Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Feeling Positive!

Like I mentioned in  my previous blog, I had just come out of a really difficult time which was not related to any particular reasons but just as part of things you come across in life.
One thing I have realised, it really does matter who you hang out with for your mental and emotional well-being. As compassionate human beings, we often take on other people’s problems and make it ours, and by doing so sometime we absorb the negative energy around such problems.
I happened to give a shoulder to people at the time when I should have been given one. The best help, is self-help and thereby I dragged myself further down, sometimes in order to help others you must make sure that you are well in yourself first. It’s not being self-centred but precaution is better than cure. Once you are more positive about life and can release some positive energy to the people around you, it will make things easier for yourself and others; you will see through that thick mist around you , and it will gradually clear.
We sometimes find it hard to say No, when people call us fro one thing or the other, but we need to know our limitations at time. 
I have learnt that in order to help others, I need to come to my own help first, if I am not positive and I hang round people who have negative thoughts, it is not going to do me any good or to the people who I need to care and look after more.
Once you overcome that negativity, you will see that whatever looked like a mountain before, doesn’t anymore, you don’t care about the future or what will happen, the worry is gone,and you live every moment as it comes and put your trust in Allah and His wisdom, that there must be something good in what is happening to you.
Since overcoming this negativity, I have been able to enjoin a more healthy relationship with my Lord, myself, my family & friends and also those people whose negativity was previously helping me to drown.

One of my favourite verses in the Qur’an is from Surah Al-Baqarah and I shall end with it:

But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not. - Qur’an (2,216)

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Amazing Mums- You are worth it!

The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche once eloquently said: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” 
As a matter of fact this has proven to be so true on many occasion on a personal level and from observing people around me.

I remember as a 15 year old when my Mum came into my room to talk to me privately and break the news that my father has been diagnosed with last stage cancer and the doctors didn’t know how long he had left. I remember the shock I had, but I also remember looking at my Mum, thinking how fragile she looks and how now I have to be the stronger one, and instead of breaking down in tears, I told her have faith, everything will be all right inshallah.

There are many times in life where Allah tests you, and sometimes you yourself you feel like this is your breaking point, this is the last straw and you cannot go further anymore. One day, one of teachers who used to just offer free counselling called me out of the classroom. My Mum had secretly told him that my Dad was dying and she is not quite sure how I was reacting to it and to keep an eye on me. He called me outside and started to talk to me and then stopped in the middle of the conversation and said to me; he was by the way an agnostic, he said: ‘ You are strong and the thing that makes you strong is your faith in God.’ This is something I still remember and reminds myself whenever I am feeling down. I never knew I was religious or even that religion had a major part to play in my life then, yes, I did know I made personal choices based on my religion, but I never actually thought Faith played such a central role in my life, and indeed it does.

Many a times, when there was no doors to knock on, no gates were opened except His, I would turn to Him, my Creator, and tell him about all my sorrow and how despair I feel, and Subhanallah He would always reach out to me. I remember a very special incident, after I left my husband with my then 5 months old daughter and a new bump, I had no money and was down to my last £5 note. My daughter needed milk and I couldn’t breastfeed as she didn’t know how to be breastfed( even though I tried for 4 months), I was about to be thrown out of the house with the baby and bump as I had no money to pay the rent and bill, and couldn’t find a job due to my situation. I was very upset and there was a river behind me house, I remember walking to it and thinking, would it not have been better for my kids If I were dead, at least then somebody might step up and take care of them. Then for some reason after crying my eyes out, I decided to go and sit in the mosque, I was looking to find some peace there. I knelt down and prayed and cried to Allah, not asking anything but just relieving my sorrow, and when I lift my head up, a lady and her little girl were leaving the mosque and there next to my head was £60. 

This was just one incident but such incidents happened many a times in my life, especially during the first 1.5 year after my divorce, as a mother to 2 children under 2, i couldn’t find a job to provide for them, neither was I eligible for any benefits. But , Alhumdulillah the ball kept rolling as He was in charge. On one occasion, after finding out I was pregnant, I told my ex-husband this is going to be hard, we can barely provide for ourselves, he said to me ‘Remember, Allah says he will provide.’ Indeed provide He did. When my kids and I were left fending for ourselves only did He come to our help, when my children’s own father refused to financially support them, only He supported them. My life was a due to Him but more than ever, Allah has reminded me that All comes from Him. He says ‘ after hardship comes ease, but does he not keep testing the ones he loves most to keep us in his remembrance?

