Monday, January 07, 2013

A Rough Patch

This morning was tough. My mom who teaches at Ali’s daycare has been out recovering from a health issue, normally he spends his mornings with her in her classroom and doesn’t look twice when I walk out the door. It’s been a difficult few weeks. Weeks that make me realize that having family nearby is SO vital to a positive well-being. Ali loves daycare, but lately he’s been clingy and I’m assuming it’s because now that he’s a 2 year old ‘big boy’ he’s going through a separation anxiety phase where I’m no longer out of sight out of mind. Adding to the fact that we’ve had two long weekends due to holidays where he got mommy overload have not helped.

Separation Anxiety has turned my usual cheerful, outgoing and social child into a bag of tears. Normally, he runs or skips his way through the daycare doors, mentioning the “bleeew” and “reddd” flowers outsides. This morning, he clung to me as we walked in, laying his head on my shoulder. He was not in the mood for his usual chatter, the only word he said was  a quiet plea for Nani as we neared his classroom; where I reminded him that Nani is at home, but he will have fun with Ms. Christine and his buddies today. He nervously took off his coat and gave me his pacifer to put away as Ms. Christine took out his breakfast. I sat him down, kissed his forehead and turned to leave when I heard ‘Ammiiiiii’ behind me. He was not ready to let me go. Oh boy. I sat with him for a bit, watching him eat his first few bites. As another parent walked in to drop off their child, I took this opportunity to make a quick exit. Hoping he wouldn’t notice my absence with the extra bodies crowding the small class room, I dashed out. As I heard the door click behind me I turned to see Ali rushing out of his seat after me wailing ‘Ammiiiiiii’. It wasn’t so much his cries, but the look on his face in that moment. Our eyes locked and the sheer look of having his heart broken, that look of betrayal and rejection was all over his face. Ugh just put dagger through my heart and give it a twist why don’t you? I could hear the cries as I signed the daily attendance sheet in the hallway. Fortunately, within a few short moments it was gone.

What makes this separation anxiety phase so difficult for me is that I remember going through it! I have a weirdly good memory, but I remember being about 2-3 years old and going to a babysitter all day while my mom went back to college for her Early Childhood degree. As an adult now, I realize my mom did something wonderful for herself and for our family, but as a toddler I was miserable all day. I was probably the easiest kid to babysit, because I wouldn’t move from the same spot on the sofa in front of the TV, I didn’t speak and barely ate. The only thing I really remember is being scared of another girl who came to the babysitter too, she was a little older and would push me around to play with her. I didn't want to be her friend, I just wanted my mommy and Pushy Girl's behavior clearly didn’t help my situation. This only lasted a short period I’m assuming, because I remember soon after going to my aunt’s during the day and really enjoying it. She was my mom’s younger sister, so it was like having the next best thing. She never yelled and I could play big sister to my baby cousin. But still, it was not my mom. Shortly after, my mom started working at a preschool and I would go with her. She taught an older age group, but knowing that my mom was in the classroom next door, it’s when my personality finally came out. I became social and enjoyed those drives to and from daycare with mom. Just me and her. Even later on when I was 5, my Dadi and Dada would take care of me before kindergarten. It was nice and gave me fond memories with them but, it was not my mom.

All a small child wants in this stage is his mom, his source of comfort and over whom he can reign freely. His Ammi. I am heartbroken that I cannot give my child that (except on weeknights and weekends). That he has to spend 10 hours, five days a week without me literally brings me to tears, because it as the one thing I also wanted as a young child and here I am doing the same to my own. 

Ali, if you are an adult reading this one day. Know that those days when you didn’t want Ammi to leave you, they were just as tough on her too. Know that when you cried as she shut the classroom door in your tiny adorable face, she got back into her car and gulped down tears of her own. Surah Ya Sin. That’s the surah Ammi had to listen to while driving to work. Because, my mom, your Nani, had told me that it is considered the Heart of the Quran, and the only thing to try mending my broken heart this morning was hearing recitations from the Heart itself.

Also, we must be thankful for all the kindness in our lives. We are lucky that Nani lives so close by we can visit her whenever we like, and soon she’ll be back at school with you. Know that Ms. Christine, like all your teachers will be inshAllah, is a wonderful caring woman who takes SUCH good care of you when I can’t be around and had a hand in shaping you into the man you are today. She was patient as you cried and comforted you when you felt sad. We must always find the positive in every difficult situation. We must find what is to be learned from it and how we can grow better from it.You are a strong and resilient boy, your teacher reassures me you play fine the rest of the day, those cries are soon forgotten. But there are those moments I worry that these memories will damage you. I fear it will create feelings of rejection and anxiety within you. I pray hard that they don’t make you resentful towards me or towards any future siblings who may take my attention away from you even more. I'm relying on the same hope my mother probably had, that one day you will grow up and realize why I had to do what I did, for the betterment of our family. And that it never ever meant that I love you any less.

 As a Muslim, we are taught that God loves us 70x more than a mother loves her children. I finally get it. The gravity of that notion. We selfishly demand God's attention, we fight with Him when he doesn't grant us what we want. We hold grudges for years and don't talk to Him. All because we are needy like a child and feel resentful that He deprived us of his love somehow, whether it be by denying us the things we desire or giving us difficult life situations to tackle. Becoming a mom grants a view from the other side of the lense. Everything comes full circle. 

Loving my child has taught me how to love God the way he deserves to be loved, because it allows me to understand Him. Knowing what it is to love selflessly, we cry when our child cries. Your pain is worse than any of my own. And, the pain of knowing that it is my actions which caused your tears, that is an injury I wish upon no one. But those tears shed are necessary to make successful, confident and sociable individuals who will one day repeat the same cycle. And hopefully, they too will know Him and what it is to love Him. 

 Motherhood Is Not For Sissies By Beilenson, Evelyn (Google Affiliate Ad)

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