Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hit Me And I'll Hit You Back!

I’m going to say it right off: hitting is primitive. It is. I think of the caveman hitting the woman over the head and dragging her to his cave, claiming her as his own. I would think we as human beings would have evolved to a point by now where we didn’t have to use physical violence to prove our point. Some would argue that violence is a part of the human genome, and to that I say, Prove it!
 As parents, we don’t want to see our children picked on or pushed around, and we lack the knowledge of any better solution so we say, “If so-and-so hits you first, you hit them back.” The funny thing is I’ve seen parents tell their child this when it was obvious to me and everyone else around that their child was the aggressor.
It seems like today’s society is angrier and more violent than any other. Teenage girls are making Youtube videos of other teenage girls being beaten to a pulp by their peers. Sports stadium riots and beatings are on the rise, with more occurrences than ever before. Call it lack of moral and family values. Call it lack of religion and belief in sin and judgment.
Perhaps I’ll argue you about wars and world peace another time. Let’s make it more personal for right now. I hear some parents who yell at their boys – and girls – “If he hits you, you better hit him back!”
Yes, I will confess that I even told this to Ruqi once because I was distraught when she told me the boy in the red shirt was hitting her at preschool.  I wasn’t raised with this type of thinking, but I guess we all question our own upbringings, right?
My parents always taught NO HITTING. And guess what? I was never in a fight, and I never got picked on. I think it was all about confidence for me. My brother did not escape the punishment of unforgiving children as easily. He was teased and picked on, and that is probably the fear I have for my own children. But I now realize that there are other mechanisms we can use as parents to get the best of both worlds: a child who is both confident and non-violent. Talking to your children about conflict resolution from a young age is key and also demonstrating it in the household. If mommy and daddy and verbally/physically abusive or short-tempered, that is the lesson being taught to the child.
The ethic code starts with us the parents. What will we teach our children? As parents and caregivers we have the unique opportunity to be the very first moral influence on these young minds.  What will you choose?
P.S. I know what some of y’all are thinking: Is she saying a child should sit there and get beat up, and not fight back? NO!! Not at all. Even the Qur’an states that violence is permissible once one is transgressed. I am simply saying we as parents need to be examples of non-violence and peaceful conflict resolution J

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Making it Through

Before I became a mom, I had all these ideas of what kind of mom I would be. No sugar before 3 years old. Won’t tolerate any whining. Keep house clean and neat. Ha!! Don’t get me wrong, I am glad I set a lot of standards because at least I have a mental goal of what type of mom I want to be. However, I have also learned that being a mom many days it just about getting through the day : Are they fed? Are they bathed? Are they still alive!? Do I still have my sanity? Yes? Ok, the day was a success.

A great example of one of the expectations I set for myself is homeschooling. I have not ruled it out by any means. However, now I think, Do I really want to spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with my children for the next 15-18 years? Really? So I told myself, “It will be great if you can homeschool, but it’s just fine if you don’t. You are still a good mom.” If homeschooling will bring on more stress and confusion than rewards, what’s the point? This goes with anything in our child-rearing.

Sometimes we look at other moms and other children and they look like they are doing everything right and we are doing everything WRONG. Why is my kid running around during salat, Sister so-and-so’s kids are good. They make salat quietly alongside the adults. My kids are rolling around, pulling at my scarf. People must think we don’t pray at home. We do! We do!

But what we don’t see is that Sister so-and-so is not perfect and neither are her children. Every parent has problems and struggles, perhaps maybe some more than others. Allah knows best! So, be a good Mom. Be a good Dad. Do your best. Have standards. Don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t sacrifice your mental and physical health. Ask Allah for patience and gratitude.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ramadan for Mommies :)

Get Ready… Get Set… GO!!!

And we’re off! Ramadan is here! It is actually here! Aren’t you excited? I know I am. I was very nervous at first because I have gone four years without fasting because of being pregnant and nursing back-to-back. And it’s not just the fasting. I felt kind of resentful because I knew I wouldn’t be able to curl up with the Qur’an and other Islamic materials and just read and relax throughout the day. I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old. There will be no peace.

So okay, then I thought- why not embrace the crazy excitement that the kiddos bring into this whole thing? You know, the old saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them!” I can’t lock myself in a closet all Ramadan to read and pray and peacefully exist in serenity. It’s just not my reality. And I certainly do not have a nanny. Therefore, I decided to get the girls really involved. It’s a little more challenging when they are so young, but that makes it even more fun.

My first step was to arm myself with Islamic DVDs, books, CD Roms, and craft ideas. I went to 52nd street here in Philadelphia - where I will be spending this Ramadan InshaAllah. Between 2 Islamic stores, I managed to get a couple Adam’s World DVD’s, a great little book called, Allah Made This, a cute pink hijab for Ruqi, and a replacement CD of I Look I See (which I play in the car nonstop and they never get tired of it!). I also bought a DVD called: A is for Asad (Lion) which teaches the Arabic Alphabet.

