You poor dears.
Bored of meetings in spare office spaces instead of play dates. You sit on my knees while I type emails and I bribe you with Sunmaid raisin boxes and cheerios for a few more minutes to finish up this or that. You become resigned to my requests for “five more minutes,” and so often I realize I take advantage of a toddler’s patience.
As a MAS Youth worker, I get fellow activists without children sometimes coming up to me and expressing admiration at how we moms manage to stay active with multiple little people in our arms. The truth is, it is not easy and there is guilt. Oh yes, guilt. Especially at those moments when our intentions are buried somewhere under mountains of dirty laundry and mega blocks. At playgrounds and mothers’ discussion boards, I meet the kind of moms who take their children’s drawings, trace them on burlap, embroider the drawings, frame them, and hang them up in little rows along the stairs.
Wow. I… Huh.
Maybe in the hours during the day that I spent on the computer or on conference calls, I could have read fifty more stories to you. I could have cuddled you a little more and taught you how to write your ABCs at three years instead of four. Maybe you would have gotten more baths. You would have eaten more vegetables and less cereal. Our home would be tidier, the walls of your room would be stenciled, and you would have knitted sweaters and socks and get to bake homemade cookies.
But wasn’t there something different in our home? Was there a light, a glow, a warmth, something that special was not from this earth? Please tell me you learned something from me being an active Muslim woman working for a better future.
Out of everything you learn at home, I hope you learn first of all what it means to lay your life down in the service of Allah. Certainly you will not learn this from me, but I pray you will learn it from the people I associate with, the ideas we invite to, and the values I teach you. I hope Allah will guide you, despite my mistakes and shortcomings, if only because I tried in my clumsy way to please Him.
Nothing can limit you in doing what you dream of, and yes, you can have it all. You can be a mother, an activist, a wife, an explorer, a dreamer, an artist, a debater, a scientist, and a volunteer. You can be many or all of these, but the only calling I as your mother will insist upon is that you be a true believer. One day you will grow up a woman, a parent, a wife, a sister, but before all of that I pray you will trade your soul for Allah’s pleasure. However you choose to make that bargain with Allah, whether you choose to dedicate your life to raising righteous children, pursue a career serving others, or dedicate yourself to a movement for social justice, I hope you would have gotten just the tiniest, itsy-bit of inspiration from me.
And, I pray that you feel blessed to have been my child.
Maha Ezzeddine lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and three daughters. She is a dedicated MAS worker, part-time writer, creative homemaker and beloved daughter, sister and friend.