Being a single mother can be stressful, especially as you have to play Mummy and Daddy all the time but on top of that if like ‘daddy’ you have to provide as well then that makes 3 full-time jobs. I remember reading about depression in single parents, and it was suggested that it’s a very common problem single parents face due to the increase in work load and no relaxation time. 

A few months back, I called in to see my GP. I had to take the step, I saw it coming, I felt it but I had no time to sort it out, I was too busy filling in all the different roles. When I walked in, I didn’t know what really I was expecting, I just knew it was time to seek help, not only for my sake but mainly for the sake of my kids. I walked in not knowing what I will exactly say to Him, but as soon as I was in I said to him, ‘I’m exhausted.’ And nothing, complete silence. This is what I needed space and time. I was tired of running and dealing with things, I just didn’t have the energy to do it anymore. Both my children came to my appointment, just like they have to go to everything else I have to attend. He looked at me, it was 6 p.m appointment, he asked , ‘are you a single Mum to 2 toddlers?’

Yes! Somebody finally got it! I am not the superhuman sometimes people make out, I am just human, and I get tired too, and frustrated. Maybe he read on my file about the precious domestic violence issue as well, but I don’t know I felt this person knew what I was talking about. 

He just said, ‘do you want time off work?’

I said, ‘ I can’t afford it, I teach Special Education Needs and challenging behaviours.’

‘That adds to it, doesn’t it?’


‘It’s normal to feel like that, you are mentally and physically exhausted and your body and mind is not having the time to rest and get some energy back and with your kids being so young and you working and doing it all on your own, it was bound to happen at some point.’

For the first time, it made sense, it’s normal, a person can’t do that many things at a time, and on top of that trying to be perfect in each and every role, no wonder I was feeling constantly lethargic and I had back pain and all kicking in.’

So, once more I was referred to counselling. I am not quite sure how counselling help really, but for me it just gives me the space and time I need for myself. I can finally muster the courage to ask someone to babysit for me for an hour without feeling guilty as it is for medical reasons. 

Whenever I had a discussion with single mothers, we all seem to have the same issue, we all need that time and space yet none of us will ask anyone to look after our kids for us to have that. And many a times, this is a direct result of how our responsibilities have been passed on to us. In such a situation, the other parent normally decided to have no or minimal role to play i the children’s lives, leaving the mother to take on board all the responsibilities, as such we understand what it feels like when somebody throw their responsibility onto you and feel guilty when we have to pass on our responsibility to somebody else. We tend to forget its only for a matter of a couple of hours and that doesn’t mean we have failed our children or ourselves if we had to take some time out.

I have just finished my last counselling sessions, had to cancel my last 2 sessions due to babysitting issues, now is it over? Yes, for the time being, will it come back? Most likely. But the main thing is, I reached out for help, and it came on time, it has re-stored my faith yet again not only in God but in myself.

There’s nothing shameful about seeking medical attention when you feel you need it, or therapy as I prefer calling it, prevention is better than cure and there’s nothing better than self-help but remember nothing happens without his will. Each time you overcome an obstacle, you realise you come back stronger. Remember the little things He gives you to be grateful for, and remember your achievements.

You mothers are amazing and doing an amazing job, often not recognised, whether you are single, divorced, married or widowed, you are all awesome even though many times you don’t feel like it, remember no man can walk  in your shoes and many choose to not even attempt, and give credit where it’s due cos you are creditworthy, you are selfless and you are the backbone of those kids you are raising!

