Reflections

Perhaps you are my means to jannah

IMG_20171130_083333I better start by saying I’m sorry.

I know I have the tendency to say sorry for everything to everyone, because I’m insecure that way. But this time, this sorry, I know for sure you deserve it and it’s long overdue.

 

From the very first day we met, you were the best. You never unnecessarily tried to upset. You never once hurt me by your actions, or by your words.

You never not look at me when I entered the room. You never once ignored me when I spoke to you.

 

I, on the other hand, failed so many times.

How is it that one could even begin to think that any of your cries were for nothing. This place is new to you. Everything is new to you. And all those times, you turned to me and Abi for guidance. For reassurance. Everything, understandably, was a big deal to you. Why is this container not opening? Why does my bum feel wet? Why is the sun in my eye?

 

You had no idea what was going on, and just needed answers, and if not answers, just comfort that all those things were ok.

 

But instead, when you turned to me, crying out of confusion, I made you more confused by dismissing those worries and telling you “don’t cry”. And now when I think back, I never gave you a reason – “why shouldn’t you cry? Is it all ok?”

Even worse, sometimes I would get annoyed and angry and disregard you altogether.

 

I’m so so sorry, my dear baby boy.

 

You are that proof of true unconditional love in a humanly form.

And to just think God’s love for us is bigger and better than all that, brings me to tears.

 

You are the one who can smile and laugh to me, right after I scold you, but realise my fault and hug you.

Thank you.

 

You are the one who can kiss me even though right before that, I ignored you because I needed space.

Thank you.

 

My struggles to become “the mother” that I have always wanted to be is so real and you know how real it is. Perhaps you already realise and recognise all my flaws. Perhaps you are the one that will one day coach me.

 

And He reminds us that you, and all our future children, are our gifts.

 

But how spoilt and shallow minded can I be. Thinking that a gift always has to be what is pleasing to me there and then.

 

You, my beautiful son, are definitely a gift.

 

Those days I ask myself, what am I doing with my life, how can I help these people, how can I volunteer for that cause, how can I comfort that sister, etc.

 

I really should have realised that perhaps my grand opportunity to (hopefully) attain jannah, to please Him, is through you.

 

All those opportunities for me to be patient, to smile when I really felt like crying, to speak softly and explain yet again, even when I felt like getting annoyed.

 

All those times opportunities for me to hug you and comfort you and teach you, all those opportunities to prove that I am someone that would help one in need – so so many opportunities.

 

You are a gift. Every child is.

 

A gift from Him. Where else am I going to get those daily opportunities to get closer to Him and jannah?

 

SubhanAllah. The more I write and think about it, the more it becomes clearer to me.

 

Never should I ever say (or think), “you owe me because I am your mother” – maybe, you do, maybe you don’t Allah knows best. What I am sure about though, is I should be grateful to Him for you, not only because of your beautiful smile, your cutest laugh, your wonderful attitude, but most of all, because perhaps, you are my means to jannah.

 

I hope I’ll be better to you Zac.

 

And I hope I get to be near you in jannah – just like how we’ve always been for the past 15 months.

Building those Iman Guns

I remember 2012 really well.

The year I decided to wear the hijab.

It was such a new experience. Something was overwhelmingly lifting my heart from the day to day worries I usually had. Despite doing my honours that year, I was super calm and composed – way more so than the wreck I was whilst completing my Pass Degree.

Committing to this concept- the concept of modesty inwardly and outwardly – was absolutely liberating for me because it just made sense and sat well with my heart.

I was suddenly thinking before I let words come out of my mouth; my tongue was no longer on autopilot attacking whatever it pleased. I was suddenly looking at people and actually looking at them; the fine lines that show the worry and exhaustion from daily life, the squinting eyes and big smile when someone pays them an honest compliment. I was walking alongside Allah’s other creations; the jacaranda trees that spoilt the Kensington pavements with their purple delights and the huge vast skies, a display of His Majesty without fail.

