Our move to Oman


My Dear Sons,

Z, you are nearly 4 and a half. T, you are nearly 2 and a half, and, A, you are already 5 months and 6 days old. How quickly you’ve grown! MashaAllah. A lot of your time is spent practicing rolling over (and getting your left arm out). You seem eager to start crawling soon, inshaAllah. When you’re not gearing up to crawl, you’re busy staring at me lovingly, mashaAllah. Your gaze seems to be permanently fixed on my face!

So much has happened.

We are now in Oman. All of us – Mommy, Daddy, Z, T and A. We have been in Oman for just over two weeks now. Daddy first left for Oman alone about a month and a half earlier. He then came back home to fetch us, Alhamdulillah. In the meantime, we were staying with Mama and Papa where you, Z, and you, T, spent many fun days playing with your cousins, running around the house, on the grass, playing pretend games in the Wendy house and in the house that Papa is building. T, you would help Papa build by passing on bricks to him. He was quite impressed with you. And, Z, you were so fascinated by the whole building business that you too started keeping yourself busy building with the bricks, and saying that you want to be a builder like Papa.

T, both you and your brother had many fun days at Mama’s house, Alhamdulillah. Your nights, however, were restless and sometimes consisted of teary eyes and screams, especially you, Z. I wasn’t sure if you were missing your Daddy or if something else was disturbing your sleep. I never know the depths of your thoughts and just how much goes on in your head. You’d mentioned to Mama that you cry in the night because you’re missing Daddy, and nearly everyday you’d ask to speak to your Daddy. Once or twice, after a video call with Daddy, you sadly said, “I can see Daddy, but I can’t touch Daddy”.

Now we are finally with Daddy, Alhamdulillah, but, Z, your and your brother’s sleep are still disturbed, causing everyone else’s sleep to also be disturbed. It’s been a tough few days in Oman, especially as bedtime nears, frustration and impatience heightens and calm is so far away. In the morning, we wake with two extra bodies in our bed that somehow found their feet to our bed in the midst of the night, and I, for one, do not feel rested. My understanding and empathy has been thinning and has been replaced with impatience, annoyance and commands.

But-
in retrospect, finally, as I recollect my thoughts and reflect on the last few months of changes, transitions and instability in your little lives and in your tiny view of the world, Z and T, MashaAllah, you have managed okay, and continue to embrace all the changes so well. I am grateful.

After reading up and reflecting on children and transition, there are so many things I neglected to consider in this big transition. As I reflect now, I am so grateful, Z, for how you and your brother have adapted to all the changes you have experienced recently.

 On the plane, Alhamdulillah, both of you were cooperative and listened as well as could be expected. Z, you asked sooooooo many questions after each other. “Mommy, why is that light on? Mommy, why is that curtain closed? Mommy, why is there no TV on this plane?” and wouldn’t stop talking. As exciting as it was for everyone, the world must have been so much for your eyes to take in. Towards the end of the journey, it was difficult for me to calmly and patiently explain (and re-explain) all the answers to your questions. T, you became very clingy as the world also must have been so overwhelming for you all of a sudden. It sure is no child’s play travelling with kids! Shoo! But, Alhamdulillah, with Daddy as the captain, we worked together as a team.

Another thing that I am really grateful for, Alhamdulillah, is that we have really nice neighbours in Oman, Alhamdulillah, and both of you, Z and T, have befriended them quickly and easily. Maybe you’ll learn some Arabic from them, inshaAllah.

So far, we’ve been to a few places in this little town, like, the very quiet and nearly empty amusement park, where a huge ride is switched on for just one person. Z, you went on the train rides. The rides were quite long and you had had enough of it soon so, on the third ride, the man in charge of the switches stopped it for you, the only person on the ride. Quite a funny park. T, you went on one ride and then you were a bit scared. Z seemed to be quite delighted that he was braver than you in this regard.

Aside from lots of shopping, we’ve also visited the pet store down the road. There were mainly just birds and cats there. Z, you were particularly fascinated with the animals and felt quite comfortable being there. You even introduced yourself and your brother to the animals and had a chat with the cats. I was very happy to see your interaction. You didn’t want to leave. We promised to return, inshaAllah.