If you take nothing from this post at least take this: Never underestimate your children! Ruqi is picking up on the concepts of Arabic and Ramadan so quickly and little Saja dances to the songs and throws her hands up whenever she hears “Allahu Akbar!” Children will learn what you allow them to learn and they are very adaptable. They watch your every movement and listen to your every word. This Ramadan, let’s be the best examples we can for our children and all the youth who are looking to us for guidance.

Ramadan Mubarak!!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Five Ways to Eat Healthier on a Poor Man’s Budget

I created this post because it truly is hard to eat healthy on a limited income. Many Americans are struggling, being underpaid or unemployed. Unfortunately, one of the first cutbacks we tend to make is to our food budget. And it is even more unfortunate that fruits and vegetables are much more costly than junkfood and processed food. There is a value menu at every fast-food joint, but the healthy foods tend to have consistent high price tags, turning them into a menu item for the privileged.
But fear not! My parents raised me and my brother on split pea soup, lentils, salads, tofu, bean sprouts, and banana bread. We were poor growing up, but they didn't allow our budget to be a raodblock to our good health and well being.

1.        Buy Beans… they’re Cheap, Healthy and Tasty. If one variety gives you gas, try another, there are so many!

2.        Buy your Produce Wholesale or at Produce Markets where you can get deals like “1 bag of apples/ $1”

3.        Seasons + Staples = buy brown rice and whole wheat noodles in bulk, and incorporate them in everyday meals. Experiment with seasoning so it doesn’t get boring!

4.        Healthy Potlucks Instead of Eating Out! Getting together with friends can be a lot cheaper and lower in calories if you gather at someone’s house and everybody contributes a fun healthy dish!

5.        Pack a Lunch… or Breakfast or Dinner or Snack! It’s been said over and over by every nutritionist- making your lunch at home will save you both valuable money and calories.

**Bonus Tip! Grow your own fruits and vegetables in your yard, in pots in your kitchen, or at a community garden. The feeling of eating your very own freshly grown food in amazing J

Friday, April 6, 2012

Getting back to me…

Hired a sitter….

Going on runs like the old days…

Doing hair, well somewhat….

Sitting down with a hot cup of tea… at least twice a day.

Listening to music I enjoy whenever I get the chance…

Thanking God for ALL THE BLESSINGS….

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

See Ya Later Sucker! - Conquering the Thumb and other Toddler Habits

It came out of nowhere! All of a sudden Ruqi’s thumb found it’s way to her mouth. Not as a baby, but at the age of two and a half.

To say it came completely out of nowhere would be slightly unfair to my darling little girl. In one year, she faced several major transitions: relocation, put in daycare and then abruptly taken out, emotional ups and downs of mommy’s pregnancy finally ending with the introduction of the “new baby” , weaned off of breast, potty training, and let’s see, am I leaving anything out?

So, needless to say, she went through a lot emotionally and physically. With the new baby on board, I could not coddle her every time she was upset and I could not always sing and rock her to sleep.  As a baby, suckling the breast was her – and my- answer to everything. Whether she was hungry, hurt, or saddened, suckling was always her greatest comfort and medicine. Weaning her at twenty months when I became pregnant was difficult to say the least.

In retrospect, I realize that breastfeeding her through every emotional and physical strain as a baby set me up for our present struggle: thumb-sucking. I hate it. The sound is like nails on a chalk board as far as I’m concerned. The sight of it is not only unappealing, but attracts looks and comments from other adults.

I must admit, when she first started sucking her thumb, I was relieved. She was never a self-soother, but she had now become one out of necessity. I was so busy with her baby sister, that it was a relief when she would suck her thumb to sleep or to stop crying. I actually believe it was a blessing and a mercy for the both of us. However, as most things during toddlerhood eventually do, I believe it has run its course.

Yesterday I bought these really pretty Dora Band-Aids. With an excited expression on my face I said, “Ruqi, look at your thumb! It has a boo boo!” She inspected the red blister that has formed on top of her thumb from vigorous sucking.  “What do you think we should do?” I desperately needed the band aide idea to come out of her mouth, not mine.

“Dora Band Aide Mommy!” Thank God! I was so happy she agreed to the bandaging of her little swollen red thumb. Before she could think too hard about it, I wrapped the bandage around and snapped a pic. It worked pretty well all day, but when nightfall came she cried for her thumb and I was too exhausted to fight, so I removed the bandage. But tonight there was a breakthrough! I put another bandage on– with her permission- and got her to sleep with no sucking.

With every milestone usually exists the two steps forward, one step back rule. In addition to our normal routine of prayer and story books, I also had to sing to her, rub her back, and stroke her hair until she dosed off. But that’s okay; she’s only 3 years old after all. And if keeping her away from that thumb means I have to be a bit more nurturing, then perhaps that is a good thing too.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Please chaeck all that apply:

At times I feel:

At times I want to:

Postpartum depression is REAL. Whether you’ve had a baby 10 weeks ago or ten years, you may be suffering. Even if you are not clinically depressed, you have your moments, right? I know I do.
I’ll never forget getting in the car to go see a friend- Ruki was 2 and Saji just 3 months- and I buckled them both in their car seats. Saji wined in the beginning of the forty minute ride but eventually fell asleep. Ruqi just occupied herself with looking out the window and I put on some children’s Qur’an CD. I told myself, “Wow, I can do this. We’re good.”

