How you spend your day, is how you will spend the rest of your life.

Not sure where i read this.

Might have been in a book, or some random article on the internet.

Nevertheless, this one sentence held so much force that it shook me to the core.

I probably read it on one of my not-so-good days and imagined spending the rest of my life in the same way.

I was petrified.

Do i really want to spend the rest of my life feeling sorry for myself? yelling at my kids? losing my temper? wanting to do a million things but not having the courage to do them? Do i want to spend the rest of my life with the same unhealthy habits?

NO. Absolutely not. I want to change, and the time is Now. Starting Today.

We all have things that we want to change about our life and  habits we want to ditch.

How? There is no one answer. What works for you, might not work for someone else.

What really helped me, when i had fallen into a deep abyss and saw no way out was, first and fore most, developing a deep and meaningful connection with God.

Another thing that really helped me, was a book by the well-known Robin Sharma: ” The Monk who Sold His Ferrari.”

I’ve never been a big fan of self-help books, but this is different. It has so many practical techniques that you apply and i promise you, you will see a difference!

Go Check it Out!

Marriage: the desi rehabilitation centre.

Have you ever come across families that believe that they should marry off their sons so that their wives could help them become more responsible and mature? “shaadi karwao do. Khud he theek ho jaye ga”. Really? If your son can’t deal with life when he is single and has very little responsibilities, how is he going to manage when he has a wife to deal with and hundreds of more responsibilities. He can’t. Marriage is extremely had. Becoming parents is even harder. And if you’re son can’t handle his own life properly please don’t marry him off and bring more people into his life, in hope that he will change. Don’t think that a wife has a magic wand and can instantly ‘fix’ him. That was your job. Not ours. We have children of our own, we don’t have the time and energy to undo the damage that you have done. Fix him first. Then marry him off.

Mums: the superheroes without capes.

We met a relative of a relative recently. Upon leaving, she commented that your boys are very good and well-mannered. MIL was very quick to reply : “because their dad is very strict”. She instantly took all the credit and shoved it in her son’s face.

I just smiled.

It’s how I react to everything now. Took a very deep breath and patted myself on the back. I don’t need anyone to appreciate my role as a mother because I Know, in my heart, that I deserve a lot of credit too. Not All, because dads play a very important role and my children’s father does too. But I DO deserve credit.

She was so quick to forget, that I’m up at 5:30. I am the one who has to convince the children to get out of bed. In the wee hours of the morning, when my own energy levels and motivation is nil, I put a big smile on my face and with a fake cheerful voice, lovingly and playful carry the kids from the bed to the bathroom. We hold ‘ the snail and the cheetah’ contest and see who gets ready first.

She was so quick to forgot that I’m the one running up and down two flight of stairs fetching bags, scarves, hats and book and gathering them by the front door.

She was quick to forget that I’m listening to demands about breakfast and trying to make sandwiches or cereal to fill them up before their day begins. Having breakfast myself is a luxury I can’t even afford anymore

She was quick to forget that while she is sleeping in her cosy bed, I’m running to the car to switch on the heater and bring it as close as possible to the front door so the kids are not cold. I’m the one who struggles to put them in their car seats, check all their bags and other necessary stuff.

She forgot that it’s me who drops the first one off, telling him that he’s going to have a good day and that he should listen to the teacher well and sit still during carpet time ( something he struggles with). I constantly remind him to say good morning to the people at breakfast club and encourage him to speak up ( he’s shy around adults) I remind him he’s confident and he can do everything. I leave with a hug and a kiss and the very necessary : “ I love you”.

In a race against time, I reach the younger one’s nursery. By this time, I have already diffused at least two tantrums about not going to school. On bad days, there is chaos in the car where he attempts to get out of the car seat and scream at the top of his lungs. She doesn’t know how many times I have had to park the car, get out and put him back in. After we reach, I always read a book to him before I head to work. Every morning I have to do this to settle him. It takes time and consumes my now dwindling energy. She doesn’t realise how I want to make sure he’s calm, happy and settled before I leave him. Again, a hug and a kiss and an : “ I love you” before I sit in the car, making sure I stop by the window to wave and blow a kiss.

She was quick to forget that even when I am at work, I’m constantly thinking about my children. I’m thinking of ways which can help them with their learning and behaviour at home.

She was quick to forget them I pick them up and bring them back. I have to make sure I have some healthy snacks for them in the car. I have to deal with their tantrums at pick up time because they are so mentally and physically drained that they almost always lose their shit in the first five minutes after I see them.

She seemed to forget that the time between reaching home and getting them into bed by 8:00, is filled up with chores and tasks that revolve around the kids. Giving them time to watch tv/ play the play station, reading Quran with Qari online, getting them into the bath, making sure they do some reading, some spelling, a bit of maths or English.

She forgets how many time I have to solve sibling rivalry, break up fights and arguments, coax them or force them to do what they have to do. Listen to complaints about how I am mean and I am a bully and I don’t let them do what they want to do (I.e watch tv the whole time)

She doesn’t realise that all these times I am literally having a nervous break down and everything and everyone is getting on my last nerve and all I want to do is open the front door and run out and disappear in the woods. But I still stay calm and get everything done without losing my own shit.

