I am Australian, a mum & I’m scared

I go to work 3 days a week – I work for a federal government department here in Perth WA. I have 2 kids who I adore – a near 2-year-old and a 3-year-old who starts kindy next year. We go to that park, we do our shopping at Aldi, Coles and Woolies. Amira likes to have a babycino when we go out to a café and loves bubble tea. They share sushi together. She loves Disney princesses and he likes Blues Clues. We all love shoes. My husband works for the defence force; he likes to cook and loves his new car he picked up a few weeks ago.

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But through all this normalcy – all the ‘stuff’ that I do; that you probably do also, there is an underlying quiver of real fear that clouds my days.

Because I am a Muslim.

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I am an Australian Muslim with an Arabic background on my mum’s side and a Caucasian Australian on my dad’s side – my kids are Muslim. My husband came from a Greek and Italian background. We do Ramadan and celebrate Eid after, I go to my in-laws house for Christmas and Easter and wish them a merry Christmas as they wish us “Eid Mubarak”. I was born here, went to school here and graduated with honors. And now I live in fear of the country I live in, the people around me and what they will do or think about my children.

When I was little I remember talking about the fact that I was Muslim to my neighbours when I was explaining something like why I didn’t eat pork sausages and then when I got older still it was mentioning in passing that I was fasting that day and wouldn’t be having lunch. All this time we were all; myself, my mum and the other Muslim families I knew were just living our lives…

Then September 11 happened…

Then it changed from people asking about my faith or me mentioning it as a quick “fyi” to this sense of me having to justify my faith; havng to explain it and then defend it… having to then, by association defend myself and ‘prove’ my “Australian-ness”. But by that point I was a university student so I understood my faith and myself enough to be able to explain: I AM NOT WITH THEM – THOSE IDIOTS; THEY DO NOT REPRESENT MY RELIGION OR WHO I AM.

The fact that we, the regular ‘just living our regular life’ Muslims, we dispise them more than you.

But now I’m married and have 2 children and I look at them and the situation with Pauline Hanson and her views on Muslims and (Donald) Trumps views of Muslim and I worry for them.

That my near 4-year-old will have to justify her religion and her cultural background – that my near 2-year-old boy might be negatively labelled because he’s going to grow to be an Australian Muslim man. that even before they were born we had to think about names that would help them to ‘fit’ into a world that would alienate them because of their background.

That no matter how Australian they might be they might forever never really be ‘included’.

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And then I think of my mum – the definition of an “Aussie battler” trying to rise a child as a single parent after experiecing domesic violence and then a messy divorce and living in a country where English is her third language and working two jobs so she could send me to private school and teaching me that education was key. I think about how she brings eid cakes and cookies for her neighbors (who aren’t Muslim) and writes them christmas cards at that time of the year, because she taught me that real Islam is about loving your neighbor and being a good person. I worry for her because she does speak with an accent, does wear a head scarf (hijab) and is so obviously Muslim – but she’s elderly; what is she going to face as she faces the current situation of Australia?

I am saddened by the way things are headed – the “realness” of people’s hate for a common enemy: that we are ALL AGAINST ISIS. I am amazed that people think that we, the Muslim community need to CONTINUALLY denounce ISIS – seriously? Should I introduce myself that way? Should I start each morning that way? “Good morning – I am an Australian Muslim and denounce ISIS – can I get a large skinny latte with 1 sugar please?” if that’s the case, should the reply be: “morning! I’m an Australian Caucasian and I apologise to the indigenous Australians for the stolen generation – that will be $4.50 for the coffee”

I just don’t know anymore. I don’t even know if I am sad or disheartened by it all. I look to my children sitting there playing at their table as they have Playschool on in the background and wonder what will become of us all and feel totally despondent that this country that I was born in, the country that I was raised in and longed for when I spent 3 months in Europe (a one point i cried upon hearing & seeing the Qantas ad that had those choir kids singing “I still call Australia home” – i still well up if i hear it whilst abroad) and a time in Indonesia now has made me feel unwanted. That even though I and my children might look like everyone else and sound like everyone we are on the outside.

But this is my home. OUR home.

Isn’t THIS where I belong?

And so I have to ask myself what I fear almost every Muslim has asked themselves at some point or other in the last year or so: If things got SO bad that I; we would be told to go – WHERE do I go? Where do we belong?

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Husband Logic: Adam Antics

I feel that I seriously need to have an entire topic/heading dedicated to the funny things my husband does. I know that he probably may be highly unimpressed that I am creating a whole section dedicated to things he certainly wouldn’t appreciate out there in the blogosphere – but hey, it’s my blog and I’m, posting it!

