Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I Had a Baby, I Had a Blessing

Children are a blessing from Allah, I don't think there is a Muslim in the world that can argue against that. I've been told that "it takes a village to raise a child" and when a woman has a child the whole community comes together for the new baby and mom. I had a baby, a blessing that adds joy to our family each and every day but I have no one to share that joy with. Everyone thinks their child is special, I'm no different...mash Allah my little boy is amazing and I'm so in love. His sisters love him, his dad adores him and when I think about his future I can't help but be filled with joy. So why is it so hard for other women in my community to be happy for me? Complete and utter strangers have no problem striking up a conversation with me and congratulating me on my little guy. Muslims stare, look straight through me, and the ones that will talk to me act like they don't notice the baby in this massive heavy car seat that occasionally gets lugged around. Three people from my kids' school have actually said something about my baby to me, this can't be normal, after all it's the "religious" Muslims that send their kids to the Islamic school. Don't they know children are a blessing? Or are children only a blessing when certain people have them?

I know this is partly my fault for thinking about someone else's feelings, but here it goes. I had a "friend" who I met at my kids school 2.5 years ago. When I found out I was pregnant she was the first friend I excitedly told. Her first reaction was not congratulations, but "I thought you didn't want anymore kids". I was a little put off by that comment as whenever someone else fell pregnant she always acted happy for them. I have no idea why it was different for me. A couple of weeks after I told her that I was pregnant she told me she was pregnant too. I congratulated her. Then a week later she tells me she was never pregnant and never took a test, I thought it was odd, but hey we all do things differently. A few more weeks passed by and I receive a call that this woman had a miscarriage (not with the non pregnancy, but a separate one). I'm sorry but something inside me was just telling me that she was lying. All the details didn't make sense, time wise, date of baby, what it's like to actually go through a miscarriage. I gave her the benefit of the doubt, I told her how sorry I was for her. By the time I had my son I decided that if she had in fact had a miscarriage it would be best to just wait and let her call me. I didn't want to upset her. She knew I was pregnant, she knew how far along I was and she knew I had complications. It was 3 weeks before she called, I missed that call, but didn't notice until the next day. Since she was working I sent her a text asking how she was doing and didn't hear back for five days. When she responded with a text she never asked about baby, and instead was going on about how her kids missed my kids and how they wanted to talk to them. It's odd because her kids started going to a different school more than a year ago and they never missed my kids. We've had the kids together after school before and all her kids do is whine or act miserable. My response to the text was "yea maybe later then" (stupid response on my part). A few days later I received another text from her asking if anyone I knew needed a double stroller. It was at this time I decided that this is a friend I can do without, I didn't answer that text and have no intention of ever doing so, I hope she gets the message (pun intended).

I've become really sensitive about people not caring that I've had a baby, the hypocrites that cry how having a tonne of children is a gift, about what a celebratory time it is and seeing people literally turn their back towards me all adds to the moments of baby blues. I swear if it weren't for my husband right now I would be an emotional wreck. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First Day of School...Ramblings

As the public schools in BC remain on strike, yesterday was officially the first day of school for us. I didn't go with my kids yesterday as I woke up at 4:30 am and could not go back to sleep no matter how hard I tried. By the time 8:00 am rolled around I was too tired to move and had my husband take the kids to school, it was rainy, miserable type weather that only made me sleepier. Today though, I did take my kids to school, briefly met my oldest daughter's teacher and saw the usual faces. I have to admit driving into the school I could feel my stomach sink, I already knew what to expect, and I wasn't wrong....many unfriendly faces and people who only say "hi" to me when they are alone, now ignoring me. I'm really tired of the parents here, so unfriendly and some down right nasty. I'm sick of the fakeness that exists within these people's personalities, but what can I do? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

My kids love this school, I love this school. So far the teachers have been great and my kids come home happy telling me all the things they have learnt for the day. But every year I hold out some hope that there will be a mom like me, or not like me that accepts me and my non scarf wearing head. I've learnt to be picky when choosing friends, your friends represent pieces of who you are and I've come to respect myself enough to not put up with such people, Muslim or otherwise.

