Happy Place!

There’s a place where everyone goes to feel safe. I have been thinking about my safe place for a while. It’s not an actual place. It’s imaginary. It’s a beautiful colorful, lighted place where I can sit and think. My thoughts are clear as day, and they are just as twisted, and just as complicated as I like them to be. Nothing around me is in a straight line.

Who likes things to be neat and straight anyway? There is so much more fun to be had when stuff is going ON. Everything is clear but its in circles. For example: there are clouds, however, they are rainbow-colored. One can sit for days, and try to decipher how the heck did that happen. That is a good kind of complicated. Can the sun be purple? Sure it can. It is where you go to think about where anything is possible. Sounds a lot like Dr. Suess’ world. Might just be. We read a lot of those books in this house.

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I let my kids borrow from it sometimes when they can’t figure out which way to turn or their nights are darker than usual. Everyone needs some rays of purple sunshine every now, and again. Today I’m letting more than just my kids borrow my happy place. There are many reasons for it. Sometimes you see things very clearly. Sometimes things aren’t clear at all. Sometimes things are the good kind of complicated, and that good kind of complicated can bring out the crazy kind of frustrations that makes you say…uhmm…maybe I need to find more than one happy place.

We are packing up, moving out yet again. Going to different, “uniquer”, always scarier pastures. This time the kids are aware of this change and they are not moving along smoothly. Change comes with life; unfortunately they are too young to understand that. Unlike our happy places, every new place we move to doesn’t feel safe. It only has a purple sun without the beautiful rays coming out of it.

Share your happy places with me. Tell me how you help your kids settle with moving to a new place. They are young but at any age kids are perceptive and never ready for a big change. Leaving their school, friends, and only life they have known. Never fun, never easy, and the people making them leave all this behind…EVIL!

Im Not A Terrible Mom

I’m not a terrible mom y’all. I’m one of those people who judge. Yes, that is the end of that sentence. I judge too much. I can pretend that it’s not true, that in my heart I don’t think, ”how can you let your child get hurt in the face three times in a row? Why didn’t you think to move the chair from that spot after the first time she bumped her head THIS hard on that thing” when you tell me she keeps bumping into the chair you have in your living room. Every time she walks in she just bangs right into it. I might have laughed and said, that’s so cute because of shes still wobbly and is still learning to walk, but…not what I’m thinking. I wish I was better than that.

Here’s the thing though; I do that with myself as well. I judge myself even more harshly. Maybe in many cases, I will see where you are coming from. Maybe I will understand that you can’t keep rearranging the furniture. That your daughter needs to see it, and eventually, she will. After all, how many things can she bang into? Are you going to remove every obstacle from in front of her?

I get it. When it comes to myself, I don’t always, get it. I am my harshest critic. Then something happens. I tell my kid it’s time for bed, his 5 minutes of play is over, he can’t read another book and he tells me that I’m a bad mom. There are that judgment and terrible doubt. Maybe if you were listening to a bit more carefully, and gave him more warnings he would be better prepared. The annoying little weeds of doubts. I’m not doing it right.

Then we see things. I’ve talked about it before. I know I’ve done this before. That’s the problem with us humans. Especially with creatures like mothers, once or twice is never enough. We are so full of self-doubt and negative emotion for ourselves that we need all the help we can get in this department.

The world turns on us every minute, second if it can. We turn on each other. We are always, ALWAYS ready to tell each other that there is a better way to do what we are doing with the beings we love the most in this world. When we get told we might be messing up our most loved possessions…well nothing messes us up more than that.

Until…UNTIL they tell you that we are getting it right. Also that we are 20 years younger than we actually are.

Only in moments like those I give myself a break and realize that I’m not terrible and my kid doesn’t think so either. Really, at the end of the day what does it matter what a few acquaintances or even people around me think. They are not my child’s mother. They are not in the trenches with me. They can never understand the nights spent holding them protecting them from the thunder and lightning. They can never understand the joy and pain of watching them take the first step but then letting them bump into that chair to learn that there will be objects, go around. Or stop and read the room. But my child gets it. They may tell me at the moment that they don’t like me or hate me even, but they get me.

For real.

Lets Play Catch!

