Saturday, 15 July 2017

Looking Inwards, Sadness, Anger and Reflection

The last few weeks have been the hardest weeks of my life.
Trouble with the children, bad habits they have picked up, bad behaviour I am trying desperately to manage and counteract
Doubts about myself as a mother and my approach to parenting.
Misunderstandings with my better half
Long soul baring talks with him
Finding my feet again with my health and self-care
Exhaustion that lead me to drop into bed and fall into a stupor of immediate sleep at the end of the day

I have found myself doubting every decision I have made and questioning the foundations that we have built our life on.

I have veered between wondering if Allah (SWT) is angry with me and punishing me or if in His love he is testing me.

It has made me lose interest in my work and in the good things in life.
I have had weeks of anxiety and sadness and just utter misery.

I have wanted to blog, to journal and vent.
But I have just not been able to.
I thought I could not find the words.
But in reality I had lost not the words, but the heart and my courage.
Some things cut too deep and are too private to share.

So after weeks of trying to set things straight, cajole and keep people calm, I have gotten very angry. The anger has led me to make some strong decisions

I have decided to take Little Lady out of Islamic school. She has hated it almost from the beginning and has begged us to let her change to a different school. She dropped out of her Alimah (scholar's) course at the end of her second year which was pretty painful for us and railroaded our plans for how we wanted to raise our children: as pople of knowledge and people of the Quran insh'Allah (hafiz and alim).

Instead, I have found her change into a rude, grumpy child (yes I know she is a teen now), but also one that isn't as close to her faith as she was before, which is very hard for me to accept. Almost every girl in her class apart from her has a smart phone and access to Snapchat and Instagram. They are heavily influenced by the "kardashian culture" and the fake rubbish they see everywhere: mansions, parties, haram(i) fashion, enough make up to cover ten faces, pouting and singing along to songs on their Snapchat, flirting with boys, being out at night. Hell - I saw one girl her age on her Snapchat driving a car at night with her boy cousins.

All Little Lady saw was that everyone else was doing this stuff and she was missing out because her parents were too strict. So despite our best efforts to show her beautiful a clean, Islamic life can be, other influences have seeped in. Her friends at school have been letting her use their phones to create a Snapchat account, which gives her a window onto this world.

I would challenge any parents to ask their child to share their smart phone and let them into all of the apps if they have nothing to hide. Work out how to view Snapchat snaps, streaks and messages. If you don't know what a streak is, find out. Take a look at their Instagram messages and their Instagram feed. I think these will be an eye-opener and for some Muslim parents devastating that their little Asiya or Khadija could be looking at or doing these things. People think their kids are not on Facebook or Twitter so they are safe from the worries that social media can bring. But kids are not interested in Facebook or Twitter, but apps that are far more transient with everything disappearing as they view it.

In any case, Little Lady felt that all these girls looked beautiful with their stylish (I would say skanky) clothes and with their hair down, while she was wearing hijab and modest clothes. It really made me question the work I had put in to teach her to be modest and love the hijab. It also made me very angry that my work could be undone by this pernicious culture.

So at the end of the year I am taking her out of school and sending her to a regular school with her brother if she gets a place insh’Allah, at least he is happy and achieving well alhamdulillah.

The anger has seeped wider, I am putting my foot down with the kids and have decided to give them minimal or no access to the internet this summer. They need to find useful things to do and they need to help me a lot more. Much more. I am finding five children, a household to look after, work and everyone at my doorstep with things for me to do quite exhausting. As my sister says, I need to learn to start saying no to people. I love to help people, I am aware of the blessing of hosting guests – but it has to be done with happiness rather than in a state of frantic stress.

I am also in a place of questioning this peaceful parenting business. I always thought that our parent’s physical discipline of us made us angry and less able to deal with things in a mature way. But it also seems that constantly negotiating, persuading and explaining to our children has made them a bit lazy and entitled. So sod that. I may come back to peaceful parenting when I am in better space, but at this time, I will be introducing some old fashioned authoritarianism – people will do what they are told, people will do chores and then more chores. Some people who thought they could be grumpy and not listen will be respectful and super, extra respectful to their grandmother (my mother in law, my mum brooks no nonsense from anyone alhamdulillah). I may even introduce daily leg massages for their gran to teach them a little care of elders. Certainly they all need to take turns to help me clean, cook and launder.

Children coming to my house will have to leave their smart devices at home or and them in to me. I will take them out places during summer holidays, but not more than I can afford. I have long given into moaning, guilt tripping and all out harassment. Little Man can spend days haranguing me to get what he wants. My kindness and easy going nature has been taken advantage of for quite some time.

