Tag Archives: mom

Inside The Therapist’s Office: Episode Six

Office

 

“What can I do for you today Maggie?” The young nurse asked after introducing herself and checking the filled-in medical chart.

“Oh I’m just here for a routine checkup with Dr. Miller” Maggie replied.

“Very well then! Let’s get started” The nurse nodded.

“Thank you Miss ummm… I’m sorry I didn’t get your name” Maggie said.

“It’s Hannah” The nurse smiled.

 

There was something about this nurse that was very intriguing. They started talking, went out for coffee and a couple of weeks later became totally inseparable. Hannah poured out her heart about her loneliness, her failed marriage and the ache of being barren, while Maggie confided in her about the addiction and how hard it was to be a single mother. Like two faces of the same coin, they somehow completed each other. Hannah was Maggie’s soul mate. She took care of Maggie and doted on her son; she was practically his second mom. She taught Maggie the values and morals no one cared to teach her, and encouraged her to instill them in her child. The three of them shared an indescribable bond until the day Hannah got married….

 

“I don’t know how to explain it, she just changed! She became distant and paranoid.” Maggie gazed outside my office window. “It’s like she’s there but she’s not really there! Why does this always happen with everyone I love? My mom died, my husband left, my son’s aloof and my best friend changed! Every time I get attached to someone or something, I lose it! Why can’t we have just one relationship that’s comfortable and happy? Why do we always have to get hurt? Why does Allah let us find love and care after so long and then take them away and watch us suffer?” Maggie covered her face and wept on my desk for what seemed like eternity. She was ashamed of how she was questioning Allah’s will with so much bitterness, but honestly, I was relieved she did. It was time to address her doubts before they start eating her up alive.

“How’s your son doing at school?” I asked, changing the subject, completely prepared for Maggie to lift her head up and give me a ‘confused, frustrated, you’re-the-worst-therapist-ever’ look.

“His PATs are coming up and he thinks this is the perfect time to bond with his Play Station!” Maggie scoffed while wiping her tears.

“So what did you do?” I asked.

“I took it away of course! And I told him he’s not allowed to play games online or chat for hours with his friends till summer time. He can say I’m strict and mean till he’s blue in the face! It wouldn’t change a thing! I’m doing it for his own good!”

“But why can’t he have both; fun and success? Why must you be so harsh on him?” I asked.

“I’m not being harsh! Discipline is the essence of love, Lilly! If my dad had disciplined me instead of letting me do what I want maybe I wouldn’t have had the time or the chance to take drugs! It’s so easy to slip! And now that I’m sober, I’m going to protect my son, because I love him, more than words can ever say!”

“You’re not gaining anything, you just want him to succeed for him Even if right now, he can’t understand why you’re pushing so hard, one day he will, and he’ll thank you for it!” I said with an unexplainable grin.

“See? Exactly!” Maggie raised her hands. “At least someone gets it!”

“To Him belongs the greatest example, but that’s what Allah does, too! He takes away the metaphorical Play Station so we can focus on our ultimate goal! The people we love, they sometimes change, because Allah knows the real joy is in loving Him more! The friends we depend on, they eventually leave, because Allah wants us to ask Him and depend on Him alone. This life is not real Maggie; it’s only a means to a beautiful destination! Allah takes things away to redirect us to the path leading to Paradise. Yes it hurts, and we might whine about it till we are blue in the face, but without suffering we will never learn from our mistakes! Allah does not gaining anything either way! He does it for our own good, because He loves us more than words can say….”

 

Maggie smiled sadly and said, “Your words touch my heart. But I’m afraid when I go back to my life, my mind will take control again. If everything that gives us pleasure is taken away, how can we find joy in this life? Are Muslims not allowed to be happy?”

“A lot of people ask this very same question!“ I confessed. “ I think we need to define what happiness is first before we start looking for it. Take Ramadan for instance, many people wonder why it is associated with peace and gladness when it’s all about self-restraint! Prophet Muhammad said, Allah says

‘There are two (occasions) of joy for the observer of fast. He feels joy when he breaks the fast and he is happy when he meets Allah.” (http://sunnah.com/muslim/13/214)

 

It’s confusing when you look at it from the outside. Of course we’re super excited to eat and drink after waiting for hours on pins and needles for Maghreb prayer! But it’s only for a couple of seconds before we slip into a food coma, so where is the joy Allah is talking about?” I asked.

 

Maggie shrugged then held her breath for the answer.

“Unlike praying and giving charity, fasting is the only act that can never involve showing off (Reya’). It’s purely and sincerely for the sake of Allah alone, which is what we were created to do! So when you finally break your fast, you’re overwhelmed with the joy of finally fulfilling your real purpose in this world, purely for Allah and no one else. With that first sip of water we get an unparalleled feeling of gratitude and appreciation for His blessings! We’re in sync with our ‘fitrah’, our true nature, and that’s why we feel alive.”