I have to say now that both my kids are in school full time, I have no idea of what to do with my days. I've been cleaning and organizing, decorating the baby's room and trying to exercise a bit, but after all is done, I'm bored. If I weren't so pregnant right now I think I'd be looking for a job, even though I'm not looking for a job right now, it's been on my mind. I think I'm craving social interaction more than I am a paycheck, although getting paid would help a lot. It's been five years since we last had a baby in the house and it's crazy how much you forget, all the things you need and what you don't. This is the first time my husband and I are on our own with buying baby things, it's kind of empowering, but kind of nerve racking at the same time. Before my mom helped out a bit and I had a loving grandma who had happily sent us clothing (may Allah SWT bless her in the next life). Now we are doing it alone and that's OK too, lots of people manage and so can we.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Eid Mubarak To....

Eid Mubarak to....well certainly not me. I remember the days when people who I barely knew outside of Ramadan and Eid wanted to go out for a family breakfast with my husband, kids and I. That doesn't happen anymore, and I should be grateful since there is no more phoniness, no more fake smiles and no more garbage. I've tried, I even started volunteering with a group of women, but even that has come to show that I'm only good for one thing...being available on demand to do things for the unorganized organization. I'm basically just a warm body. When Ramadan came around the organization fell silent, I sent out an email to everyone saying that I hope everyone has a blessed Ramadan etc and only two people responded to wish me the same. Now that Eid is here and I spent Ramadan alone I don't think I'll be wishing anyone a happy anything. I was expected to volunteer for an Eid party, but the way I see it, I'll be spending that time with the little people in my life, giving them my full attention and not having to be responsible for other peoples' children.  So Eid Mubarak, to who; no one I know personally, just Eid Mubarak.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ramadan Emotions

I've been feeling pretty down today, I'm guessing it's a mix of pregnancy hormones and situations that exacerbate those pregnancy hormones. This pregnancy has been rough, people have died, family has been strained and aside from the people underneath our roof, I haven't found too many people that are happy I'm carrying this little life inside me. Maybe Muslims just have too many kids and no one cares, this is our third baby inshAllah and maybe this is just normal. I really wanted this pregnancy to be enjoyable and peaceful, it's been a struggle but mashAllah through most of it I've remained pretty calm. Today though, I just can't wait any longer for October, I want nothing more than a healthy baby in my arms inshAllah.

Sometimes it's the small things that cause the biggest emotions. Today I picked up my daughter early from school, being that it's a Friday I wanted to go before the Mosque parking lot got too busy. Seeing more cars there already brought on the reality that I don't feel welcome in the Mosque, despite wanting to attend, I know there will be something that will upset me, someone will do something that I mentioned on that list from yesterday causing me to be angry. The last time I prayed at this Mosque, it was a games day. It was disappointing, just because my husband was volunteering for the event I was accused of cheating. I swear I still to this day cannot use the dishes that I won and will be selling them at the next garage sale. Women in the prayer area were talking throughout the khutba and everyone was in their own cultural group. The few people who talked to me asked me all about me and for my phone number, they never called and I honestly felt so emotionally violated. The truly sad thing is that none of those women knew that this was my first time in that Mosque and they pushed me away for the foreseeable future. Things rarely change in the Muslim community here and every time I feel sad about being the black sheep I try to remind myself that I'm really not missing out on anything good. Islamic education can be found in books and while cautiously looking online. The only thing I'm missing out on, and I assume I'm not alone here is the real felling of sisterhood, if in fact it does exist.

Ramadan has always been a difficult time for me. Not the physical aspect, but the emotional aspect. When I became Muslim I was young, my husband was young and we were both working very long hours. I had two jobs during one of those Ramadans leaving me little time to think about breaking my fast with other Muslims, attending taraweeh prayers or involving myself in any halaqas. Most of the time I was either working, on a bus going to and from work or too tired to think about anything but sleep. Breaking my fast consisted of me going to the mall to get some real fruit bubble tea and a bagel. My husband had his own work schedule and we didn't see too much of each other during that Ramadan. It wasn't until after my first couple of Ramadans that I started to wonder why if community iftars and attending taraweeh are so important, then why was I never invited to these things? I still ask myself this question, especially during Ramadan, most of the time I try not to think about it, because it does get me down, I'm not one of those A personalities that pushes my way in no matter what people think....although sometimes I wish I had that strength.

