Wednesday, October 23, 2013

a mama

People keep asking me, so, how does it feel to be a mother? I don't know how to answer the question, but I'll try.

Its been a short while. A week exactly, since I've entered into the ranks of motherhood, as others have done before me and others will continue to do so after me. And although my thoughts are not very significant, I felt that I needed to share the immediate, instantaneous changes one feels when becoming a mother.

You suddenly understand what it means to love so unconditionally, that its an overwhelming sensation. If you ever felt love before, it is nothing compared to loving your child. Even the love you feel to your spouse, your own parents, or your siblings just feels so different. You may love them so much that you can't help it, but its not the overwhelming sensation that one feels towards their child.

The power of dua'a (supplication/prayers) suddenly makes sense. A level of sincerity when you're praying for your child is unparalleled. I literally feel like I never really prayed for someone sincerely in my life. Suddenly, I want to read Quran with her, make dhikr (remembrance of god), or just murmur small day-to-day prayers with her that you're encourage to make before eating (like making grace), changing, or even going to the bathroom.

Appreciation. You feel so much appreciation for your parents, other parents, anyone who comes and helps you out. You appreciate the help around the house, the meals, the heat in the house, your health. You appreciate the support system you had as a child and appreciate things that you've long since forgotten or neglected your entire lifetime. You appreciate everything. You literally feel blessed from all angles of your life.

Understanding. Its so weird that, in one week, a flip will switch in your brain, and you begin to understand your mother a lot more than you did before. No matter what, there is always a level of understanding that won't be reached, because everyone is essentially different. But, you start to understand the nuances of your mother and develop a sense of empathy. You can't help but to think 'how did my mama feel when she did this? or said this? or advised me on such and such'. You can't help but think about all the times you put her (and baba) through hell by being rebellious, or 'bored all the time', or just plain annoying.

Tears. Tears. Tears. Tears. Tears. My doctor told me its normal, LOL, to feel this need to cry all the time. But literally, you look at your baby, and your eyes fill up with tears. Maybe its that overwhelming love that just brings tears to your eyes, not because of sadness, but because it is a love that occupies your whole being, your whole consciousness, that you no longer can control your eye ducts.

There is so much more. But, I guess I'll end with this:

Responsibility. You feel a sense of responsibility that is both heavy but worth it. It doesn't matter that your time and life is no longer your own, but shared with this tiny human being, who is still so dependent on you. You can't help but to feel responsible for every aspect of their well-being, especially at this stage, when you are their source of food, protection, and comfort.

Good luck future mamas, past mamas, and current mamas. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

You think you know me, them, whomever.

Today, a fleeting thought passed my brain as I scrolled through my facebook newsfeed and the various updates that were posted there. I lingered on a couple of pictures of old friends and thought....

Dang, they've changed a lot.

And the connotation was not a positive one. In the split second, I almost felt bad for them, pitied them, looked down on them or whatever you want to call it.

Half a second later, I realized how wrong I was to even think that way. Not only because it was such a arrogant thought, but because I thought I knew the person just by one status update, one picture, one link, one post, one whatever.

So, this got me thinking.... and I am freely writing, since this happened like a minute ago.

First, and most obvious, our definitions of a good or bad lifestyle differ from person to person, family to family, city to city, and country to country. For the most past, it really depends on your context. Therefore, what I want for myself will never be what everyone else wants for themselves and vice versa. What I think is a "good change" doesn't necessarily mean that they had a "bad change," people change. No one stays the same forever.

Second, yes, its about change. No one is static, the same way time is continuously moving along. Therefore, to expect a human being to remain static is oxymoronic. Their body changes, their cells change, their lives and minds change as well. Therefore, anyone scrolling through my facebook wall may think... "dang, she's changed a lot". The only consistency in life is its lack of consistency. Try as we might to hold onto things and think that we've never changed, but the reality is, we've changed, we just are pretending not to trace those changes.

Third, thinking we know people. This is a common topic. People think they know each other via facebook or instagram or any other social media outlet. But we don't. We see "snaps" of people's lives but we don't see the full picture. In fact, without social media, you can live with a person and think you know them, but know nothing about them at all. Think about all those friends you had in person, not cyber space, and reflect on how much you truly know their ins and outs, their thoughts and their actions. Do we really know what another person is thinking? Do you really think you can read the mind of your loved one that easily? Well then, how about a person you haven't seen for years, let alone haven't seen them in person?

