4/28/2017 – general updates, ponderations

It’s April 28, 2017. I know I don’t need to iterate that, since it’s probably everywhere on the screen, but it’s glaring at me. I have only published twice in the last year, and less than 10 in the last two.

I miss blogging. I miss writing. I miss having more time to myself. But a lot has changed in such a short amount of time.

One minute, I’m grabbing a coffee on my way to class, thinking about graduation and getting excited for my wedding. The next, I’m grabbing a coffee so I can handle the day alone with my 7 month old little girl; my husband at his job in D.C.

I think about frames of mind quite a bit, how your daily experience shapes who you are and how you perceive everything around you.

I see the busybody grad student and think, “I wish I could go back there, so many dreams! So many possibilities.”

Now two years later I see her at the grocery store, baby in one arm and a shopping basket in the other. I see that she’s there during work hours and unbeknownst to everyone around, she actually does have a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree. But maybe that’s not obvious with her mismatched hijab, trousers, over-sized blouse and casual Nikes. Oh, and bouncing, relentless baby.

But I don’t give myself enough credit. I’m taking care of three, sometimes four or five other people. I cook, I clean. I tolerate. I’m not just a holder of proofs of education. I carried a baby for 9 months, often painfully and in sickness. I had that baby cut out of me unexpectedly one night, but she was still perfect. All 5 pounds, 8 oz of her. She is still perfect, even though her mother might not be.

I went through post-partum depression. A battle I still fight peripherally with anti-depressants and a variety of obsessions (oh, there have been plenty…lipstick, crochet, and iced coffee).

I take pains not to let my daughter look at screens so much, but hilariously, I’m always surrounded by them myself. Imagine telling your child to be quiet and look away, while you desperately seek escapism through your Instagram feed. Try telling your mother and father in law not to let the baby watch Television, while you plan to catch up on a Netflix show later on. Go on, laugh at me trying to cling to my habits and motherhood at once, I’ve done it. Then I’ve shrugged helplessly and continued on.

It’s a mad juggle, honestly. You can cook a perfect meal, do the dishes, some cleaning, and do laundry later. Or you can do laundry now, make a somewhat decent supper, do the dishes, and save the rest for later. You can sleep when the baby sleeps, or you can use that time to do something for yourself. You can go to bed early and be energized for whatever life has for you the next day, InshAllah, or you can watch a movie with your husband. But you can’t really compromise on being a mother.

That’s 24/7, 365 glorious, exhausting, completely incredible days of the year, InshAllah.

 

 

 

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Mother

Your middle of the night feedings and diaper changes;bleary-eyed concern washes into relief and elation when I look down at you in your cot, and though you fervently toss your head, hunting for your milky prey, you notice me and smile. A brief and spectacular smile. And in that soft moment, in the time it takes for your little mouth to open and stretch into a Cupid’s bow, ready to fire, my insecurities and flaws are rendered meaningless. In this moment, I’m just your mother. The word is a mountain, growing higher and higher when I think of the greatness of your grandmothers, and yet I climb.

“social anxiety”

shall I tell you the way it feels,

the swampy bog of worry and panicked thought?

to stand knee deep in it is both a comfort and dread

here, in the center, no one can touch me, see me, criticize me

it is me and this repugnant slime,

a manifestation of the worst of me.

and so it sucks me down until I realize

I cannot breathe and there is no one

and the dread is overwhelming.

It is ungratefulness, they say,

that which makes up this clamorous quagmire,

this insidious morass which demands so much of me,

and becomes envious if I dare try and leave.

If I try to climb out of its maw to rest upon its

viscid shore,

it redoubles its effort, it bubbles and spits

it reminds me no one can befriend me, how could they?

and regurgitates my flaws, my wrongdoing,

my sins, upon its abhorrent banks.

And I desist in my resistance,

and slip slowly again into the gurgling mire.

Comforted that none will see me sink.

 

 

Nesha Usmani

4/19/2016

 

 

 

Time; God’s Great Thing.