I don't know what makes me different, I've seen some new Muslims be welcomed with open arms, but for me, since day one I have always had this feeling of being pushed away. I'm guessing by now though, I'm just damaged goods, so to speak. Despite feeling down about Ramadan right now, and knowing I'll be spending it alone I'll be inshAllah working on a lot of taqwa building activities. InshAllah I really pray that this month of mercy will show me mercy and will benefit all Muslims around the world. May Allah SWT forgive me and the woman whose reaction to me today brought about this post. Ameen.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Red Flag Muslims

When you first become Muslim it's really easy to fall into the idea that every other Muslim out there wants to support you and genuinely wants what's best for you. Over the years I've learnt that this is rarely the case. My high expectations of Muslims very early on lead to far too many disappointments. I wish I hadn't had those expectations. Even more so, I wish that someone would have given me a reality check early on, so that instead of focusing on other Muslims and trying to be part of the crowd, I could have used that energy to focus more on Islam. So here is my list of personalities that should raise red flags.

If someone:

-Talks with you when they are alone, but then completely ignores you when they are with their
-Says to you after meeting them for the first time what you should not do or what you have to
-Constantly criticizes
-Refuses to recognize/treat you as a Muslim (not saying salam etc)
-Tells you that you must make friends of your husband's
-Asks personal questions after only just meeting you, don't answer....just run.
-Who never talked to you suddenly shows interest because you are pregnant, new to hijab
-Brags about how wonderful they are, chances are they aren'
-Openly judges other Muslims, in front of those
-Constantly asks you for favours, but is never there when you need a little help...please run.
-Knows you are a new Muslim and never invites you to a Mosque or a halaqa with
-Compares your clothing with theirs or your hijab with theirs in a negative
-Invites you to their home (they usually say inshAllah, abusing the word) and never bothers to tell you where they live or give you their phone number, or take
-Abandons you when you really need help...take refuge in Allah SWT and run from that person.

As Muslims, especially new ones, we are taught that distrusting another Muslim is wrong and they deserve 70 excuses for what they do. We are human, Allah SWT sent down the Quran to teach us the best way to live in this life, so that we can be successful in the afterlife. As humans we don't always do what is right and it is up to each person to be aware of what is Islamically right and wrong. Far too often converts are taken advantage of because, lets face it we are more vulnerable than those who have been Muslim all their life. Many of us are still learning, and our learning continues for years and years. Although it may not always be possible it is important to surround ourselves with other Muslims who offer encouragement, understanding and most of all respect. Just because we weren't born into Islam, does not make us any less of a Muslim, anyone who says or treats you otherwise is arrogant and ignorant of their religion. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone, many people have gone through their share of struggles in dealing with other Muslims. Some of us have been successful, while others' sadly have been conquered and left Islam entirely. Be strong and have confidence in yourself, don't let anyone bring you down.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Preschool Bully

(photo credit: )

You can tell a lot about the nature of the parents, by the actions of their children. The values you teach your children in their first few years will leave a mark on them for the rest of their life. Most of the children in my daughter's preschool are genuinely good kids, my daughter plays well with them and vice versa. Every year though it seems that there is one (or more) kid that ruins what should be a fun preschool experience. Last year it was a group of three siblings that liked to use foul language and this year it's a child that is physically abusive. Sad fact is preschoolers can be bullies. Exclusion, physical aggression and teaming up against another child are all examples of bullying. Many people have a hard time labeling a four year old as a bully and don't even believe bullies exist until grade three and beyond.