It really felt like just keeping me on a lower profile, physically and as a spillover from that, emotionally, enabled the other elements around me shine brighter than before. To my benefit.

That year was the year of my iman rush.

The Iman Rush

It’s when Allah swt blesses you with a sudden, seemingly effortless urge and ability to do good deeds, to see the dunya for what it is, and to strive sincerely for Him. Your relationships suddenly become more meaningful because you’re finally listening, helping and loving. Your daily tasks completed, and you still have time for qiyaam, Quran and zikr. Your love for the Quran blossoms and you keep going back to it for guidance and when you read a verse, you read each and every word.

It’s an amazing feeling.

Come 2017

I’m married, I have a beautiful son, a hardworking husband and a pretty house. I have close friends that, even though aren’t near, always keep in touch. I’m on maternity leave hence have more time to work on “what matters” – family and self improvement.

But I find myself somewhat disconnected. Somewhat struggling to find the inner peace and willpower to improve.

My more sympathetic girlfriends will tell me “You just became a mom, babe. Cut yourself some slack”

Thank you, darlings.

But I just know that I’ve been slacking way too much to be cutting myself some slack. It’s not just about the sudden demands of having to be on call for another human being 24/7. It’s not just about trying to be a personable and pretty wife, while keeping the house in check.

It’s about that khusyoo’ that was once there.

It’s about the yearning to memorise one more ayat before bed.

It’s about the awe I felt when I looked up at the sky, and saw not just the sky, but His creation and His perfection.

Wait. When was the last time I looked up at the sky?

I need to get fit – physically and spiritually

It dawned upon me one day, as I was doing some Kayla workouts, that I needed to train and workout just as hard, for my iman.

Fine, there was an iman rush. Just like the first year I experienced the joys of jogging and running. But weren’t there days that I just did-not-want-to-run. Of course there were. What did I do? I forced myself out of bed, washed my face, put on my running gear, and went out. I would walk first. And then after 1 km, I would slow jog, then the next km I would jog, and the last km I would run.

I built up my stamina slowly but surely, and practiced utmost discipline.

Even after giving birth, I was so determined to get back to my pre-baby physique, that I started training.

I realised then, as I was Kayla-ing it out, that I needed to start an iman-building regime. Just as how I would approach my workouts and diet, I needed to do that for my iman.

You don’t get fit just by lazing around and not having a plan.

I needed a plan.

So I created a regime that would start out easy, and progress week by week (for some actions it was month by month: like getting up exactly when fajr starts to waking up for qiyaam).

I started to push myself, even if the last thing I felt like doing as I lay down for the night, was to memorise an ayat, I would just open the Quran app on my phone and at least read. And reading (sometimes) led to memorising the ayat itself, which then (sometimes) led to memorising the translation.

Just as I needed to concentrate on my form when working out, I started to concentrate on my salah; the individual moves, and I would then try to appreciate the relevance of what I was reciting to the said moves, and so on and so forth.

Until one night, I was in sujood, and feeling utterly humbled and felt an all too familiar, but missed, rush.

Who would’ve thought, that me exercising and trying to improve physically would lead me to this?

SubhanAllah.

He has truly made the physical world and spiritual reality seamless to each other. If only we reflected.

Alhamdulillah.

Putting the toilet seat up

We say it’s a man’s world.

Well, perhaps it is. There are areas where it is undeniably a man’s world. 

Let’s take that big fat paycheck for example; in Australia, women’s average full-time total remuneration across all industries is 23.1% lower than that of men’s (http://data.wgea.gov.au/).

We can also take the issue of sexual harassment to illustrate; a study that appears in the research journal Social Psychological and Personality science compared the percentage of men and women that reported at least one incident of sexual harassment in a 12 month period  in the US military – 20% versus 50%.

But throughout the years, we’ve seen the fruits of the feminist movement, and in my humble opinion, I would say women today are at least 50% better than the women living just 100 years ago.

