Ramadan: The Worst Time Of Year

Fasting and Ramadan is a difficult time for everyone. Yeah I said it. People will disagree. Even those who agree will disagree. It’s tough to try and keep up with your own expectations of your Emaan. Trying to keep up with your work, school and your expectations of who you want to be this month becomes hard. As you are motivated in the start, with time that motivation dwindles because you are more tired. Demands get’s higher.

I may sound like I’m not being super positive. I may sound like I’m not being accurate either because a lot of people are able to manage the demands and handle it. They are able to bring up their faith and get better at whatever they are trying to work on in their lives.

Good for them.

Let me tell you how it goes for me. It’s the worst time of year. Yep, I said it again. I know it’s not something we as Muslims are supposed to say out loud, right? Well, I have good reason. Those reasons are super valid. Let me explain. I love Ramadan. It used to be my favorite time of the year. Still is. I love being in the middle of it. I love being able to pray and take benefit of it. Just until a few years agogo I used to be able to fast. It was tough. I found it to challenging but I felt a part of something. I felt like I was doing something bigger than myself that made me stronger and proved that I was closer to my creator.

Than this invisible illness started to hit harder and harder. I couldn’t fight it as much as I could before. My fasts were spent lying in bed not being able to move because I couldn’t take medicine. Eventually I had to make the decision to not fast on most days. I still fast but it’s very rare. Now with kids its next to impossible because who is going to take care of them if Im not able to move around? If I’m not getting treated properly or not getting pain meds than the whole house is suffering, and I can be okay with my own suffering or even my husband’s but I cant let my kid’s suffer.
With not fasting comes the judgment, with judgment comes loneliness because no matter how much you explain to people what your reasons are they WILL judge you and cast you as less than…

Automatically you feel that your own self worth is falling. You feel you are not as close to Allah as you once were. Even though you perform all of the other Ibadahs (worship) with just as much vigor, if not more, because you’re trying to make up for not fasting. What follows is anger…because you want someone to be able to see, someone to understand that this is not a matter of choice. Just because you don’t “look” sick and in pain doesn’t mean that you are not. It is not about convincing people; it’s about stopping people from constantly giving you suggestions and advice on what you should do to “make” yourself better to be able to fast. “Just power through because they have a backache too”. Or “read extra Quran because that heals everything”. Chronic Illnesses don’t just disappear.

Ramadan worst time of year
Photography by : Filipe Ferreira

I have given up on all of it. I don’t talk to people about it. We just don’t discuss it. But inside me is this loneliness. Not because I an’t talk to anyone, because there’s a hush. I feel like even people who know and claim that they understand don’t really understand because they see me walking around and going about my day, and that makes them wonder. How can someone who looks normal and “not sick” on the outside be so sick that they cant fast? I get that I guess. If I wasn’t going through it myself I would pass judgment myself maybe? I don’t know.

What makes it difficult is the constant “lets try to solve your fake problems so you can go back to being a good Muslim.

With that comes the anger. One can’t deal with the physical pain along with the emotional hurt.

Since I have been dealing with this for years upon years I have found a solution for this.

One: no one needs to know. I mean not lie to people because close family and friends are going to know but this is not information that you need to volunteer to people. Fasting is a very personal act. It’s between you and your Lord. If your God has given you certain breaks why should you feel guilty for it, and why should you allow others to make you feel bad for it.

You have to fulfill all your responsibilities, or at least you have tried and you are constantly trying. You will keep trying whatever Allah asks of all his creatures in the Month of Ramadan. Keep that in mind and ignore everything else.

Easier said that done right? Right.

You hear all these people talking about how great everything is going to be in Ramadan and you are over here dreading it. Not because it will be terrible and you don’t want to celebrate it. But because you somehow feel like you cannot be good enough. That is because you feel like you are not allowed to feel your feelings openly. You are not allowed to talk about your feelings openly. We are suppressing our own emotions deep down because we are afraid to feel okay.

Im okay. I’m a proud Muslim who loves Ramadan even though I cannot fast.

No, you cannot help me fix my problem so I can fast. When you do this it makes me feel bad. I don’t want to feel bad. I want to feel good about this month because its just as much my month as it is yours.

Rant over. Im off to have a pleasant and fulfilled Ramadan.

Guilt. Anger

I didn’t do it.
You didn’t do it.

We all mourn.

We all cry for those who are dead.

We all cry for those who are injured.

Everyone is feeling the pain.

But you burden us.

I feel anger.

The world forces me to feel more than just pain.

The world forces me to feel anger because I am supposed to feel guilt.

However I am not supposed to let you know that I feel anger. 

If I show you my anger that somehow proves my guilt.

Your pain is not different from mine.

You lose the same lives I lose.

You mourn the same world I mourn.

Yet we are from different realities. 

The world has decided to blame me for the carnage I cry for.