 

Perhaps Allah is redefining the meaning of real happiness and joy for us because, let’s face it, we got it all wrong! The people you see dancing and smoking up at parties, who center their lives around being ‘hip’ and ‘fun’, are actually very sad deep inside. No matter what they do, they always feel lost and ‘dead’ inside. Trust me, I’m a therapist, and if these walls could talk, they’d tell you the same thing! Happiness is elusive; everyone is chasing it but no one is able to pin it down. Muslims on the other hand hold the secret to everlasting joy, in both this life and the Hereafter.

We get a crash course every Ramadan on how to be genuinely happy. We’re able to master our own minds instead of being slaves to our desires. Fasting helps us set our priorities straight, because even the simplest craving can become an addiction. When your eyes are glued to the TV then you hear the call for prayer, you’ll get up! You’ll remember how you give up basic needs in Ramadan and put Allah first, and it will strengthen your will power. When you see the drugs, or hear of the rave parties or any other ‘allegedly’ fun things in life, you’ll remember the day you were parched from thirst yet wouldn’t touch that bottle of water because you’re fasting.

 

Do you know what real happiness is? Look up any self-help book or motivational speeches by top entrepreneurs and inspirational speakers; they all agree that happiness is in achievements and real joy is in helping others be happy! Because the ‘purpose of life is a life with purpose’, and that is the essence of the forth pillar of Islam.

 

Ramadan unites us Maggie. We gather for ‘Iftar’ and walk together to the mosque and sit side by side to recite Qur’an. This is the month when we are reminded we’re not alone, the month of smiles and charity and kindness. Muslims all around the world see themselves as brothers and sisters, even if they’re far away from their families. They find happiness in helping each other. This is the love for the sake of Allah… the most joyous, most precious love of all… and trust me, once you find it, it will never be taken away…”

 

“I feel so peaceful and content…” Maggie smiled.

Two minutes later, her phone was vibrating non-stop and she politely asked me if she could take the call.

“My dad won’t stop calling. It must be urgent!” She panicked.

 

“Dad is everything okay?” I heard Maggie ask. She then stood up, and screamed “WHAT!”

She was snow-white pale when she dropped her cell phone to the ground and froze in place….

You see, it always comes as a shock even when you’ve been expecting it…

You never know when your life will completely change to a point when you hardly recognize yourself. It could happen in a heartbeat! And for Maggie…

This was it…

 

To be continued…

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

Inside The Therapist’s Office: Episode Two

Office

 

“That’s the first time you mention your parents” I said carefully. “I can tell it’s a subject you try to avoid. Are you angry at them, Hannah?”

“My dad died years ago. And my mom is also dead…. Or at least to me she is….” Hannah clenched her jaws, as she over-sugared her coffee.

Silence filled the office where I spend my hours listening to people talk. I could literally see my patient building an invisible stonewall around her to prevent me from touching a feeling she’s obviously been holding on to for way too long. Like walking into a minefield, I proceed with much needed caution…

 

“Your mom must have done something for you to shut her out of your life this way” I said.

“She’s the reason my whole world fell apart!” Hannah sneered. “I know it’s hard to believe a daughter can hate her own mom but I do! I’ve hated her for as long as I can remember….”

 

“Daddy! What’s wrong? What time is it?” Hannah asked, still half asleep.
“Nothing sweet heart. I just came to check on you. Go back to sleep” Her dad kissed her and tucked her back in.
“Were you and mom fighting again?” Hannah asked. “I heard you guys yelling. What happened?”
“It’s just… it’s grown up stuff honey. Mommy is a little bit angry at daddy, but don’t worry, everything will be okay. I promise!” Her dad whispered.

 Days, weeks, months and years passed by, and still nothing seemed to change. Her parents kept fighting. She couldn’t even count the times she heard her dad apologize, and have the door slammed in his face. Her mom was always cranky, upset and downright mean, even to her own daughter, but Hannah’s dad soothed her and gave excuses to the angry, miserable woman. It wasn’t love that held this family together anymore; it was her dad’s patience. He was the best dad in the world! And she couldn’t help but resent her mom for rejecting and emotionally abusing a husband who obviously loved her so much he went down to his knees to ask for forgiveness over and over again!

 

“Get out! I can’t even look at you!” Hannah’s mom cried.

“I can explain!” Her dad panicked. Hannah could see his face from where she was hiding behind the couch late one night, and felt her heart break for him.

“How could you do this? You have a daughter!” Her mom yelled.

“I didn’t do anything! You have to believe me! I love you both so much!” Her dad cried. “You know I can’t live without Hannah!”

“I don’t care if you love your daughter, because I hate you with every cell in my body! Get out and never come back! In fact I hope YOU DIE!” His angry wife pushed him out before locking the door.