We’re louder, we are heard. Whether or not the men listen, whatevs – but we are heard.

We vote, we have presence in the workplace; some companies are even blessed with the presence of female board of directors, we drive, our husbands help around the house more and no longer leave us all alone in the middle of the night while we nourish our newborns (applicable to only some places in the world), and the list goes on.

We also, apparently, have the more correct view as to whether the toilet seat should be up or down (?)

Toilet seat up

The inspiration to write this piece came as I walked into my dad’s toilet.

Yes, my dad has his own toilet – ground floor of our house right next to his man cave room (where he gets the best sleep he claims).

Note: I contemplated of putting up a photo of his toilet, but reasoned against it. Privacy issues 🙂 So please do NOT think that the picture above is that of my dad’s – it’s MY dream toilet.

As I walk into his toilet, I notice that the toilet seat is up. I didn’t really give much thought to it; except for taking a tissue to act as a barrier between my hand and the toilet seat that I was about to bring down.

After I was finished, I flushed, and for some reason, I put the toilet seat up.

As I was washing my hands, I glanced to the toilet seat and then it crossed my mind; Dude, you actually put the toilet seat up. 

What made me do it?

Probably because it’s just drilled in all of our heads, that this is pa’s toilet. So you leave it as it was, and more importantly, leave it as he would like it.

Sure, the argument stands (and trust me, my lawyer sister and I have presented this argument to him before) that putting the toilet seat down is generally safer for everyone. Really, it probably is. So that no one accidentally plops right into the icky toilet bowl and potentially hurts their thighs and bottom (can easily happen when you get up in the middle of the night and couldn’t bother to check “Is the toilet seat up or down?”)

Notwithstanding the above argument, I put the toilet seat up really just to do what my dad would like me to do.

I guess I wanted to make him happy?

OK maybe that’s too far-fetched.

But it got me thinking afterwards “Why don’t I just put the toilet seat up next time (when I go to the toilet that is also used by men)?” I remember this conversation I had with my husband; I was telling him that some people that visited our house would always leave the guest toilet seat up.

“Why can’t they just pee like you do? Just sit?”

“What makes you think I sit?”

“I never find the toilet seat up”

“That’s because I always put it down after”

I immediately said “Auwww” and told him I found that very sweet. I asked him how he was so well trained – and he just answered that he knew it might be an issue with me so he just did it because.

Yes, Alhamdulillah, I’m a lucky girl. But let’s get to the more important point – if he did that, just because he knew I would (most) probably make a big fuss of the opposite, why couldn’t I do the same?

Why couldn’t I be more toilet-sensitive to my husband’s preferences?

When we talk about gender equality, we are, admittedly, spoilt for choice when it comes to the pro-women argument.

But, dig a little deeper, I think there’s a fair share that can be said for the pro-men side as well. (Granted, I think this actually applies more to the first world rather than other parts of the world; where women’s rights and the feminist movement is much more mature)

For example, when (some) girls talk about their husbands – more often than not, it’s complaining about them. And sometimes, it really does cross my mind, “Is he like that, because he’s like that. Or is he like that, because something triggered him to be like that?” Human beings are extremely reactive creatures – this is one of the most vital traits we have that has helped our species’ survival. Don’t like something, move away from it. Something threatens to endanger us, either fight flight or freeze kicks in.

That man that you were so in love with just a few months ago – he changed, yes. But why?

Is it really really really 100% him, or do you have 1.1% contribution to the problem?

Because I guess if you do, then it’s worthwhile working on that 1.1% before you harp on what’s wrong with him – because it’s only that 1.1% that you can actually control. Mind you, that 1.1% might just be you backbiting your own husband; how is Allah supposed to bless your marriage if you’re “eating the flesh” (Surah Al-Hujurat: 12) the one person you voluntarily took a spiritual covenant to protect and respect?

Please don’t get me wrong here; I understand there are legitimate reasons out there to believe that it is a man’s world. 

