Sometimes our family talks go something like this:

Hubby: Does a crow crow?
Me: No, a crow caws.
Hubby: It doesn’t craw?
Me: No, that’s a raven.
Hubby: So a crow caws and a raven craws?
Me: Exactly.
Eryn: NO! IT’S RAVENCLAW!

And sometimes, they look more like this:

Me: Eryn, when your friend said that she could stay living in America if Trump wins because she is a Christian, how did that make you feel?
Eryn: Sad.

Earlier this evening Eryn who is seven (SEVEN??!!) going on 16, was allowed her very first phone call to a friend. I lent her my phone and after practising proper phone etiquette (“Hello, this is Eryn calling. May I please speak with June?”), she excitedly stole away to her room, closed the door, and spoke with her friend on speakerphone.

After about five minutes I joined her in her room. She gave me a thumbs up and a huge smile signalling that the conversation was going well. Because apparently the stressful juggling act of creating and maintaining key playground relationships begins early, dontcha know? (I didn’t)

Then June said:

I saw a funny picture of Hillary on my mom’s phone!
Eryn: Who’s Hillary?
June: She’s going to be the next president of America. Do you know Trump? My mom said he’s a bad man.
Eryn: Yeah my mom said he doesn’t like Muslims and that if we lived in America he would kick us out.
June: Well I’m Christian so I can live in America.

I flagged the moment as a teachable conversation.

Photo Credit: Jamie Kapp

Photo Credit: Jamie Kapp

After dinner and some play time with the neighbourhood kids, I had a few minutes of alone time with Eryn. And while I did her hair, I asked why she felt sad when June said she could live in America:

Because she’s Christian and can live in America. This means I can’t and that’s not fair.
Me: Well, actually, June is missing something really important about Trump.
Eryn: What?
Me: She said she can live in America because she is Christian. But Trump doesn’t like a lot of people. He said he would build a wall to keep people from Mexico out of America. He also has a lot of really bad ideas about people of colour. A lot of the people he has issues with are also Christian. So it’s more complicated. June can talk about religion because she has something called white privilege.
Eryn: (looking at her palms) My hands are white…
Me: Yes, you have privilege too.
Eryn: Does Hillary like everyone?
Me: She likes more people than Trump…
Eryn: I hope she wins.

Then, later as I tucked her into bed:

Me: Do you know what responsibility is?
Eryn: Is that like, doing what your teacher tells you to do?
Me: Kind of. It’s like doing the right thing. You have some privilege, and with privilege comes great responsibility.
Eryn: Like Ms. Marvel?
Me: Yes! Privilege gives you power and when you have power you should always try to help others. So you were born in Canada, you go to a good school, and have nice things. This is all privilege. So whenever you see someone who needs help, or if someone is being mean, you should always step in to help, or to speak up for others.
Eryn: Ok mama.

 

Did she understand? Who knows! I was kind of blown away she remembered an offhanded comment I made MONTHS ago during the Republican National Convention and had the acuity to apply it in a conversation that I was expecting would revolve around Shopkins.

I would like Eryn and Ivy (and one day Quinn too) to have the capacity to call out simplistic world views that help perpetuate racism or discrimination. I mean, not necessarily today or tomorrow morning on the playground. But one day when they are able to understand the nuances of their position in life and those around them.

For now, they are surrounded by good, diverse people. The phone conversation today was innocent. It was, wasn’t it? I mean, in all fairness to June, it did end off with the both of them meowing at each other like cats. But the comment still made Eryn feel othered. I certainly wasn’t expecting to introduce white privilege as a part of our bedtime routine.

I wish it was as simple as making a Harry Potter pun.

MAMUJI_251015_0104New baby smell is richly sweet like Early Grey with shots of vanilla and excitement. Like the newness of dawn and the start of a new season. Like petrichor and golden falling leaves shimmering in the rays of an autumn sun. Something deep inside stirs with each breath.

Your sweetness breaks my heart. I can barely contain this love.

Your smell reminds me of the previous morning. I took a brisk walk through the forest, enjoying the unseasonably warm air, the turning leaves and how the light opened my lungs and pushed you down. Each footstep reminded us both that your birth day was soon to arrive.

