The Day I Met the Tiger Mother

I came across Amy Chua’s book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” during a time of my own parenting crisis. I had gone into the library on a mission to find some parenting book which would help me navigate the world of toddler boys. My boys were fighting each other, me and the boundaries that I had erected.

I needed a strong tool. Destiny…kismat…karma… took  me straight to Chua’s book. The tiger mom was my answer, war had been declared.

I had been struggling with my two boys. Everything lately seemed like a fight and I was beginning to lose the connection and joy I used to get with them.  Instead I was frustrated, unhappy and was going through the motions of being a parent while constantly looking at the clock counting the hours they were going to be in bed.

I first heard about the Tiger Mother a year ago. This is when Chua, the petite Asian professor, wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal titled   “ Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.” It seemed like overnight people were rushing to attack or defend her parenting style. Hailing from a South Asian family and having parents that were quite strict (my mom would give me a look that would stop me in my tracks) I felt like I could already relate to the Tiger Mom model.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is Chua’s journey of Chinese parenting in the West. Chua made a decision to follow the chinese model of parenting in which she had been raised in. To her the regimented parenting style meant that her daughters were never allowed to: Attend a sleepover, have a playdate, be in a school play, watch TV or play computer games, choose their own extracurricular activities, get any grade less than an A, not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama, play any instrument other than the piano or violin.

She was committed to following through on her rigid  parenting style and expected her daughters to work hard, excel at academics and to not take anything for granted. Chua wanted her daughters to have a strong work ethic and believed that childhood is a training period for the rest of their lives.  She summed up the Western and Chinese parenting by saying:

“Western parents try to respect their children’s individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions,  supporting their choices and providing positive reinforcement and a nurturing environment. By contrast, the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they’re capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.”

Chua talks in detail about the challenges of this type of rigid parenting. Her husband who had  been raised in the Western style was often not supportive of her parenting method. That isolated her during the periods when her daughters hated her.

Chua made her daughters practice their respective instruments, the piano and the violin for hours each day and did not let them take any breaks even when they were traveling or on vacation. Chua was headstrong, arrogant and relentless but what I admire about her is her persistence and patience. She actively was involved in every step of her daughters lives and pushed them because she believed they could do better.

It is that dicipline that I want to cultivate in my own parenting style. It is easy to let our kids be average and to let them just rot away in front of the television but to take that time and spend hours with them to help them master a skill is certainly commendable. After spending a half-hour of one on one time with my kids I feel so drained. One lesson that the Tiger Mom has taught me is that until the mother doesn’t put the time and commitment into her kids than it will be very hard for them to reach their potential.

Another story that Chua tells us in the book is when she rejected her daughters handmade birthday cards for her birthday.

“I don’t want this, I want a better one – one that you’ve put some thought and effort into. I have a special box, where I keep all my cards from you and your sister, and this one can’t go in there…So I reject this.”

This story has resonated with me because of recent  research that shows that over praising children can do more harm than good. I have in the past lavishly praised my kids for scribbling on a piece of paper, but now I take time to actually examine their art, give them some pointers and set some goals (like color inside the lines, lets try to make a square, can you draw a spoon) The results were fantastic. My three year old was more enagaged more excited and was actually learning the praise that he deserved for being creative instead of just scribbling!

Although Chua believes in the Chinese parenting style, she doesn’t particularly advocate for it. Through her journey as a parent we see the successes and failures of her extreme parenting. We see the good, the bad and the ugly.

I found her book to be extremely honest and it was an entertaining and interesting read. Chua’s book motivated me to be a more involved parent who spends quality time with their kids. Although I don’t agree with everything she did with her daughters I feel that Chua’s book is a breath of fresh air with insight into a  parenting style that we often don’t get to read about.

Halal Pumpkins…What?!?