The world has decided to make me guilty for my anger and pain I feel.

Where do I turn for sympathy and understanding?

WHO do I have?

I look at the innocent faces around me and hurt grows..into what? When I find the word for that feeling I’ll be sure to let you know…

Loneliness…

More loneliness then the world can even imagine. 

No More Empty Pats On The Back

So, I keep coming across these articles and blogs written by other moms calling their peers great and, badass. I don’t really hear any of that from the world. Yeah I’m complaining. That’s it, isn’t it? Mothers as a “species” complain too much. “Just shut up and do your job”. “Why did you have the kids and the house if you can’t take care of it?” After all we are “moming” for all of you. These little charming things will be someone’s boss, someone’s friend, someone’s employee and so on. The only people really seem to have our backs is others like us. There’s no true understanding of what it’s like to be in the trenches. What it feels like is that we keep patting ourselves on the back and moving on. The people, the world that we are actually doing this job for couldn’t care less that we are doing it. I know I sound bitter. But I am not. Well, I am a little. I love my children. I like being around them. However, whenever I read something from another mom saying, “hey mama you’re doing a great job.” It usually doesn’t make me feel better, it pisses me off. Because most likely I’m reading it when I have finished all the housework, gotten them into bed. No More Patting On The Back

Made their lunches and maybe I’m even getting a lecture from my husband about how they don’t eat healthy enough or something. At that time it just seems like others moms are the only one’s who see it. Oh yeah I did come across an article about those guys. Two men come around and appreciate the women in their lives and the ENTIRE internet breaks in their praise. And that is what we seem to be doing all day for each other.
Doesn’t seem balanced, does it?

It’s not.

It’s not a man vs. woman thing. It’s a mom vs. the world thing. This is the loneliest job in the world. I know we have established that. I don’t think we are making any progress by telling each other how great we are. I think we need to start telling other people how great we are. I think we need to stop feeling guilty for being moms. We need stop feeling like there’s anything wrong with wanting a break or wanting to stop being moms for a few minutes during the day and just be women.

Demand that.

Along with everything else we do the only thing we get lost in is being moms. Lets not let the world forget; because we are doing it for them too. Like I said, these children that they keep saying are just ours will one day become their problem. So, they better start paying us some respect so we can raise them to be the human being this world needs and deserves.
 

 

Mother’s Day Special 

Mothers Day comes and passes and I wait for someone to say something to me. They always do. They say Mother’s Day should be a special occasion for me now because it was hard for me to get these two. What battles and scars I carry as a mother is a story for another day they tell me. I smile and change the subject. What else is there to say? No.

There’s much to mourn on this day. I am happy. I love these two with a love that no one else can imagine. I wonder what I did with my life before they came along. However, the loss, the pain. No. Don’t tell me to celebrate. You have forgotten becaus you have that luxury. You celebrate because you hold the capacity to forget. I am the mother to all of them. I don’t have it in me to forget, celebrate or forsake those that have gone. 
So, yes I will hold dearly my children every day. I will take care of them. I will do whatever it takes to protect them, and it goes without saying that I love them with everything I have. But I cannot celebrate days like these. You will find me smiling, laughing and enjoying my life to the fullest. You will, however find me quietly bypassing certain days, moments, when I’m told to “rejoice” and “celebrate” because somethings cannot be when they are incomplete. I’m missing something. 

I fully believe he’s in a good place. A better place now then he was in when he was here. However, he’s not with me. It’s hard for a mother to feel complete. Content and complete are two different things. I’m satisfied with the decision that was made for me and him. I will be complete the day my family is reunited so I will leave the celebrations for that day. 

The Day The World Stopped Being Black & White

In our house we have always seen color. But my kid saw too much of it that day. Adam used to always talk about the color of people’s skin as a matter of fact. Children notice these things. They say stuff like, “his face is square.” You have round eyes mom, but Dawud has long eyes.” That day he didn’t just see it; he made the kind of judgment I didn’t expect from him. We were in the car, going somewhere. He looked out the window and saw two teenage boys playing. One looked like him. Brown, not too dark I suppose. The other was black. They were playing in the park. He pointed at the brown kid and said I like him, but I don’t like the other one. Before he could complete his sentence our car had zapped passed the boys. My heart had already jumped in my throat and my mouth was dry. My next words had to come out carefully. I was silent. Thinking, assessing… Unsure of what had just happened. How? Why? Just then my younger son asked his brother. “Why Adam? Why don’t you like him?
Adam: because he’s black.
“Because he’s black”.
The words were echoing in my head. Pounding. Just pounding away. Have you looked in the mirror lately? My precious little brown child.