I told you to be born on the 10th and you listened. Just like your sisters before you, I knew the exact day you would come into this world, even though my OB thought differently. Your birth followed a cosmic design that mirrored my hopes for a 2015 Libra, born three days early to complete a sibling birth order of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

And while I thought your birth would follow the same pattern as your sisters, you flipped everything on its head.

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My brain is a big, old attic — and stuffed away in the corner is a lovely trunk. The brass corners add a hint of complicated depth against the dark wood. Dust and scratches mar the trunk’s once glowing carvings — but upon closer inspection, one can see this this trunk was loved and should be loved again.

It is now covered with a crocheted blanket and a pile of books keeps the lid closed. But once in a while, the lid rattles against the weight of the books and a puff of wind lifts a corner of the blanket. And I’m so curious to see what’s knocking about inside. What wonders might pour out if I’m just a little bit brave.

But I’m afraid to open it. Because it’s been so long. And the longer I keep the trunk closed, the more afraid I become.

If I open it, will I have to keep it open forever? What if I just want to take a peek?

So this is me. Just taking a peak.

A lot has happened in the world over the past year and I have a lot of ideas brewing. Thank you for sticking around and checking out the place once in a while even though I have been woefully absent. I know you’re out there because I still get comments. I still get emails. And I still get visits. Thank you for your patience as I figure things out.

But this is just a peek… so I’ll go first with one of my favourites: some lazy photo-blogging.

We got a cat.

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His name is Leto and he’s adorable. He’s also a lot bigger than he is in this picture. I mean come on, just LOOK at the size of his paws. He’s a massive cat and fetches his toys. I’ve also underestimated just how much one animal can shed (the hair is worth its weight in purrs!).

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Eryn is six-and-a-half! And she is a force to be reckoned with. Eryn constantly needs to be doing, dancing, playing or entertaining. The Energizer bunny has nothing on her.

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Ivy is three-and-a-half! And is already her own person. She enjoys playing with her toys and can spend hours ordering coins, beads, or toy cars into straight lines. Just don’t tell Ivy what to wear. She will figure that out for herself, thank you very much.

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I started making jewelry.

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And figured out how to greyscale myself using makeup — just so I could rock some hijabi cosplay of a 1927 silent film star for an afternoon.

But perhaps the most important thing to happen this past year was Quinn.

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Say hello to baby Quinn everyone.

Masha’Allah, Alhamdulillah.

Resurfacing to share this glorious image:

Despite her satin tights, even Wonder Woman has bad hijab days!

Even Wonder Woman has bad hijab days!

The December #20 issue of Sensation Comics features our badass heroine representing the Justice League on a space ship traveling to the first human settlement on Venus. She arrives straight from a relief mission on Earth, saving children in the Punjab from raging floods.

Natch, she’s still wearing her dupatta and baggy kurta pants. Because, you know… she’s awesome:

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Once introduced, she soon realizes that she’s not only battling Venician monsters, but sexism served with a condescending tone of misogyny.  The leader of the ship “welcomes” her by lamenting the fact he got her instead of Superman.

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“Nice boots….”

I finished the final zip on my knee-high leather boots and stood up to an incredibly friendly smile greeting me in the middle of the regular post-Jummah shoe chaos. While being jostled and pushed, I smiled back and said thank you — vaguely distracted as women and children dove in between us to claim their shoes before rushing over to the community lobby for veggie samosas and hot chai.

With one eye on Ivy as she struggled to put on her shoes (on opposite feet, and emphatically by herself!), my new friend and I briefly spoke about where I got my boots and how they looked “steampunk.” Which, covered in rivets and a classic Victorian brass heel, is exactly the style I’m wearing these days.

Of course, the topic of my boots and the random recognition of my favourite neo-Victorian genre, made this the most exciting conversation I’d had at the mosque in a very long time. And was an instant spark of light after a previously long string of negative experiences.

Especially seeing as I was just about on my way out the door. Fully prepared to add this mosque to my growing list of places to which I’d never return.

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Ivy and Eryn just being kids in the mosque gym.

An hour earlier we were singing Eryn’s favourite “going to the mosque song” in the car and I was excited to be finally attending my first Jummah in almost six months. The last time we came to this location was for ‘Eid ul-Fitr, and my heart burst with joy and pride when the imam delivered an incredibly inclusive khutbah on mental heath. This mosque represented an island sanctuary in an ocean of disappointment and judgement.