Last minute Saturday night I decided to whip up this:

 

Delicious German Apple Cake. Seriously – there is something so deliciously comforting and amazing about cream cheese frosting. I am nearly positive that this is what won me over. I am SO into cream cheese frosting that I remember a time when I’d head to Muffin Break for my morning muffin and coffee and I’ order the weight watchers sugar free muffin…. THEN ask them to add a (serious) dollop of cream cheese frosting. I ordered this so regularly that at one point of the ladies felt compelled to tell me that by adding the cream cheese i was no longer making it sugar free. I swear I looked at her like she was the crazy one… has she not heard of ‘mind over matter”?

But I digress (as usual) – anyway, this morning I noticed that an “edge” was missing – I asked hubby later on in the car that I noticed a good edge of cake had gone missing:

Me: um – I went to pop the cake away and I noticed a fair edge had gone missing…

Hubby: oh yeah – I had that for breakfast *note that tone in his voice is completely ‘matter of fact’

Me: what? Adam; CAKE is NOT a breakfast food!

Hubby: um –yes it is! People eat scrambled eggs for brekky – there was egg in that cake. People have milk with their coffee or cereal or oats – cream cheese frosting is DAIRY! AND it had apple in it – A FRUIT! Also, bread is made from flour and cake is made from flour so it is practically the same thing.

Me: *rolling eyes*

I mean really – WHAT could I say?

On another note – I have to say that it is a scrumptious cake – if you get a chance to make it I totally recommend it. I added a bit of lemon juice to my frosting. SO yummy!

 

Pick yourself up and just keep going

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When I was little I use to do dance classes – at the end of every year there would be this massive Christmas concert where we’d spend ages practicing choreography. Then I’d go home and my mum would make me do it again… EVERY… SINGLE… DAY!

Later on in school when I mum worked out that I was having issues with maths – especially division and then algebra, mum would make sure I did my homework and then give me EXTRA equations to work out in addition to what school set out for me.

I HATED it.

I LOATHED the extra work.

Time and time again my mum would say that one day I would thank her; that when I made it into university and was later working a decent job I would appreciate the work she MADE me put in. On the other hand, if I continued to argue about how “no one else has to do it” she would eventually have enough and tell me that anything worth something takes effort.

Years later and I did make it to uni with rather decent grades, years after that I met someone and we had many an obstacle to overcome but I realised that my mum’s practice of making me do things; of getting me to “suck it up and keep going” befitted me in more ways than making me proficient at dance chorography, division and algebra.

I find that I approach parenting in much the same way:

Cleaning up a gazillion times and then having hubby come home and ask “can we clean up the book area? It looks a bit messy” and I think “suck it up and keep going!”

The mania that ensues every night on my work days when we pick kids up from day-care and then have to get both children bathed, clothed and fed and then organise the next day whilst trying to find time to spend with them individually and then put them to bed and find time with hubby – “Pick yourself up, just keep going!”

The times I am at the shops and one child is crying because her little pulled her hair and then he starts wailing because she’s crying – “pick yourself up, & put the coffee in the trolley and just keep going – let’s get some choccies for mummy too”

Life isn’t meant to be easy – that there will be moments, days and sometimes weeks or months where I will wonder WHY?? Where I’ll internally scream and outwardly just take a deep breath… but then there are the other moments where Rocco will stroke my face and smile up at me every night as I put him to bed. Those moments when I’ll hear the patter of Amira’s feet as she feels her way to our room and gets into bed with me and snuggles up close and says she loves me.

Parenting is hard. But its amazing.

I think so many of us, when things are “challenging” start focussing on them, then think about the other hard stuff and then the next thing we know we’ve snowballed and suddenly this is all too hard, we quiver and forget that we need to try to find the joy that comes from the mania. See the little things – like instead of focussing on how Rocco is crying about his shoe coming off and that he can’t put it on himself, look to see how his sister has stopped playing and come on over and is trying so patiently so get a wriggly little boy to sit still whilst she TRIES to put on his shoe. It doesn’t matter that she’s not been able to do it, and that now I have less time to get the grocery shopping done – in that moment she showed her love for him, she showed compassion and care and empathy.

That if we stop for a minute; stop berating either ourselves/the universe/our parents/our children/our income (or lack thereof)/our partner (or lack thereof) and take each situation as a moment we might be able to get through it a little better – that we’re one more equation away to understanding the algebra of life.

So for all the times things get too much – I’ll just “pick myself up and keep going”

Because its like that other saying: “this too shall pass”

And if it takes too long or things get a little too hard to handle there is always cake.

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When two could be THREE?

Sometimes, this rare occasion occurs where I manage to actually think that perhaps I have managed to find SOME balance in juggling the life of motherhood with two small humans (now aged 3.5 and 1.5 years) and working woman + running a household and keeping a hubby happy PLUS finding my feet with a mum who is being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s…

All this and I hubby will still ask me “what’s for dessert tonight?”