Twenty minutes later, he did.

Hannah’s dad got into a car accident and died instantly that very same night….

 

“I never spoke to her again! We lived like strangers under one roof!” Hannah said holding the now cold cup of coffee she hardly drank from.. “Until I was about to get married and she came and warned me not to. She said, “Don’t marry for love Hannah! You’ll regret it!” But I married him against her will, and she never came to the wedding nor did I ever hear from her again. She never even came to see me when I was at the hospital! She’s heartless!“

 

“Is there a chance this isn’t the whole truth? That maybe there’s another side to the story?” I asked.

“It wouldn’t have changed anything! She was the reason my dad died! If she hadn’t been so mean, perhaps she could have embraced me and prevented me from marrying Rasheed! If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have been a middle aged barren woman married to a man old enough to be my father!” Hannah cried.

“It’s the word ‘if’ that messes with our heads the most. You know why? Coz it makes us believe we could have changed destiny! If only she didn’t kick him out… if only she had said it in a different way… if he hadn’t ignored my calls I would have still been able to have children. The word ‘if’ doesn’t fit in our religion because it gives random luck so much power! It fuels our anger to blame others for what Allah had already decreed. No one has the power to do anything against His will! There’s no ‘if’ when you truly trust there’s ‘La illah ila Allah’. He decided on the exact timing of your dad’s demise even before your dad was born! Your mom isn’t powerful enough to decide otherwise!. And when your heart lives and breathes the ‘shahada’, attesting that ‘Muhammad is His messenger’, you look at things differently, and you’re eager to follow his example. The cure to any feeling, and the answer to any possible question is in the sunnah!”

 

“There are three sides to every story, Hannah. Yours, theirs and the truth! Perhaps your mom took the blame out of kindness and patience. She didn’t reveal her side because she didn’t want to deprive you of a good father figure. Maybe if your baby had lived, he or she would have ended up hiding behind the couch years later too, watching you and Rasheed fight and hating you… And you’d be in your mom’s shoes. Maybe deep down you already know that, and you’d rather cover it up with anger than go through the grief. But you can’t heal what you don’t feel! Once you accept His will, you’ll truly believe His promise when He says ‘with hardship there is ease’. (Holy Qur’an 94:6).

 

Hannah was crying hysterically at this point, and I could tell Allah had opened her heart to the truth… We put our guards up when we feel scared or insecure, but that’s not how it works with Our Lord…. The more we learn about Him, the more we trust Him. The more we trust Him, the more we submit to His will, and the more we do that, the more sense life makes… That’s what the first pillar of Islam is all about… Trusting Allah alone and following in the footsteps of His messenger Mohammad, peace be upon him.

It’s the cure to fear, sadness and worry…

It’s the cure to anger and regret….

It takes away the need to blame and judge and revenge.

The Shahada is the belief system that purifies our souls.

It’s the golden seal that unseals our hearts.

The first pillar of Islam is simply the true meaning of ‘peace’.

 

“But do you think we can say it by words and not have that belief system tested? Oh trust me, we’ll be tested again and again! You’re scared of dying alone Hannah coz you don’t have a family, and yet you’re leaving your mom to die alone when she has one! You!” I added. “Remember, we’ll all be tested with what we fear the most!”

 

Hannah covered her face and sobbed a bit more before getting up to thank me for helping her see things differently. She hugged me tight and my eyes went back and forth, not sure how to tell her this was against the rules! But I couldn’t help but smile when she said she was gonna go to visit her mom now.

 

I thanked Allah for this blessing, and prayed for all of us to feel the light of true faith, and pass our tests with flying colors…

Now it was time to reward myself with one chocolate chip cookie….

Or five!

 

“Your next appointment is here” My assistant announced.

“Al Salam Alaykom Adam!” I greeted the grumpy teenager. “So how was your weekend?”

“Yeah, whatever!” Adam spit out. “Let’s get this over with!”

 

To be continued….

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

Inside The Therapist’s Office: Episode One

Published on Productive Muslim
9th June, 2016

 

Office

Fidgeting with her fingers, it was obvious she was very agitated. And why wouldn’t she be?

Sitting here with a complete stranger talking about your worst fears, your sordid past and shattered dreams. It takes a toll on a person. We’re trained to run away from scary things, but today, this anxious woman was asked to face and stare at her fears while sipping herbal tea with her therapist.

“So you mentioned you stayed up all night ‘googling’ your symptoms. Did your research yield any results?” I asked.

“I kept waiting for the word ‘cancer’ to flash on the screen. I’m going crazy! I’ve seen twelve different doctors so far and they all insist I’m physically healthy and should seek therapy instead!” Hannah replied. “So here I am!”

“I suppose since your scans and labs came back clean, your doctors had to explore other options to find the source of your sickness. But now the question is, do you trust they all did their best to help you?”

