mamahood


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.

Finally, here’s the fourth post in my series on the media stereotyping of Muslim women. It was an absolute joy to speak to these phenomenal women and it was so exciting to pick their brains. If I had the power, I would have invited everyone for a massive party.

As I’ve pointed out throughout this series, these blogs and social media personalities are resource-mining and community-building. They are story telling with authentic voices and encouraging the creation of positive narratives. They are disassembling popular media stereotypes and creating discursive spaces to grapple with the current reality of growing up Muslim in an era of Islamophobia.

As a mother trying to make sure my two daughters grow up surrounded by images of strong, empowered, diverse Muslim women — these positive narratives are invaluable. They combat the internalization of negative portrayals by providing alternatives, by creating a positive popular culture of Muslim women, and by reframing the image of the Muslim mother.

This is only a sampling of the phenomenal voices out there — so if you know of someone, or ARE someone that is making positive impacts, drop a link in the comments below!

Hope you enjoyed this series as much as I enjoyed presenting it.


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Blogger extraordinaire Amanda Quraishi is a mother, American Muslim Progressive, Liberal, Feminist, Generation-X Humorist, and Geek. She uses her blog Muslimahmerican to write about the American Muslim experience as well as liberal politics — sharing her opinions with over 15,000 followers.

On the question of mothering positive images of Muslim identity and combating stereotypes, she says she is committed to the idea that individual Muslims should represent all of our unique traits and fascinating human variations:

And this is the best way to combat stereotypes. No one Muslim woman can speak for all of us, but we can all represent ourselves authentically and in doing so, we let people see us as we are: a multitude of Muslim identities instead of a single, monolithic community.

The piece to read: Enough with the “Veiled” References

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Fellow Canadian and steampunk enthusiast Zainab bint Younus, aka The Salafi Feminist, has been writing for as long as she can remember. After pouring everything into journals, she started blogging as a frustrated teenager with too many frustrations about the Muslim community to keep to herself — and has since evolved, recognizing there are ways to empower Muslims to seek nuanced, intelligent avenues to create positive change.

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Blowing kisses to fishes.

Blowing kisses to fishes.

Hello sweetie,

You have a face that was made to smile.

For a year and a half now you’ve been content with just about everything. Smiles open so naturally and easily between your chubby cheeks — reaching up with so much expressive emotion to your shining eyes.

And you’ve created so many different and wonderful smiles.

There’s the happy-stamping-feet-mama-just-got-home smile. The cheeky, can-I-have-a-chocolate smile (with raised eyebrow). The laughing-eyes-closed-in-wild-abandon as I twirl you around around the room smile. The quiet, benevolent smile you reserve for when you sit on a bench and pat the empty space — inviting me to sit next to you.

But one of my most favourite smiles is the mouth-wide-open-eyes-glancing-to-the-right smile when I tickle your belly. The genuine laugh that comes with it melts my heart.

You’re cute, you know. And you play that cuteness well.

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My recent post on creating a child-like Ramadan generated a lot of attention on Twitter and Facebook — with many commenting about the frustrating balance between motherhood and the sometimes unfair expectations placed upon mothers during Ramadan — usually at the expense of their spirituality. I thought it might be productive to create spaces where people could share stories, commiserate, debate or come up with plans of action to address the issue. Especially now that we’ve entered the last 10 days of Ramadan.

I’ve teamed up with the amazing Asiah Kelley, to explore some of the problems in the discourse on motherhood and Ramadan — which we’ll look at over the next two postsAsiah Kelley is a fantastic person and mother and I am honoured to share her work with all of you. Please join me in welcoming her as she shares her thoughts and reflections on the importance of recognizing motherhood spirituality.


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Ramadan is supposed to be the month of mercy. But for many mothers and wives, it can feel merciless. The work is unrelenting — food preparation, child care, house work, and all the while trying to fit in any act of worship possible.