The preschool my daughter attends operates two very small classes, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I'm talking about one to five kids in any class on any given day. There are reasons for this, but I won't go into that. Basically there are days when the physically abusive child or "the bad kid" as my daughter has come to call him, is there with her and no one else, there are also other days when he's with four other kids. The days when he is alone with my daughter or with my daughter and another child are the worst. As soon as we get in the car I hear about how this bad kid had pushed her, hit her or put glue in her hair.  From what my four year old tells me this "bad kid only hits girls". My daughter usually loves going to preschool, but I've recently found her to be a little more clingy and generally less happy after dealing with this other child. Unfortunately the teacher has been pretty useless in providing any information or resolutions to this problem. During a talk I had with the teacher, she had blamed this child for being violent towards her. If it wasn't for my daughter telling me what has been going on I would have never really known. It's very disappointing that this issue is not being handled or addressed properly at all by the teacher
I chose this preschool for my daughter because it's an Islamic preschool, no Halloween or emphasis on any other holiday we don't celebrate. I wanted to have the Islamic values that we teach at home to be reinforced by the teacher and practiced by her peers. I understand there will be kids like this in any preschool, but it's the handling of the situation that bothers me, it really makes me angry for my daughter. No one wants to see their child being bullied.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Growing Our Family

For the past three years my husband and I (mostly I) have been debating, deciding and mulling over the idea of having another child. The decision for him was much easier. Life with two kids has really been wonderful and I felt like I didn't want to disrupt the rhythm and ease of my two girls. But, as I'm not getting any younger (not that I'm old), we decided it was time to have another baby. I am so thrilled to be adding a third child to our family. My five year old has been excited from day one, my four year old took a little while to warm up to the idea of becoming a big sister, but is now really excited and wants to come with me to all my doctor appointments. MashAllah, I'm currently 15 weeks along and this pregnancy hasn't been anything like the first two. With my first I had minimal morning sickness that didn't last for too long. My second pregnancy I was very sick, but I was lucky enough to have slept very well. This pregnancy the morning sickness lasted from 6-12 weeks and I'm still not getting much sleep, some days I'm so tired I forget the simplest tasks and the days just melt together. This third pregnancy so far has been different in so many ways, I don't know if it's because it's been five years since my last pregnancy, but there are little things I'm noticing.
1) I feel much calmer this time around, I don't know if it's hormones or what but I'm pretty relaxed.
2) I think I'm going to need to be in maternity clothes in a couple of weeks, with my first I was in them barely at 26 weeks and then 20 weeks with my second.
3) No one gushes over a third pregnancy. With my first everyone was jumping for joy asking what they could buy for baby Some people were jumping for joy with the second, and this one people are mostly happy, but it's just more like "oh look she's having another baby".
4) This is probably connected to number one, but I know what both a c-section and a vaginal birth are like, there's no mystery and fear about the unknown (there's still a little fear of the known).
5) I don't feel like I have to buy everything Toys R Us sells for baby. Babies need love, clothes, diapers, a car seat and a place to sleep. Not everything has to be new either.
6) Kids, once they are happy about the idea of another sibling are really eager to help out their mama. This type of help was hard to come by during my first pregnancy while my husband was at work.
7) Finally, no one gives you unasked for advice anymore (thank God!), they figure after having your second child you must be a pro.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What Am I Supposed To Do About This?

There is this woman who whenever I see constantly stares at me. Always so intently that I'm surprised she hasn't bumped into a wall or tripped over something while she's doing it. I have seen this woman once or twice at a family halaqa four years ago, and more recently a few dozen times at garage sales rushing around frantically looking for whatever it is she's looking for. In the beginning I'd smile at her while she's staring, but I  always got a blank emotionless look in response, so I've stopped smiling at her.
When my oldest started kindergarten, she saw me picking up my daughter and her stares just got more intense. Her older, maybe ten year old daughter has since picked up the habit of rudely gawking at me too.
As it turns out this woman has her other daughter in the same preschool as my youngest, they just attend on different schedules. We had a field trip today with all the classes attending together. That woman was there staring away, but not as intensely as before. This woman walking past me at one point, shoved me so hard on the left side of my arm, being that I'm pregnant, I shoved her right back. She said nothing, I said nothing. On top of this when my daughter was talking to her daughter she turned her child away from mine and said something in Tamil, which I can only guess what it was.
I don't know this woman at all aside from "seeing" her around, I've never talked to her and vice versa. I do know that this woman has plenty of friends though, and is part of a certain brainwashing new converts crowd. I know when someone hates me, but how do I stop this? I was so close to approaching her ten year old daughter while she was staring at me today, but I didn't, it wouldn't have been appropriate. How do you deal with such odd behaviour from someone like this?