We need to stop pretending we know people and let people just express themselves. And every piece of them that we discover along the way is just one piece in a larger, jumbled puzzle of life that is constantly changing. One minute you're playing "pick-up-sticks" and the next second you realize that the game you've been playing has actually been "chess" all along.

Fourth, get to know someone. Its so easy with social media to build passive relationships. No matter how much a person "announces" about their life online, it is just a hyper reality, a pseudo-image, a moment released into the atmosphere (or cyber-sphere). I guarantee that if we start talking to real people, engaging and hanging out with real people, that judgment tendency decreases. We our humbled by our realities and the realities of other people. You no longer are a far away person who can pass judgment on someone else's life. You become a person in someone's life. The lines or standards of "good and bad" may still be the same for you, but you will be unlikely to think, let alone verbalize, the idea that the person has "changed in a bad way". This is because you've discovered the nuances of another person's life. And if they are changing, for whatever reason, in a REALLY "bad way," as a real friend, you can help them through their difficulties.  The solution that you think is most viable may be unrealistic for their reality, but you can be there for them to discover their own solutions along the way.

Fifth, trace your changes. Reflect upon how you've changed over the years. Reflect on whether you think its good or bad. Reflect on how you think others may think it was good or bad. Reflect on what you think your priorities are. Reflect on how those priorities are situation in your reality. And consider whether you truly know yourself. Do you constantly make excuses about yourself? Do you constantly criticize yourself? Do you need to be more relaxed and less self deprecating? Basically, reflect about yourself, how you've change and consider the implications of those changes on who you are and where you want to go in life.

I guess that's all I have to say.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

If I could do something over

I am not a proponent of the mental exercise "If you could do something over, what would it be..." because that change or wish for change, would have never come to fruition, your current level of consciousness would have never emerged, had you not lived life the way you lived it. I'm all for change, but it has to be grounded in the present.

This question has come up quite a few times recently. And I could never come up with an answer that I found worthy of a traveling through space and time for a life change.

However, today, well, last night, I think I found my answer. The change that I would have, would be a non-changer. I wish that I didn't drift apart from certain people from such a young age.

I think back of some individuals when we were kids. They were loving, self-less, creative, passionate, playful, innocent, and above all, kind. Somehow, over the years, maybe because my parents started to pray at a different mosque, or we lived in a different town, I just didn't get to see these individuals anymore, and we drifted.

I think about them now, not with a romanticized idealism, but with the memory of an elementary school child. They never were hurtful, always positive, they sought fun in everything they did, and always hoped for the best for everyone. We grew apart and for a few of my middle school years, and my new friends were not the same. I remember too many incidents of petty selfishness, preferentialism, and out-right mocking/bullying in ways that can destroy a person. Then, I got to late middle-school and early high school, and my relationships changed slightly. But the bullying, the mocking, the picking on each other was couched in love, friendship, and "fun". I didn't realize it at the time, but I hated it.

It has never been part of who I am as a person to mock or tease someone, even in the name of fun or "just joking". I have gotten to the point that as an adult, its extremely difficult for me to take a joke. Not that I am a super serious person... I'm silly as puddy... but in that same, childish, elementary school way... Not the average mid-twenties form of humor.

Anyway, the purpose of my post is this: I know I can't go back and "undrift" from people.... but I will make some changes (or unchanges?) in real time.

1- I will seek out friends who are positive, even in their humor.

2- I will stop trying to tease people, since obviously, I can't do it "right" and I'm sick of being pressured to do it just in the name of "getting along" with people my age group.

3- When people (i.e. close people) tease me, I will tell myself... this is their love language... and walk away. I will not think about it beyond the time it takes for the words to escape their lips.

4- I will not dwell on any negativity. I used to be an extremely positive person, where doubts would be banished with a bat of an eye. I miss that part of me, who was instrumental in who I am now today. I don't think I would have gotten so far in life, had I been a negative person. But over the last few years, cynicism has taken a hold of me and refuses to allow me to progress or enjoy my progress.

5- Reward myself. I know, selfish. But it was a habit I always used to have. I would reward myself with small things. A nice cup of coffee. A hug from a person that I love. A long, long, long solitary walk. An intense work out. A nice book to read from the library. An extra hangout with friends. I know happiness doesn't come from "things" but I do believe it comes from an appreciation of what you have. Therefore....

6- Consider all that I have, express gratitude and appreciation, and be content.

I'm going to stop here. I could probably go on for another 6 years of typing...