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.

 

 

 

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.

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

As I Try to Describe Happiness

Assalamu Alaikum

Bismillahi Ar Rahmani Ar Rahim

You’ve probably noticed by now that a lot of the content on my blog is a bit melancholy. Whether that turns you off or not isn’t the point; it’s just that this blog picked up speed during a time in my life where…well…due to a lot of circumstances, I guess I lost the meaning of the emotion.

I’m not emo! Please, don’t think that. I’m just one of those people who thinks too much, over-analyzes, and then analyzes the analyzations (why does this word look weird).

Happiness.

Sometimes, I think that there really isn’t such a feeling. I suppose, I feel that that it’s sort of a morsel, something tasty, tied at the end of a fishing pole and attached to our heads. We follow it, chase it, like one of those cartoons of dogs who are forever chasing a bone, but never actually getting it.

Or like this cat.

Poor cat. What happens to her moment of thrill when she tackles the thing, yanks it away from her human’s hand? The process starts all over again. The chasing and the endless jumping and snatching. Bloody flipping hell. Is that happiness?

Setting our sights on what we like … be it a career or status or cheeseburger, and then once we have it…what then? What happens next?

When I was younger, it was so much easier to be “happy”. I was so carefree back then, you could have put a smiley face on a french fry and I would have made it into something to laugh about.

But now, everything seems so devoid of meaning. I don’t want to say “pointless”, because that makes it sound like I’m two minutes away from jumping off a cliff (thankfully, not the case).

When I think of happiness now, true, real, honest-to-Allah happiness…well, I think of Allah.

And I think of children, having a family. I think of a time in the not so distant future (inshAllah) when I’ll most likely still be struggling, but I’ll have someone to struggle with. Someone who will wipe my eyes and kiss them, and I’ll do the same for them. Someone to share my beliefs and my hopes.

Happiness, now, is not instant gratification, anymore. For me, I think it used to be. It’s not getting what you want when you want it. It’s not an elevated level of emotion or excitement. It’s not bright, sunny days or cold glasses of lemonade. A day off or a good movie.

While I might still like those things…none of then mean anything to me, anymore.

No. I can’t even describe my definition of happiness to you.

Or, maybe I can.  Your mind doesn’t just store memories of events. It also stores memories of emotions and sensations. Things you felt, tasted. SubhanAllah.

Somewhere along in my life, my definition of happiness went from instant gratification to remembering a sunrise from years ago.

It was 2005. My family and I were on vacation in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. We had rented a little house on the beach during spring break.

I think I was 16 at the time, but I could be wrong. The days were cloudy, just the way I like it (no joke). In the afternoons, dark thunder clouds would roll in and the ocean and the space between it and the sky would melt together, forming this ethereal gray-blue-black-white of impending stormy weather. Combined with the hot smell of sand and the caress of gentle, sea-infused humidity, it was intoxicating.

Lightening would strike in the distance and it was all I could do not to run out onto the beach and just stare.

One morning, my mother woke me up to watch the sunrise. I remember the sheer, exploding whiteness of it.

It was like the entire ocean had turned to silver, or gold, or some weird combination of both. My brain couldn’t really comprehend it. I took pictures, but I’ve lost them.

They wouldn’t have done it justice, anyway.

The edges of my vision seemed to darken; blotting out all but the sun. It rose like it has done in all of the memories of the earth, but, witnessing it from the beach was like watching some once-in-a-lifetime cosmic event. The entire sky seemed to be the sun, the ocean as well. Everything became one and the same. I actually started to worry I might go blind. My eyes were watering even though I kept them in a tight squint, blinking away the tears, or shielding my eyes from it altogether in intervals, like a panicky vampire.

I remember it now and I feel a rising in my heart. But, I don’t really remember the actual sunrise when I think of being “happy”. I just see a explosion of bright, white light over a molten ocean of silver. There’s a lump in my throat.Tears come to my eyes and I don’t feel excitement or thrill. I just feel content, at peace. Some mixture of longing and love threaded through with a ribbon of sadness, fear, and awe. 

Is that my definition of happiness? A perfect balance of emotion?

Could be.

Happiness.

Once something all about instant gratification, turned into what I feel when I see something so much bigger than I could ever be.

My mother likes to say this one thing a lot. I don’t remember it verbatim, but the gist of it goes something like:

“Human beings are so arrogant. We’re surrounded by things so much bigger than ourselves, so much more powerful and out of our controls, and yet, we are the most arrogant of beings.”

She’s right. In our arrogance we’ve taken granted of so many things, including each other. Chased after meaningless, fruitless things thinking we’ll find satisfaction, when all we ever find is more temptation, more emptiness, and a hunger for “more” (whatever that is).

I’m reminded of the simple lifestyle of our beloved Prophet (SAW). Who lived and died a simple man, and yet the greatest who has ever lived subhanAllah.