So just as I am thinking that “I got this!” and I am silently high-fiving myself and thanking God for my little angels (lil girl & boy) hubby decides to throw a spanner in the works:

“Hon – you know, I think we should have another baby”

Me: *look on face is (strangely) not shocked – I have managed to pull off a poker face in this instance*

BUT on the inside I am thinking: WHAT THE HELL? ARE YOU CRAZY????

On the outside I am the epitome of calm – I got this – I’ve got the lists, the night-time schedules and plan everything in advance. Underneath I am that crazy paddling duck, ferociously trying to keep above water as I keep us ALL above water!

He continues on by saying that he thinks I am doing a brilliant job with the current two kiddies (thank you) and that really he feels we could handle another one!

OH MY GOD! Does he not realise that this is one more child we need to send to day care when I have to go back to work?

That I can only stay up so long after the kids are asleep to arrange their bags for tomorrow, iron and fold laundry, plan the next day’s meals, wash and colour my hair – because let’s face it: going to the hairdresser is a luxury – dying my roots is a necessity and hence a box dye job is more than sufficient (my theory is you can’t really f%&k up

But with this statement I got to thinking about how poorly divided our tasks are a mother/father unit. I have begun to seriously think about the disparity of tasks when I hear women who have partners that work away (on rosters) will complain that they are “just like a single mother”

I should first put out there: my husband is a fantastic help. He certainly does TRY to get involved. He loves to cook and enjoys to help out where he can… but let’s call a spade a spade here:

When we run out of milk, meat or any household item, 99.99% of the time it is ME that must replace it (and hence why I have created the “box of spares” but I’ll explain that another time)

When the kids want to play outside or rough play, then it’s him they run to… BUT when said play results in tears or a disagreement or dad has had enough it is ME that has to get involved… no matter what else I am doing.

When I am in the shower or toilet there are usually 2 other sets of eyes on me. When he goes to the toilet he can shut the door and have “space”

When the kids go to sleep he gets to pour himself a drink, put his feet up and flip the channel onto Sports… I make another bottle for the late night/just before bed feed, pack the bags for both children for the next day and organise their snacks. I then arrange their outfits for the following day so that when he dresses them he doesn’t have to pick out anything (because let’s face it, he still doesn’t understand why there are ‘day-care clothes’ and regular clothes).

And that’s just to name a few – I am not even getting into what each of their favourite snacks are, what Amira (miss 3.5) really means when she says “remember how yesterday I went see the princesses with Yaya and yesterday before that I went with mummy?” or that I take then to their doctors’ appointments and remember how many ml’s of Neurofen each of them are allowed to have or how many nappies are packed in the day care bag… or that I have already started to think about and put aside money and s

I remember reading a story a while ago about the “default parent” – that is me… and in most cases it is the mother that is the “one responsible for the emotional, physical and logistical needs of the children” … So forgive me for internally rolling my eyes when he makes a comment about how “we” can handle another child.

This time last year….

This time last year I was getting ready to have a baby.

HOW on EARTH did that year fly past?

This time last year I re-packed my bags and rechecked my stocked fridge and freezer and took my little missy out for the last time as a proper dynamic duo. I sat with her and talked to her again for what seemed like the hundredth time about how mummy was having the baby tomorrow and from tomorrow she’d have a real life brother to do things with together. At that moment I remember seeing both the excitement and trepidation in her eyes as I knew she didn’t quite understand what was happening. I knew though that she did understand that something was changing as she did that thing she does when she’s anxious, nervous or scared about a situation and brings a hand up to her neck and will pinch it until she calms down. Every time she’d come into our room (where we’d already set up her old bassinet) she’s point and say “that belonged to Amira – for baby now.” I’d hold her close and tell her that she was my angel and I loved her and her brother more than anything.

Well – the procrastinator in me didn’t even get a chance to post that (above) yesterday. Instead here I am on the 11th of November sitting away at work. This time last year I was sitting/laying in a hospital bed being induced. This time last year I was thought to myself “oh God, here we go again!” as I rode wave after wave of contraction and realised that I much, MUCH preferred to have had labour brought on naturally than to be induced – you live and learn though don’t you?

I remember wondering what this baby would be like; a boy – something I had no idea how to raise. Not to say that when I was having Amira that I knew how to raise her, but her being a girl and me being a girl, I felt somewhat more prepared and “capable”. Being an only child and being raised by a single mum meant I was more than apt to address all things girly… but not so much where it came to boys and their boys bits.