Foolishly, I expected the same peace on the ride home. I buckled them in, and Saji wined a little, but no big deal, until… a scheech comes from the back seat. It’s Ruqi.

“What’s wrong honey?” as I try to look through the rear view mirror to see her.

She just screams and cries and screams and cries. By this time Saji joins in with a full-fledge wailing- you know, the kind where they turn all red in the face and can’t catch their breath. I’m on a narrow busy street but I find a place to pull over and slither around the side of the car to open the back door.

“Ruqi, are you okay? What’s wrong!?”

“Buggy! Buggy!”

“A bug! That little bug won’t hurt you!” I didn’t even see a bug. I was angry she disturbed the peace over a tiny bug, but I tried to stay calm as not to make matters worse. That’s when a miniature mosquito flew up between her dangling feet and she lost it. There was no consoling her. Turning to Saji, I regretted ever leaving the house; she was hyperventilating with tears streaming down her flaming red cheeks. I didn’t want to take her out her seat, because I knew I’d have to nurse her and at this point I just wanted to get home and get out this car. So I got back in the front and just started driving. I was trying to calm Ruqi down first by consoling her, then by giving warnings, and finally I just ended up screaming at her to be quiet; and this is all while steering with one hand and patting Saji’s chest with the other: NOT SAFE!

Amidst all the madness some really bad thoughts came into my head (Use your imagination). And then I felt guilty about the thoughts and then I felt like a bad mom and then I wondered what my life would be like without kids.

When I got home I just wanted to pull the covers over my head. But I couldn’t do that because I had these two little human beings that depend on me for love, security, teaching, nourishment and guidance. What happened to the times when I was only responsible for me, myself and I?

If you follow my blog, you know I LOVE being a mom, but sometimes it's really TOUGH! And we’re expected to be all things to all people, sometimes with NO SUPPORT. This isn’t a rant, this is a message to all the parents- involved Dads too – that it’s okay to be down and out sometimes. But if you find that you are “down” ALL of the time… if you feel like you could harm yourself or others… if “one good cry” is never enough… then please GET HELP. It doesn’t mean that you are weak; it means that you are strong.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Precious Life…

Ever touch your baby in the middle of the night just to see if she is breathing? When we were new parents, at the first sign of sickness we would call the pediatrician or even rush to the ER in complete fear of the unknown. And we’re usually assured that it’s just a passing cold, and in time it indeed passed.

As parents, many of us take our children for granted. At the playground last week, I met a mother of a young boy and she told me she doesn’t get frustrated with her son as easily as most mothers because he was her miracle baby after seven years of trying to get pregnant with no success. This made me think: my children are not something I should ever view as a burden not even for a second- not even when they’re writing on the walls or crying all night.

So my little one, Saji, has been a little under the weather the past couple of days; nothing to panic about thank God, just a cold. But at barely nine months, it is difficult for her to sleep and nurse with so much congestion. I hate seeing her like this. But we must remember that sickness is a purification. When you or a loved one is sick, it is a time to pray and reflect. It is a time to rest and rejuvenate the mind and body.
But most of all, it is a time to be thankful.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Breastfeeding in Public: An American Stigmatism

I keep hearing stories about these “Disgusting”, “Outrageous”, “Hippie” moms who are unapologetically breastfeeding their babies in malls, restaurants, and supermarkets. And some of them have the nerve to do it uncovered! Just baby suckling breast with no shame!

In a society that claims to be “forward thinking” and “green” and sensitive to the rights of its citizens, we should be ashamed. In a society where it is the norm to see people kissing and fondling in public, where actresses are called sexy for wearing next to nothing at award shows and bikini tops are acceptable wardrobe for a night out with the girls, it is depressing that breastfeeding moms are the ones met with outrage and disgust.

This is just another indication that the portrayal of liberation and freedom women have in American society is merely a political farce used to make other countries feel inferior to American values.

Do I breastfeed in public? Yes I do. Would you notice? Probably not, because I always use my scarf or other garment as a cover. But does not mean I would be outraged to see another women do it uncovered? No I would not because I have seen much more outrageous things than a mother nourishing her child in the open. And frankly, I’d probably be more happy to see another mother who has embraced the best way to feed their child in a society who pretends they support it, but in reality it is a deep seeded taboo.

Why is breastfeeding taboo in America? What is at the base of American values? Capitolism. And corporations, like Enfamil and Good Start have infiltrated the minds and hearts of American women, telling them their own milk was not good enough for their offspring. And formula was better. So we have not only bought into this rhetoric, making their pockets fat, but we have sexualized and demonized breastfeeding and the people who do it.

This is not a blog about breastfeeding vs. formula. This is a blog about how an entire society can be brainwashed into thinking that something which is good and natural is something that is sick and inappropriate.