She doesn’t know how many stories I have to tell them before they actually sleep. How many values I try to instil in them. How I tell them that it’s important to be kind and respectful and have love for everyone and be happy and positive and trust and love Allah.

She doesn’t know that by the time I crash into bed and put yet another alarm for 5:30 in the morning I have used every ounce of my energy, love and patience in trying to be a good mother.

She doesn’t know. Maybe she never will. And that’s okay because YOU know, YOUR children know and ALLAH knows and that all that matters.

To all the Mothers out there, you are doing an awesome job and you should always always be proud of your self!

Take a deep breath.

So i have survived the first ten days back already. And i have Alhamdullilah passed this test with flying colours. I’ve been calm, ive been positive and i have managed to stay level-headed. The settling in started the same way: After a long relaxing break, i stepped into a house that hadnt been look after for the past six weeks. There was a layer of dust on every single piece of furniture. The carpet were visibly un-vaccumed, the laundry bag was full, the toilets were filthy. There was a stack of unopened mail on the console.

A lot had to be done to bring the house back into working order. And this situation, i usually start panicking, radiating my anxiety throughout the whole house.

This time, I managed to stay calm despite all the mess. I focused on things according to priority. Giving the kids a bath and putting them into PJs came first. While they took a a bath, I quickly scrubbed whatever needed scrubbing. Feeding them came next. While they watched a bit of tv, I gathered all the suitcases into one corner, to be opened later. Shoes were tucked away, toys were taken out of sight. And a quick wipe down of kitchen tops and floors gave me some sense of relief. Putting kids to bed, I finally took a bath and got into PJs. And managed to sleep quite peacefully.

This story might seem trivial to someone who doesn’t know anxiety or the sense of panic that sets in when things don’t seem right. I know because I suffer, along with a million other people around the globe. And we fight with it everyday. And each fight that we win calls for celebration. When I face a situation which sets off an alarm, I ask myself:

what’s the worse that can happen?

Is it going to matter in the next five years?

Is it something that can be dealt with tomorrow?

and the answers usually shifts your perception and you gain control of your mind before you lose it.

Yes, I suffer from it and I deal with it. And together, we can do it. There is hope for us.

 

What is He trying to teach us?

All my friends are married now, my sisters are married, most of my cousins are married. In short, most of the time, im interacting with women who are wives and mothers. I observe them all a lot, i hear their stories, i dare to ask personal questions because i want to know what makes marriages work and what breaks them. I know women who have managed to keep their men to themselves up until now, i know some who have managed to bring theirs back after they have strayed and i even know women who have accepted multiples wives for their husbands.

I know women who get trampled on everyday. They are emotionally and verbally abused. They have been pushed,pulled and smacked.

One things that has been common in all the scenarios is this belief that we women have is that we should tolerate everything in the name of ‘sabr’ i.e : we should patiently bear every hardship that is sent our way.

i truly believe that hardships are Allahs way of making us stronger. He wants us to be the best version of ourselves and He wants us to get closer to Him thats why he send us hardships. They are truly a blessing in disguise. He keeps testing us with the same difficulties until we learn what He wants to teach us. But how do we know what is what He wants to teach us?

To the women whose a victim of domestic violence; with every unprovoked episode, maybe Allah is trying to teach her to leave and find a better life for herself and her children. To the woman, whose man has alcohol or drug dependencies, maybe Allah is teaching her to distance herself from the man bringing haram to the house. To the woman whose man constantly keep cheating, maybe Allah is saying: leave and depend on Me only for sustenance.

But we stay. In the name of ‘sabr’ , we stay till our mental and physical health deteriorate, till our children get severely affected by this dysfunctional family life.

How can we decide when its okay to stay? And when its okay to leave?

The house that is home

5 five weeks ago, i landed in Pakistan to spend the summers with my parents.

5 weeks later, i am now returning, with more meat on my bones ( i have gained atleast 6 kgs) , more hair on my scalp, less visible eye circles and definitely a more focused and positive approach towards life. And God knows how much i need that.

A working mom of two incredibly hyper-active boys, loads of cookingand cleaning to do everyday, and a not so perfect married life,  makes me feel like im always walking on egg-shells, ready to explode. And once i do explode, and all the anxieties and frustrations ooze out, nobody is there to put me back together. In the end, i’mcleaning up the mess my emotional breakdown causes all by myself.  Experience has taught me, that when i lose it, things get worse. My cries for help, are never validated, are not even paid any attention to. Im told im crazy, thankless, never happy. Elder women in my family have always advised against it. They have always said that its upto the woman to make sure that peace prevails in the house. Its actually her responsibility to make sure that the atmosphere remains happy and peaceful.

How unfair is that?

How do people, men and women both, think that a woman who is silently suffering from anxieties and frustrations, is physically and mentally exhausted keep her shit together all the time? She should not lose it. Ever!  Its insane. Its inhumane. Our society, our pakistani- asian society fails to give women the space to express their negativities. They are expected to behave like saints all the time and have an extremely high threshold for accepting bullshit.