Muslims start mentally and physically preparing for Ramadan at least a month ahead of time. The excitement builds as people think of all the food they will eat, and all the events they will go to. Young girls shop and prepare their outfits for the different parties they will attend. Boys think of the fun they will have staying up late nights with their friends, while sleeping it off the next day. But mothers? They just might tell you that Ramadan is met with a sense of dread. All the expectations — their family’s and their own, are hard to live up to.

Something has to give, and that something is usually the mother.

Ramadan crept up on me this year. My husband came home from the store with $45 worth of Gatorade, and I was more than confused until he said “For Ramadan? It starts next week.” I guess I knew on some level that it was coming, but had been ignoring it. In fact, I was dreading it. Since having my daughter two years prior I had slowly sunk into an iman hole. My faith was shot.

Ramadan wasn’t a welcome friend, it was a reminder of how bad of a Muslim I considered myself to be.

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So much for colour coordination.

The other day the Hubby took Eryn so I could have some well-deserved girl time with a good friend. We had a fabulous date at a swanky restaurant — two Muslim girls drinking faux cocktails, laughing into our high-calorie salads, passing a chubby baby back and forth, and gossiping about our respective academic-stressed and dirty diaper strewn lives.

By the time I got home, Eryn was fast asleep — worn out by her own lovely date with Baba. He let her watch TV, they learned some sign language, then they went to the mosque before laughing into halal burgers and acting all cool playing with pretend mobile phones at a local cafe.

We’ve been extremely successful with potty training over the past month and recently started venturing out without diapers. So naturally, after finding out how the evening went, I just had to ask about bodily functions:

Me: So how’d it go?
Him: She had to pee when we were at the mosque. While I was praying.
Me: Oh no! What did you do?
Him: Well, I tried speeding up, but it was going to take too long. So I left prayer and took her to the bathroom.
Me: You stopped praying? You gave salaams?
Him: No. I left prayer, took her to the bathroom, came back to the musalla and picked up where I left off.
Me: Can you even DO that?
Him: *shrug* Not sure? Guess it’s time for a fatwa.

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Asleep on her own.

Some say breastfeeding is a relationship. It has ups and downs and if it’s no longer working for one of the people involved, perhaps it’s time for a reevaluation.

Since day one I loved nursing Eryn. I had no “plan” as to how long we would nurse and one day I woke up to nursing a toddler. And I was okay with that. Then Ivy came along and I cried when Eryn cried for me — begging me to give the baby to Baba. So I nursed both.

So far I’ve been lucky with tandem nursing — both girls will nurse and fall asleep. It’s heaven having a couple of hours to myself to sleep, clean, or these days, read Qur’an. And with Eryn, we’ve gotten to the point where she nurses only 10 minutes before nap and bed time. I’ve always just followed her lead, and she’s accepted my suggestions when I’ve said we’re only going to nurse for one or two lullaby’s.

So maybe she’s weaning herself and I’m not the worst mother in the world.

But today I felt like I was.

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People tell me I was made to have children.

I love being pregnant. I love the experience of giving birth.

Even when I was dealing with some serious baby blues and a bad recovery after Eryn’s birth, I still look back at the key moments that brought her into this world with a kind of euphoria.

It is amazing to me to see what I am physically capable of, how well I know my body, and that I was blessed to have an informed and empowered birth experience with Ivy.

This was due in part to both birth experiences progressing the same way — both starting at fajr prayer and ending at maghrib. Both with mild and manageable contractions until transition. Both with an incredibly short pushing phase.

So while I had fears that this labour would be different due to a longer hospital presence to treat Group B Strep — because the progression was similar, I knew exactly when it was time to go to the hospital. I knew the precise moment when my cervix dilated to seven centimeters. I knew this meant the baby would be born within the half hour, if not sooner. I trusted my instincts completely. I trusted my body.

Ivy’s birth has key moments that will take time to process. Moments that mark her birth as special and wonderful. Moments that still send shivers down my spine and make me feel incredibly alive and powerful.

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