“I don’t trust anyone!” Hannah crossed her arms and looked away. “I learnt my lesson the hard way, a very long time ago….”

 

He was her high school sweet heart and the love of her life. They got married as soon as they both graduated and after years of feeling like a stranger in this world, Hannah was finally happy, like she had finally found a safe home. Nothing mattered as long as they were together. With no financial support from neither of their families, they both worked hard to make ends meet. But as years went by, the stress burst their beautiful love bubble and left them dangerously exposed to the sharp edges of responsibilities and frustration, especially after her husband got laid off, and Hannah had to take extra shifts waitressing at a restaurant to pay off their debts.

“Can you at least acknowledge the fact that I’m speaking to you?” Hannah sighed during dinner.

“I’m hoping if I ignore you, you’d get the point and shut up!” Rasheed scoffed. “You make it sound like I’m the lazy idiot husband who’d rather stay at home and watch TV instead of find a job! I AM trying Hannah!”

“But it’s been eight months! I’m exhausted! I thought it was the man’s job to take care of his wife! You’re obviously following the footsteps of your father!” Hannah yelled.

The few words they exchanged turned into another huge fight, ending with Rasheed throwing his glass cup at the wall and storming out. Hannah sat motionless in the corner staring at the floor. That’s exactly how her dreams looked like now; shattered into a million pieces like this broken glass. It wasn’t until sunrise when Rasheed came back home that she finally realized; it wasn’t love that held them together anymore. It was fear. The tremendous fear of losing him and being all alone.

 

“Didn’t we have stew yesterday?” Rasheed asked still half asleep. That’s all he seemed to do lately; out all night and asleep all day.

“Yes! I’m sorry! But until you find a job we need to tighten our belts a bit and start saving!”

“Am I in the mood for your nagging shift? Ummm no!” Rasheed said sarcastically.

“We barely buy anything yet we run out of money by mid month! Where does it all go?” Hannah asked.

“I can’t do this anymore. I’m outta here!” Rasheed got up to change and leave.  

Walking away was what he did best. This wasn’t the man she fell in love with. He even looked different! He’d become depressed, irritable and scrappy, and she had been patient for way too long and now was the time for a serious talk! Enraged by his carelessness, after a couple of hours of him ignoring her calls, Hannah grabbed her purse and rushed outside to find her husband. But she took a fall down the stairs and ended up in the hospital instead.

 

“He didn’t know I was pregnant” Hannah cried softly, as I handed her another tissue. “I lost the baby and the doctors informed me my injuries affected my reproductive system and it would be impossible for me to have anymore children. A couple of months later, Rasheed left too. I lost everything! I suffered for a long time; I almost gave up on life completely. Until I got married again a few months ago, and I can’t help but think what will happen when if he leaves. I just don’t feel safe! There’s no one in my life I can truly trust and depend on! I don’t wanna die alone! I’m scared! All the time!”

“You’re right! Trust is life! Without it we’d go insane. But it’s not something we give regardless of the circumstances; it’s very pragmatic depending on the situation. You trusted your ex-husband to take care of you, but he let you down, since he wasn’t working. You trusted him with something he wasn’t capable of doing. Now that you’re married to someone else, perhaps you trust him to take care of you, but you don’t trust you can rely on him forever. You can trust a loved one with one thing but not the other. It doesn’t make you suspicious, or paranoid, it makes you SMART and proves you possess wisdom! I mean sure your current husband can run a whole company for example, but would you trust him to fly a plane or give you a new haircut?” I asked.

That’s when Hannah finally smiled.

“Trust is the secret to life, Hannah. Without it we would all feel paralyzed. If we didn’t trust the locks on our doors, we wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. If we didn’t trust our coworkers, we wouldn’t be able to work as a team. If we didn’t trust the legal system, we wouldn’t follow the rules. Without trust, there would be no productivity or security or even life on this Earth. We would live in constant and utter FEAR! Trust is the essence of any healthy relationship. But before giving it, we need to build it through knowledge! You need to find out if that person is capable, honest and reliable. Without this knowledge, trust is obsolete!”

 

“That’s true” Hannah nodded.
“Why do you trust your nose won’t go missing when you fall asleep? Or that the sun will come up every day! Or that the whole planet won’t run out of water and food! Who are you trusting to keep this whole life system intact?”

“Almighty Allah of course!” Hannah replied.

“But why do you trust Him?” I asked again.

“Because I know Him. I know He is the One who created everything and He is capable of managing His creations!” Hannah said.

 

“But what if I told you that I set the alarm really early and I’m the one who commands the sun to come up every morning?” I smirked.

“Astaghfar Allah! That’s impossible!” Hannah frowned.