Please note, this has been written for the August "Grow' theme by Muslimah Bloggers.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Our busiest week

We spent the first week of the easter holiday not doing anything as it was pouring every single day. I did manage to take both of them swimming one day but as there isn’t many ladies only sessions on, it’s not amazing when it’s chucking outside and you haven’t got much to do.
Week 2 was better!
Monday the sun was shining brightly, and as I looked outside at noon, I knew it was just the perfect weather to be outdoors. I am quite an impulsive person, so I decided to take the girls to the beach, which was approximately 2 hours drive from where we live. I called my brother to see if he wants to come, but his little girl wasn’t well.  The clock was ticking away and already half the day was gone, it will be 2 by the time I get there, which is not bad, but then again maybe I could go earlier and spend the whole day there. I decided then to go to The Butterfly House, which was only an hour away and not really that expensive for us 3. I didn’t mind taking them on my own, but for some reason I thought it’d be nice for us to have some company.  So, I rang a friend, who is also a single Mum with 2 kids about the same age as mine. Like me, she is used to doing things on her own, so it would be nice for us to do it together if she’s free. I knew it wasn’t probably going to work out as I was only giving her half an hour notice. But she was p for it!
All 6 of us had an excellent day there, our kids enjoyed each other’s company, and we enjoyed having another adult to talk too on the trip, it was only an hour away from the city, so it was a nice journey for us to spend half the day.
I checked the weather forecast for the week and it said sunny all week, I wanted the kids and myself to enjoy a nice break, so I decided we will do something special everyday!
Tuesday:  I woke up and looked outside, another sunny day. What shall we do today? I thought. I wasn’t in the mood to drive far, so something local would be nice. 9.15 a.m., I was still undecided. I called another friend to see if she’s free so we could taker my girls and hers to the cinema as the tickets were only £1.50 for the junior movies, but we had to be there for 10.00 a.m. Her daughter was still asleep. 2 mins later, she rang to say she’s up and she wants to go. So we rushed to get ready and at exactly 9.45, I pre-booked our tickets so we wouldn’t have to pay an extra 25p on the door per person. It was their first experience, and if you have been reading my blogs, you would know y now, we do not have a TV and my kids are not much used to watching films and other programmes.  It was risky, but I thought I won’t know until I try it out. My eldest is best mate with my friend’s daughter, so I knew she would most likely be alright, and she can sit still for sometime if she’s watching something. My youngest has a sitting still span of less than 5 mins when she’s watching anything, even kids programmes, she’s just not interested! I knew she was the main challenge, and she proved me right! She thought it was ok to talk loudly there, to shout if she felt like it, to sing random made up songs randomly or even to walk and up the row for no particular reason and finally to have continuous trips to the toilet! Well, my eldest did manage to sit still for about 90% of the film, which I must say is an achievement! Will I do it again? Most likely! Them being out of the house, means that my house is not going to be messy and dirty, and I don’t have to worry about them messing about with my things and we are all safe and happy ( to a certain degree).
Oh and we did spend the rest of the day at the park.
Wednesday: I got those cheap farm tickets on Groupon a while back, I did buy a big package as I intended for my brother and his kids to join us if they wish to. I had discussed it with him and since the voucher doesn’t expire until end of June, we were not going there unless the weather is on our side, and luckily it was this week!

Thursday: At the beginning of the week, I had a friend texting to ask how I am doing and stuff. We haven’t spoken in a long time. So we were just talking about how we find things boring and there’s nothing to do. So, I asked her if she wants to go bowling, as I know this place (through work) that does cheap deals. And she said she was in. Then she asked another of her friend to join in, but it just was not ideal for us to carry on with bowling so we decided instead to go to the park and let the kids loose. This park is actually quite nice, with a big children playground and a lake with ducks for a nature, right in the middle of a university campus! As long as we are out, all 3 of us were happy, and my house was safe as well.
Friday: I did have to do the beach trip! I mean for the past few months, I had taken the girls to the beach when it was snowing or pouring, so I owed it them to give them one sunny day at the beach.  My friend also wanted to tag along with her daughter, the more the merrier.
Saturday: I thought we’ll take it easy, so I took them swimming with me and they loved it!
Sunday: I really wanted to squeeze sometime in for a new friend I had made. She is also a single mum with 4 kids, and unlike me she struggles to go around with her kids as she doesn’t drive. So I told her I’ll take her and her kids to a big Park. We had a great time there, but more than making my kids happy, I was glad I made her kids happy.

Meeting your reflection!

