“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.

Relax, and believe in your Daydreams!

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.

#zaydiliveson #ZaydMustafaslegacy #Irememberthatdaylikeyesterday🙂 #untilwemeetagain

Comfort of Being Me

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.

I. Am. Always. Enough!

My Children

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.

The Surreal HulaHoop Experience

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.