As the holiday season is in full swing with glittering christmas trees, cooler weather and festive holiday lattes at starbucks I am reminded why I love this time of the year. As adults we enjoy the atmosphere but kids may not understand why we don’t have a christmas tree, or why Santa didn’t visit us this year. This may be  a challenge for families who have young kids and who are trying to build their Muslim Identities.

As a first generation American Muslim with a South Asian heritage, defining our family’s Identity has been an interesting process. As a mother of a curious three year old I am now faced with hard questions about traditions that I have grown up around but never thought as my own. This becomes particularly tricky as the children go to school and learn about different holidays. Although going to an Islamic preschool has made things easier it also means that I have to decide how to frame things for my curious toddlers.

A few months ago I was pushed into a sort of an identity crisis when Humza went to the fall festival with his school and came back with a grin and a pumpkin which would cause more trouble than I could have ever imagined As Humza excitedly jumped out of the mini-bus that had transported him from the Farm back to the school, I could see that he was clutching this little pumpkin like a shiny new toy, “Momma, see pumpkin.” He proudly raised it  to show me.

I nodded excitedly and wrestled the pumpkin from his hands to get him into the carseat, which caused the pumpkin to roll underneath of a parked mini van. The tears were streaming down Humza’s face and Hassan his younger brother joined in also now wanting that same orange pumpkin which was now somewhere underneath of that van. I quickly strapped the kids in and told the lady who was speaking in Arabic on her cell phone that I was going to go under her van since my kid had dropped his pumpkin. She nodded enthusiastically and I hoped she was nodding to me and not just agreeing with the person whom she was speaking on the phone with. Saying a quick Bismallah I got down on my hands and knees (ahh this reminds me why all my jeans have rips in them) and grabbed the pumpkin.

Tired kids, worn out mother and a little pumpkin in tow, we finally headed home. After the novelty of a little orange pumpkin wore off I had to decide what to do with that thing. Would I display it proudly outside my front door? Put it on my mantle on top of the fireplace? Make a Jack-O-Lantern? What do I do with a pumpkin??

I eventually put it on the fireplace it was so odd but I figured it would be out of the kids reach, I wrestled with the idea of putting it outside my door like other people do as part of the of their fall decorations. But then I didn’t because I was hesitant that I would be acting to “white.”  “Desi people don’t put pumpkins outside of their house,” I thought to myself. After some time when the pumpkin craze died down and the kids forgot to fight over the poor little pumpkin who was probably very thankful for the decision I had made to put him on the fireplace, I approached the subject of the final resting place for the pumpkin again.

After a few strong chai’s and some moments of clarity  I’ve finally made peace with the pumpkin. It is finally at rest on my dining table with some other fall folliage decor and my  little glittering rickshaw.

I haven’t figured out all the answers to how I want to balance and incorporate traditions from Pakistan as well as our American culture but I have a feeling that i’ll figure it out. Now I just need to break the news to the kiddos that the lights my neighbors have put up are in fact not Eid lights. One baby…step at a time.

 

 

Raising a Damaad

Damaad is the word for son-in-law in the Urdu language.  In the South Asian culture damaads are often treated like royalty. From my observation society treats the roles of a daughter in law (bahoo) very different from the son -in-law (damaad).  My thoughts derive from experiences, observations and maybe Pakistani dramas.
Although  this post may not describe everyones experience, I know that many people know of cases or can empathize with the double standards in our culture (at least most bahoos)Traditionally South Asian mothers raise their daughters to fit into the new family she goes into, and to treat her new family the way she treats her own.  However, when it comes to a son, I don’t think the mother instills those same values in him.

We mentally prepare daughters to embrace going into their husband’s new home which is their “real” home.  They must win the hearts of every single creature living inside the house, yes even the Jinn.

As the new bahoo in the family you are expected to delight your in-laws with your cooking, amuse them with your personality, be the first to help out and the last to sit down, beautify yourself with the finest clothing and of course adorn the gold with the newly wed-bride look.  You are expected to keep them before your plans and sometimes even before your family.