Way before I got married or even divorced, I have had friends who were/are single mums. But for the very first time in the past 3 years, I met another Muslim single Mum.
It wasn’t our first meeting, to be honest, I have known her for the past 3 years; one of her sons is just a year older than my eldest and her youngest is the same age as my youngest. I used to see her every week at the local surestart, at first she used to come with her youngest son, then later with the little girl.
We would always say salam, and I would ask how are the kids and she would answer in her broken English that they are fine. I tried to have a conversation with her few times, but it was a struggle, she couldn’t understand most of what I was saying so I just stuck to the polite hello.
As my kids were growing,  I started to see her at the paddling pool sessions  I take my girls to. By that time, I wasn’t a regular sure start attendee anymore; I had a full time job and would only take the girls to paddling on Saturdays. She would come there on her own with her four children and we would say hello as we normally used to and get on with our own things.
Last year, I met one of her friends who told me she moved to the same are as me, and to get in touch with her. I did accidentally meet her eventually one day in  Aldi, and we spoke briefly. She told me she’s seen me a few times on her street walking up (I used to go down her street when walking to work). And after that we just got on with our things.
Today, I was shopping in Aldi. As i was loading my car, I saw her coming out of Aldi, she stopped to say hello. And, we spoke briefly. I assumed she was going to the car with her husband. As I was exiting the parking lot, I saw her still walking, I stopped and asked if she’s going home, and asked her to jump in. She said to drive to my house, and she’ll walk for the rest of her journey but I said it wasn’t a big deal for me to drop her off.
Her English has improved considerably, we were able to hold a conversation, and as we were talking, I actually took the direction of my house. So we drove past my house and I showed her where I live. I told her she should come around now that she knows where it is. She muttered the word ‘husband’, and I understood she was asking about my husband being around, as she won’t be comfortable with her being in my house while his around. And I just casually answer as I normally do that I am divorced.  I could see she was shocked and she said ‘me too’. This was followed by a moment of silence, it was a silence of excitement, we were like two old friends who just met after a long time. I was happy, not because she’s divorced, but I have met someone who knows what it feels like, who understood and I could see she was feeling the same. Her eyes were a bit watery, she wasn’t sad, neither was I. We were happy that we had someone to share something with, we were happy to find someone who understood everything. She then said 4 years, and I said 3. She told me she was 3 weeks pregnant when she got divorced and I told her, I was a week pregnant back then. We both smiled and I could see her being a bit emotional. Then she said, ‘it is hard, and I don’t have anyone here.’ I understood, I have my brother but I am the type of person who believe that each one should take of their family, and try to avoid being a burden or worry for him and his family. But I knew what her life was like, I live it everyday! We swap numbers, and both left each other with a feeling of accomplishment.
As I got home, I received a call from her; she forgot her shopping bag in the car, so back I went. She invited me to come inside, and I was about to refuse when her children dashed out all excited. I haven’t really spoken to them before but something told me I should accept the invitation.
I agreed to come in for a little while, and the kids jumped with joy, they screamed ‘yayyy!’ It was strange, those kids did not know me, they’ve never spoken to me before yet it made them happy to welcome us in their house.
I knew what made me stay. Like her, I very rarely have visitors, except for my brother. And, she didn’t even have that. Her kids must be happy to just have someone else in the house, to have people to talk to, and other children to play with. I remember a conversation I had with a friend a week back, she came to visit, and my house was a mess with kids toy all over my living room, and I apologised for the mess adding that it doesn’t bother me, cos my house is for my kids first and foremost. And, she said it’s ok  (for my house to be like that) as I do not really have visitors. And she’s a good friend, and she didn’t mean it in a bad way, and neither did i take it the wrong way. After all, she was telling the truth and I seriously don’t care what people think of my house or me. 
My new friend’s kids must just be overjoyed to have company, to be like other families. Like me, she didn’t belong to any community in the city.  She’s Albanian and there’s very few of them where we live. I am Mauritian, and I have never met another one here.
In the Muslim world, people tend to stay with ‘their’ people, they mingle with ‘their’ people and those who don’t belong to the same community as them are normally outsiders who they acknowledge on the street but won’t really call over.  Majority of Muslims have family/relatives who they hang around with most of the time, leaving them almost no time to socialise with outsiders or even wanting to socialise with outsiders. On top of that, if they do socialise with people outside their family, it would still be mainly with people from the same country of origin as them, as they belong to the same community. When you belong to a different minority community, it’s harder to fit in and get accepted, as there is no benefit from befriending you. On the contrary, you will probably invite them to eat food other than ‘theirs’ and which they have no interest in tasting.
As a single Mum and and an outsider, I knew exactly how much of a social life she must have. At least, I drive, I can take my kids around and enjoy days out with them. Transport is quite costly, and with 4 kids, it’s not easy to go on public transport. She must be lonelier than me I thought. We talked without talking, we knew things about each other which we didn’t have to say. We knew what it feels like when you are feeling really sick, yet you find the courage to get up and sort your kids out as there’s no one else to do it or even ask to do it. You just get on with life, and pick yourself up every time you feel like you are falling apart and start all over again. You know what it feels like when you feel like doing something with another adult, and no one has time for you as they are too busy with their friends and family, you know it all.
We had both moved on from our past, and happily! But, we have also found each other for support to move forward. Language was not a barrier anymore, we had each other’s company in a way we can’t even describe. We felt we could count on each other, without feeling we are burdening the other!