Z,  T still copies everything you do. Everything. Alhamdulillah, most of the time you just go on with your thing, not phased about it at all. Sometimes, though, especially when T seems to sabotage your things and your space, your frustration, that you must have been building up for some time, looks like it wants to explode. You’re now starting to fight back, pushing, hitting and biting your brother. Shoo! My nerves! Your Dad says it’s completely normal and that it gets more brutal as you grow. He just sits back and enjoys the fight. I try to intervene very minimally, allowing both you and your brother the opportunity to develop the skills to sort things out on your own before it becomes physical, but shoo! I’d much rather prefer to not be there. I’m trying to help you talk through conflicts. It’s not always easy as the teacher obviously has to be completely calm, neutral and emotionally balanced at that exact moment that conflict arises, otherwise, obviously, the lesson is in vain. I battle with this emotional balance. InshaAllah, we’ll get there.

Aside from the transition of Cape Town to Oman, there have been quite a few changes happening before then. For one, one of your Dad’s dearest aunt’s passed away. You and T really loved her, Z. Everyone did. She passed very suddenly, not having been sick or anything like that. Your Dad and I explained death and Jannah to you. T is still too small to understand. You had a lot of questions but accepted it quite well and seemed to understand the gist.

Once again, I neglected to remember how a child’s brain works, as I did not again consciously bring up the topic of your great aunt’s passing. But I should have. I should have checked in with you again what your thoughts were about the happening and what questions you still had and what explanations you wanted repeated. I should have brought it up with you again and then again later on and then again… But I didn’t. I’m glad though that you brought it up on your own, Alhamdulillah, and so randomly, as you often are. One night, as I was struggling to get you and your brother to bed in Oman, you asked me, out of the blue, “Why did Allah take Biscuit Naani, Mommy?” I quickly got my thoughts and words together, and, once again, explained to you that everything belongs to Allah. Allah wanted Biscuit Naani back. Biscuit Naani is in Jannah. Jannah is a beautiful place with all things nice, like chocolates and sweets. As many as you want. Jannah is a place where there is only happiness and you never have to do anything that you don’t like. If you don’t feel like brushing your teeth or bathing, you don’t have to. That is Jannah. That is where Biscuit Naani is.

That night wasn’t the end of it. Another night, you asked me if Biscuit Naani can see us. I later recalled that you were probably linking this to the fact that she was blind. We talked about Biscuit Naani a bit that night. I asked you what you remember about her. You remembered the biscuits of course. You remembered that she would ride horse with you on her feet, like Mama, you said.

Alhamdulillah, in retrospect, Z, you and T are doing just fine in Oman. Whatever few hurdles, fears, clinginess there are is completely normal and I should have expected it and been more prepared for it. Alhamdulillah.

May Allah (SWT) be with all three of you always as you move through the world. May Allah ease the journey and help you adapt to the changes in your life now and the changes in years to come, inshaAllah. May it all serve as a means for you to remember that nothing is ever-lasting in this life and nothing belongs to you eternally. Everything is temporary and will come to an end, except your Rabb and your relationship with Him. May you always remember. Ameen.

With all my love,
Mommy

And we get to relive them through their eyes.  Thank you, God, for the innocence of a child.:

And then there were three


Z – almost 4 years old
T – almost 2 years old
A – almost 3 weeks old

My Dear Sons,

There’s three of you now. As I sit,  breastfeeding you, A, the newest member of our family, my mind switches from your eldest brother’s shouting and T’s crying to your recent circumcision. I think back to when T, not so long ago, had his circumcision, by the same doctor, and Z as well.

A, you had been so passive throughout the whole procedure, not a single cry, Alhamdulilah. But, as we left the doctor, just as we climbed into the car, you started feeling the unbearable pain. I could only gauge the measure of your pain by your heartbreaking cries that were so difficult to hear. And that familiar feeling once again settled in me; that familiar feeling of utter helplessness, as I called on Allah, The All-Hearing, to help you.

That familiar feeling that I know is a reminder and a taste of all the many more occasions of helplessness I am yet to feel as you and your brothers go through Life. May Allah, The Most Strong, help me to be strong.

My dear boys,  I’m realising and experiencing more and more the importance of emotional strength and emotional control. And while I discipline you, guide you and often unfairly expect you to be in control of your emotions and actions, Z and T, as small as you are, I must admit that I have not been in good control of mine, since the welcoming of A.

I’m finding it so difficult to divide my attention fairly, to accept, appreciate and handle your different temperaments. Z, you often need my reassurance and become very clingy if I don’t give you the right attention, from the time you demand that I get out of bed “because the sun is out” till bedtime when you insist that I, as opposed to your Dad, put you to sleep because you love me too much. If I don’t start the day right, by getting up, giving you breakfast and paying attention to you, our day is bound to not go well. Your listening ears suddenly don’t work anymore and you become very uncooperative. T, you have a very loud personality, besides really not being able to whisper. You demand attention by literally screaming and making yourself heard, acting up hugely and loudly if I don’t give you your fair amount of attention throughout the day. And then there’s, A. At the moment, A, you just cry non-stop until I pick you up.