Expectations for the Daamad? Well lets just put it this way:

Do not swear/abuse/degrade your wife
Do not start arguments with your in laws,
Do not have a bad mood in their presence
Exchange a few smiles here and there
Show up to family dinners every now and then
= BAM you have yourself a great son-in-law.

Virtually no effort is required and all they have to do is meet the bare minimum requirements for a decent human being.  They do not have to go out of their way for their in-laws or even make an effort to take part in family discussions nor stay in touch for that matter.

They have to ‘not be bad’ in order to be considered good whereas a daughter-in-law has to be outstanding in order to be considered somewhat good!

I have a son, which now gives me the added responsibility of raising him to be that one heck of a darn good SON-IN-LAW.

Insha’Allah, I will teach him to make an effort to fit in with his new family, help them and maintain a high level of akhlaq in their presence. He should get involved in family discussions and find solutions to their problems and dilemmas.  It is not just about giving their daughter the bare rights but rather giving her the utmost happiness alongside being a good person to his in-laws.

He should be thankful for the hospitality his in-laws provide and not assume it is expected.  Sometimes in-laws may go above and beyond to please their damaad and  as a typical guy’s personality he may not even realize that, hence limiting his appreciation for the amount of effort put into pleasing him.

He too should know that his in-laws miss their daughter/sister and that she is still an integral part of their household. Just because she is married does not mean she no longer should contribute to her family.

Rather a good damad will not only appreciate the vital role she plays in his family but encourage her to provide any sort of support for her own family as well.

Does your husband fits the description above? If so, then please message me your mother-in-law’s contact info so I can get some pointers.

As for the rest of the boy-mamas, I say we dust off our akhlaq books and sit our boys down and drill it into their tiny brains.  Our upbringing may serve as a means to attain Jannah, Insha’Allah.

Meanwhile I am accepting applications for daughter-in-laws. (My son’s two but gotta start early these days!).

Something for boy-mamas to think about….

 

Domestic Help in Third World Countries

As an American Pakistani there is this unique connection that I think many of us have with the country of Pakistan. This connection  gives us an opportunity to experience Pakistan as a local when we visit.  We are privy to observe the workings of the Pakistani society and are exposed to the subtleties of the culture which may not be as obvious to outsiders.

One of the most obvious and glaring society difference between America and Pakistan  is the domestic workers that are in most houses. The Knaucker range from the household manager who controls the gate of the house to the drivers and the women who come to brush and wipe down the floors. Depending on the family and the households there can at times be more domestic help in the house than people of the family.

When we would visit our family in Karachi the cleaning lady would take care of making our beds and tidying up the room. It was a foreign concept and it felt really wrong having some lady clean up after us. That was about 13 years ago…fast forward to last year and I was the one asking my mom to help me find a little girl who could help me look after Hassan while I was in Karachi.

The girl who came to be my lifesaver was  known as  “Baji”  she was the daughter of the cleaning lady that worked in our house. Her name was Shaista and she was an very well groomed 13 year old with a serious face and  a beautiful smile.  The first  day she  came I introduced her to the kids, set her schedule and decided her salary – She would work 6 days a week from 9-5:30 and would be paid RS 2,000 a month. This is approximately $20 a month.

It was the first time I had my own personal domestic help. It was confusing at first, I wasn’t sure what tasks to give her and how to tell her exactly what I wanted her to do without sounding bossy or mean. After a few days  she became familiar with the kids schedule and she started asking me things lik : Should I feed the kids a snack now? And  should I wash the kids bottles now? She was a smart girl and the kids loved her. Soon she was  handling the kids responsibilities and I was the one asking her things like do you think their tired now? Should we put them to nap? It was a gradual process but we tag teamed and got the work done together. I would  tell her to take naps when the kids napped and would get her treats when I got something for the kids. It was all going good until the day that I took “Baji” into the new Dolmen Mall that had opened a few months ago in Clifton.