I am reminded of the hadith, according to Bukhari & Tirmidhi, in which the Prophet (SAW) held the shoulder of Abdullah Ibn Umar and said 

Live in this world as (if you are) a wayfarer or a stranger.

Travel light. Don’t live in excess. Don’t chase worldly things. All it will get you, as it’s only ever gotten me, is greed and suffering. Don’t plant roots in the dunya, for the dunya will not keep you. Inna lillahi wa inna illaihi raji’oon! From Allah we came, and to Allah is our return.

I just finished a book (which I enjoyed a lot) and in it, the author makes a lot of references to the Dicken’s character Jacob Marley (from A Christmas Carol). One line in particular, in which Marley supposedly said:

“I wear the chain I forged in life.”

::Shudder:: Isn’t that the damn truth? Doesn’t what we do in our lives bind us or free us in the next, depending on Allah’s mercy? SubhanAllah.

Well, I’ve done my best, describing happiness. Happiness according to a 24-yr old Muslim romantic. anyway.

If you decide to comment, which I hope you do, what’s happiness to you?

Sources

http://dailyreminders.wordpress.com/2008/07/16/live-in-this-world-as-a-traveller-or-a-stranger/

A Glimpse of Beauty

On my way back from the library, I decided to stop by a local grocery store. Before turning into the parking lot in front of the store, I braked for some people walking towards their cars.

Among them was a couple with a little blonde toddler in the seat of the grocery cart. The man pushing the cart was wearing a T-shirt and what looked like your run-of-the-mill blue hospital scrub bottoms. The woman, her blonde hair tied up in a pony tail, was pregnant. From the looks of it, I’d say about 7 months (just a guess).

I felt like a creeper because I couldn’t stop staring at them. The man was pushing the cart  away from him and letting go; sending it coasting along in front of them, to the sheer delight of the child in the cart.  The man had a big smile on his face as he pushed the child but was also responsibly taking precaution by walking swiftly to catch up with the cart.

Behind him, his pregnant wife glanced up, a content smile crossing her features as she watched her husband and child have a moment of fun together.

The whole scene lasted less than 10 seconds, but it had such an effect on me. Tears sprung to my eyes and I felt sadness, envy, awe, and happiness all at once.

Maybe it was just over-active hormones. Maybe it was also the knowledge that I came so close to having what they have, not just once, but twice. InshAllah I’ll have it, one day.

I think my friends think I’m weird, to want so badly to have a husband and children.They think I’m too young, that I haven’t “lived” my life, yet. I just think that’s silly. But the truth, sometimes, can only be found in the present. And the truth is, it’s just not meant to be, right now. Like so many things recently, just not meant to be.

Alhamdulillah for what I have. I’m still young, I’ve gotten to see the world. Everyone I love is still alive, alhamdulillah. InshAllah, I’ll go to Chicago in the fall to start my MPH program. I have so much, alhamdulillah.

But, astaughfirullah, there’s that empty feeling. An emptiness, loneliness, sadness that just won’t go away. I can only blame my nafs and shaitan. Authubillahi min-ash-shaytaan-ir-rajeem.

I just keep telling myself that whatever God wills, will happen whenever He wills it.

Ya Allah, give me patience.

Nesha

Aisha, I Imagine.

She runs into my arms

all bouncing curls and though I do not see her face

I know her smile is wide and bright

She has no name that I know of yet

But in my heart she knows fame

I know not of her father

whether I have met him or loved him yet

is still a secret.

But she has his wisdom and his breathless laugh

I watch her eyes turn up the same way his does,

I imagine.

A wet kiss meets my face and a laugh rushes

into my ears

My heart leaps and I hold her close

Child of my dreams.

What is your name?

Nesha Usmani

I Want to be a Mom.

I love babies.

Tonight, at the dinner party, I realized just how much I want kids in the future inshAllah.

It’s a bit of a fruitless dream right now, since I don’t really have anyone in my life right now who wants to make that happen with me, and I don’t know if I ever will have that. Allahu Allam. The past 5 months have held such emotional turmoil that I feel like I can’t take much more heartache. I need a miracle, ya Allah.

But tonight, the house was filled with laughing children and babies. And everyone seemed so at home. Literally, people laughed, cried, held serious conversations, made new friends. SubhanAllah. I love that people feel this way in our home. Someone told me that only Allah can bring that to a household. Not furniture, or a good interior design, not good food, or party games. Just blessings from Allah that the guests you invite enter your house feeling welcome, and leave feeling like they’ve just been fed and entertained by family. SubhanAllah.

Do you realize what a blessing it is to have people love you and your family and want to spend time with you and yours ?Any idea at all? Once you realize that what Allah has given you (blessings), whether it be wealth, a house, brains, wit, etc, ALL OF THAT…once you realize that all of these things are also TOOLS to gain MORE reward from Allah, and you use these tools exactly for that purpose…WOW!! Amazing things happen, man!! SubhanAllah. What you have been given by Allah, is also for you to share, for the sake of Allah!