Hubby has travelled to Pakistan for two months for dawah work (with Tablighi Jamaat) and to see his family. I spent about two days feeling lost and weak and wondering if it was sadness from him being gone, until I almost fell over twice and realised it was low blood pressure. I am absolutely terrible at listening to my body and understanding what is happening until I faint or fall over or the Doctor tells me I need treatment for something I thought was just me being not tough enough.

These weeks of self-doubt, revelations about my children and missing hubby have been tough. It is not in my nature to stay down, but to take action and do what it takes to rectify the situation. But there are some things you can’t just fix and that take time, patience and reflection and so you just have to persevere through the anxiety and tears.

Then there is anger, there is something delicious and empowering about righteous anger that washes away the anxiety and assuages some of the pain. It gives you the strength to do the things you need to do and take the steps you might have felt are too big for you to take alone. It also puts the fire in your words that makes people sit up and listen and think – “I better do as I am told”. I think I will hold onto it a little longer until I have my home and life back in order and I no longer feel taken advantage of insh'Allah


  1. Anonymous16 July, 2017

    Hugs and best wishes. I was wondering where you had gone--life throws some challenges at everyone and it's good to hear that you are dealing with them well.
    I would encourage you not to worry too much about your daughter. It seems like she's just being a normal teenager. I do think that putting her in a normal school is the best thing to do but don't worry--all kids are awful at this age--I know I certainly was! And as she gets older she will understand her faith and her culture better.
    I don't know how you do it! You sound like you have a lot on your plate and honestly getting kids to do chores is the best outcome for you and for them. There's something very thereapeutic about being given responsibility for a chore and performing it every day. They will thank you for it in the long run!
    Make sure you look after your mental and physical health. It's great to see you blogging again. I missed you!

  2. Anonymous16 July, 2017

    Salam aleikoum, through your blog I (a muslim mother of 3, working and living in France) can tell you how an amazing mum you are. You will have better days biidhniAllah. Don't stop to try and take care fo you. Best wishes Fadella

  3. I pray Allah will guide you through this difficult period and will make your heart peaceful. Please remember that Allah only tests the ones He loves and don't doubt this. I know it is difficult, but try to make your connection with Allah stronger during these trying times. Incha Allah, He will help you and guide you, and ease your sorrows. You are in my thoughts and duas. Best wishes, hugs and salaam, Maryam

  4. Bismillah Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah dear sis, I read your post after a long time. You have been in my mind dear. May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala make everything easy for you and full of Baraka, ameen! You have been an amazing inspiration mashAllah tabarakallah. Don't ever let Shaitan or your lower nafs make you feel hopeless. Remember Allah is always watching you, your struggle to worship Him thorough so many roles He has given you. I know how hectic and stressful life can become as a wife, mum etc. You do your best in sha Allah and leave the rest on Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. Give yourself a break dear. When I feel so overwhelmed I leave the kids with their dad or any of my reliable family members and I go to the park to breathe and reflect on my life and most importantly have a meaningful , heartfelt conversation with my Rabb. I don't need to explain anything to Him unlike others. I don't need to justify my (negative) feelings. I feel really relaxed after my me time with Him. I feel like I can do it with His help. I'm sure you can do it too sis bi'idnillahi ta'ala. In sha Allah one day you will read this post of yours and smile thinking how things have changed so much and for better in sha Allah. I hope we can meet up during the summer break in sha Allah. By the way, I completely agree with your regarding introducing some authoritarian parenting technique:-)My attachment parenting technique hasn't worked . I am trying to follow my mum in law and mum's parenting style. Hope it works in sha Allah. Alhamdulillah it has worked for them mashAllah ;-)

    1. Any tips on how to combine respectful and loving parenting (as in line with the Sunnah) and more authoritarian parenting techniques are very welcome!! Salaam, Maryam Umm Abd-Arrahmen

  5. Anonymous17 July, 2017

    Dear sister, you have been on my mind since I read your latest entry. Dear sister, these days it is very hard to keep children away from these bad influences. I even have Christian friends who talk about this and that their kids feel bad they are the only one in their classes without smartphones. Even friends living in the strictest Islamic countries have classmates acting this "kardashian culture " out. I often wonder how these other parents just turn a blind eye to the nonsense of this and let their kids be consumed by the dunya, materialism, and these "fun" snapchat and instagram apps.The teenage years are hard and it is harder for serious Muslim (and Christian) parents to keep them away from this. I don't know you personally, but have followed your blog for a long time. MashAllah I remember when Little Lady started wearing hijab-it was her own choice and that was amazing! It's sad how these problems happened in an Islamic school! Instilling in her the transience of this dunya and a love of Our Merciful Creator will keep her on the right path Inshallah. Allah created us only to worship Him. May Allah bless you dear sister and your sweet family and keep us all on the straight path Ameen.