IMG_3504 (1)

Why is my kid saying this? He’s a sweet little boy. We don’t talk like that in our house. We have never given him the idea to judge people on how they look. Have we?
Me: You don’t know if he’s a nice person. Maybe he’s really nice and if you were in that park maybe he would play with you. If he could hear you say those words it would hurt his feelings.
Would you like it if someone told you that they don’t like you because of the way you look?
Adam: “Like if I’m brown? If people like you and Dawud better because you are white?”
Where? Where was this coming from? We are all from the same place. Dawud and I are lighter skinned compared to Adam and his dad and he notices it because he’s observant. But we’ve never made him feel that he’s less loved or liked because of it.
Me: Yes, just like that. If someone saw you and said, this boy is too brown or that his hair is too black. I don’t like him. Wouldn’t you want to say to him; “why does that matter? Everyone looks different. I didn’t make myself this way. I know some really cool games. If you gave it a chance and came to play with me we could have done some really fun stuff.” And most of all it would have made you sad that he thought that way about you when you didn’t even do or say anything bad to that person.
He changed the topic. We have talked about how people look. Why people look different and race plenty since then. I have bought books.
I don’t want to raise colorblind children. However, I don’t want to raise little racists either.
I chose my words carefully that day. Don’t know if they were the right ones.

This opened up a whole new chapter for me. How do I make children so young part of a discussion they don’t yet understand?

This little boy has started looking around him that he is not as well liked as his brother who is whiter than he is. Or that his friends who are whiter than him are better treated solely because they are whiter and have lighter colored hair. He has noticed that he is better liked compared to the African kids in his class. We can better word these articles and make these “politically correct” but this is the world we are living in. We don’t like to talk about it but this is what we are sending forward. I can avoid writing about it because it’s hard to write about because it’s my little boy and to me those are both my little boys. I can say I am raising them right and we are self-aware. I can end the discussion at because we are a brown family we know what it’s like and just leave it at that and not talk about the uncomfortable truth that it trickles down. Not talk about the reality that all of this has taught my son to look at the world from painted, tinted glasses. He is learning that maybe, just MAYBE the darker you are the less likeable you should be. It is a hard truth for a 4-year-old boy going on 5 who is dark-skinned himself. Imagine what kind of deep, dark self-hating, self dis-liking road this would have sent my son on. Just the other day he was laying on his father shoulder half asleep and I was sending him off to bed. I kissed him and said you are a very beautiful boy. Do you know that? He says, “yes I do”, I said, “people tell you that? That you are beautiful, inside and out”. He says, “yes they do.” The one thing I know for sure about this kid is that he says what’s in his heart. He never says anything to keep face. If he’s thinking it he will say it. If he feels it he will tell you. If he doesn’t want to say it he will keep quiet but he will not say something he does not mean.

He knows his parents love him and his family members care about him regardless of what he looks like. And that we all think he is beautiful. I am glad he believes it. However, he also knows, KNOWS that the world thinks he’s less liked than his brother who is lighter skinned. I can’t change that for him. His brother who is a wonderful, loving little boy as well can’t change that for his brother. They just have to grow up in different worlds. In two worlds where they both know they have been in each other’s shadow through no fault of their own. In worlds where they are going to have to fight each other and one is going to have to get left behind every now and again through no fault of his own.

I just hope their relationship can remain strong through this and they can weather the storms of this kind of discrimination that’s not even true discrimination but it’s as real as it can get at age 4 and 5.

 

 

 

B Is For Bossy

I’m the person that makes everything work. Yes. That’s me.

I’m also the person who, it seems is always, telling my family when they’ve done something wrong. I go soft and things fall apart. It’s a terrible job. Makes one the “no fun” member of the family for the most part BUT someone’s got to do it.

Everyone everywhere is telling moms to take it easy and enjoy themselves and, their families. In all honesty that is some solid advice. I would give that advice to friends and family myself if I didn’t live the life I live and, handle the things I handle everyday.

It’s not just about not doing the dishes or letting the house sit dirty, which is not something I can ever do if I’m telling you the truth. It’s not even about not enjoying our kids in that moment when they are doing something fun or not joining in, in playtime. People assume that all the tiredness and weariness comes just from working, cleaning and running after the kids. No, the tiredness comes from knowing that if we didn’t do all those things that we do, If we didn’t get tough on the family to keep up with everything they need to keep up with in order for us to keep running things smoothly, everything will break down into little shambles. No one will see the shambles but us, which means we are the ones who will end up cleaning up that mess.

At the end of the day people will tell us, “see? The world is still turning. You were freaking out for no reason”. However you alone will know that world has gotten this much harder to turn and you are the one who is turning it. No one else will see it but you.

So, when you’re screaming at your family to turn off the iPad or TV and get ready for bed and they keep saying, “five more minutes mom, just 10 more minutes.” You look to your husband for support and he gives you a look that says, “What’s the big deal he only asked for 10 minutes.”