T, you are battling so much with your emotions at the moment. I’m not sure you know whether you like A or not. It must be very frustrating to not yet have all the words to tell me how you feel, so you hit and bite and scream and throw things. Patience. I need patience, but it’s been thinning out lately.

T, besides your struggles with your new brother, you have your daily quarrels with your Daada,  Z,  too. Shame, you must really admire him. You want to copy everything he does but at the same time you want to compete with him and always be a step ahead. I tell him he is your hero and that you love him so much that you have to do everything he does and be everywhere he is. MashaAllah, your Daada has a lot of patience with you. He smiles when I tell him that. He is getting to be a bigger boy though and I can see that he needs space away from you at times. Before, Daada didn’t know how to defend himself against your frequent hard hits, scratches and bites. He tries using his words and being firm but sometimes he forgets or just doesn’t have faith that it will work. So, now, your fights with Daada have become very physical, as he fights back, sometimes even being the instigator. Your Dad thinks it’s a great thing; my nerves struggle to handle it. T, as small as you are, you’ve still got the biggest personality in a room of kids. Even if you are the youngest in the group, you are not intimidated. MashaAllah, you have a very big and powerful personality. Despite hitting me, biting me and generally making it difficult for us to get along, underneath all that, you’re still my little baby, and I know that all you want is my unconditional love and care. I ask Allah, The Loving, to help me to nurture your temperament, Ameen.

Phew! I’m emotionally tired and not doing too well in the emotional strength department, which I do believe is where Mommyhood stems from. But I can feel things easing up and the days getting less heavy. Alhamdulillah.

May Allah, The Protector, continue to love and look after my boys. Ameen.

With all my love,
Mommy

The Best Mommy


My Dear Sons,

It’s been too long since my last letter. So much has happened.

We’re all in Cape Town together again, alhamdulillah. As I’m writing this, I can feel your new little brother’s first movements in my tummy. Yes, inshaAllah, Z and T, you will have another brother soon. Ameen.

Right now, Z, you are sitting on the couch in your Daadi’s lounch, watching Fireman Sam on Youtube, your most favourite thing to watch. It allows me to be busy with other things for a bit, while the guys of Fireman Sam keep you entertained. Who would have thought I’d be so grateful for kids’ TV? Ever since your cousins introduced Fireman Sam to you, everything is all about being a fireman. You even introduce yourself as Fireman Z!

After about an hour, if not more, of eating your bread, Z, you just now suddenly exclaimed to me, “I’m finished!” It took me a few seconds to realise that you were referring to your bread. Ai. I don’t know when you will start eating better and faster. And then you so sweetly ask me, “Is Mommy proud of me?” And I say, “Yes!” enthusiastically, “I’m so proud of you that you ate up all your bread.”

T, you are still asleep at this hour of 9 a.m, alhamdulillah. You are now officially weaned off breastfeeding. And I actually think that you are now finally sleeping much better, alhamdulillah. It took two nights of extreme crying, shouting, agony and hitting. On the third night you fell asleep in the car on our way home and when you woke later in the night, you were quite content to fall asleep again in your Dad’s arms, and that’s where you stayed for the rest of the night. Alhamdulillah.

T, you’re still so feisty and head-strong. Though your physical strength is amazing MashaAllah, I think your strongwilled nature outweighs even that. You certainly have a way of challenging everyone around you. Sometimes you walk around literally just looking for mischief or something or someone to challenge, as if thinking, “Mmm, what can I stir up next?”

Despite your ability to rile people up, especially me, to quickly just hop up again after a fall, to take on a new challenge-  physically and mentally- your little heart melts and your adorable eyes well up should someone dare raise their voice at you.

You have a way of softening people’s hearts when they look at you. MashaAllah.  Despite all the mischief you get up to and the challenges you throw my way, you also have the ability to warm my heart at the end of the day. Alhamdulillah.

Z, the other day you said something so sweet, MashaAllah. And that’s what I’ll end off with. We were sitting in the car, waiting for your Daddy to get back from the shop and I had just gotten off the phone with your Mama (my mommy).

I said, “I have the best mommy in the whole world!”
You looked at me and responded simply, “You’re MY best mommy in the whole world!”

That must be the sweetest thing you’ve said to me yet. Alhamdulillah.