“Exactly! As Muslims, we all have an intact belief system based on knowledge of our Creator. The more we learn about His limitless capabilities the more we trust Him! This is why the ‘shahada’ is the first pillar of Islam, and it’s based on complete trust in Allah. The ‘shahada’ is the solid belief system we need to wash away all our negative feelings! It’s the antidote to fear, sadness and worry. But now you’ve created another belief system that you’ll die alone because the people you depend on to take care of you can’t be trusted to outlive you. And you know why they can’t be trusted? Because they’re human! They aren’t capable or reliable to be around forever! And that’s why your new belief system scares you! Your life is like the plane your husband is in charge of. You’re depending on him, even though he’s not a trained pilot! Of course your terrified ALL the time!” I explained. “Isn’t it time to depend on the One capable of managing your life, Hannah? Isn’t it time to submit to Him alone?”

 

Hannah’s tears flowed down again, but this time her tears washed away the doubts and made her see the bigger picture she was blinded to. Belief systems are what keep us grounded, and yet when built on falsehood they can take us to the darkest places. Creating a belief system based on assumptions or desires or fears is no different from creating a stone idol and worshipping it besides Allah, True and genuine faith cannot be half way. It cannot be shared or conditioned; because it’s the solid ground we need to stand on before we start the journey to Paradise.

 

“You’re not alone, Hannah. Allah is with you. Every time He takes something you want from you, He will replace it with something you need!” I said.

“That’s true… When Rasheed left, Allah sent me a friend to soothe me, and her child is like my own. I don’t know what I would have done without them!” Hannah whispered. “I’m finally able to give the love I never got from my own parents!”

“That’s the first time you mention them” I said carefully. “I can tell it’s a subject you try to avoid. Are you angry at your parents, Hannah?”

“My dad died years ago. And my mom is also dead…. Or at least to me she is….”

 

 

To be continued

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

What Your Mom Never Told You

 

 

Mom day

Her face glowed with excitement as she handed me a very colorful (and may I add very tacky) invitation card.
“My friend is having a party this weekend! Can I please go?” My daughter asked, her heart beating so loud with anticipation I literally felt the walls crack.
“No” I answered calmly, my eyes still on my book.
“OMG why? It’s like THE party of the year! Mommy please!”
“I said no”
“This is so unfair!” My daughter ran to her room, trailing gigantic tear drops on the floor. “I’m never allowed to do anything I want.” She mumbled before locking herself to write about her miserable, prison-like life in her pink diary.

I sighed and closed my eyes… and the memories sneered back at me with a mean smile.

This is the part where an image of me today is distorted in a wave-like motion with twinkling background music and the title reads:

 

Twenty Years Ago…

 

“Mommy can I please go to my friend’s house this weekend?” I pouted (And I had mastered the puppy dog face at that time if you’d like to know!)
“No” My mom said calmly, still reading the newspaper.

“Everything is ‘no’! This is so unfair!” I cried as I ran to my room, trailing tears on the floor before taking my anger out in writing.

 

Dear Mrs. Diary…
Another horrible day in this prison my parents call ‘home’! Being a teenager sucks! I can’t wait to grow up and have a daughter of my own and believe you me, I will never raise her the way I was raised. I’ll be a fun, hip mom (like TOTALLY!) I’ll let her do everything and anything she wants! The rule in my house will be ‘there are NO rules!’. She’ll go out with her friends and have no curfews coz HELLO! I’ll trust her! We’ll stay up all night gossiping and eating chocolates and I’ll make sure her life is one amazing adventure! I’ll never badger her about grades. I’ll buy her everything she asks for and let her watch cartoons till her eyes fall out! I mean it Mrs. Diary so mark my words!
And then years later something happened to me. I became a mom…

 

Listening to my daughter cry in her room today made my heart bleed. But I know even if I explain till I’m blue in the face how I’m protecting her from bad influence, she will never understand. When I was her age I didn’t get it either. I guess by the time you realize your mother was right you have a daughter who thinks you’re wrong.

 

Oh mom, why didn’t you ever tell me…?
You never looked up from your newspaper coz you didn’t wanna see the hurt in my eyes. It wasn’t because you didn’t care…

You took the role of the ‘bad guy’, putting rules and making sure I’m disciplined because you were preparing me for the real world. It wasn’t because you enjoyed having all this power. In fact, it was heart-aching and tiring and the easiest choice would have been to say ‘yes’ to everything and hope for the best.

 

I wish you had told me how you stared at me while I slept, and how you begged God to give you my pain instead when I was sick. I wish you had told me how you masked your worry with an angry look when I was late, and secretly locked yourself up to cry when I was sad. All these strict rules make sense now. I wouldn’t have become the person I am today if you had let me do what I wanted to do back then. I just wish you had told me that you wanted nothing more in life than to enjoy me, but you put your needs aside and endured my resentment, because you had a bigger purpose; to raise me right as a proud, ethical and responsible Muslim who will keep your legend alive. I see so many men and women struggling nowadays and blaming their parents for their failures. I see confused grown-ups unable to differentiate between right and wrong, lost amidst vague principles and zero ethics. It scares me, but it also makes me fall in love with you even more, thanking God He picked you to be my mother, even though I didn’t deserve such a blessing….

