Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim
Salaam Alaikum wa Rahmatullah
Yesterday I wrote a rather, uh, forceful post about marriage and how sometimes the men are not doing their part to make an Islamic home. Well, I don’t want to be accused of man-bashing, because that is certainly not my intent. We women are just as flawed as our brothers, so sometimes we need a good kick in the pants as well. I’ll be happy to oblige (and I’ll be kicking myself as well, don’t worry).
Okay, first and foremost, a disclaimer: I LOVE my computer, love writing, and would happily sit in front of this monitor for hours and do nothing but write. Okay, sometimes I DO sit happily in front of this monitor and do nothing but write. So, don’t think I’m a hypocrite, but I know due to my weakness at getting up and away from the computer that many of us women have a weakness at getting up and away from the computer. There, I said it! This computer can be great. It can be a way to keep in touch with distant family and friends; it can be a source of inspiration and education as we take advantage of the many Islamic websites; it can be a source of bonding with our kids as we show them educational games online and teach them how to play. That’s all warm and fuzzy and nice. But the other side is this: It can be a huge source of fitnah and a monstrous waste of time, a source of jealousy for the husband and a cause for your marriage to end. Just like fire, it can be good or bad.
Let’s start with games. Farmville, Mafia Wars, Petville, Fishville, and on and on. What are these games but huge, gigantic time wasters? How much time do you spend on these games (and here I say you because I refuse to play them and have blocked the apps completely) when you could be doing something in the real world? Even if you live in an apartment, you can grow real food by nurturing some herbs in a pot on a sunny windowsill. If you have a yard you can plant a few tomatoes (which we did, feeding not ourselves but the neighborhood squirrels; they left the peppers for us, though). You can plant something real in real dirt and get your kids involved, too. Mafia Wars? Well, I won’t advocate going out and whacking someone, but you can play a lively game of shoot-em-up bang-bang with the little ones and get exercise too.
Yes, I’m telling you to GET OFF THE COMPUTER. We use it as a social tool, which is great, but when it becomes a substitute for real-life connections, it’s a crutch and an addiction. I have to be the first to admit that I have used it in this way. With a passel of kids and a car not big enough to fit all of them, going out anywhere is an impossible logistical challenge right now. The internet is my window on the world, and I’ve climbed through it and sometimes have not wanted to climb out.
But I am changing that. I have neighbors, moms with kids, right around the corner. I am trying to come out of my shell and talk to them more. Just last night, at a school function for my son, I asked him to introduce me to the mom of one of his friends who comes over to play a lot. He led me to a wheelchair-bound woman and her husband. Wow, talk about a wakeup call! Someone just a few blocks away, someone whose son comes into my house, and I didn’t know she was in this situation. I reached out to her by telling her she can send her kids my way anytime, that I would be happy to get anything she needs from the store when I go, because she has to go into a nursing home now due to the injuries that left her unable to walk well. You could see in their eyes that they were happy to connect. I promise myself that I will keep tabs on her and make time to visit somehow, and watch her kids now that her husband will be effectively single-parenting them. I would not have been able to make this connection if I had been plopped on my butt in front of the computer.
Now, I’m going to do something strange. I’m going to tell you to GET ON THE COMPUTER. But get on it for the right reason. You need to listen to a lecture; turn up the volume and do it while you are cooking. You need to learn more Qur’an – You can’t chastise your husband for only knowing a few surahs if you know even fewer. And if you’re not an Arabic speaker, that’s no excuse. There are lots and lots of websites for learning Qur’an and the only excuse for not memorizing is that you’re not trying. One verse a day. You can do one verse a day. I know you know every theme song to every cartoon your kid watches. I know you know the theme song to “Psych” and you can quote the opening to the Law & Order shows. YOU CAN MEMORIZE QUR’AN. So go do it already. I promise to start working on surah Yasin again. You can go look at my pictures on Facebook to see my (halting) progress. I’m no whiz at it, but when I get into it I do okay.
Okay, now get off the computer again. Go clean. I am so not into housework. I hate it. But it has to be done. If you are working or not working, unless you have a cleaning lady, you have housework to do. Dishes in the sink. Walls with jelly handprints. Dust bunnies under the bed. Ring around the bathtub. And that’s just in MY house. If you take it a bit at a time, break it down into small, doable tasks, you can keep on top of it. My house will never be white-glove presentable, but I am working at keeping it in better order and doing something every day. Yesterday I touched up the bathrooms, vacuumed my room, put lamps in my room with nice shades to make the room look nice, and directed the kids in cleaning up their toys. I even cleaned the little oscillating fan in our room that had developed a nice overlay of dust. Did I spend hours on my knees, scrubbing with a toothbrush? No. But I did accomplish something.
I won’t tell you how to do every task every day. I don’t know your particular situation. A lot of you work and then have to come home and work all over again. I know most of my sisters are not there sitting on the sofa watching Oprah and eating bon bons. But I know a lot of us could be doing more. I start with me, trust me. As soon as I’m done here I’m getting off the computer and getting busy. I gave myself “play time” because this is the time of day when the baby is napping or quiet so I can have uniterrupted time to write. It’s something I do for myself and I’m not giving it up for anyone. But now, instead of staying at the computer and going on to Second Life or posting numerous status updates, I’m going to get off the computer and go do something that does not involve eating or watching TV (except I haven’t had breakfast yet so I’ll have some cereal).
There will be a part two to this later, the part that deals with not just you but your other half. But for now, the baby needs me and my house needs me, and later my husband will be home and I want to have the house in good repair for him. Because while I’m here, enjoying the comfort of my home, he’s out trying to make a buck working harder than just about any man I know, and it would be a shame for me to sit here and take advantage of that and not do my part.