A thought came to me the other day: Why do only dads play catch? I mean it’s nice that it’s a thing. However, why is it a thing only between sons, and fathers? I don’t have a daughter but what if I had one? What if that was a thing we did? Also, I have two sons, and we play catch all the time. Why isn’t that glorified? When they grow up and tell their children stories about what they did with their parents, would throwing the ball around with me or going outside and splashing in water mean less than it does with their father because I’m a woman? Will the stories have less meaning? Time spent is time spent, right? Sometimes they cook with their dad. Does that mean less because he’s a dude? That’s still heard of but the other stuff with mom, oh no. No, no. No. No. We don’t do that. We can’t ever do that.

The other day my son said to me, let’s do something fun. “Let’s play catch”, as I said that I was surprised at my own thought process. The thing was we play all the time. We just had not defined what we were doing. Up until that moment I don’t think I had called it this. I don’t remember calling it anything. Why was it so weird to me that I , a mother, a FEMALE, was going to play “catch”? I think I watch too many movies and tv shows. You would think this problem, and the other one would not be related. In this scenario, they sort of are.

Have you noticed what moms are usually doing with the children when it comes to having fun? Most likely, nothing. If they ever ARE doing something, it’s cooking or just lazily tickling them on the couch. Maybe, drawing or coloring. I know, I also complain A LOT about my kids. Along with that, I do have fun with them. When we play, more likely then not we are doing something rough and crazy, because…well…that’s who those boys are. So, that is what I’m required to do as their mom with them. Those are the stories they will have. The stories that start with, “remember the time we made brownies with mom will be fewer, and far between” compared with, “remember when we were trying to jump from the sofa onto the bed and we pretending she’s the lava that we cant land on but you landed on her head? Haha, fun! Or the time she was the evil lion and I was the kitten that was running away from her and to save my life I licked her. She was so annoyed.” Yeah because HOW DOES LICKING A LION SAVE A KITTEN’S LIFE? That got away from me. I apologize. You get the picture.

How many TV shows, movies will show you that? Because moms are home. When kids are around and this is what they’re into, this is what the kind of play they will demand. We don’t have a choice. We can’t drag them into the kitchen for an organized kitchen day. Or a sit-down puzzle making. They can’t wait for a certain parent to come home to start their imagination and games. They grab whoever is available.

There is some truth to the idea that mothers play less than fathers probably, but there are some solid reasons for it. We might get into that some other day. Today, I wanted to talk about this issue.

Today I wanted to let all of the ball catchers out there to know that women can catch and throw as needed. Whether we want to or need to is a separate question and is entirely up to us.

The Princess in me Awaits

Have I told you guys the story of when I went out in search for a salon and spa right here in the town of nowhere? Right. I have not, huh? I can’t believe that has not come up. In all talks of all the adventures we’ve had, I left out the biggest and the least fun adventure of all. So, this town doesn’t have any decent place where I can go to give my little toes a break. How do I survive, you ask? Considering my toes were used to such fancy pampering at least once a month. Well, barely. We live, because what else are we going to do? Not live? That’s not really in my control. So to speak. Alright, staying positive. Trying not to get dark. Anywayssss…we were going on a trip. Yay! Always double yay for me because hotels have spas and salons and my body parts like hotels and salons.

This time however, I forgot that we were traveling *within* the country. I settle into the hotel. Next day I send the husband and the children off to some fun thing. Safari, zoo, butterfly hunting. Who knows (just kidding we don’t hunt stuff). No, really we don’t. We are the “other” kind of Muslims (and that folks is what we call a joke). So, I’m sitting there calling; trying to find a spa or any place that would take my feet and dunk them in hot water. Every single place would hear my voice on the other end of the phone and ask, “is this appointment for you?” Me: “Uhm, yes of course it’s for me.” The guy on the other end of the phone: “Ma’am this spa is only for men.” Huh? After a few of these similar conversations and after having a few people laugh in my face (this is not a joke, one lady LAUGHED OUT LOUD) I finally asked one person where I would be able to find a female spa. He said there are none. All decent spas and salons are only for men. He named a few spas that I could go to but I’d rather scrub my own feet in the shower with a 6 month old loofah than set foot in one of those.