May I live up to that. Ameen. And when you’re eighteen years old, inshaAllah, may you still think that you have the best mommy. Ameen.

With love,
Mommy

Almost 1 and Almost 3


My Dear Sons,

Time has gone by so quickly, Alhamdulilah. I haven’t been regular with writing to you. Both of you have developed so much already, Alhamdulilah.

At the moment, we are staying with Mama and Papa. Daddy is still working abroad. InshaAllah, we will be together soon. Z knows where Daddy is, and why, but, of course, still has moments when he misses Daddy a lot. T, on the other hand, doesn’t understand or realise that there’s a person missing from the circle, I think. T will be one soon, and Z will be three, inshaAllah.

Right now, Z is at Montesorri preschool. He had started preschool around August last year, attending three times a week. Now, he goes twice a week.

T is sleeping as I type this letter. InshaAllah, he will be walking soon. Yesterday, he took a step or two on his own. Your aunt says it wasn’t his first steps alone though. T loves walking when I hold his hand. He loves taking a small chair, or whatever he can grasp, and pushing it to help him walk, making a loud racket while he’s at it. T is one feisty, loud, determined little guy, mashaAllah. May Allah (SWT) protect his resilience and liveliness. Ameen.

T is not afraid to get what he wants. He absolutely does not allow his smallness to be any factor, whether it’s grabbing a toy from his brother or cousins, or whether its getting that biscuit from the table, he’ll get it with focus and strength. Yes, he’s already showing off his muscles.

T loves feeling everything with his mouth. MashaAllah, he’s quite good at distinguishing what is food and what is not, besides for sand. He prefers putting his own food in his mouth.

T thrives on love and attention. He loves being picked up. Give him a hug and he’ll smile his his four-teeth-smile (two top middle, two bottom middle) for you. He doesn’t like being left alone and, at this stage, is not yet able to play much on his own.

At the moment, of my biggest challenges with both of you is independent sleep, sibling bickering, occasional toddler tantrums, and brushing teeth. But, what’s a mom to expect, right? Alhamdulilah. 

Z is doing so many different things these days, like collecting fascinating objects as we go on walks, washing dishes, playing with his cousins, baking play dough cupcakes… Alhamdulilah.

Yesterday, before bath and bedtime, Z and Mommy took our regular walk. This time, we took along an empty water bottle to store all the interesting things Z usually finds. Usually, his hands are so full that he looks at his hands and then at me, as if he is in such a dilemma. Then he asks, “How will I hold Mommy’s hand now?” So, yesterday, Alhamdulilah, we brought along a bottle. The first thing spotted was a pine cone, but even the smallest pine cone didn’t fit in the bottle. Z went on looking for smaller things and checking if they fit, picking up feathers, stones, sticks, flowers, sand, small little interesting things that I don’t know the names of… We ended up stopping and picking up more things than actually walking this time. We also saw a dead mouse along the way. Z learned that a mouse is small and a rat is big. We also had some dogs bark at us very loudly. We both felt that they had given us a skrik (a fright). Z said they were barking because they couldn’t get out.

Z is also welcoming a lovely new world of imagination and wonder. Enter Froggy and Rabbit, and sometimes some other friendly imaginary animals. I sometimes use Z’s imaginary friends to help him to cooperate.

‘Why?’ is currently Z’s favourite and most frequently used word, and I love it! Alhamdulilah.

Both my boys are learning so much, so quickly. Alhamdulilah.

May Allah SWT protect your beautiful minds. Ameen.

With love,
Mommy

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Where’s Daddy?


My Dear Son,

Finally, your little head is resting next to me, and your baby brother on the other side. Today, your Daddy left to work in Arabia. Alhamdulilah, after being back in Cape Town for more than a year, Daddy got a job in Jeddah again. Daddy explained to you, before he left, that he would be leaving, but that he would be coming back soon to fetch us. Your little mind seemed to understand it then and even proudly said that you would take care of us while Daddy was away. Now, though, all you’re asking is, “Where’s Daddy?” It breaks my heart to see the confusion in your little eyes, and I wonder what’s going through your growing mind as, after moments of silence, you suddenly ask again, in a soft voice, “Where’s Daddy?” I know though, that you understand much more than I think, as you echo what you’ve heard your Dad and everyone else tell you: “Daddy went to Jeddah and to Makkah. Daddy’s coming back to fetch me.” Your amazing brain, mashaAllah, just needs time to piece it all together.

