By: Husna Lali
Due to contigency purposes, I felt the need to address certain issues that are not too ephemeral to be discussed and analysed in accordance to the “parenting book.”
You need to know, if Twitter and Facebook still exists or maybe new social networks of your time have the ‘trend’ thingy, you will suffer the ordeal of trending #growingupwithstrictparents. See your aunts (your uncles’wives) say am the strict one. In my defence, I wanted your then little cousins to grow up true to themselves. This pretty much lets you know that if I was strict then, you guys stand absolutely no chance of having it easy.
Not to scare you guys or ‘hate’ on me for that matter, but to make you realize what you’re really made of.
I want you guys to grow up morally stable, have buckets full of self esteem and have complete faith on what you can be up against.I mean I would take kindness over smart any day any time, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be hard on you so you can be able to realize when someone needs you and when someone uses you to accrue their needs. I would love for you guys to grow up with your own definition of personality and not what society makes you, because trust me when I tell you from my experience that she is one hypocritical and double standard bitch. She’ll tell you to be yourself and then judge you for it. So I want you to do what your gut and what your Deen says is right. (Praying hard I do good by you when it comes to your Deen and its teachings)
I will base this entire letter to you for when you’re a teenager to young adult period because it is the hardest of all phases of growth and development. I remember this one time your aunts,uncles and I pissed off dad so much while we were under his care so he went “Amma give each one of you an equal share of the estate and what you do with it will be non of my concern and do not look for me when you’re sucked dry.” So you get how serious shit becomes when we’re there.
I wanna raise you guys equally, without favoring any of you according to gender. And am not talking feminism, am talking equal chances and belief that you can pull of whatever you’re supposed to. Of course I will always be there to help out.
I wanna be there for you, you know how people say they wanna be bestfriends with their kids? I wanna be that too, but that does not mean I will let you do stuff just because you’ll be mad at me. I wanna be that friend who’s older…I reckon you know how that works. I will not be upset that you find it easier to talk to your friend or even your dad (God bless that poor soul). I just want you to know that I will always be there for you…at all times.
Dear XY, you know how they say guys should man up…I don’t want you to hold back stuff just because you feel its a guy thing. There is no such thing as a guy thing when it comes to feelings, whether positive or negative. I want you to feel with every fibre of your being and act on them as wisely as it should be (Again, friendly reminder that I will always be there to help you sort out on your own terms with alittle help…two heads are better than one…or this case three…supposing your dad needs to be involved.)
I know we’d fight…and we’d fight alot because when you turn 13 or so and that voice of yours breaks and becomes the ugliest of all bass notes and your shoulders go all broad, you’d think for yourself that ‘you’re the man’. I want you to keep in mind that to me you’re still that little boy I spent nights nursing because dammit you lots’ immunity is as low whatever you can take for a simile…and if need be amma scruff you by your collar like a cat does it’s kitten and lead you back to your room so you figure your shit out and set it straight. You will not get an upper hand or the advantage over your sister(s) and that just because you’re male, you dominate the household or will have an excess of the freedom allowed. I will try my best to raise you and your sisters to be equally responsible to your actions.
I know I cannot talk much about you, because norms depict that you’re your dad’s responsibility. I, however would like to tell you that you can come to me when something is off and not working out. Like I said before about manning up. I don’t care what ‘the male code’ dictates…I want you to talk to me about how Math and Physics are not your favorite subjects and how painting or writing gives you the serenity your heart and soul needs. I want to be there for you when that girl you like friend zones you or she breaks your heart by cheating on you. (I pray I would’ve done good by you so you know your priorities…but this is an unavoidable phase you’ll pass anyway.) And when this phase reaches, I want you to tell your testosterone levels to take down a notch. I would not want to find out you played someone’s daughter and made her literally feel like someone is shovelling out her heart. I would want you to honour girls….because reflect on where you came from. I wanna instil in you the knowledge that a lady is far more superior to you in all aspects except perhaps BMR and body builds. I want to teach you to be humble and not be lied to by the fact that gender is basing you superior. I want to teach you nobility and load you with respect to anyone and everyone. I want you to be the son and the brother your sibling(s), your dad and I will be proud of. I want you to grow up being able to act wisely and use your brain and sometimes heart where need be. Trust me when I say you will clash alot with your dad, and probably feel misunderstood; and out of rage and spite you’d want to get back at him. My brothers used to keep their hair to weird levels or go shave weird and dad would be so mad he would tell mum “zungumza na mwanao, mwambie staki kumuona ndani ya nyumba yangu with that haircut.”(😂😂😂) See that’s our predicament. Us women are that unlucky…when you guys turn out good…you’re your dad’s boys…and when it’s the other way around…it’s the mother’s boys and fault the boys turned that way. I want you to know how to work on the issues…I am 80% sure you’d not want to discuss stuff with me because “moooom it’s gross.” I just need you to know you can talk to me about it. I will try giving you a hint here…if you’re probably too embarrassed to ask…just ask anyway…instead use a third party or ask in hypothetical sense. Or find another way to ask me to talk to you about it. ( I know you’re a smart kid, and you will get the message delivered.) I do not want to overtake your dad’s responsibility or share on how to teach you stuff. I just want you to know that I will help you whenever there’s a fog of tension between you two. I promise to sit us both down and talk and smooth issues over. No judgements no blaming whatsoever. We would both accept and own up to our mistakes and apologize where necessary.
