Ramadaaaaan, Ramadaaaan!! Welcome Ramadaan!




My Dear Children,

Ramadaan is on our doorstep. InshaAllah we will start fasting tomorrow. We are all very excited to welcome this special month. Z, you are now six years old and you are talking about fasting the whole month! We will see how that pans out InshaAllah.
T, you are now 4 years old. We have decided to let you only go to school three day a week for now as you just don’t like it. And since you’re only really supposed to start school at six years old, we’ve negotiated a routine you’re now happy with Alhamdulilah. So, every alternate day, you’re at home with me and your little brother (2 years old) and sister (7 months old), and Ninja, the cat.
The oddest thing happened yesterday while you were at home. Daddy and Z had just left to drop Z at school. I was washing the dishes, my back to you all. And then one of you alert me to turn and look at a big puddle of PEE on the floor! Who did it? No one knows. Well, someone knows and is just not saying – or can’t say, if it’s the cat. T, you say it’s AA, everyone’s natural guess. But AA’s pants AND nappy is dry, besides the patch of wetness on the side that is also part of the mystery. I go to check your pants, T, and it’s also dry. I look at Ninja sniffing the pee and I wonder how she could have peeed so much. And the door was open for her to go out and her litter tray was right there and she doesn’t do this kind of thing… I’m baffled still.
Anyway, that was the highlight of yesterday. Back to Ramadaan prep. We’re doing very few things here and there in preparation for Ramadaan, with the aim of making it exciting, memorable and educational. It’s not extravagant as it perhaps was the year before, in Oman, when we made a Ramadaan Rewards Tree out of a huge old cardboard box. But, despite the excitement and prep being small, I hope that the lessons you learn this Ramadaan will have a strong impact. Ameen.
One of the rituals that we’ve carried on with since last year Ramadaan is our Ramadaan Good Deeds Jar. The idea is that we all contribute in writing down a special good deed on 30 pieces of paper for each day of Ramadaan. We mix it all up in the jar and everyday someone gets a turn to close his eyes and take out a piece of paper on which will be written a good deed waiting to be put in action. Alhamdulilah, most of the good deeds we came up with, you guys do regularly anyway. Like giving the birds food, helping your brother with something, sweeping the kitchen floor etc. But, remember, Ramadaan is a time when ordinary good deeds are magnified in goodness and reward. InshaAllah. To make it more challenging though, I added extra bits of good deeds to the jar in the hope that it will further help us develope good character. Things like saying something nice to your brother when you really just want to say something not nice. And doing something especially nice for a classmate who looks sad…
May this Ramadaan be another step for us all to get closer to Allah Swt. Ameen.
With all my love,

Jannah smoothie

My dear children,

The world is a wonderful mix of people and emotions. As individuals, we are so complex and strange, even to ourselves sometimes. Imagine how strange and difficult you must be in the eyes of another person.
One day, you might find yourself in a long discourse with yourself – perhaps justifying this, making sense of that. On that day, remember to take a step back, and carefully listen to your words and your judgements – of yourself and of the person you’re battling with. Be it a battle of ideas, opinions, wills or feelings. Stop. Breathe. Be still. Be still. Remember there’s always two sides – two sides to hurting, two sides to blaming. And there’s three sides to every story – your side, my side and Allah’s (Swt) side.
One day, we will look back at our mortal life on Earth. We will look back from our houses in Jannah, inshaAllah, and marvel about our silly feuds and hurt feelings over inflated egos. Through the windows of our houses in Jannah, perhaps we will see snippets of our life on Earth; and all our Earthly worries will look so small and insignificant – and very possibly, we will laugh about it,  over a glass of Jannah peanut butter smoothie (Jannah cuppaccino for me,  thank you) and True Heavenly Chocolate Cake, and we will see what funny beings we were in our life on Earth and how we quickly became experts at making mountains out of molehills.
At the end of every day, my child, remember, all that matters is whether you are nearer to Jannah. All that matters is Allah’s (Swt) score of you. May we meet there. Ameen yaa Rabb! Ameen.
With all my love,

