I awoke this morning feeling complete. Everything that had been missing for the past three days had been restored- and I was at peace.
My uncomfortable feeling started on Thursday afternoon, when Tharaa asked if she could spend Friday afternoon at her friend's house.
With the exception of Friday evenings,which we spend at Mo's sister's place,and Saturday evenings, which is spent by my mum; Mo, the kids and I usually spend all our time together outside of school and work. Whether it be at movies, picnics, going for ice-cream or just spending time at home- we are always together.
Our relative isolation is more a result of circumstance than choice. We do not live in a neighbourhood where I'd feel safe to let the kids ride their bicycles and go out and meet other children. Also, their school is situated in the city, so school friends come from all over as a result of their parents working in the city. Their exposure to their school friends outside school, therefore necessarily results only from organised play dates. These do not take place very often.
To date, this situation has not really been a problem. Generally the company of their siblings has sufficed and they have never really needed other children during the school holidays (although they adore spending time with their cousins twice a week).
This situation suits me well too, as I get to have them around all the time. It is especially beneficial to me, since the older two are there to keep the younger two occupied.
So this weekend, I felt as if part of me was missing. Immediately after their school's early dismissal at 11:30 am on Friday morning, Tharaa went to her friend's house for the whole afternoon. Shakeel, Nuha and Aisha spent the afternoon at home with me and although I spent the afternoon playing, chatting and arguing with them, I couldn't shake the uncomfortable feeling that something was missing. I knew that I was being completely unreasonable- spending a few hours away from home is completely normal, I knew; but I selfishly wanted her home with us.
It turned out that I was not the only one who felt her absence. At dinner, Nuha and Aisha couldn't stop talking about their sister, trying to guess what she'd be doing if she had been there.
My happiness at having her back home was short-lived, because I knew that Shakeel had been invited to spend the weekend at his friend, Caleb's house. I absolutely hated the idea of him being gone for two whole days.
Our rule is that other than organised karate club/school camps or sleeping over at grandparents, we do not allow our children to attend sleepovers. To ensure that Shakeel would not miss out on a minute of the fun (and to stop his incessant begging), his amazing dad said that he would fetch Shakeel at 23:00 on Saturday night and would take him back at 07:00am the following morning.
Although Shakeel initially agreed, we knew that, come Saturday night, we would still have to deal with begging and complaints. The begging came in the form of an SMS from Caleb, which read,
"Sir, can shakeel please sleep over because we really want him to sleep (sic) and so does he. Also its a wast (sic) of time and petrol and money, so please think about it please ... Caleb"
To which Mo responded
" I appreciate your concern for my time and money, but Shakeel knows the rules. I will fetch him later tonight".
Shakeel woke his poor father up at 06:45 on Sunday morning.
"Daddy, I'm going to be late!" he complained, as his poor father tried to catch his last few minutes of sleep. Late for what? Thoughts of violence passed through my mind, as Aisha stirred and moaned in response to having her sleep disturbed. Interrupted sleep inevitably results in a unstoppable tantrum. Luckily for him she went back to sleep.
When we collected him at about 17:30 yesterday late afternoon, he could barely keep his eyes open. We headed off to our usual Sunday evening prayer meeting; where I experienced more than the usual feelings of peace and gratitude, which usually wash over me at these gatherings. I was so deeply appreciative and happy that my family was back together once more.
I know that I am probably coming across as way too clingy (and maybe a bit loony), and that I probably am. It's just that I know that our family as we know it, is bound to change at some point, as everyone starts to go his/her own way.
Is it so wrong that I want to ensure that we take advantage of every second we have with one another in the meantime, before the inevitable happens?