Dear XX, apparently norm and culture has it that you’re to be raised in an uptight lifestyle. I hope and pray that I would’ve done good by you on Deen too so you know when and when not to act impulsively. I will tell you one thing, Your grandfather, we grew up almost unable to differentiate whether it was respect or fear we had for him. Am not saying he was a bad person, he was sooo great I spent half the time wishing and praying I got a husband like him (No offence XY snr if you didn’t turn out like him…you’re probably greater than him.) My dad, he used to be strict and very opinionated sometimes, like he would say he’s letting you speak up your terms when you argue about something, but do what he feels like because it’s right. I know in his perspective it was, and so help us God it could be he was right and I was wrong, but I promise I would back you up on what we agree to agree on or agree to disagree on. Again about equal chances with your brother(s)….I will try hard to keep my word. I will not judge you by “your dressing is immoral because your bra strap is showing or your head scarf is off the scale and let his boxer be seen because he decided he’ll pull his trouser ‘a little down’ or put on a t-shirt sooo tight it makes his chest cavity suffocated….(none of you are doing this under my watch btw, or whatever would be trappily trendy in your generation) Or let him have a girlfriend and then be up my sleeve when you have a crush on this cute guy from school or Madrasa and want to pursue him. (Again I pray that I would’ve done good by you when it comes to Deen. May Allah make it easy for both of us)
Sometimes I feel bad for you because your grandmother and I were soo close. We would talk from boys to life, to how I felt that she was being mean or hard on me . (This does not mean there were times we did not have heated arguments that lead to me shutting the door and blast my phone high up on music.) You know how you have an argument and when it’s over you wish you should’ve said something ‘better’ as a comeback? She used to come back waaaaay after the “war” was over and start from A. Sometimes you just let her talk, vent out…so you just say ‘ma…sema audhubillah…or sometimes I would go with ‘oe cheki ma, me naenda zangu…ukijiskia ushacool call me’ and that automatically shut her up. When we didn’t get along (for one reason or another) I complained alot to my late aunty Zou (‘O Allaah, forgive and have mercy upon her, excuse her and pardon her, and make honorable her reception. Expand her entry, and cleanse her with water, snow, and ice, and purify her of sin as a white robe is purified of filth. Exchange her home for a better home, and her family for a better family, and her spouse for a better spouse. Admit her into the Garden, protect her from the punishment of the grave and the torment of the Fire.’ Ameen) and she used to tell me mzoee/muelewe mama…she’s getting old…and she used to tell me stories of how she felt way back on how mom treated her because she was basically raised by her; and she would tell me that it was for my own good because “look how great I turned into” Enough about the bad sides yeah? Because if I am to count, the best of my memories includ mom in them. And I love her alot for her existence. I pray I become a better mother to you.
I know there is going to be a time your friends will seem to understand you more than any one of us in the house. You will probably have fights with me. It could be something as trivial as not leaving the dirty clothes in the laundry basket, or as huge as you skipping classes because your favourite artist is in town. (I hope we never get there.) We could fight endlessly but at the end of the day I want to be the one you wanna talk it out with. There are probably times when you’re all grown up and start falling for guys. I will not judge you for it, because it’s a normal thing. I know you’d go lengths to pursue your feelings. Fine too but please be cautious. I know you’d deny it when I will confront you about it, for reasons you know best. (I know it could be because you’re afraid am gonna take away your electronics or stalk you or whatever method parents will be using then but i want you to know, I will be there for you. P.S I know I will totally disapprove you getting into a relationship, I don’t even need to sugar coat it but we will work it out together and resolve it to the best way possible) When it happens and doesn’t work out as planned, say this guy you sort of like did something to hurt you and you’re too proud to talk to me because you know I will obviously hit you with the mother of all I TOLD YOU SO’s…I want you to know that I will not let you cry yourself to sleep. I will let you cry, but I will also be there ready to take you out for ice-cream or whatever junk that will make you feel better.