Fun story, right? People keep telling me, it’s not so bad here, eventually you will get used to it. I will, I’m sure. Things will get better. I’ll find my way around this place. I’ll just have to travel outside of the country to find a decent spa. Only because I AM spoiled. Nothing wrong with a country that only caters to the male population and thinks it’s okay to send its women to the tetanus infested crummy parts of town for a simple mani/pedi. Yeah, I need to really look deep within me and modify this *princess* attitude.

“I’ll Draw A Flower For You”

There are days when nothing is making sense. Everything is upside down. You’re inside out, literally inside out. Anyone who has ever been real with them selves knows what I’m talking about. Nevertheless, for some of us it goes way beyond that. Many of you will recognize it if you are being real with yourselves as well. It’s that feeling that you cannot accomplish anything. The feeling that everything that is inside will spill out in a fit of rage and fire; The feeling that if you get out of bed everything around will fall to pieces. You will be left exposed. That opens the floodgates of tears. So, you stay in bed. Trying to keep your insides where they belong. Inside.

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Never really works out that way though, does it? It comes out one way or the other. Floods rarely can be contained. These things have a way of erupting. Strong and fast.

I know it seems like I’m giving out too much about my personal life but I’m really not. That’s everyone, everywhere at some point: Who hasn’t felt alone, and angry at some point in their life? That doesn’t mean we don’t have things to be thankful for or to be happy about. That just means things get muddy sometimes, and in those moments it gets hard to see through the stains and dirt. Clarity doesn’t come easy. Not everyone has the luxury of hiding away under the comforter either. You get up because you have to. Face life, do the bare minimum, make the least amount of waves because you don’t want to be triggered. Hope, and pray you can open every jar, and every Customer service representative is pleasant.

You can’t talk to anyone about this because what are you going to say? What are the words? How do you discuss something like this? You have learned to just tuck everything in, and smile. People like it when others smile, and deny their emotions. Makes life easier. Honestly, makes life easier for you too. How do you explain so much? How do you tell them why you missed so many events?

People genuinely care but they don’t understand that you are trying to put yourself back together. They can’t always understand that sometimes that process looks like you sitting in your PJs on your bed just trying to convince yourself that when the kids get home you are capable of letting loose. It’s in the realm of possibilities to have a good time rather than be a routine obsessed crazy woman. You don’t want to be that mom or that person, for that matter. You want your kids to be excited to come home. Going out, then coming to take care of them takes everything out of you. What people say, “go out, have fun. That will refresh you. You will be able to take care of the kids and the house better.” What happens is the exact opposite. As much as you love spending time with your friends you get exhausted. Completely drained. By the time you get back, and the kids get home you are crashing and most likely burning. The insides you are trying to keep hidden are pouring out. You need order. You need Quiet. Peace. How do you explain this to everyone?

No, this is not something that can ever be explained. So you just shut it all in, and stay inside. Explaining, dealing with the aftermath, it’s all too much.

However, sometimes all of the pieces fall right into place. The world makes sense, even if just for a brief moment. There is no regret. There is no pain. Well, there is always pain; but you can let go of it for just a little bit. Someone goes above and beyond for you. Someone sees you. Someone hears you.

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You give your children projects, blocks including a bunch of other stuff because today is one of those days. Maybe you really don’t want to be seen or heard. Your kid comes back with a blank piece of paper because he has made something imaginary. You want to be genuinely amused but you really don’t have it in you today. You give him a half smile, and say something “amusing” that escapes you the second after you say it. Something in your child awakens. He looks at you deeply. “What is it? What are you looking at? You inquire.” “Mama, I’ll draw a flower for you.” He runs out. His brother comes in a few minutes later. “Dawud is going to draw a flower for you, and I’m going to help him, what’s your favorite color? Because we really really want you to like it.” Just like that, you know. REALLY know that somebody wants to draw flowers for you and wants you to really like it. Not for any other reason but to make you happy.

There is a little bit less mud in that muddy puddles. The fog has not lifted, it’s not that easy, but this is a first day for less muddy waters.

Shaping Humans Through Meals

If someone had said to a 16 year old me that at some point in my life I would enjoy cooking, I would have found it extremely amusing. I still don’t like the everyday cooking. The kind of cooking where I’m trying to get everything done before the kids get home. I know that no matter what I make the kids are going to say I didn’t want this I wanted the other thing that you didn’t make. I have however, started to enjoy making food for our friends, and believe it or not, for our kids’ friends. My boys get so excited. Every time I tell them I’ve invited your friends; the first thing they do is give me the menu.

