I handled the entire 3 days of sick children alone.
I absolutely did not. I did get called on a whole lot more by the kids, because that’s what kids do. I did wake up at night a whole lot more, because well…that’s what moms do. Now I’m here alone because when it was time to be alone in the evening to go out for a cup of coffee with friends…
No one said, “hey mommy you can’t leave the house because you are the mom and you MUST stay in”. He just said, “hey I’ll be back in a few hours.” Us moms just don’t have that luxury.
In theory we do. Practically we don’t, because we can’t. If we say it out loud our partners get upset because they think it’s a jab on them. Honestly, it kind of is, it kind of isn’t.
Bottom line is, we just can’t.
I know it’s been written about before. I want to in any case want to break it down how I want to be spending my evening. And why it wouldn’t be possible for me to leave as easily as it is for my husband.
It goes something like this: he gets off the phone and says, “I’m meeting with so and so for coffee I’ll be back in a couple of hours. You’ll be okay?” Of course I’ll be okay. One kid is asleep. The other is off somewhere playing. I obviously don’t have any plans. You heard the rant about vomit, and not having showered right? Yeah, so he’s off. And I’m on my third cup of coffee with legos all over my room and a kid’s head on my lap. If a friend called me, first of all my first reaction would be, “no way my kids are sick there’s no way I can leave.” If I even thought about leaving, even entertained the idea this close to bedtime and dinner there would be so many things that would need to be taken care of. I know, I’d shower, that’s understood, and that’s not what I meant. “Don’t forget this one’s meds, Adam doesn’t like to sleep with the red pillow on his bed these days take that off before bed time. But leave it there until then because that’s his favorite one. Oh and I told Dawud he can play for 5 minutes after he puts on his pjs so you have to let Adam play for 5 minutes too. Also, don’t feed them too close to bedtime because then there are more chances of them throwing up again. That’s just a thing that happens. Just go with it, don’t ask questions. Dawud is going to ask for his Captain America pjs, those are in the laundry. Settle him on Spider Man. So…you’ll be okay, right?”
I usually tire myself out just by hearing myself in my head. And if by some miracle I make it out, more often than not I get a phone call asking me where the Spider-Man pjs are.
And then I get a text, “how long you gonna be? No rush. Just checking.” That’s when mom guilt kicks in. No ones making me *guilty* per se’. No one means to. It happens to us moms. Husbands, partners don’t realize how easy it is for us to think that we know our kids want us to be there all the time. We translate that want into need. It’s slightly harder for our partners because of our children’s want for us that we translate as need. And everything gets muddled into us feeling guilty, kids feeling entitled to mothers at all times, mothers feeling trapped and our partners feeling…well…mostly…confused I imagine.
I’m not letting partners off the hook. They could do more. We could do more too. Explain, better. They could do more. Pick up the slack more. Together we could try to raise less entitled children who would in a few years need us less and we can all be free. Basically what I’m saying is, I don’t have a clue. I’m just complaining. After all that’s what we’re all best at, right?