It was a fancy mall with international brands and an crowd that was  dressed to impress. Initially I really enjoyed visiting this mall with “Baji” in tow handling the stroller. She was wide-eyed and impressed with this mall. She  experienced her very first escalator ride and soon mastered it with grace and poise. But I felt bad, here is an 13 year old who is experiencing parts of Karachi that she may have never seen before, worse she didn’t fit in, it was obvious to anyone that she was in fact the kids maid. Would this be damaging to her self-worth, her pride, would these joy trips to the mall be more detrimental to this teenagers life by making her feel inferior? Is it fair to take introduce a girl to a realiity that will most probabaly never be hers? Oh man the questions kept coming and I felt more and more confused.

I kept these thoughts to myself but I did consciously made an effort to not take her with me. I would leave Hassan to nap at home and would ask Baji to watch him while I had my fill of the Glamarous new mall.  While I never really resolved this issue my dad who  was working at an corporate office told me how he helped a young man get a job, the man’s job was to sit in the elevator and push buttons for people all day. Another man’s job he told me was to sit at the copier and make copies and deliver them to his seniors. Small and insignificant jobs such as these can mean the difference between starvation and eating for these mens families. Unfortunately if we don’t employ people than these people will resort to illegal or corrupt ways and so I justified employing a 13 year old girl so that I can  ensure that she was safe, well-treated and well-fed at least for the duration of the time she was under my roof.

Is that right? Can their be a way of ending children working? I’m not sure, but I do know that having domestic help is a constant juggling act. At times I had to be firm with Baji, Other times I had to remeber that she was just a kid but above all I had to remember to be thankful  to the young girl with the beautiful smile.

What do you think about the domestic help in Pakistan?  Any experiences or comments? Please Share.

I wish I had these toys!

When I was a child I don’t recall having “Islamic” toys or even books.  I don’t remember ‘Quran Challenge” game or “Masjid Blocks”.  These days members of our Ummah have found numerous ways of incorporating Islam into children’s lives;  Whether it be fun, educational or crafty! (The caption tells you the company/site if you are interested in purchasing!)

1. Build a Masjid Game

Smart Ark

 2. Easy Doll Sewing Kit

Smart Ark

3. Bismillah Notebook

Smart Ark

4. Floor Puzzle

Little Big Kids

5. Scrapbooking Stuff

Silver Envelope

 

6. Islamic Manners

Muslim Toys and Dolls

 

7. Daily Dua Stickers

8. Mosque Building

Muslim Toys and Dolls

 

9.  Qibla Arrow

Muslim Toys and Dolls

 

10. Little Big Kids Clock(cool commercial for it)

 

 

A Preschooler’s Understanding of Hajj

Humza started in an Islamic preschool in our community almost a month ago. We had heard great things about it so we had registered him a year prior to him attending to ensure his spot (it fills up fast.)

During that year I was in Pakistan for an extended period and so I enrolled my eldest son in a nursery school in Karachi. My experience in the nursery was great. I was amazed at the professionalism of the teacher, the staff and the kinds of activities that the kids were exposed to. The facility although at a private residence was spotless, inviting and very kid friendly.

I came back from Pakistan and it was time for Humza to start school. I began to have doubts about my decision of enrolling Humza in ADAMS Radiant Heart Academy. The preschool was not as clean or inviting as the nursery in Karachi. My friends were astonished to hear that a Pakistani nursery was so amazing and I kept comparing the two institutions in my head.

Initially the great thing about ADAMS was that my son was extremely happy going to school everyday. He would wake up excited about going to school and would be very eager to pack his snack. Sometimes as punishment I would threaten him by saying, “If you don’t listen to me than I won’t take you to school tomorrow!” He would be in tears! But it wasn’t till a week ago that I saw the “magic” of an Islamic preschool,

Humza had been learning Surah Al-Fatiha for a few weeks but just last week he came home and just recited the whole surah with almost no mistakes. I was stunned. I had not done anything really to help him learn it except for reciting it with him a few times at night or on the way to school in the mornings. But it gets better, I had been thinking of Hajj and Eid-Al Adha but I didn’t even think to explain the significance  of both these events to my 3-year old.