And it was a harsh betrayal when I was asked to leave the main prayer hall.

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Happy Eid everyone! Wishing you all a blessed and joyous holiday. May all of our good deeds and actions be accepted and here’s hoping for a bright and happy future insha’Allah.

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Yesterday we prayed at my favourite Mississauga mosque, the Sayeda Khadija Centre — where Imam Slimi gave the BEST ‘Edi khutbah I have ever heard.

He spent a brief 20 minutes not focusing on the importance of keeping the Qur’an in our daily lives, or vaguely mentioning that we should continue coming to the mosque in record numbers, or <insert stock Eid khutbah topic here> — but instead gave practical advice and reflections. Like the importance of civic engagement and improving our condition by focusing on positive stories. To not always dwell on images of war or become disheartened at clear media biases toward Muslims. But instead to focus on promoting the Muslim Champions who work and succeed in society. To raise our children to know that they can become Prime Minister if they want to and that they can make a difference.

He also focused on the issue of mental health and strongly encouraged people who were struggling with illness to obtain the help they need — whether it’s counseling or medication. In all of my years, I have never heard a community leader say so many encouraging things about mental heath. Normally, we’re told that depression is a sign of a diseased heart and that one should read more Qur’an, perform more dhikr, or self medicate with rituals to expel Jinn-causing-illnesses to “get over it.” So it was incredibly refreshing to hear someone acknowledge problems within the Muslim community and validate the experience of those who deal with mental illness.

It was an impressive talk and it has been an extremely long time since a khutbah made me smile with pride for my community.

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After lunch, a gift exchange for the girls, afternoon tea, and a trip to the ice cream shop, Eryn got dressed in her mermaid outfit and we went to the local musallah for ‘Asr. Unfortunately, the women’s section was locked — hopefully just an oversight *cough* — and I had to wait for the Hubby to break down the barrier on the men’s side and unlock the door.

Overall, it was a lovely ‘Eid and I’m actually looking forward to making up my missed fasts over the next month insha’Allah. Hope your ‘Eid was also filled with warmth, fun, family, and mermaids.

Many of you will be familiar with some of my thoughts and sentiments in this post because I’ve shared glimpses of them here before. This piece was written late last week, and first posted on Muslimah Media Watch. Since then, I’ve had time to reflect.

To give this piece some more context: I feel at odds with myself. I find myself saying things like my heart has hardened — but will joyfully sing dhikr with Eryn and Ivy. Even though I go through the motions, I feel that something is missing. An essence or presence that should be there. A gap in the space around me. So perhaps I’m joyful because the song is familiar. Maybe I find fulfillment in entertaining the girls.

And this is disquieting.

A friend of my sister-in-law very suddenly and tragically passed away on Tuesday. This young woman has not left my thoughts since I heard the news. I think of her family, her sister, her mother — and I shatter. I make dua’ for her with more sincerity than I make for myself. And maybe I do so selfishly. Because there is no greater fear than the thought of harm coming to my children. And so thinking about her absence in this world, praying that her good deeds will endure and give her countless blessings, and asking for her entrance into the highest heaven — makes me reflect and imagine her family’s loss… and I ferociously beg God to protect my girls.

It bothers me that fear of losing them is my motivation. Because I might not otherwise speak to God.


The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely. [8:2]

heartIt doesn’t feel like Ramadan.

The excitement, the struggle of the fast, the security of knowing that every good action is an added blessing, exercising patience and feeling contentment when tested, the thrill of biting into a sweet date at iftar, the peace of sitting in the mosque and smelling the perfumed air, feeling my heart soar as I lay my forehead down to the ground to honour and beseech my Lord for forgiveness — it’s all been missing from my Ramadan experience this year.

I fast. I eat my date. I exercise considerable patience (even with two rambunctious girls jumping on me after commuting from a stressful day at work). I beseech. I go through the motions because that’s what I have to do. But I feel like a spiritual zombie.

We’re told by traditions, Internet articles, and admonitions related through mosque culture that Ramadan is a training ground for the rest of the year. That we should strive in our worship to gain more spiritual benefits, to use the fast as an opportunity for self-reflection, to develop our empathy, and nurture our spiritual selves. That if you only fast from food and water, your reward is only hunger and thirst.

But what if that’s all you can do?

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