I give up. I’m surrendering. I won’t do it any more—it’s an impossible mission. It is no longer my responsibility if kids get hurt, property is damaged, our image gets tarnished, food gets wasted, or it’s noisy during Taraweeh prayer. Are you listening? I am officially resigning from my twenty-five year stint as a self-appointed member of the Etiquette Police…. I’m worn out. Exasperated. Defeated.
I have only myself to blame. I took on the job thirty years ago when I reverted to Islam. No one asked me to do it. No one even wanted me to do it! There is just something inside me that cries out for order, rules, politeness, etiquette, consideration and all that stuff that gives dignity to a community. I had to save the Ummah.
I knew I had a mission when I went to my first convention and saw the kids running UP the DOWN escalators—it was that first shout, “STOP, THAT,” that made me think. Yes, I can make a difference. OK… I should have paid more attention to the fact that the kids ignored me and the mothers were right there, but I was so wrapped up in my new dream, my new image for our Ummah, that it just didn’t register. Yes, I can make a difference. Insha’allah. I’ll take it on.
“Put your shoes on the rack, don’t waste the food, stand in line, take turns, stop the running, wash your hands, watch your kids, don’t eat in the masjid, pick up the trash, take turns, don’t be late, don’t pick the flowers, shhhhhhhhhhh!!!” Surely over the past twenty years you must have heard me. I was everywhere!!
My delivery did improve over the years from that of a crazed mad woman to a more controlled, calm, delivery with just an occasional maniacal outburst (Alhamdulillah). And through it all, with a certain dignity, I endured the angry, mind-your-own-business, what’s-your-problem, control-freak, lock-her-up, ugly-American, looks. I ignored the who-cares, laissez-faire attitude of others around me. OK… I have to admit I did not always endure with dignity. Sometimes it got pretty ugly, but hey, I have my weaknesses, too. I had a mission and it was noble and I wasn’t giving up. Alhamdulillah.
The mission may have been noble but it’s no longer mine. I’m tired. I had the madness, but not the method. I did it because I cared. I wanted something better for those I love. I wanted us to live our Islam. Alhamdulillah. But now it’s time for someone else to take it on, and I realize now that it has to be you. Yes, you! You can do it! You have to do it! You can bring dignity back to our nation, insha’allah. And the method is really quite easy and simple. Really! Really it is!!!
All you have to do, dear sisters, is to teach your toddler to put her shoes on the rack.
Sumayah Guilford lives in Germantown, Md. and is the mother of three now grown, homeschooled children and two grandchildren. She enjoys reading and inspiring others in the areas of self-development, parenting, and creative activities for kids.