Progress report

My dear children,

As Z progresses with school, I am realising the importance of keeping track of the small things, like first tooth, first crawl, first step and so on. I must admit, I haven’t made a particular note of any of these things (besides for Z here and there on the blog). Looks like I’m going to have to take a good guess when filling out Z’s first project: Family Tree (due after the holidays).
Anyway, so, for future reference: It’s 30 March 2018. Z, you are six years old. Your second milk tooth fell out a few days ago. The first one fell out about a month ago. Actually, just a day or two after your sixth birthday. Two big boy permanent teeth coming up! You are super excited.
T, you are becoming one helpful and independent little guy, always competing with, yet admiring your big brother at the same time. You still don’t like school, or so it seems in the mornings. When you come home from school though, you’re full of songs and stories and excitement.
By the way, you guys left montessori (which you both undoubtedly loved) and started a new school this year. I was skeptical of this move at first, but it has proven to be a good choice, Alhamadulilah.
AA, you seem to have this pressing and constant need to always prove yourself and your abilities. And, of course, you have to copy everything your brothers do. You’re at that ‘Terrific Twos’ phase that I don’t do so well in. :-/
You’re communicating well, full sentences that are a bit tricky to make out sometimes but your determination gets you through somehow. Reminds me of T when he was in this phase.
Lastly, my girlie, you’ve started solids a few days ago. We started with avocado and then banana. Early baby feeding also isn’t my strong point as a mommy. I prefer just putting yummy finger foods in front of you and letting you help yourself. No messing, of course.
You’re also starting to crawl. Well, not yet crawling as such, just finding a way to move from one end of the room to the other end.
When I’m breastfeeding you, you insist on my full presence. You reach out to feel for my hand so that you can hold on to it (and so that I can’t hold on to my phone!) And if I don’t oblige to your rules you become all niggly and difficult and stuff. Okay, given, you are also teething, and I feel like you’re asking me for moral support.
Okay. That’s it. I’m off to bed now.
Is it really already time for the first school project?!
I’m not looking forward to school. :-/
With all my love,

I’m sorry.

My beloved, neglected, middle child,
I’m sorry.
To the rhythm of a clock ticking, I’ve just tapped you to sleep in my arms, after you screamed and cried to get my attention, and then escalated in crying as I closed the door on you in order to block out your noise so that I could put your baby sister down to sleep soundly.
I stand up now to lay you down soundly as well, and then you wrap your arms around my neck. Such a comfortable, warm feeling that tempts me to lie down with you and be cosy, but I will myself to keep on moving as I walk to the kitchen to switch on the kettle and make another cup of coffee. There’s work to do.
I’m sorry.
I’m sorry I can’t lie down with you and cuddle until you wake up, with me lying next to you.
I’m sorry I don’t always have the time to fully appreciate and enjoy your make-believe cupcakes and coffee.
I’m sorry I don’t give you the attention you deserve.
I’m sorry I don’t often have the headspace, the excitement and the energy that you deserve.
I’m sorry for snapping at you the other day when you were taking too long to tell me what you mean, getting your vowels and consonants in a tangle.
I’m sorry for always being in a hurry, and for hurrying you on as well – at bathtime, dressing time, eating time…
I’m sorry for complaining that I’m tired and you need to sleep so that we can all get the sleep we need.
I’m sorry that my attention and time is constantly divided six ways.
I’m sorry that I had to let go of your hand too quickly in order to hold your brother’s hand.
I do wish we lived in a house made-up of rainbow-coloured bricks and chocolate sticks wherein, all day, you could serve me cakes and drinks that you yourself have made and then we would go on to play Snakes and Ladders again and again and again until you yourself would say, “Okay, Mommy, that’s enough”.
One day, as you know, that could become a reality, but for now and here, this is a life of limited cheer. So, we’ll enjoy the snippets of it as they come and then march on to the next obstacle course as we figure this out together.
With all my love,
Paper Heart