Your little brother, on the other hand, is still too small and unaware to know exactly what’s happening. When you were smaller, like him, people were already coming and leaving your world many times, as we travelled often. Your Dad has also had to leave on his own several times. Your Daadi has also gone and come back.  I see that, as you grow, these changes in your world affect you differently. You are now about two months away from three years old. At about two and a half years old you started attending Montessori preschool, adapting quickly and loving every bit of it, alhamdulilah. You are now at an age of maturing perception, growing awareness and needing consistency. I see it is now that these changes affect you more than they have before.

My dear sons, inshaAllah, you will learn that this life will be filled with people entering and exiting your life. People will come and go. Some will come back. Some won’t. In the end, every little creature is put in your path to teach you a lesson. Even that little goga (insect) that you’re so afraid of at the moment. 🙂

May you pass the lessons life throws at you, even if some lessons take you longer to learn than others. May you pass in the end. And may Life’s teachings make you stronger individuals, with bigger hearts. Ameen.

With love,
Mommy

Words To Carry in Your Pocket


My Dear Son,

There are some important words I’d like you to keep with you wherever you may go, lessons I’ve learned along the way, words that might add to the quality of your days. Ameen.

1.) You only ever have to please One: Your Rabb, your Allah (SWT). Don’t concern yourself with pleasing people, no matter who it is. You will never be able to make everyone pleased with you. Just focus on The One. He (SWT) will take care of the rest.

2.) Don’t care too much about what people think of you. Consciously shove their judgments off, even if you have to say out loud to yourself: “I don’t care what people think”.

3.) Don’t be too disappointed in people when you cannot depend on them. We all disappoint each other all the time.

4.) Don’t rely on people too much, but when you find someone you can lean on through stressful times, appreciate and keep that person close to your heart.

5.) Make many, many, many excuses for people when you don’t understand their ways or actions. There’s more than two sides to every story.

6.) Know where to place your gratitude. Be polite, thank people, but, remember, all praises ultimately belong to Allah (SWT).

7.) People will hurt you. All the time. Those very close to you and those not so close to you. Forgive them, again and again and again. Somewhere, someone is forgiving you too, again and again and again.

8.) Hide the faults of others and remember Allah’s (SWT) Mercy.

9.) Walk with complete Trust in Allah (SWT), finding comfort in your salah that you had completed as soon as the waqt (time) came in, finding comfort in that you followed His (SWT) Laws.

10.) Allah (SWT) loves you.

11.) Have conversations with Allah (SWT) throughout your day.

12.) Remind yourself that you have control over yourself only, your tongue, your hands, your actions. Remind yourself that you cannot control the thoughts, words, actions of anyone else, as much as you want to.

13.) Remember to be quiet.

14.) Remember to be positive, about everything and everyone.

15.) Live like a traveller.

16.) Always remember the words of your beloved Prophet (pbuh): “Know that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, they would not benefit you except with what Allah had already prescribed for you. And if they were to gather together to harm you with anything, they would not harm you except with what Allah had already prescribed against you…

What has passed you by [and you have failed to attain] was not going to befall you, and what has befallen you was not going to pass you by. And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and hardship with ease. (http://www.islaam.net/main/display.php?id=232&category=92)

17.) In the end, it all goes back to 1, The One. Your life is simply about pleasing Him.

“If all the people are pleased with you but Allah is not, what have you gained? If Allah is pleased with you but people are not, what have you lost?” (Ahmad ibn Hanbal) http://turntoislam.com/community/threads/excellent-quotes.4589/

With much love,

Mommy

Back in Cape Town!


My Dear Son,

About 4 days away from 22 months old, Alhamdulilah. 

It’s been a while. Much has happened. Almost a month ago we left Ras Tanura in Saudi Arabia, Alhamdulilah. We are now back in Cape Town, staying with Daadi, Phoepoe and Phoepi, and of course Mama, Papa and the rest are not far away. You love being around all the family. 

Alhamdulilah, you are growing and learning well, not growing so much in weight, but your height is going up, up, up. You can now reach most things – not such a good thing for me having to run after you all the time! But, Alhamdulilah. You’re constantly climbing tables, chairs… scratching out cupboards… 

On Tuesday you started swimming lessons. You love being in the water with your Dad, but scream when the teacher puts you on your back. I guess it’s because you can’t see us and you have little control. 

You’re still our little social butterfly, smiling and talking to everyone in sight, expecting nothing but a happy smile and a friendly handshake from the world. May Allah SWT protect your friendly, innocent heart, Ameen. 

 

With love,

Mommy