I truly believe that a woman does have to sacrifice more, compromise a lot more, be the givers rather than takers, but i do not believe that they need to forgo their mental and physical health in order to so so.

whether anything would change or not, as im about to head back ‘home’ once again. I cannot help but think that this house, my parents house, will always be the place where im loved and accepted not only when im at my best but also when im at my worst. And here, i’ll always be at home.

Every Child is different.

I work with children who have severe behavior and emotional problems. No matter how bad the situation, 70% of the time I could de-escalate the situation and calm down the child. I was quite proud of myself. I felt like I had a knack for working with children. I could help them deal with their emotions and connect with them really well.

But.

It’s only been a few weeks since the summer holidays have begun, and I have seriously started doubting my skills. All because of a scrawny 5 year old.  For someone so scrawny, he’s extremely strong willed and aggressive.

He never follows an instruction, even when he given one for the tenth time. He questions them. Each and every one of them.

When he’s explained that certain things need to be done in a certain way, he’s challenges it, and says he’s going to do it another way BECAUSE ITS HIS CHOICE.

Through gritted teeth, using every ounce of my energy, I explain that it is his choice, but there are good choices and there are bad choices, and I expect him to make the right choice.

But, he wants to choose to make the wrong choice.

In the end there’s always a battle. I win, of course but not without setting off a chain reaction of tantrums.

*sigh*

 

I just didn’t know how to make him understand. I was stumped.

I do admire his strong-willed personality, I really do, because it’s something I’m not. And I wish I was, because I would been able to make better decisions in life I f I had been more persistent and more courageous with saying ‘NO.’

But I can’t appreciate this quality when it’s against me that he’s using it. I am his mother and I would never stop him from doing something that wasn’t bad for him. I just want the best for him and as a 5 year old, he’s short sighted and he can’t see that…for now.

I’ve spent endless hour’s googling, reading parent’s blogs, asking experienced mothers for help, all in vain. I practiced what I learnt, consistently: imposing boundaries, setting rules, sanctions etc. But my boy just kept getting worse. The Shouting increased, with some hitting. Throwing over furniture became more frequent, and there were more episodes of him just collapsing on the floor and thrashing his arms and legs around. What made the situation even worse, was the fact that the little one copied his exact ways!

I was struck with anxiety, I used to lose my patience and I used to cry.

As always, when everything turns hopeless, I just went down on the prayer mat and prayed…hard. Prayer has always been an important part of my life but sometimes we forget that prayer is not just for big things: like a house, or a car or the job you really want. It’s also for the little things. Allah has so much love and mercy for his people, and ask them to ask Him for whatever it is that they’re struggling with.

I prayed for guidance, I prayed for help, for some sort of enlightenment that could help me overcome the challenge of motherhood. The help came, as it always does. For some reason, I tried to test another strategy that I haven’t read on google or in any other parenting book. And that strategy proved to be no less that some sort of divine revelation.

Rather than ignoring them, or worse, yelling at the top of my lungs I starting hugging my children, holding their body close to mine, and whispering in their ears gently when they have a tantrum. I imagined putting myself in their situation. I tried to feel how it would feel if I was suddenly overcome by these intense feeling, which by the way, I can’t even recognize, and to be left alone or ignored. I would feel so alone and uncared for! All I would want would be to have someone hold me close till all those feelings go away. Also, I would feel much more secure if I knew someone was there to help me through these times.

This new idea worked…it worked like magic. My Kids still drive me crazy, but their behavior has vastly improved.

I learnt a lesson: sometimes books, google and articles give suggestions that might not work for you. If you don’t see any change, ditch them and think outside the box. Every child is different. That’s what makes them special.

And, Of course, whenever you feel like you can’t figure a way out of a sticky situation, bow down before Him and ask. He always has the answer.

 

Have the Courage.

I love the spirit of the motorcyclists in the small cities of Pakistan.

If you have been fortunate enough to drive a car on the roads here, you would know what i’m talking about.

They are fearless!

They seem to believe that they possess some form of super-human characteristics, that will enable them to reach their destinations despite the fact that there are so many obstacles in their way.

If you turn into a road on your right, and there a motorcycle coming from your left, chances are there are not going to stop to let you turn, in fact, they are not even going to bother to slow down.

With eyes full of determination, they will keep coming towards you with the same speed.

They Obviously think that they can do the impossible : Either ride through you or jump right over you.

Sometimes, they will even manage to cut right in front of you and they will do it with so much flair!

They wont even flinch, or give a backward glance, they would just keep on going like they dont have a care in the world.

As much as i hate these motorcyclist while i am on the road, i cannot help but admire them for their confidence and their ability to face obstacles so fearlessly.

Life is mostly a series of challenges and obstacles, and i have always been excessively timid, my problems have always drained me.

Little by little, i realized that fear is something that we create in our mind by our self, it does not really exist. If you THINK that a particular person or a situation is scary, then it most definitely will be. But if you keep telling yourself, its nothing to be scared of, you will be able to approach it head on and have to courage to go past it.

You control how you perceive things, and you can change they way you think.

it takes time and effort but it does work!