Friday, January 24, 2014

MashAllah, Kids Make It Look So Easy

My husband took our four year old out for Jummah prayer today. After the service a little girl came up to my daughter and the conversation goes something like this:

Little girl - "Hi, I'm Zaynab"

My daughter - "Do you want to play with me?"

Little girl - "OK"

So off they go and play. If only it were so easy for adults, mashAllah kids are great, no preconceived notions, no judgements, just 100% innocence and a desire to socialize and have fun. Let's take note.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

...I'm Back, InshAllah....I promise

The last post I wrote was not my shinning moment. That was a pretty low point in my life, I wish I could tell you that everything has turned around, but it hasn't. I truly appreciate all the comments, words of care, concern and understanding more than you'll ever know. I'm going to keep going with this blog, it's been on my mind for a while, but I wasn't sure where to begin or if I should start a new blog under a new name...I guess we all now know which decision I made.

This past year has had it's ups and downs, but everything was amplified, so the bad was really bad and the good was really good...unimaginable. My husband's family is suffering, but still they are the lucky ones, knowing people who have died, disappeared and hearing the booming sound of attacks near by. But still, they have food and heat most days. No other country but Sweden will accept Syrian refugees, Germany has given at least some half assed attempt and offered a temporary solution. My country, Canada says it will take in 1300 Syrians by the end of 2014. A pitiful number for a country that takes in Filipinos at a rapid rate to work at Tim Hortons'. So who are these refugees Canada will be taking in? Certainly not anyone in my husband's family, they are taking in only the most needy. At risk minorities like Christians, rich Damascenes from areas like Malki where the president lives, and maybe, possibly a family living in a refugee camp, for a nice front page piece in the Vancouver Sun. The world has turned it's back on Syria and only in the future will people realize what a terrible thing they turned a blind eye to. Maybe they'll make a short film that will go viral on youtube and call it "Assad 2020".

Last spring I was blessed and given the opportunity to go on umrah. A few of my husband's family are living in Saudi right now, including my mother in law and two brother in laws. My father in law was living in Saudi at the time, but has unfortunately been stuck in Syria for the past week, unable to leave because he is expected to return to the 60 years old. We are all praying the Syrian government will let him leave safely. Saudi was a lot of things, it was wonderful, hot, interesting, sad, amazing, awe inspiring and many times I was left speechless. We stayed in Medina, across the street from my in laws and only a 20 minute walk to Medina an Nabawi. Medina taught me a lot of things and for me personally, if there was one thing I really learned was that the sahaba were in so many ways just like many of us. They were regular people living in a terrible time, Islam came to them, and changed them. These people were willing to change their old ways, ingrained cultural habits that were haram became abandoned, the sahaba were always learning, they weren't perfect, but they had a great amount of faith.

Now that my oldest began kindergarten in the Islamic school, I'm forced to face other Muslims more often, and I do, usually with a lot of anxiety. The first week of school there was some woman who just couldn't stop scawling at me. She'd look me up and down in front of my four year old as we waited for my older child and gave me the dirtiest looks. The last time anyone gave me this kind of look was when my eldest was in a regular run of the mill preschool and this old Christian woman looked at me this same way in disgust. That time with the Christian woman I was wearing my hijab, this time with the Muslim woman I was not, these types of people are all the same and can't stand anyone different. This, along with a few other unwelcome stares and unfriendly faces has made me hate picking up my daughter. I wish I didn't care what other people thought of me, I try not to care, I tell myself that these people aren't worth the stress. But when I walk onto the school grounds I sometimes get nervous, I sometimes stumble or do something clumsy....worst of all I develop a stutter....good thing on most days no one talks to me and thank God my husband has the kind of job where he can pick up our daughter from school more then every other day. Despite all my grievances I do like the school, I actually like it much more than I thought I would and I have to say my daughter has a really good teacher. I don't expect much, if anything to change with me and most other Muslims, I figure if things would have changed, it would have happened a long time ago.