Preschoolers and toddlers: Word formation when reading

This is one of my educational posts.
My eldest who is now 3 years 7 months has started reading CVC words.
Child 1 is the youngest is her class (she is born in August), unlike most of her classmates, most of the have spent already at least a few months before her in pre-school, so starting out she was a bit behind the rest, but Alhamdulillah she is now doing really well.
I do spend a lot of time at home with her, just teaching her or going over things she already knows. She is now able to recognise all her numbers between 1-10 and can put them n the right order. She is also able to recognise all her lowercase alphabets and is still working on the uppercase.
Recently, as she now recognises her letters, I have introduced her to word formations. We have just started with CVC words such as C-A-T. She is picking it up really fast. I would normally say a CVC wor very slowly so she can focus on each individual letter and put them together using her alphabet blocks. At first, she would try to find the letters, but she struggled to put them in the right order sometimes. Lately, I got her to start reading CVC words from books, and she has started to recognise the patterns now, and she also enjoys making her own rhymes with those words.
I read to my girls every day, but I found since I have started encouraging child 1 to read us a book (with CVC words) at story time, it seems to have boost her confidence and now instead of making up her own stories from pretending to read books, she is actually spelling out the words and even manage to guess some words we haven’t come across before. One such example with the word ‘red’ that we found in one of her book, I have never worked with her on the spelling of the word ‘red’. But, as she read it out as R-E-D, she instantly connected it to the word red.
Before, she used to pretend to read the books, now she actually pick up books she can 'read' (partly), such as her little number books.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015


I thought I will share a few tips about weaning inshAllah.
My eldest was weaned at 4 months, reason being she had quite severe indigestion which caused her to always vomit and be in a state of hunger. Having older siblings helped me a lot in deciding how to wean my children. My eldest sister already had 2 kids, who I adore but were a nightmare when it came to food. They would only eat puree up till almost the age of 3 and refused to eat any solids. I also knew people whose kids refused to eat anything that weren’t sweet. And by the time, I had my eldest, my sister’s kids who were about 6/8 were still very fussy eaters, and could not eat anything that was spicy.
I thought I didn’t want to deal with any of those issues. So, I devised a plan:
1.       I only fed them proper puree for a week, and the second week, I would give them food that was not properly mashed and still have bits in ( obviously not too big)
2.       They were not introduce to any sweet food for the first month
3.       By the second week, I also started mixing meat in their food
4.       Their very first meal consisted of carrot and coriander soup with a hint of pepper (spice).
5.       As the weeks go  by, the solids bits in their food grew bigger, until they were eating proper solid food ( obviously I used to overcook a lot of things, just to help them digest)
6.       They would only be served any sweet food as desert following their main meal.
7.       I did tone down the chilli and gradually increased it, but they would eat it the same food as me just in a more liquid form until they graduated onto the solid form.
8.       By the time my kids were about 8 months old, I would not spoon feed them, and would sit right next to them enjoying my meal with them, they would hold their spoons and eat by themselves and would not leave the highchair until they have actually eaten a certain amount. (Let me tell you it does get messy, but it gets better eventually, but what it does do is make your child independent, so you don’t have to keep spoon feeding them for the next few years.
All those worked fab for both my kids, although my 2nd was weaned at almost 6 months. And within a year, my children were both eating the same type of food as me and on their own!