70 Excuses

My dear children,

There is no love like a mother’s.
Since you came into this world, you have taken little steps, nudging at this, nibbling at that, trying here, testing there. Step by step, you learnt about your world. By your smiles and laughs, I learnt that you must know that the world is a place filled with love and trust. By your cries and screams, I learnt that you realised that, in this world, there is also hurt and disappointment – by those we love, and don’t, and by those who love us, and don’t.
A mother’s love is natural, unconditional, never-ending, selfless, all the attributes that are difficult to find in any other relationship, and so, it is an easier relationship to maintain. Mother-child relationships come with its challenges. But the true test of life and love is withstanding the other relationships. And just there, in the flaming hotness of the hurt and disappointment, that is where remembering and using the golden rule saves the day. The golden rule is the 70 excuses. And, oh, boy, how difficult it is to make ONE excuse when the heat is so high! But, if you can quickly recover and muster up enough head space to make that tiny ONE excuse, you can still save the day.
Remember, my dear children, you are saving the day for you. For love of yourself. To be at peace with yourself and to please your Rabb. For, at the end of it all, all that’s left in the room is you and Allah (Most Compassionate, Most Merciful).
With all my love,

Empty lunch boxes

Today I lost it.

Stink bums, pee on the floor, tired eyes and tired bones
Empty lunch boxes waiting to be filled
“Mommy, I need…”
“Mommy, I want…”
“Mommy, I can’t…”
Temper tantrums flying about
Today, I had the biggest one
And the clock keeps ticking
When you want it to stop
And it seems stuck when you want it to go FAST
And today I lost it
I lost it on my husband
I lost it on my children
I lost it in my early morning prayer
And that’s really where it all began
I missed my early morning prayer
And then the rest of the day feels void and miserable
And then taking out the rubbish becomes overwhelming
And putting lunch in the lunch boxes becomes that one little request that rockets Mommy to Screamville
And messages get tangled and lost
As the lunch box lids close and the kids march off to school
With lunch boxes filled yet empty.

The Men in Our World

“There is a problem with the men in our world,” she said. 

We sat
In the stillness
The final quiet 
The aftermath
Of babies crying 
Toddlers whining 
Children needing 
The attention of both parents 
We sat
As dishes piled up 
Spills grew bigger 
Food messed over the just-cleaned carpet 
Beds unmade 
Pots of food uncooked 
Our entire beings in full action 
as we sat
With babies hanging onto our breasts,
Toddlers sitting on our laps 
Children holding our hands and…
A husband not far away
Traced by the smoke of a cigarette…
“There is a problem with the men in our world.”
“It is a problem of the human condition, of communication, of intelligence–“
“No, it is a problem with the men in our world. You have to identify the problem before you can fix it. We are supposed to be the fixers.
I can’t imagine our role model, our hero, our living example ignoring the cries of a child, no matter how insignificant in adult eyes 
Yet, they say it is not in the design of a man to respond lovingly to a child’s cries
I can’t imagine our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) hitting a child (whose brain is not even fully developed yet in order to distinguish right from wrong, so much so that Allah (SWT) does not even hold the child accountable)
Yet, they argue that men discipline differently 
How have the men of our world missed the manuscript, the example of manhood from our Prophet (SAW)? 
Where did we lose that piece of the puzzle?”
“But we need to reflect on the roles and responsibilities of wives and mothers. We women are the designers of life, of moulding boys and girls into men and women, each filling out their roles and responsibilities as prescribed–“
“Prescribed by who?”
I sat there
Alone now
The noise put to bed
I sat there
Trying earnestly to understand the male and female species
The miscommunication
The misunderstandings
The longing for approval
And acceptance…
The not knowing how
Maybe it is the fault of us mothers
    Of our history
    Of our legacy
Maybe we need to step up and raise warriors
And maybe we were never meant to understand a man
And maybe they were never meant to understand us
Maybe it is all part of the test of selfless patience, of making 70 excuses, of love and mercy, of being a slave to worship.
And my Lord knows best in all situations.