You can either just give up or you can say, “no get up now”. Most days that is what I do. I give them an ultimatum, including my husband. They all have to scramble and start getting ready. I know what they are thinking. The evil lady who doesn’t know how to have fun can’t give us 5 minutes or 10 extra minutes. She needs to learn to chillax. Here’s what I am thinking that no one else can think of because it’s for my mind, my eyes and my physical body to handle only:

Ten minute means they will start moving in at least 15 minutes because I know my family. The kids will not get up to go brush their teeth without their father. He has to finish up his work and get ready for bed too so that another 15 minutes. So, we are already about 30 minutes past bedtime. We haven’t even gotten to the changing into PJs, read a story phase yet. “I need water.” “Now I need to go to the toilet again” dance that we all do every night. I’ll have to commend my husband for this one; he handles all of that way better than I do because I am in only one mode; which is, GO.THE.HELL.TO.SLEEP. I am not much fun at bedtime.

Late bedtime means sleepy, tired mornings. No one wants to get out of bed for school. I gaze at my husband while he wakes up, sometimes even earlier than us, but gets ready in peace and heads off to work. I barely ever get to say good-bye because, that’s right, I’m wrangling tired, sleepy children who are refusing to get out of bed. On the days they are tired the shirt is always wrong. The shoes don’t fit right or someone just wants to crash on the floor right before we are ready to head out refusing to get up.

All the while I am thinking about the lessons I haven’t prepared for my students. The test I have not gone through for the students that will be waiting for me in less than an hour. Or some other crap I need to do which I didn’t get done.

You would think this would be the end of it, right? Nope. They get home even more tired and cranky. They want to hurt everyone and destroy everything. They are sleepy but don’t want to nap. They are tired but they don’t want to sit in one place. To handle this chaotic day I have to make even more rules because everyone is hell-bent on shattering every single one of the ones I already have. Finally the day ends and someone asks for 10 extra minutes before bedtime.

Being tough brings much guilt with it. Even after ruining the entire house their little faces can be convincing enough to put you in a cycle of self guilt and terrible self judgment. Everyone around who is not running the house and just gossiping is not much help. However, me being a softy is short-lived. I have to put on my bossy pants (as Tina Fay would put it) and start firing around. Only then do things start to work properly.

It is always way more fun when the routine is in place. We can all duties then we can all relax and enjoy ourselves. With that said, I am not saying I don’t know how to have fun and relax every now and again but the bottom line is that when men make rules and enforce them they are called assertive when we do the same thing with our families we are called bitchy, mean or too wound up.

Problem is women can’t stop being the evil being that we are without the world crumbling around us because guess what? The world needs us to be exactly this way. We can’t change. We have to remain who we are. And the world doesn’t seem to want to change anytime soon.

I’m going to make the change within myself. I’m eliminating the guilt. I’m a bitch. I’m the person who makes sure people do their jobs right because if they don’t shit falls apart. Those people who give me guilt over it, are the ones who give me guilt over shit falling apart as well. So I do what I have to do to keep the world spinning. I do what I have to do to keep my kids alive. Let’s be honest, most days it means being bossy and assertive. The world is just going to have to have to get over it.

The Makings of Make-Up

why do women dress up? We wear makeup for men? For ourselves or families? This debate has been going on for as long as women and makeup have been around. The simple answer would be that every human being likes to beatify themselves. Why does this need for women has to turn into degrading and shaming women. We don’t say that to men when they wear too much cologne or whatever else they may choose. I’m not knocking it or over simplifying the problem I’m actually here to present another perspective. What if the need to dress up comes from a need to connect? Everyone wants to be remembered and loved. I hope you remember my necklace story. My son just yesterday asked me again where my necklace was at bedtime. My skin is still healing. That’s what made me think of all those times my makeup, jewelry, clothes made us connect. 

I had been asking my husband to exchange our wedding ring for a bigger one. Now it’s the smallest I have. He always looks at me disapprovingly when I say that. “What? It will still come from you? With love?” I respond, every time. I was getting dressed for a party one day and I had all my jewelry spread out on the dresser including the tiny wedding ring hiding in the mass of colorful gems and beautiful decorated beads. My boys were helping me pick out what to wear. The older one says, “this is the best one,” in his hand was our wedding ring. That is the ring I wear most. It’s not about the jewelry. It’s about the connection. There’s a certain lip color my boys love on me. Whenever I wear it they always compliment me. I couldn’t put it together. Just recently adam said “this is the color of your kiss”. “My kisses don’t have a color” I thought. 

A while back his school gave us a cut out of his hands to send a kiss in to keep in class, in case the children missed their mommies. I was wearing that color that day. 

This is why. 

There are many different languages in the world. Many different ways for people to remain close and tell one another, “I see you”. This day and age has found another way to say this and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It may not be for some, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an expression. We need to let them have what works for them.