I was too busy thinking about important things like:  What I’m going to wear on Eid? What should I cook for Eid? And Where is the party this Eid?!?

On Monday afternoon while quietly eating his vanilla yogurt Humza looked at me and said, “Momma, Hajj has mountains.”

Totally shocked in a good way, I nonchalantly answered “Oh really? What else is there in Hajj?

My three year old broke it down for me: “Hajj is where the Kabah is and there are mountains and their is Zam Zam which we can drink. We run between the mountains because their was a baby who had no food. The baby was kicking because he was hungry and his mommy was running back and forth to the mountains to find food.”

WHOA! I was blown away!!! How do the teachers explain these concepts while still keeping the kids engaged and happy? Hats off to them.

The ADAMS preschool is not the most well-equipped and certainly is not very glamorous but the school has a lot of heart. It has just been a month and  now I  realize why parents love Adams Radiant Heart academy, the teachers instill in their students the love for Allah (SWT) and all of Allah’s creations. It also makes life for parents easier by introducing the students to concepts that we may not have been able to explain. On the other hand it may be challenging  parents to open up their Islamic books so that they can keep up with their kids. I know I certainly need to!

Full Time Mom,Part Time Student

[Hazima lives part-time in Ashburn with her Husband and her 1 year old daughter, she is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Aerospace Engineering. For fun she likes to hang out with friends and  read. Her all time favorite  book is The Hunger Games.]

I grew up with a mom who took care of her four children, ran a daycare in her home with four more children, enlightened all other surrounding aunties to open a day care in their homes and struggled to attain a teaching degree on evenings and weekends. I think I may have somewhat of an idea on how I may want to raise my kids, and remain sane.

Over the years I’ve come across moms that exercise attachment parenting, read and follow all of Dr. Sears’ advice, the nonchalant and go-with-the-flow mamas, co-sleepers, ones that will nurse until their children suck the life out of them, the full-time working moms that are feeling guilty of dropping off their children at daycare, and those moms that will continue to produce in order to populate our earth.

Out of all these moms, there was one particular mom that amazed me the most. This woman was traveling between three states one state where her husband was doing his residency , the other state where her parents lived (free babysitting), and going to college in the third state. Did I mention that she was also performing clinical studies in the poverty-stricken countries of Sudan and Ghana for her Ph.D dissertation. Wow…how do you?…and why do you?…girlfriend you are CRAZY!

When I was pregnant with my first child, I read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” okay I didn’t read it, but I had the app on my iPhone. That counts right? But I never read up on what the first year would be like, nor did I bother to ask. I thought,“hey I partied till the AMs in college (with sisters of the MSA of course) and pulled all-nighters for my exams. This no sleep after you have a kid I can manage.”

Boy did I get hit by a bus, banged in the head, and circles under my eyes! Gas? Colic? Diaper Rash? Ear/Throat Infections? Awkward nursing times? All in all while traveling 200 miles back and forth each week to visit the in-laws? No thanks! This kid can cry me a river, build me a bridge, and get over it!

I felt as if my life had been compensated for, 24/7/365, someone change my name and move me to Wisconsin. I don’t know why I just chose that state. Seems like somewhere you’d want to go when you’re running away from your mama duties?

I felt as if I was the only person in the world dealing with all of this. My husband used to say; women have been doing this since Hawa (radhi allahu anha)’s time, what’s your beef? I was a first-timer that was my beef! So I decided I needed to do something that I could always give myself a pat on the back for. Something that was just for me, so I decided to pursue my master’s degree.

It’s not easy and its extremely tiring to watch lectures for your Master’s program into the wee hours of the night while your kid is soundly asleep and all you want to do is put your feet up. But I love the schedule and the sense of accomplishment I am getting in the process of having weekly lectures to watch, submitting homework, and studying for midterms and finals.

