We awoke today at around 08:00am. Given that I only slept for a few hours after the dawn prayer and its Ramadan I wanted to desperately retreat into my bed. Alas! my daughters thought differently. Whilst lying down I remembered that my eldest daughter was given a project to complete. It was centred around a story called ‘Jasper and the Beanstalk’ and she was asked to make a flower that could be placed upon a display.
Reluctantly, rising from the bed I decided to make this into a lesson about growth and related it to Ramadan. However, as we began preparing, drawing, tracing, cutting, gluing, sticking, taping and finally painting (long list I know) subconsciously my mind had already made other links. My husband clambered down the stairs and sat down beside our youngest daughter and I could not wait to inform him of my analogy.
So I began explaining. When I came downstairs I looked in the storeroom for miscellaneous items that could be used. I thought it would be good to do this to encourage the use of materials at home. I then asked my daughter what does a flower look like and she found a flower hair slide to answer my question. Then the three of us went about preparing the items we would require for the activity. Similar to this we are recommended to prepare for this month, not just spiritually but physically and mentally. Although, we may not prepare in terms of gathering items like my daughter did, we do prepare for the meal after we break the fast and this is a blessing that Allah has given us.
Once we sat down we began to draw around the shapes that we had found. Now going on a tangent when I do things with my children I like to encourage autonomy. I do this for their own sake but recent research into child development promotes child lead activities. This is also promoted in Islam. As we are encouraged to raise our children with independence, be it through attempting the salaah or praising them for doing a good deed (this is another topic I will write about in another post inshallah.)
Anyhow going back to what I was writing about. As my daughter drew around the shapes to create the petals (which were in an array of colours), she started to cut around the lines and then we assembled them. In the process my daughter could not wait and was eager to simply paint. On seeing the final piece she smiled. It made me think of Ramadan. This is because just like my daughter cut the paper to make the petals the first fast (for me anyway) is like a sharp cut- as we struggle. Some struggle as they have work, some struggle due to ill health, some struggle as they have young children and there are unknown struggles too. By the end we hope that our souls are rejuvenated and our spirituality is assembled (or reassembled in our case) like the flower its just that like my daughter we are eager to see the result and undermine the process which is not something ordinary.
If anybody has read one of my previous posts you will know that I wrote about immersion.Parenting I think is quite arbitrary. I remember in year eight when my PSE teacher asked us to ask our parents what they learnt before becoming a parenting. When the teacher asked us again one of the students responses was that her parents said “nothing it was like a walk in the park.” It is just that. You learn as you go along and you find directions that suit you. A theme that echoes within my posts is that I wanted my beliefs to be central. I wanted everything to emanate from this. Alhhumdulillah (praise be to Allah) there is an abundance of resources available around us that we can utilise. This brings me to the bath book. I think these are absolutely amazing. There are many available in story book versions from supermarkets and retailers but I was taken by this one produced by Shade7. It is a simple way in introducing kids to wudhu (ablution required to perform prayers by Muslims.) It also changes colour to signify which parts you need to wash. I came across the organisation on Instagram and it would be great if others could also show their support.
Its great for bath time. I was happy to see that the organisation had taken the concept and used to retail an aspect of the religion that is so integral. It makes immersive parenting that little bit easier. Not only this it has much more to offer. As it is written in English it helps them to read and me being a linguistics geek can go and on.
Dear Safiya and Amanah,
I write this whilst one of sleeps and the other plays. At times its great at times its difficult. At times your wonderful at times your a handful. At times your a bundle of joy that I do not want to let go. At times you make me angry for reasons you do not know. You both are small now but growing everyday. To have you both I did pray. I prayed at night, in the morning and the time when everybody was asleep. Thats why I wonder sometimes why I weep.You see I become overwhelmed and cannot express- the thoughts in my head so I get into a mess. But I do love you and do care. I care about your wellbeing. I care about your spirituality. Thats why I want to strive hard to make the akhirah a reality. Its not as easy as I pondered in my youth-sometimes I feel the torment of ‘mummy guilt.’ Then I realise that Allah’s mercy is like a comfortable quilt. So I keep trying, perserving taking one step at a time-knowing that through this I am being watched by Al-Latif the most Sublime.
I snapped this shot when Amanah’s ears were examained at the ENT department. Both sisters played in this small play area designated children whilst the parents waited. Its amazing the games young children can come up with. Safiya decided she wanted to play school’s , whilst Amanah took the decision to climb on and off the tiny chairs and tables. My husband and I sat back and watched them. I do not know what my husband was thinking but I was silently supplicating at this time. It had been a turbulent year after having my second daughter. She was a blessing but with my health deteriorating unexpectedly I felt I had only reached this point with the aid of Allah. He had placed people in my life that I feel I owe much too. Their kind words and physical help with my eldest, and assistance with appoitments was very much appreciated. It lead to a quicker healing I believe I even said to my mum and mother in law at one point that without their supplications and tears I do not think I could have recovered (I say this sincerely.) My husband too was great (though he had his moments.) After I began to heal I began to be pro-active. I took up writing once more and small creative projects. I visited friends and parents more and made a silent oath I would prioritise more. Lo behold after a few months Amanah got an ear infection. No sooner did she get over her first one she got another one. In total she had nine consecutive infections which subsided just before Ramadan then came back after the month was over.