 

Oh mom… Every time my daughter feels like a victim when I’m being too stern I just wanna run to you, go down to my knees, kiss your feet and cry ‘Mommy please forgive me”. This is so beyond hard! And with all the non-believers, peer pressure, social Apps, perverted Internet and shameless TV content that poison the youth’s minds, it’s even much more brutally challenging! I’m raising a beautiful unique gem who will one day make a difference in this world (inshAllah) and I will not allow the media, the spoiled ‘diva’ group of friends, the fear of being resented or even chocolates ruin that for me. I just WON’T!

 

To all the sons and daughters reading this, you’ll never know how it feels to have a part of your heart walk around in the form of a human, whom you’ll love unconditionally with every cell in your body. You’ll never understand it until you become a parent. Cherish your moms while you still can before time steals her away and you’re left with a void that no human on Earth can ever fill. Your mom is the only person in the universe who will love you no matter what you do and where you go. She’s the ‘safe home’ even when she seems hard on you, there’s nowhere to run but back to her warm embrace.

 

And for those who have said goodbye to their mommies, I will not pretend I understand your pain… but I do know that out of all people we Muslims know this: Just because you can’t see her doesn’t mean she’s not there watching over you…

Cheering you on and praying for you to stay on the right path….
It’s time we let our gratefulness to those great women in our lives bloom beyond their imagination. It’s time we drape our moms with love and prayers, and let them see how it was all worth it. For what your mom never told you is that she never really wanted anything in return… Just for you to be safe and happy… and given the chance she’d do it all over again in a heartbeat…

Happy Mothers’ Day to our guardian angels… May we never let you down, and may your whispered prayers never come from sadness or loneliness, but from joy, love and a lifetime of being magnificently proud of us…

I love you Mommy…

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

So Did You Talk To Your Kids About Dating Yet?

Giggle

Deep breaths everyone….

Okay now let’s talk about our youth and their eagerness to ‘date’.
I’ll give parents a minute to put down this article and whisper a prayer….
“Please God let it be a discussion about ‘dates’ as in the fruits of Palm Trees. Please God! You are the Most Merciful’…”

I know this is hard for you guys. I’m a mom, so naturally it’s hard for me too. Us parents want to stay in denial about our kids’ desires and their eagerness to start a romantic relationship because umm hello we raised them right! How can they even think of such inappropriateness before they reach the age of marriage? This is just ridiculous! When we were teenagers we focused on our studies and prayers and never allowed ourselves to fantasize about falling in love and stuff.
(Long pause… Uhmmm)

I can imagine some Muslim parents’ reaction when their teenagers ask why they can’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend:

“A WHAT???? ASTAGHFAR ALLAH!” Parent drops dishes, locks the doors, and shines an interrogative spotlight in the child’s face.
“Put your hands where I can see them! Now tell me, where did you hear that term? Who do you hang out with?! What a shame you turned out to be! Go to your room, you’re grounded for TWO MONTHS!”
Oops!

Expect The Unexpected

In a world where Miley Cyrus dances wearing close to nothing on national TV (Eww gross!) and PG movies show couples kissing and teenagers getting pregnant, it’s safe to assume we can expect the unexpected. Muslim parents probably seem uptight and old-fashioned to a generation constantly and relentlessly exposed to the media’s shamelessness. Without gradually instilling our Islamic principles in our children at a very young age, unacceptable ‘social’ values will be all they know. Yes, we teach them to pray, fast, tell the truth and the whole long list, but are we tackling the ‘hormonal’ and ‘sexual ‘aspects of adolescence? Or are we shunning the ‘taboo’ subjects all together?

The interest in the opposite sex will arise sooner or later, and if we don’t talk to our kids about it, guess who they’ll talk to? Their FRIENDS! Their non-Muslim, very-experienced-in-this-arena friends! Or perhaps they’ll get their information from the Internet and books like “Fifty Shades Of Grey!” (Now someone please mute the demons in my head so I can finish writing this piece!)

The Big Talk

God knows talking about this is our worst nightmare! We want to preserve our children’s innocence for as long as we can, and that’s exactly why many of us choose not to discuss pre-marital relationships with our kids and hope we’ll never have to. The classic answers usually hover around “We are Muslims. We don’t date”. But are the kids convinced? It’s our job as parents to explain that having romantic feelings is very normal, but acting upon those feelings is definitely not okay until one is married. (I’m sure some dads are thinking: No not even then! LOL). Being alone and/or intimate with a boy or girl is against our modest Islamic beliefs, and it’s supported by all kinds of modern studies too. Problems with attachment, low self-esteem, peer pressure, neediness, ruined reputations, broken hearts and revenge schemes…. They all arise when boys and girls interact outside the ‘permissible line’.