A memory-maker

A dream spinner,

a way to heal, to transform.

Where, in the long stretches,

do moments turn into memory?

August Popsicles dripping down a summer dress

Warm Septembers,

Rusty, breezy Octobers,

Chilly Novembers giving way to winter,

and those nights I used to write and write.

Countless seasons have passed me by,

I am left clinging to childhood, to a carefree

sense of wild freedom,

of so much time to do so much,

and now, too many distractions,

and too little time.

 

Nesha Usmani

 

whether a princess or a prince.

you are but a tiny thing

barely four inches of existence

with blood and body I carry

but have not yet seen.

For a decade now, I’ve prayed for you

to one day become a part of me.

You are part of two,

two that love and cherish each other

who love and cherish you.

Whether you are to be

a wild-haired princess;

free spirited, huge-hearted,

brimming over with adventures

or

a benevolent prince,

wide-eyed,

eager for knowledge,

with enough wisdom and love

for a hundred men

Whether a princess or a prince,

We wait for you with barely constrained

impatience, and so, so much hope.

 

Nesha Usmani

On Being in an Inter-Ethnic Marriage

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

On May 23rd 2015, I married a person that Allah has made, to and for me, a mercy, a companion, a confidante, and the other half of my deen. And in the 108 days since, he has become so much more to me, alhamdulillah.

My wedding was a more simple take on a traditional Pakistani wedding. Unlike most, I had a nikkah ceremony at my house, followed by a reception the next day. Those two days were filled with a happiness I have never felt, alhamdulillah.

The wedding was different. There was no dancing, no rukhsati under a Qur’an, nor was there a Pakistani groom!

My husband, you see, is Bosnian.

Have you ever stolen a Bosnian groom’s shoes at his wedding, and held it ransom as his Bosnian family tried to haggle it back? (hilarious)

Or sat among a group of Bosnians, smiling, and having no idea what was being said aside from “Hoces li kava?” or “hvala” or “hajde”

Or tried very hard not to be an absolute animal when your mother-in-law makes burek or pita (but you failed)

These past three months have been such a learning experience for me. Personally, I think I have it much easier than others who decided to marry outside their ethnic pool. It’s especially gratifying to introduce my husband to different Indian/Pakistani foods, and see his palate change from meat-and-potatoes to biryani, samosa chaat, korma, tikka masala, firni, and the like! My mother-in-law won’t say no to samosa chaat, either!

And of course, since I currently live with my in-laws, I’ve been taught how to make a a mean cup of Bosnian coffee, make baked mushrooms and eggplant, and uhh eat a lot of pita (haven’t learned that yet).

My relationship with my father-in-law (svekar) is really special, I think (inshAllah). He knows more Bosnian than English, but can understand and hold a conversation easily. Since living with my husband’s family, I have picked up some Bosnian, but I can understand a lot more than I can speak. But even so, we manage to talk a lot. As a result, his English has gotten better (or I’d like to think so) and my understanding of Bosnian has improved, too. Though, I’m not confident enough to speak it, yet!

It’s a very different household from the way I grew up. I think that’s where some of the challenges have been. Every household has different rules, and when you move into your husbands place, you have to adapt. You have to.

For me, not knowing the language has been the greatest obstacle, but making a sincere effort to understand and learn is probably the biggest respect I can give them. That, and adapting to the way they do things. It’s still challenging, and sometimes it feels insurmountable.

But, the journey is in the challenge, and the reward in sincere effort comes from Allah.

I have already enjoyed the fruits of my efforts, alhamdulillah. I feel close to my in-laws, and have basked in the glory of having received the coveted approval of my husbands 4 yr old cousin… he may only like me because I let him play Spiderman and Temple Run on my phone and Kindle. Even so, the smile on that kids face when he sees me makes me feel pretty awesome.

InshAllah, I’ll be able to continue writing about my life in this regard, and may Allah reward and protect the precious marriages that are made for His sake, Ameen!

🙂