The nights seemed long when she had them and I was consumed by guilt. People would ask me how she got it and what caused it and I would think they had an undertone of blame. It took me a while to gain confidence and realise that I should not be giving as much importance and value to what they were saying. Spiritually it was only knowing that I was giving my children their rights that mattered the most. Alas it has taken me time to fully comprehend the tarbiyah of what my beliefs hold and it is difficult. Beliefs aside (not that I can really detach them) mums really do not discuss the emotions they feel and how lonely it can be. Admittedly I would be in tears in my room and then leave and put on a brave face and carry on with my daily tasks.
I have discovered that there are other mothers who feel like this, so I want to them to know that there is a way forward. Marriage, parenting are like the title they are anaphoric and cataphoric.
Imagine a world without colours. Imagine if we did not have this sense of sight. How does it feel to be blind. When I was at school there this boy who was partially sighted. He would walk with white cane and use a digital aid to take notes in lessons. He also had an assistant and could read braille.Admittedly I was in awe. I found it amazing that he could excel despite having this impairment. At the time being a carefree teenager I did not think much of my senses (sounds brazen I know.) When I paint with my children or do calligraphy I am grateful. The world would be different for me and my children without this small bounty.
Its not just the act of seeing of the neurological processing accompanied with sight. It reiterates what my sister and I were conversing about this week; “if you count the blessings of Allah then you cannot stop.” When painting with my daughters I am reminded of this, amongst other blessings. I just wanted to share this reflection.
Be grateful Allah is As- Shakur (the appreciative.)
Prior to having my children I had ideas as to how I would immerse Arabic into their daily lives. Alas! English is the dominant language (although Bengali is there mother tongue.) However, all is not lost. In small ways and with the help of Allah I have integrated it into their play. In this way it is not so much instructive and more instructive. As a child I loved loved loved drawing, painting, writing and model making. Anything I could get my hands on would become something. Of course in child development it is encouraged also (just have different names now!) What I used to know as colouring is now Mark Making. When I asked a colleague about this she informed me that this term seems lets prescriptive than colouring in. In a way I can loosely see the connection as it suggests that children cannot have fluidity in developing the motor skills to write. Having said this I do still use colouring in!
Moving to the original subject of the post I have found with the Arabic script that there is much fluidity in the letters (Harf.) The English letters do have this too, but the Arabic morphemes (thats the linguistic term) have more variant forms. So far in my journey my daughter has memorised the letters in both Arabic and English. I have now decided that it is time to introduce her to writing and reading. There are many resources that are available on the internet aimed at toddlers. A website I have found useful for non-native speakers is http://www.arabicseeds.com. I highly recommend this although its Instagram posts that motivate me.
Please pray that I can achieve this with my children.
Today I took my daughter swimming. It involved a lot of planning beforehand and a lot of waiting when we got there. When I searched on the internet I saw that the beginning time was 13:00pm. Knowing that it may become busy I set out early. To my dismay it was very packed and the first session had already reached capacity. I knew that I had two choices. I could come home or wait (with a three year old.) An attendant came out to the lobby and informed us that we had clear the fire exits. A lot of the women and children went into another room and my daughter and I remained in the main lobby-ensuring we were clear of the exit. I knew I wanted to come home but kept remembering how excited Safiya was and silently prayed that we would get in.
After fifteen minutes we were allowed to purchase our tickets. However, the area had become packed again and I was becoming overwhelmed. The heat was getting to me. Alhumdulillah Safiya was calm and stayed with me. The other children were beginning to whine and I could see mothers were becoming restless. I patiently waited. I could hear conversations around me and two women were talking about going to a different pool. At this point I joined into their conversation and told them that the pool was not as warm as the one we were at. This was a big thing for me (really it was.) Over the years I have noticed that I hold back and it has effected me negatively. Although this was something small and the ladies would not know any different it made a huge difference to me.
A few minutes later once I had bought our tickets and locker tag, my daughter and I sat down. A lady came over and we began conversing. Alhumdulillah (praise be to Allah.) The conversation gradually veered towards motherhood and we discovered we had many things in common.I was surprised at her openness and honesty about her post-natal depression and found myself imparting my own experiences. As a generic statement I feel that though times have changed societies have advanced, cultures have diversified there are things that still go unnoticed and are not talked about. When I was speaking to this mum I told her how I felt guilt after my first daughter to complain as I felt it would somehow make me a bad mother. I felt selfish (and sometimes still do) if I want to do something for myself. Speaking and sharing this with someone else made it a little bit lighter. It illustrated also that every struggle is a struggle and we need to have more value for ourselves.
Earlier on in the day when I prayed salaatul-Duha (a voluntary prayer), I asked Allah “to make things easy for me and provide for me.” I was unaware that Allah would aptly answer my prayer in the form of a stranger.