Save Me A Good Spot!

Something’s happened. I’m trying very hard to understand what it is. It comes and goes in my head. And then it hits. It hits like a huge ice berg. Like both the titanic, and the iceberg have just simultaneously crashed into me at the same time.Zaydi is gone. I’ve repeated this so many times since the 3rd of July. Told people how it happened. He drowned. Yes, he didn’t like water. Didn’t like to swim. Respected water is a better word. Wasn’t afraid but just made sure to wear a life jacket or be prepared. For him to not do any of that, that day was strange and surprising. But I digress. 

I talk about it all the time. Zayd Mustafa is gone. 

Those are not just words I say without consequence, though. 

I remember my sister standing in the kitchen. Her water broke. We rushed her to the hospital. He was born. I remember being one of the first people to hold that tiny little creature. 


I remember him at the age of 3 insisting that he can “swim” when he couldn’t and slipping through my hands in the swimming pool and me holding him back saying “Zaydi you don’t know how to swim stay with me on the edge”. The irony is great in that right now. We always made fun of him for that. 

I remember when he used to come to spend summers with me; he used to bother me to no end with the aid of his other cousins. 

I would go to Pakistan, and I wouldn’t bother telling anyone but him that I’m coming because I knew he would take care of everything. That’s just the kind of person he was. 

Then he moved to the U.S and grew up. I think then we became friends because he became an adult. 

Weeks before his death my nieces and nephews were telling me that he is no doubt my favorite. His sister always said to me that I babied him. That I gave him too many breaks and I’m not letting him grow up. 

There is something I could not say to them in his life because none of them would understand. They would roll their eyes at me and say, “right, you just think that cause he’s your favorite.” He wasn’t my favorite, he indeed was a special human being. I knew it then and I am even more sure of it now. He had some really special qualities and not many people saw them. I knew what he was capable of. If given the opportunity that young man would touch the stars. These are not just words, people who know me and my relationship with him KNOW that this is what I thought of him and I would provide him with a ladder long enough to reach those stars if I could. But guess what? He got em. He got those stars all on his own. Allah never disappoints. He sees the worth and HE gives to those who deserve. 

I would get frustrated with him for being too kind to people who have been not so kind to him and he would say, “I understand not to get too close but I don’t want to be bitter and mean like them”. I cannot go over the list of things that made him different.  This is just one example, I could give many. I know that it doesn’t matter. What matters is that he smiled through any suffering and pain. He didn’t take life seriously enough to get him down. He always knew he’d come out on the other side tall and proud. And I made sure to tell him that I had his back no matter what. But he didn’t care because he knew that Allah had his back.

The boy is a son. He is not “like” a son to me. He is a son. I did not know it was possible to feel more pain than when I lost my first child. But here I am. When people see me with my two boys they automatically say, “oh you have two boys?” I nod in agreement. But under my breathe I whisper, “actually I have three.” Everyone forgets the third one who died years a go. That’s okay, it’s not their job to remember. A mother can never forget. Zaydi, you will also always be remembered. I will not mourn you as I am one of those lucky ones who keeps sending her children straight to heaven, no stops! 
He was taken to water, to martyrdom. Maybe it sounds insane to those who don’t believe. But to me, sounds like a good deal. HE took this sweet boy who was always there for others. Who never let anyone down. Who never disappointed anyone and in return God took him to the best of places. 

 Zayd is where he is the most important person now. He is now where nothing will be difficult for him. I know he was over whelmed and had a lot of pressure to do too much too soon. Now he can relax and just enjoy. 

My 5 year old says that bhayya is riding around on friendly dinosaurs and flying with superheroes. He even has a superhero name now apparently. 

Not having him around here is going to keep hitting me like a boulder but knowing where he is, is going to be a huge relief. 

One day when we meet him in paradise. When we see him in his garden with beautiful animals (can you tell that he loved animals) and everything that he wanted for himself. When we meet again with all of his family and friends, he will be with all the martyrs and Prophets. 

I think of the son of the Prophet(s). The original Zayd(a), how he was loved and cherished. Our Zayd is no less loved and no less cherished. 

We will always miss you but we know that there is nothing holding you back now.

Be in peace, be in love, be in happiness. 

No goodbye, just a, “see you in a bit. Save me a good spot!”

The Art of Forgetful Mothering 

Moms forget? Mom brain. Yeah, they’ve done research on it. Mom brain. Well, I have some research on it too on the account that I live it and I known people very close to me who live it.Sometimes we don’t want to remember. Sometimes we want to forget. Sometimes we want to forget things around us because that’s the only way to survive the day. We need to get things done everyday. Same. Thing. Every. Day. Every. Day. So yeah forgetfulness becomes a companion that we cannot survive without. 

Sure it’s part of who we are. Sure is part of our “science”. It’s also survival. We need it. Sometimes I need to forget the previous day because I feel like I didn’t do anything. I know I raised my children and every minute with them is precious. 

Right now they are playing in the rain and that is beautiful and breathtaking. But it will rain again in a weak and they will dance again the same way. That will be just as precious. Sure I’ll enjoy it just as much. But in order to enjoy it again I’ll have to forget a bit on how much work it will be afterward.


The clean up. The mud. The water. Wet, dirty, muddy children. 

Oh and one of them is scared of thunder. He plays in the rain until he hears thunder. Then the aftermath is a bit of hell. 

My happiness depends on me being just teensy weensy bit forgetful and spaced out. 

You can call it something from above or an act that moms everywhere can control. Or maybe it’s a bit of both. 

I say it’s a blessing sometimes. Sometimes we could use less of it I’ll admit but we couldn’t do without it either.

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.