A year later and I now REALLY know what colic is about – the first 6 weeks and his constant crying compared to the now toddler I see every day is so different. You, my dearest Rocco are this smiley, loving child who hugs back and laughs and is playful and keen to explore. Already I can see that you’re definitely a “boy” boy – this hatred you have to be cleaned where your sister was the exact opposite and to this day despises dirt and asks to clean her hands, face etc. Already I see you pulling thigs apart so indelicately and your need to climb is far, far greater than Amira’s ever was. And then lastly but most importantly there is smell you have – this unmistaken smell that I assume is what comes with having a boy. It’s not a bad smell… just something I have noticed that Amira never had after that newborn smell wore off. There is this unmistakeable smell that I know is you… and I love it.

I could go on and on… but let’s not. Happy first birthday my darling boy.

To my dearest Amira

I have been meaning to do this for SO long; to create a page or pages for you and Rocco so that I could jot down things you’ve done or pics I’ve taken or the things you say that totally render me speechless.

A couple weeks after you were born I remember writing stuff down in a journal and every now and again I remembering writing bits and pieces in there. Like when you wouldn’t sleep for hours or when you were teething or the terrible way I felt when I first had to go back to work. I remember writing my thoughts and feelings down every so often but being frustrated with myself for not writing more often. And then when I was pregnant with Rocco and then had him I found there was even more times and moments I wanted to capture and write about but there seemed to be even less time to write it all down! So finally here I am – on this blog I’ll try my best to put into words or pictures the things you’re doing or have done. Your dad says I have a tendency to “write an essay” about things so I will try to keep things as short and sweet as I can.

I thought it only fair to start with you; to not start with a “To my Amira and my Rocco” – not to say that I don’t love you both equally (because I do), but more because you came along first – because it was YOU my darling that put me onto this journey of Mum; you whom were first to take my breath away and inhabited my essence…

So let it begin…

xx

Back to the grind

I’ve been back to the grind of paid employment now for the last five weeks – this is week five. And whilst I have dipped my toe in by agreeing to start off with three days a week I am still trying to find some sort of rhythm to mayhem. This heightening chaos seems to reach its peak come Tuesday nights when I find myself looking at the haphazard tornado that is my house. Working Monday through to Wednesday that come Wednesday night my husband looks to me and says “aren’t you lucky to have tomorrow off?”

OFF?

From bloody what?

It is usually this same night (where he looks at me with envy that I shan’t be joining the morning mayhem of getting ready for work) that I start my mental list so that even though I am not off to the office in the morning dressed in clean, ironed and professional work wear and heels and made up I am instead rushing around the house like the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil cleaning, folding, putting laundry on; bringing more laundry in, fluffing cushions, putting dishes away , making beds… all the whilst feeding and putting baby down, making sure he doesn’t crawl too far or fast into someplace he shouldn’t be, try to make and give breakfast to a toddler and get her to NOT add to my mess. I convince her that is IS a great idea to play quietly whilst mummy cleans for a bit and promise her that if she lets me do this then I PROMISE we can do something fun after! That when we go grocery shopping, I WILL get her something ‘cool’.

By the time husband has come home and there is food either mid-prep or actually prepared and the infant is crying because he wants to be held but I was at least TRYING to do a LITTLE vacuuming and I’ve plonked toddler in the bath so that I can have and slightly enjoy coffee number 3 for the day i want to clobber him for saying “was it nice with the kids today?”

But even with all of that – the internal hysteria; the subconscious need I have to have some semblance of order in my house, I HAVE had a nice day with the kids that day. Because I know that after the storm of Thursday there is the joy of Friday as I do get to focus far more on the kids and take more than a couple minutes to savour they’re absolute “amazingness”. But then all to quickly the vicious cycle starts again… Sunday afternoon rolls around far too quickly and soon its Sunday night and I am ferocious in my plans for organisation as I may 3 piles of infant clothes and nappies + scoop out the formula and pack little Rocco’s backpack making sure his wrap and dummy are in there and that he has enough wipes and spare clothes in case there is an ‘explosion’. I then do another 3 piles for my little miss Amira (toddler – 2.5yrsold) including knickers and a crazy amount of spare pants/leggings as we are in the throes of toilet training, not forgetting to give her a choice of sippy cup and arrange what she’ll be wearing at day-care…

All too soon we’ve cleaned up a happy Sunday dinner and I’ve had my snuggles with Amira and popped her to bed as I begrudgingly leave her room (oh how I long to stay in there and sleep next to her the way I did when she was but the only child!). I put my lil Rocco in his cot after staring at his little face and willing him to not wake us up many a time during the night and take a last whiff of what I call his ‘boy smell’ and put him down. Then I spend a little one on one time with hubby as we tell ourselves we are NOT tired but our eyelids tell another story. And then before I know it we’re in bed – 2am speeds past and Rocco stirs so I bring him into bed with us… 4am rolls around and Amira comes in to join us in bed and the next thing you know it 5am and she wants milo and the madness starts up again…

Where did my “days off” go?