I guess during all of my preparations for Ramadan, there was this nagging doubt. This anxiety that wouldn’t go away. I had attributed it to the fact that during Ramadan, we seldom leave the house. I passed it off as concern about the long days that my people would be fasting. I told myself that it was me, being worried about my ability to take care of them – in the way I wanted to do so.
Ramadan began, for our family, as a slow crawl. I printed out the Quran Schedule from Noor-Janan that I found by way of Karima’s Crafts. (I follow Karima’s page on Facebook.) We ate tacos for the first 3 days of Ramadan, and listened to the Quran using this handy chart. We made smoothies and talked about stories of the prophets. The work week began and we settled into a routine. Everything was going fairly easily.
Then Khaled mentioned a community Iftar.
And the doubt, that fierce anxiety grew bigger.
I hoped he would change his mind.
I worried that he wouldn’t.
Even up until Saturday morning, I thought he would change his mind again, knowing how traumatizing it was for us last year.
Then he mentioned it again…and went to take a nap.
I knew then that I needed to gird myself with a plan of action. I gathered up the people and talked to them about going. I took a survey of their feelings on the matter without revealing any of my own. Then I asked their opinion on what we should take to the dinner. Usually, with the community Iftars the main foods are provided and the community members that can contribute, bring a dessert. I also know that at this mosque, there is a woman’s buffet table and a men’s buffet table.
So, we made brownies. Two big pans. From scratch. This was my easy go-to dessert. I always have the ingredients on hand because you never know when one of the children will drop a bomb on you at bedtime – telling you they need 24 brownies by 3rd period tomorrow.
And when Khaled woke up, we talked about my anxiety and made contingency plans. If *sh!+* hit the fan, I could leave. We took 2 cars, I had cold water in my car so that if we needed to drive home, at least the ladies would have water to drink until we got to the food. There was leftovers in the fridge.
I decided to wear one of my abayas. I thought that if I dressed the part, I wouldn’t stand out as much. LOL THEN I did my fancy business makeup. (When I started going to networking events, my fantastic Mary Kay DIVA taught me about wearing business makeup. Its like the battle gear for me because it gives me confidence to talk to people I feel intimidated by.)
So, brownies in hand, wearing abaya and business makeup; we went to the mosque.
I walked into the women’s entrance, and found the posse of aunties and cousins working to set up the room. I found a familiar face to give the brownies to, and offered to help. I was told ‘No.’ I could attend the lecture or I could sit at a table.
My daughters had gone off and found their friends. Khaled looked into the room from the men’s side…asking if I wanted to come with him. But the lecture was being given in Arabic. So, I wouldn’t understand anything…and I would be hiding. So, I stayed.
I made a few attempts at helping to set out water bottles, and one lady welcomed me to the mosque like I was a stranger there…even though I was wearing abaya and had my hair covered, AND I clearly knew my way around the building.
UNTIL my friend arrived. She is the wife of the Imam. She speaks just enough English – just like Naina – that we can work through conversations. We greeted each other with big, big hugs; not the kind of ‘in the club’ busses that are de rigeur in Muslim circles. I asked her how she was doing…and when she gave me the pat answer…I asked again. She laughed and hugged me again, because she knows I can see that she isn’t totally O.K. but doesn’t have all the words to really answer me. We talked about her girls and about an abaya she gave me.
Then the Mother & Mother in Law of my friends walked in. (This is confusing. She is the mother of one of my friends…the mother in law of my other friend.) She’s a gramma. She is Egyptian, and every time I see her she reminds me of our Naina. So, when I greet her, I greet her as if she was MY Mother in Law. I give her big hugs, and the busses on each cheek….and I tell her, ‘Naina – its soo good to see you!’ I call her Naina out of respect. I think she understands this, but she always gets a big kick out of it and smiles widely, while telling anyone around her in Arabic that I called her Naina.
After this, the aunties give me a job to do.
The tables are being set with a family style service. There isn’t a buffet. The men will sit here…and the women and children will sit here.
And more and more people arrive that I know…
And I sit with my friend, the wife. And I sit with my other friend, the mother of my student. And I sit with Kate and Pea.
We eat, we talk, we laugh. The hour passes and the husbands are ready. The tables are cleared by the men in the community and the room is cleared and set up for Taraweeh prayers. (The women use the multi-purpose room for Taraweeh prayers.)
The ladies and I clear our plates and I carry the piece of Bassboussa I’ve saved for Khaled towards the door. We are leaving.
He meets me at the door to check on me. He needs to see, with his eyes – close up, that I’m okay. He mentions that he couldn’t find any Bassboussa. I laugh and hand him the piece I’ve saved for him. The aunties notice, and smile. I smile and let him know I’m okay.
It was good.
It was a success.
I’m not anxious.