Anyway, back to babies…there were three. 2 baby girls and 1 baby boy.

One baby girl didn’t cry at all, the other baby girl was fussy, and the baby boy cried every single time he was even an inch away from his mother, subhanAllah.

My attention was entirely focused on the silent baby. Part of me wanted to go and mingle with my friends who came, but a bigger part of me just wanted to make sure the baby I held in my arms was comfortable…and…just cuz I wanted to hold her and play with her and make her laugh.

For a few hours tonight, I was inseparable with my friend’s 13 month old daughter. She had dark eyes, I couldn’t tell if they were dark blue or just brown, I was too focused on her adorable smile and chubby cheeks. I kissed her so much on those cheeks of hers that by the end of the night they were red!!

I honestly didn’t think the little tot would become attached to me. She was so quiet and poker-faced that I was actually intimidated at first. But, after learning her language and smiling at her repetitively, I gained her trust. And it wasn’t soon after that, that she started to hang on to me, not wanting me to let her go. Every time I set her down on the floor, she would try to crawl back up into my arms. Whenever someone took her from me, she would lean towards me with her arms outstretched in a soundless plea, subhanAllah

Soon, she would smile whenever I would come back to her after talking with friends. And it wasn’t very long afterwards that I started to feel like I was hogging the baby from her own mother! Although, I’m sure she didn’t mind. She needed the break to eat in peace and catch up, I’m sure.

Another odd thing I do want to mention is that my maternal “instincts” were outta control tonight. There were so many babies and children, and so many things they could bump into or trip over, stairs that they could fall down, hot drinks that they could grab and burn themselves with. Left and right, left and right, I was jumping in front of toddlers to stop them from going down the stairs alone, grabbing their tiny little limbs to stop them from falling or grabbing something dangerous, gasping and not paying attention to what people were saying because I was distracted by a baby playing with a folding chair.

A baby. With a folding chair. Folding chair. Weird metal thing that folds near soft fleshy baby.

WTH NO.

Ok so maybe I’m a little paranoid. And maybe it would be different if it were my baby. Actually, it WOULD be. My baby’s not going near any damn folding chair. Or chairs. Or styrofoam cup. Or stairs. Or forks. Or wooden toys. Or brick walls. Or walls. Or sidewalks. Or concrete. Or ice cubes. Or carrot sticks. Or cats. Or potato chips. Or McDonalds. Or wheels. Or shoes. Or the kitchen.

Ok imma stop.

I realized tonight how difficult being a mother is. How crazy would you be if the tiny chubby cute-fest that you birthed was running around near basement stairs and drawers filled with knives? Let alone going to school by herself in later years?

I’m getting anxiety just thinking about it. But it just makes me want to have children more.

You really do need to be a woman to understand what I’m feeling right now. Whenever I’m out in public and hear a baby cry, I find myself looking alertly in the direction of the sound. I just want kids so badly.

If I never get married and I’m making enough money, I would adopt, inshAllah.

I know all you moms are like “damn, she’s naive.”

I’m not. I know all the ups and downs, the emotional and physical roller-coasters. The terror in raising your child in today’s world (for me, at least).

But, man, it’s worth it. I took care of my youngest sister when she was a baby, I still sort of take care of her. Watching her grow up has been probably one of the most interesting and fascinating parts of my life.

It also, however, has taught me the value of patience and good parenting skills. And how easily children can adopt a bad habit or quality from you.

I heard a funny proverb about this in Indonesia. “Orang-tua kencing berdiri, anak-anak kencing lari.” I’m unsure if the Indonesian is correct or not (I think I’m forgetting it 😦 ) It means “Parent pees standing, children pee running.”

Basically, if a parent has a bad habit, their children will become influenced by it, sometimes in an even worse way.

It makes me think a lot about how I want my kids to see me. Not as a doormat. Not as a tyrannical figure. Not as someone to fear.

I want my children to look at me and just be happy I’m their mom. I want to set a good example for my kids. I don’t want them to be embarrassed if I kiss them in front of their friends, because I damn well will!

I guess, it all can be summed up like this.

I want my children to love me and look at me they way I love and look at my mom.

I’ll never get embarrassed if my mom kisses me or hugs me in front of my friends. I’ll never let anyone disrespect her (watch out if you do). I’m starting to realize just how much she’s done for me, and just how much I really, truly, love her.

I love you, mom ❤

May Allah forgive all of your sins, send you Angels to pray for you, make Qiyamat easy and full of shade for you, and give you Jannat Al Firdaus, and give you Papa as your eternal spouse in Jannah, because I’ve never seen a man who loves his wife more than Papa loves you, mashAllah. Ameen.