Yet our kids should feel they’re allowed to voice out their thoughts without being judged, criticized or threatened into oblivion, because that’s when they’ll be willing to listen and apply. And if they’re uncomfortable to ask questions, perhaps it’s time we initiate those intense and awkward conversations to get the ball rolling….

Use The Secret Ingredient: Communication

The ‘pursed lips’ and ‘changing the subject’ tactics won’t cut it anymore. (It never did actually!) Our beloved Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) communicated openly and lovingly about every possible issue we could think of. Talk to your children while they’re young and they’ll get used to listening as they get older. Use every chance you get to squeeze in those small talks about friends, school, principles and religion. A scene in a movie, a title in a magazine, the gossip you heard about last week’s party. Ask them what they think are the reasons behind teenagers engaging in inappropriate behavior and if that’s really the way one becomes ‘popular’. Subtly lay the groundwork for good manners and God’s love in their minds before they hit puberty. Let’s get them at a young age while they’re still pure and teach them in a way they can understand.

Keep Your Eyes Wide Open

Some kids will argue you should trust them. My advice? Don’t fall for that! We are not angels. Those little innocent non-haram interactions of late night texting and ‘Facebook-ing’ can pave the wrong path, especially at the ages from 7 to 14 years old. So do we watch them like hawks as much as we can? Like hell we should!

Get acquainted with the friends they hang out with, censor the TV shows they watch, the books they read, check their ‘Whatsapp’ chats every now and then and limit their unsupervised outings and internet access. They’ll think you’re strict and harsh, and you’ll start wishing there was a ‘parenting agency’ that can implement such rules instead of having your kids resent you. That’s when you need to remind yourself of the kinds of trouble your friends were up to at that age. Now times that by 700 for this generation and what do you get? A waking monstrous NIGHTMARE!

And Then We Will Pray On It

Allah gave us stories in the Qur’an about Prophet Noah’s prodigal son and Prophet Abraham’s skeptic dad. If we ponder a little bit, we’ll come to realize that even if we do everything right, our kids can still go astray, and even if we do everything wrong, our kids can turn out to be amongst the most pious. It’s humbling to remember that it’s not our genius parenting that gets the job done perfectly, rather it’s Allah’s will. Period.

Hey, where are you going? That doesn’t mean we go play golf instead and give up on trying all together. All I’m saying is, doing our best is not enough. The essence of success is in putting great effort while asking God for His blessings and guidance.

And now before I go… a final moment of vulnerable honesty….

As much as I love being a mom, it’s becoming such an excruciatingly tough job in this brazenly crazed world. I’m worried and scared for my kids ALL THE TIME! My heart sinks when they go to school or when they meet people who don’t share their values, and I wonder if they’ll be easily confused. I’m constantly scared of failing as a parent, and I don’t know how to protect the youth from what they’ll eventually face. I only have faith that giving them love, and caring for their feelings will prevent them from seeking it elsewhere till they’re ready to move on. So tell your daughters how pretty, smart and valuable they are. Tell your boys how much you admire and respect them. Fill that void for the attention they yearn for and give them what they need from you the most…

Oh our Dearest Lord, we are desperate for Your blessings….Help us raise a generation that will make You proud…. Guide us when we’re too strict or too lenient… and please take care of our kids… for they’re the precious pieces of our hearts….

Lilly S. Mohsen

Find me on Twitter @LillyMohsen

The “Ex” Factor: Welcome To The Single Moms Club

Published On OnIslam.com
April 2015

single mom


The ‘Ex’ Factor:
Welcome To The Single Moms Club

Ringggggg Ringggggggggg
“Hello, welcome to the ‘Single Moms’ club, how can I help?
Yes that’s correct. We work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for the rest of our lives.
No, I’m sorry, there are no support groups or training courses available at the moment.
No, I’m afraid there’s no monetary compensation either. No social life, no holidays, no bonuses and no extra perks are included in our package.
What’s the upside you ask? Hmmmm we are still trying to figure that out. But on the bright side, we do get a lot of criticism, judgmental looks and some down right humiliating sympathy! Would you like to fill an application to join the club?
Umm hello?”

I remember as a little girl, the word ‘divorce’ caused more of a shock than finding out tooth fairies don’t exist! But at this day and age, marriages reaching a sudden halt are as common as car crashes on highways; we hear about it one minute and go back to munching on chips the next. Families are falling apart left and right, and it’s no secret that the most popular assumption always puts the wife at fault. That’s exactly the moment when these divorced single mothers start feeling like they’re ‘alone’ alone, suddenly left to pick up the pieces, and walk the walk of shame amongst a society that mostly tends to assume these women must have done something horrible to deserve such a gloomy fate.