But what about the good ones? Are we giving them the second, third and fourth chances they deserve? I don’t know about you, but I’m SURE my hubs has given me at least ten.

Here are some points for reflection:

  • Have we now become overzealous with the feminist cause? At the expense of the well meaning men who are really just probably acting as any reasonable human being would? Should we really be picking on the fact that the toilet seat is up?
  • Are we women, also contributing to the population of entitled people; and claiming that we have the right to do so because the women before us suffered worst?

I once told my husband, “I’ve learnt to pick my battles”

His reply caught me off guard.

“Why do you need to see it as a battle?”

 

 

The Beginning

“What do you want to do?”

I love that question. Because it’s so hard to answer.

So hard, because unlike my old self, I no longer want to be trapped in a single role and be limited to the job scope imposed upon me. It was just 2 years ago that I would have been absolutely fine with a job. Even a career would be a little of a “OK, I’ll probably think of it as I go along”

So hard, because now being .a mother, it really is no longer solely about what want to do. It’s more of a juggling stunt, a really intense and long long juggling stunt, between the morning to evening shifts of being a mother and wife, the late night shifts of being a CA student, the constant shifts of being an ambitious, interested-in-everything-but-can’t-quite-put-my-finger-on-it person, and the on-call shifts of attending to my rollercoaster emotions that are mostly (probably) caused by the surge of new experiences that have been rolling in since 2015.

It’s hard, but I think, I now have to accept the challenge of addressing that question.

I used to have burning urge to help people. Don’t get me wrong, I still do – allow me to elaborate.

If you asked me that same questions “What do you want to do?” a few years ago, it would’ve been a no-brainer; “I want to help people” would have been my answer.

A pretty useless answer, huh? Yeah, I know.

Let me tell you why, it’s only now, a few years down the line and just a tad bit more mature, that I realise how incredibly useless that answer is.

It’s so ambiguous.

And ever since I’ve assumed the role of mother and wife I’ve realised that more often than not, in the “real world”, ambiguous goals don’t bring you very far in life. It’ll probably take up some ink from your pen for writing it down in that $50 Kikki.K notebook of yours – but really, it doesn’t achieve anything tangible. You don’t write “Be productive” in your notebook and expect to achieve (or even remember to do) the following tasks in a timely manner (forgive me for borrowing too much vocab from the business school textbooks; it’s a part of me now I can’t help it):

  1. Pray fajr
  2. Have coffee, read news
  3. Change son’s nappy, give morning milk, bath him and brush his teeth
  4. Make breakfast for son, husband and yourself
  5. (Try to sneak in time) to brush your teeth, hair and maybe even a shower
  6. Play with son, Pinterest search games to play with 11 month old, and try to implement
  7. Housework while son naps, prepare lunch
  8. Accompany son play, but he has his playtime alone, while I continue making lunch or tend to household administrative stuff
  9. Have lunch, pray, read Quran
  10. [Time put aside for whatever needs to be done that day, week; eg groceries, etc]
  11. Pray, dinner
  12. Get son ready for bed
  13. Clean kitchen once son has slept
  14. Study
  15. Spend some time with husband
  16. Sleep

You see why being ambiguous won’t help me achieve that above on a daily routine; not to mention the times that other miscellaneous things come up that need to be addressed.

So here I am. Finally, working on a blog.

I have decided to get over the fear of crowding the cyberspace with my unworthy opinions and thoughts. I have decided that it is probably worthwhile to help with my writing – at least the ones that make it through the selection process (God knows I have entries that make me cringe even just after 5 minutes of writing them).

Not only help others, but also to help myself.

Writing is therapeutic because it forces the writer to put his/her thoughts into a somewhat structured format. So you’re forced to face your thoughts head on; the ones that are were obvious, blazing in your mind, as well as those that you didn’t quite know were there.

So here it is. One unambiguous action point to my goal and a tangible daily to-do task

This blog, I hope, is at least a partial achievement of what want to do.

To help. Whoever.

 

Bismillah. The journey begins.