I would encourage moms to explore the many opportunities of attaining a bachelor’s, associate’s, or masters online in the comfort of your PJs. Besides certified universities there are numerous Qur’an classes, Tajweed and Tafseer classes that may be for you. There are many established institutes out there like, Bayyinah, Qurtuba and Al-Maghreb.

I believe all moms should do something that challenges them. Pick up a pottery class, an aerodynamics for engineers class, or a life of the Prophets class. You may just fill that tiny void in your heart, and be a happier and more fulfilled Mom and Wife. I’m not saying everyone drop your kids with your husbands and hop to Africa, but it’s amazing to see what we can be capable of.  Every mama deserves the chance!

 

 

 

For my Baby Sister


My baby sister is 18 today MashAllah. I’m so happy for her but at the same time I’m sad, here’s why, I got married and moved away from my sister when she was only 12. I have not been there for her when she went through many of her growing up experiences and as time wore on I grew busy in my life and never made a very conscious effort to keep in touch with her or be there for her when she may have needed me. Although  I love her I’m not sure she knows how much she means to me, So Shifa I dedicate this post to you.

Looking back I still remember the day Ami and Abu brought you home from the hospital. Before you arrived and mom was in labor and  Dadi Jaan (our grandmother) came to me and Saher (my middle sister) and  told us to make special dua for a brother. We didn’t want a pesky a little boy so we silently rebelled and instead prayed to Allah for a baby sister, Allah could not have given me a more beautiful sister. Shifa you arrived October 9th 1994 to a house with two adoring older sisters. We would linger around your crib and  keep checking on you to see if you were finally ready to play with us. The funny thing is that you kept us waiting a long time, it was 2 months before you decided to open your eyes , it was  love at  first  sight and we knew there were fun times ahead.

Shifa, you were a living doll to us. We would dress you up and create elaborate stories in which you were the bride and you would sit for hours in the position that we had placed you in. We would drape you in mom’s fancy dupatta’s and  layer necklaces and bangles and then put all our stuffed animals around you, trying to recreate a mehndi scene in which you were the bride and the stuffed animals were our guests. You are always such a sweet tempered child and I honestly can’t even remember you doing anything wrong! As you grew older you started different activities such as gymnastics and girl scouts, you easily made friends and were always going to different friends birthday parties and extracurricular activities. You were always a reader and were very imaginative, you would play with your toys and create songs about different things. In fact I remember that there was this art contest at Publix and you entered your drawing and you won first prize! you were always very creative and had a knack for art even at such a young age.

Do you remember the one birthday when we were a part of the National Conference for Community Justice walk and then we went ice skating. It was such a fun day and I think it may have been one of the last birthdays that we celebrated in America. We had then moved to Karachi, Pakistan and thus began a new chapter in your life. It was a difficult adjustment trying to fit into a new culture and a new way of life. You entered the Foundation School and began your journey in the Pakistani Education system. In the first few weeks I would pick you up from school and I remember trying to scan the crowd for you, everyone looked the same! It was so different from America, all these desi girls in identical uniforms. We shared stories on the way home and I listened with amusement as you related how the students would be jumping on desks and how the  teachers lacked control of their classrooms. I saw you struggle on an academic level, you were being exposed to subjects like Urdu and Islamic Studies that you had never taken before. The other more traditional subjects were also taught entirely differently than what you had been used to back home in the U.S. You started taking tutions and learned first hand what it meant to be a student in Pakistan. Socially you had a nice group of friends, many of whom you have still kept up with to this day.

One of my best memories is when you and Saher came to visit me a few months after my wedding. We really got to spend a lot of quality time and I was so thrilled to have you guys by my side as we went up and down the East Coast. Shifa there’s been so much that you have accomplished and its unbelievable the things that you have done and your wide range of interests from learning German and traveling to Germany, your volunteering with different social institutions, your essays being published nd your amazing artwork. Shifa you are an amazingly talented woman who excels at everything you have layed your hands on (okay maybe not the Urdu subject) You are an extremely hard worker but most of all you are one of the most caring and loving person I have ever met. If you don’t believe me ask Humza!