Now they know how to make a menu: appetizer, two chicken dishes “don’t forget a beef dish, also mama you make really good butter rice.” I kid you not, these are the kinds of conversations we have when deciding a menu.

I want them to feel involved. I want them to feel like they are the hosts. After all, that is why I have started enjoying cooking now. What is the difference between the 16 year old me and the 40 year old me? If anything I’m more tired and I have way more on my to do list. It would be so much easier to just get everything catered. No one minds or cares.

I’ve heard people say, gosh I’m tired even before the guests arrive. I’m usually not though. I’m looking forward to my guests. I’m excited. I’m tired, but I’m choosing to do all this. Why? I want to host. This “want” gives me energy. I want my kids to feel it too. The fun of hosting shouldn’t start when the guest get here it should start way before.

For this reason I let my kids pick out what they want to wear. Looking nice for your friends is part of being a good host. When people enter your home and you look unruly it makes them feel a bit guilty just because they had you so tired and busy that you didn’t get time to fix yourself up. Not full on formal attire but just presentable. Something that says, “I’m happy to see you so I put on something nice but I’m also kind of tired, no formalities between us, right? I’m just being me? Let’s just chill, and have some fun.” I’m sure you can just find something laying around in your closet that says ALL that.

Then we keep some toys and games out that they can play with the friends. I ask them what their friends like. A lot of them I lock up, because let’s be real. Who are we kidding I ain’t cleaning up unnecessary messes. I love all those kids but again, who are we kidding with those crazy messes.

While we do all this we talk about the friends, their siblings, and other stuff. Believe it or not my kids open up to me during this process. They tell me so much about themselves, and their friends. I get to know them better. It helps me shape their social life. I feel as though this is key in turning them into decent people. Everything else can wait or take its time. Becoming, kind, decent humans who care about others is a process that needs to start as soon as possible. This is something we can’t skimp out on.

I need my kids to understand that others are important. They matter. People matter. This is all because essentially my kids matter to me.

The Mighty Thor and his Bloody Mess

Funny thing about blood, hard to get out of stuff. Who would have thought I would find that fact out after I would be entrusted with the care of little humans. They ooze from everywhere, everything else is funny. When it’s blood, it stops being funny real quick. Also it leaves a mark most times. A very stark reminder of its presence: Of life. Of death. Of how fragile we are. Of how tough those little guys are that we keep claiming we are trying to protect, and keep safe from hurt, and harm. They just bled all over the place, and that blood won’t come off. We are trying to remove reminders of our failure, and that thing is darn tough. The failure, the success of fragility.

The success of our utter lack of control, that reminder, permanently etched in blood. It won’t come off. Well it comes off eventually, I’m being a bit too dramatic. However, those few moments it feels like it will not come off, and you will stay just bathed in your child’s blood that is pouring out of his head like you’ve turned on a faucet.

Later when you’ve controlled the situation a little bit, and you are holding his shaking body next to yours telling him that everything is going to be okay, that he is going to be okay. In your heart you are thinking of all those who have seen much deeper wounds on their children, and have not been able to comfort them. Or tell themselves that everything will be okay.

My story is simple. My story is even funny, even though blood coming out of a child is never funny. My little one was being Thor. My kid’s hammer is mightier I assure you. As we all know it strikes lightning. It struck, a little too hard. Right on his brother’s head. Two hours before our flight to a one week trip. We had to rush him to the hospital to get one stitch. It was only one stitch. Thank GOD for that. Quick trip to the ER. We continued packing and made it on time for the flight. Now every time I try to warn them about playing too rough or remind them that when one is pretending to be the bad guy, the other should not actually hit him. His brother who had an actual hole poked in his head, comes to his brother’s defense “ no, mommy he was just playing. It was an accident. He didn’t mean to hit me. He didn’t throw the pretend hammer in my direction, I moved.”

Either they are really loving brothers OR they were up to something else that day. One guess which one I’m leaning towards? Mmmhhmmm….

Anyway, that’s my story of how I now understand even more so how blood doesn’t come off as easily; metaphorically, and literally.