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Monthly Archives: April 2006

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We are the champions, my friend…

When they ask whether you’re ready to be a parent, what they really mean is, “Do you know any lullabies?” Apart from the weirdly morbid “Rock a bye-baby” and a few lines of “Go to Sleep,” that were reworded to sing at summer camp, it turns out that I am sadly lacking in the lullaby department. Instead, I maintain a maternal jukebox of Yusuf Islam, Dawud Wharnsby Ali, a little bit of Bob Marley, and some Freddy Mercury that would make Queen flinch.

(We will, we will BURP YOU!)

A while ago someone asked me what being a mother was like. I thought for a bit, and the most honest thing I could say was that it was like having a gigapet that you can’t turn off. Of course, that’s not the whole truth, because your brain is not hardwired to pop out of bed like a piece of hyperactive toast at the gigapet’s tiniest little beep, twenty-four hours a day. And a gigapet cannot melt you with its first sloppy, lopsided smile. And a gigapet won’t bury its warm little face in your shoulder and sigh with contentment when it’s full, and a gigapet won’t fall asleep on your stomach and look so perfect and so peaceful that you sit watching it for the next half an hour out of awe.

So ok, motherhood may not really be like owning a gigapet, but what else could I have told the guy? I might have said that it was like emotional bootcamp, but then I would be neglecting to mention the immense emotional returns, and when’s the last time a drill sergeant made you feel all warm and fuzzy?


The Husband Files: Insert rimshot here.


Me: (pointing to pile of shirts) The room is a mess and it’s all your fault, we live in squalor!

HF: No, we live in the UAE.

The Baby Files: One Month, Alhamdulillah

If you went to an electronics store and the salesman tried to sell you an expensive piece of equipment that came with no manual, required round the clock maintenance and would not perform anything except very basic functions for the next three years, would you buy it? And yet we have children, because they are the embodiment of love and the promise of future. They are tiny, beautiful, vulnerable extensions of our own selves. They are us, reborn. They give us the ability to remake ourselves through them, hopefully this time with less mistakes, and hopefully with better looking ears this time.

It’s been four weeks of being a Momma now, and I’m not sure where to start. I’m exhausted but coping. I’m emotionally depleted but have discovered new reserves. I haven’t had a full night’s rest for a month now, and the circles under my eyes are looking permanent, but SubhanAllah, SubhanAllah, I am happy.

I find it amazing, no, awing that every single mother goes through this. Rather, ever single blessed mother goes through this, because Alhamdulillah, my child is blessed to be without disability or illness that would make this process even more difficult than it is. Taking care of a newborn has, like the pain of delivery, pushed me farther than I thought I could ever go. I never thought I could survive, thrive even, on a series of naps for an entire month. Khalid never sleeps for more than three hours at a time, and he usually sleeps for much less, and that means I do too. Once upon a time if I had less than say, five hours of sleep it would be difficult for me to function. Now I dream of getting five hours, and although I miss rest and sleep and waking up naturally, I don’t hold this schedule against my son. My tiny little boy has a tiny little stomach, and he can’t sleep when he’s hungry. I can’t either, actually.

I miss keeping in contact with my friends, but my son is more important than email. I miss getting dressed and feeling like a presentable human being, but I have a limited amount of time and getting dressed has fallen rather low on the list of priorities. Khalid comes first, after that comes the husband and the house and food and laundry and hey, yesterday I had ten minutes free so I washed my face and made the bed. It felt nice.

There’s a pulled muscle in my right shoulder, just where it joins my neck, that’s been killing me for three days now. I don’t have the option of going easy on it, because I need my right shoulder.

And my left shoulder.

And a third shoulder would be helpful.

I think that instead of getting fat while pregnant I should’ve put my effort into growing another arm. You need one when the baby comes, trust me. You only make the mistake of taking a wet baby out of the bath without having a towel ready once. After that you learn to lay the towel in your lap before even putting the baby in the bath so that your naked little Bebeface doesn’t start crying and shivering when he’s taken out of the warm water.

(Either that or you grow a third arm so that you can hold the baby with two hands and open the towel with the new one.)

Please remember us in your duas, pray that God gives my son a character that He loves and makes the road to righteousness smooth for him. Please pray that I grow a third arm.

Peace & Chikken Grease

Ook, ook?

Good news: I’m wearing a pair of my old jeans.
Bad news: I can’t feel my legs.

I am, at the moment, 25 pounds away from my previous weight and I don’t feel intimidated by the challenge. I have rediscovered an old superpower- I am the Captain of My Stomach.

My position as Captain was awarded years ago, but I had let control of the ship slip into the hands of the monkey that just happens to be aboard all self-respecting pirate ships. Incidentally the monkey (like all self-respecting monkeys) wanted nothing but bananas. The monkey didn’t care whether the way it was going was dangerous or unhealthy or silly looking in jeans that fit just last week, it just wanted bananas.

It’s not like monkeys can read, so of course the monkey wasn’t using a map (stupid monkey) so the monkey was steering the ship into Thar Be Monsters but the Captain (who had just eaten an extra helping of bananas) was too lethargic and too out of shape to do anything about it.

After a time we found ourselves in the uncharted waters of 50 pounds overweight.

Don’t get me wrong, I like bananas too. Who doesn’t like the occasional chocolate-dipped banana? And who wouldn’t want that chocolate-dipped banana to be rolled in peanut butter and deep-fried?

I digress.

As Captain of my Stomach, I had to take the ship’s wheel away from the unruly stomach-monkey. (Who in their right mind lets a monkey steer a ship anyway?) It was time to try and eat according to the Sunnah.

No human being fills a container to worse effect than he fills his own stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to have a few bites to keep himself fit. If he must eat then let him use one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for breathing. -Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

Have you ever tried to eat according to the Sunnah, filling 1/3 of your stomach with food, 1/3 with water, and leaving 1/3 empty? It’s surprisingly difficult to tell yourself that you’re done eating long before you feel full, and that the whole idea is that you never feel full because you never fill yourself to capacity. Our whole lives we’re told to eat until we’re full (Are you done eating? Are you full?) and we celebrate by stuffing ourselves because a full stomach is equated with happiness and contentment. The truth is that a full stomach means you’ve eaten about double what you needed to, and caving to the demands of you appetite means that your brain (who knows better) is subservient to your stomach monkey (who demands more).

For me, humoring my stomach is a form of weakness, a lack of will power, and a backsliding into jaahil eating practices that took years to train out of me. Eating according to the Sunnah is not a diet or a temporary change of habits, it is a permanent way of rethinking your relationship with food and how much you need of it. Try it, and when you finally succeed, you’ll be amazed by how light, how alert, and how extremely different you feel. It will take some doing, but come on, who’s in charge, you or the monkey?

Two Minute Blog: My son the lethal weapon.

Yesterday BebeFace sneezed with the pacifier in his mouth. Rather, the pacifier had been in his mouth until it was shot out at a dangerously high velocity, landing on the opposite side of the bed. Apart from devious and well-aimed peeing skills, my son has now developed the ability to launch projectiles. My boy.