So Shifa please forgive me for not knowing the details of the last 6 years  of your life.  You are and always will be my baby sister so even if im not there with you or don’t express it openly you are one of the dearest people to me and I really miss not being there with you to celebrate the beautiful person you are. May Allah bless you, make you amongst the righteous and make you the leader of the pious people as well as the coolness for our parents eyes – Ameen

But There’s no Costco in the City

On Monday I went to go visit my bestie in the city, I walked into her cool artsy studio in the district with my 2 year old in tow. Bundles of magazines, a cheerful Buddha and a beautiful painting that her grandmother had painted were on the side of the wall.

We caught up on each others weekend, scanned family pictures on Facebook and then got ready to walk to the zoo. I was happily sitting on the couch sipping my chai but my friend insisted that we walk. She is very focused on health and fitness and for fun likes to walk. I have a hard time understanding why I was being forced to walk when I had just made a comfy warm spot on the couch.  I reluctantly agreed and we grabbed cereal in a ziplock for Hassan and began our walk.

I saw several moms walking with their strollers down the busy sidewalk  and I turned to my friend and said with gratitude “I love living in the ‘burbs.'” She looked back at me surprised and asked why?

I stammered and said  there’s no Costco in the city! Where would I get diapers from? Other thoughts flashed through my head… Where would I park my car (parking is so difficult in the city), who would be my childs pediatrician?

She calmly responded to these absurd  concerns by saying “Saman there are doctors in the city,”  and  she added you wouldn’t have to park because you can walk everywhere or use the metro.

I wasn’t convinced,  “How would I walk everywhere and what about my double stroller, it won’t fit in the Metro!” She replied saying that I  would just need to change my double stroller so that its the stackable kind.

“Didn’t everyone want to move to the burbs when raising a family?” I thought to myself, why do I have to explain to my friend that the city is not a place to raise kids. But what seems like a very obvious choice in my head doesn’t hold true for my friend and many other people.  The appeal for my friend was about accessibility, she wanted to skip the whole loading the kids in the car process  and just walk to places in the city. She thought that the city lifestyle is a more active lifestyle with lots of more opportunities to explore area parks and take advantage of the diverse cultural experiences. I agree with her I feel that kids would be exposed to many more different types of people and  would be engaging with people on the street, in the metro and even the elevators of their own apartment buildings.

I’m not sure I would be able to appreciate raising a family in the city because I feel that the most important thing for me is an active Mosque community.  Things like an Halal meat store and a Pakistani grocery store would be very neccesary and I have become a total suburbanite with my easy access parking to walmart, my costco membership and my kids love for Chuck E. Cheese.

While the city life is not for us  I now realize that what seems like a hassle to me (living in the city with young kids) is loved and valued by many people. It’s about changing perspective and adjusting to the surroundings around you. I think there are pros and cons to raising kids in the city but I think that is something that each family has to decide for themselves.

The city kids may not have easy access to suburban malls  and Chuck E. Cheese but if my friend decides to have kids Im sure her kids would be very well acquainted with the zoo, the Smithsonian Museums and without a doubt will be much cooler than me.

 

 

Jummah with the Kids

8:15- I wake up and  reach for my iphone to check  facebook  (I mean the news)  I am reminded by many friends status’s that today is Jummah. Inspirational verses from the Quran and updates such as “TAIF” – Thank Allah Its Friday – get me excited for Jummah!

 

8:30 A.M – “Wouldn’t it be great if I could keep Jummah as a special time to bond with my boys?” I think to myself.