The Start Of An Inevitable Ending:

Ending it all is hardly ever an easy decision. A husband and wife don’t just wake up on a beautiful morning and say, “You know what sounds like so much fun? A divorce!”. In fact it’s a gruesomely difficult step that leaves them both scarred for a long time. No one is excited about failing, but sometimes you’re left with no other option than to let go and walk away. And as much as a wife is expected to stuff her feelings down her throat and suffer silently for the sake of the kids, sometimes she just can’t do it. Sometimes the divorce isn’t even her choice to start with! No one knows the battles and struggles that happen behind closed doors except for God, the husband and the wife.

And maybe the mother in law.
And yes probably the best friends, too.
The neighbors also since they stick their ears to the doors and listen to the fights.
But other than that no one really knows LOL

It’s so NOT a joking matter. Being a single mom myself, I know how people treat and judge divorced women. They’re practically viewed as outcasts, vultures trying to steal husbands or just vulnerable easy targets. The news sets off a danger sign flashing on their foreheads, as if they’ve become a different species ready to attack planet Earth! But does anyone really understand what these women have been through before it all happened? Is there perhaps a book named “The Upside Of Divorce’ that we can learn the rules from? Whether it’s because the husband is abusive or because the wife can’t cook or the families don’t get along, who are we to judge if the reasons are valid or not? In one instance, our beloved Prophet himself did not even ask questions….

Narrated by Ibn `Abbas: The wife of Thabit bin Qais came to the Prophet () and said, “O Allah’s Messenger ()! I do not blame Thabit for defects in his character or his religion, but I, being a Muslim, dislike to behave in un-Islamic manner (if I remain with him).” On that Allah’s Messenger () said (to her), “Will you give back the garden which your husband has given you (as Mahr)?” She said, “Yes.” Then the Prophet () said to Thabit, “O Thabit! Accept your garden, and divorce her once.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 5273)

 The Ugly Truth:

So am I saying every unhappy woman should ask for a divorce and feel good about it? No! ABSOLUTELY NOT! Divorce is permissible in Islam but you know what else? It’s ‘detestable’ and for very good reasons, too. It’s the kids who pay the price, and the grandparents who drown in sorrow and the mother who is left with an even bigger burden to carry. She is faced with the ugly truth that no one could portray except those who have been down that same path; the realization that facing the world alone with a family to take care of is no walk in the park. It’s excruciatingly difficult in a way that’s just indescribable. A woman feels lost and unshielded, even if she has her family’s support. She is expected to be both the ‘strict dad’ and the ‘soft mom’ at the same time, which really confuses the kids. She spends her mornings anxious to make ends meet, her evenings listening to the kids’ demands and complaints, ‘mom, mommy, mommmm, mommy’ and then spends most of her nights scared something bad might happen or just exhausted from playing too many roles at once. It takes unimaginable strength to be able to survive that without breaking down.

Try living in the West and explaining to the handyman it’s un-Islamic to be alone with him while he’s doing his job. We aren’t allowed to date potential grooms, let alone the mess caused by anxious parents, ex-husbands and ex-wives. All the options are downright agonizing:

  • Raise the kids alone.
  • Marry someone else and hope the kids won’t resent him.
  • Go back to the ‘Ex’ and risk failing again

Don’t Join Just Don’t Judge:

A part of me hopes this article would deter anyone contemplating divorce. Another part wishes that people would see the truth; single moms did not call the quits to find ‘happiness’, many of them just wanted to escape the ‘unhappiness’. Let’s stop digging for dirt and offer a helping hand instead. It’s high time Muslims all around the world started embracing their sisters who didn’t ‘fail’ but rather faced downfalls like everyone else. It’s time for fathers to step out of their ‘honorary guest’ roles of either spoiling the kids out of guilt or moving on and forgetting they exist all together. Things need to change. Let’s stop punishing each other for our choices and misfortunes, and be there for one another, the way God intended us to….

To all the members of the ‘Single Moms’ club, I’m sorry you had to join….

Some of us are doing the time without doing the crime and no it’s not easy. In my heart I believe we survive through the strength God gives us. So don’t worry about the children, Lady Mary raised Prophet Jesus alone. Don’t worry about ending up alone, Lady Khadija was married twice before she ended up with our beloved Prophet (PBUH). Don’t worry about the gossip, Lady Aisha went through the worst trial of all before she was exonerated. We don’t compare ourselves to these blessed women but we certainly find hope in their stories. So stand tall and stay on the right path. Raise devout Muslim kids who respect their fathers and understand just how Merciful Islam is. Take care of your loved ones’ hearts and don’t worry… Allah will take care of yours…

Lilly S. Mohsen