I know you’ll have friends, and you will probably have get togethers or need to ‘chill’ and get those squad selfies because squad goals? Yeah… I want you to know that there are times I will tell you no, and I would expect you to accept and cooperate. Okay? If you ask me why I will not tell you it’s because you’ve gone out alot lately, but you will have to have earned the permission. Take it like positive and negative conditioning….where one gets rewarded for something or gets their rewards taken away for a wrong they did or a right they did not do. Again I know we will fight alot here but it is what it is. Hail Sigmund Freud! (Don’t worry, this will serve both you and XY)
Still on the fights between you and I, I want us both, after a time out and each of us has had their clarity and sanity back to face and own up to our mistakes. We would both or one of us say something hurtful to the other. I want us to work it out together. Please do not walk out on me when we’re in between an argument. Please lets consider and reverse the situations. I know I will give you the chance to speak out your mind and we can even point out each others mistakes (Tactics on the how to will come when the need be.) I want us to have a family where no ones opinion is undermined or stepped on or considered irrelevant. There are times I am probably going to be the hugest pain in the butt and even my breathing near you would be so annoying, I want you to know those are just hormones. You’d probably be wondering why I am stressing so much on fights…this is because I have had a share of living with my parents, and when I complained because I felt misunderstood Fatma( I hope and pray you get to meet her…amazing lady…God bless her) would tell me after giving birth to your own child, you get to see life in your mom’s eyes and you’d never wish to say or do anything to hurt her feelings. This sort of seeped through and I tried hard when we argued with mom to try to understand her…but sometimes shit happens and you just get out of control. I wanna let you know that you would not know this by then and God knows I did not know anything about mothering when I wrote you this letter, but I hope our fights will not escalate to points where you’d wanna leave and be somewhere without your family. Because I love you that much. Even if I did not say it when we were fighting. I would not want to make you cry or you me…because I am not sure if there’s ever coming back from that. I remember one day mum said/did something that I felt so hurt by it I ended up saying wallahy sikusamehi…I immediately regretted saying that because there was that pained look on her face. It was soooo down and deep it made me want to turn back time and take back my words but Alas! God knows she probably would’ve given anything for me to say I didn’t mean it and by God I did(mean it at that moment); but it was too little too late. So yes…I would like for us to measure our words and be cautious of what we throw at each other.
I wanna teach you both to live by your Deen and follow rasoul’s teachings. I don’t know alot of stuff but I know some stuff…and I would want you to learn from me and your dad. I wanna be the mother you mini-halfies would be proud to have. I wanna teach you so many things that if I were to count I would probably bore you to the core, but I want us to teach us all the things and everything we know. But most of all I wanna teach you to be your true self. This lady on Instagram (@nikitagill) I like once wrote about colors and she went ahead and wrote “This world isn’t made of shades of gray. It is made of colors like azure and coral and emerald and marigold, but it insists on painting everything in black and white and fitting it into boxes that it understands. Do not do that to yourself. Paint your personality a million different colors. Leave them scratching their heads, unsure of how to handle the magic that you are.” It is okay to be weird or odd or depressed or schizoic or introverted,to be happy, sensitive, meek and all other adjectives that are deemed unnormal by society because it means you’re human and a classic one because the rest are all basic. It means you can feel and that is all that is important and matters. I will tell you while growing up I was different. I still am but that did not make me live up to people’s expectations, because at the end of the day they will still judge you; and since that b#$ch judges your character and personality by your parents-and not considering in mind that you guys probably spend many hours away from us-I give you guys permission to be whatever you want. I want you to be shy but bold, to be quiet but at the same time speak up, to be feeble but by all means courageous all the way and to never let any muģgle put you dow; because darlings, you’re the incomprehendable galaxy in the universe that is my life. I wanna teach you guys all the rhymes, read books to you (doesn’t matter religious or otherwise)play board games or weird games I got on TV shows like ‘Pictionary’ or ‘I spy with my little eye’. I know there is a time you guys will grow up and everything we used to do together will feel childish, but I want you to remember that it is what brought us together in the first place. I do not want you kids to drift away from me your dad and among yourselves and seek solace in friends and get safe havens that do not include me and/or your dad and sibling(s). I mean I get why you would want friends…but I want you to know that I will always be there when you come back from that rough phase you had to encounter and I promise to work it out together. I love you. I have loved you even before I was sure I was gonna have you, but that’s not the point. I want this letter to be a reminder to me too. I want it to be a reminder of how I longed for you. I want it to be a reminder for me, for when I am about to give up on you guys.( I pray we don’t get there…Allahumma Ameen). I want it to be a reminder to you, that if we ever have a fight and you wanna give up on me…remember I thought of this way before I even met the guy you call dad and wrote you this way before I got married to the guy you call dad. I want you to know that I was once your age…and I probably went through this phase rougher than you because I perhaps never got to work things out with my parents. I want you to know that I was afraid for you. Still am. It is a maternal feeling and I sort of know this because God let me witness what parenting is all about with your cousins before I got to have you guys. I want to let you know that there is nothing I won’t do to see you happy (obviously you misbehaving while at it doesn’t count). And last but not least…and probably the most important of all things, I wanna leave you with this hadith
ﺃﻛﺜﺮ ﻣﺎ ﻳﺪﺧﻞ ﺍﻟﺠﻨﺔ ﺗﻘﻮﻯ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻭﺣﺴﻦ ﺍﻟﺨﻠﻖ
I want you to live by this hadith…or at least try your very best to live up to this hadith…because Jannah is our final destination. May Allah re-unite us all in Jannah.
Lots of Love,
(Yeah I know at this age you’d probably be tired of all my “nagging and constant rants” you’d be calling me “birthgiver” well guess what….I am okay with whatever makes you feel great about yourself 😂)
P.S I love you alot and may Allah be with you throughout😍😍😍