8:45 -In my mind the scene unfolds like this: Friday morning after taking a nice shower and wearing my new Lawn shalwaar Kameez my squeaky clean children put on their Kufis and we arrive at the mosque. My angelic kids first listen to the  Khutbah and then pray besides me.  They then go off to play with their friends at the playground. Afterwards we go to the Rice and Kabob where my kids  gobble down the food while I talk to them about the lessons we’ve learned in the khutbah.

9:45 –  Reality beckons… Humza is being chased  by his younger brother with a wooden spoon, there is alot of screaming, THUD, Hassan falls, CRYING ensues…Simultaneously corresponding with the crying is the pressure cooker’s whistle (PHEWWW)  letting me know that i’m on my 10th whistle which means my aloo gosht (beef and potato stew) is ready.

11:00 – Breakfast is done, fights over, thinking of having a cup of chai and then getting the into kids the shower, this is the point I re-check all the ADAMS times and locations and make a game plan. GAME TIME ON!

More often than not my dream that I  had at 8:45 every Jummah never makes it to fruition possibly because my kids are never squeaky clean and who really would have the time to iron a lawn shawar kameez?

I think about all the preparations that I will have to make to get to Jummah and ensure that my kids last an hour without a major meltdown

1) Snacks – cereal, goldfish, chips, fruits, juice

2) Wipes and napkins – Sounds basic but with all the snacks and choas you need them!

2) Cars – I always think im not going to take a car because I want them to learn to self entertain themselves, also they end up fighting or losing their cars. However based on past experiences, I’ve learned that all the other boys always bring some sort of car/toys and that causes even a bigger problem because then my kids hover over the other kids toys.

To be honest its a draining expereince but still every Jummah I have an internal struggle of why I should just be extra patient and head over to Jummah. Here are some reasons why:

Family Bonding Time

When I was growing up, going to Sunday school was the most annoying thing to do. Waking up early to catch up on Sunday school Homework such as the last minute essays on the importance of the five pillars was not exactly memorable. What was memorable was the whole chaos surrounding it. My mother would yell to get us in the car, we would be trying to find our scarves and inevitably there would be a discussion about the clothes we were wearing to the mosque and the reasons why next time we should just wear shalwar kameez… can anyone relate?

Your kids will start school and you won’t really have the option of spending Jummah with them, so bite the bullet pack the snacks and toys and throw those kids in the car!

Getting Kids familir with the Mosque environment

Believe  it or not the mosque is a perfect place to take younger kids. It’s an open space they can wander if they get bored and there are not many dangerous things around. That being said many people are concerned that their kids will disturb other peoples Jummah. That is a valid concern but if we don’t expose our kids to the mosque environement and the rules of the place then how can we expect them to learn?  Moms be prepared to take your kids out of the prayer area if they are having a melt down, but otherwise don’t worry, kids will make noises and they will wander.

Spiritual Benefits

Jummah Jihad is what comes to my mind when I think of getting my two boys ready for Jummah. Before you flip out the Jihad is the struggle that I have every Friday morning to just pray at home versus going to the actual Mosque. Althought it may be spiritually more rewarding to pray at home while the kids are napping, if you are going in with the intention of making your kids familiar with the Mosque and instilling in them the love and importance of Allah (SWT) then you will inshAllah get rewarded for that.

Social Benefits

There are social benefits for  both the mothers and the kids. Mothers can meet other women, correspond play dates and learn about other things that are going on at the mosque. Going to Jummah cuts the “routine” and allows for mothers to get  dressed and read their Jummah prayer in congregation. It also gives them the opportunity to enjoy their friday afternoon with friends or enjoy a nice lunch. A breath of fresh air and getting out of a routine does wonders for a mother!

Althought I write all this and I believe in all the positive aspects of taking your child to Jummah, I know that its hard getting out for Jummah and sometimes we have had negative experinces that may cause mothers with young kids to hesitate going. Lets try to motivate each other and make it to Jummah with our kids, inshallah may Allah reward all the mothers who go the “extra” mile!

Do you have any Jummah Experiences? Positive or Negative? Advice please share!