Wednesday, 14 August 2013

So it appears that 2013 is not my year - or is it?

We find ourselves in the latter half of 2013 and I've not done anything I'd planned to do this year.

I knew that 2013 was going to be a big year for us. Shakeel (14) was starting high school and Aisha (3) was going to creche for the first time.

I was supposed to use my newfound freedom (from Aisha) to embark upon the journey I'd been fantasising about for some time now by doing a course in magazine journalism. In addition, I'd hoped to be running a small sideline business because, let's face it, at age 40, it's unlikely that I'll ever end up making my millions as a freelance magazine journalist.

But none of this has come to pass. Instead of freeing up my energy and time as my eldest and youngest took these huge steps away from me toward independence, I found them needing me more. Shakeel had a very bumpy start to high school - I only feel comfortable sharing this now, since things have improved considerably since then. He was extremely unhappy and, I'd even go as far as to say - depressed. He was not making new friends easily and his friends from his primary school were moving on happily without looking back (or in his direction). I coaxed and comforted, preached and prayed (both for him and with him). I felt helpless - my child who had been so confident as a senior at his previous school was completely lost and alone while all the other Grade 8s seemed to be adjusting effortlessly. I felt helpless - I wished there was something I could have done to make the adjustment easier.

Everyone said that he'd be fine. "It takes time; he'll be okay. Don't worry so much," I was told. But I did worry. A lot. Because I was watching my darling son relive my entry into high school. All those awful emotions came flooding back to me and I wanted nothing more than to shield him from them. I felt guilty - if I hadn't been such an introvert, if I had taken him among people more often, if he hadn't witnessed my steadily-worsening social phobia, he'd be different. He might have grown up to be as easy going, spontaneous and socially well-adjusted as the other kids his age were.

But, as it turns out, everyone was right. Things got better - although the process was slow and painful. He now has friends and seems to have adjusted to the school. I just wish that the confidence that he feigns, he actually feels. But Alhamdulillah, I am just so grateful for the progress he's made thus far.

My other main focus this year has been Aisha's adjustment to school life. Again, I only feel comfortable writing about this since enough time has passed. Up until the beginning of this year she was extremely attached to me (as I was to her). She had breastfed for months past what would be considered socially acceptable and even when she stopped, she clung to me day and night. I knew that our mutual clinginess was unhealthy, but I so enjoyed being close to her. I pushed the idea of her attending creche to the back of my mind until the day it happened.

On her first morning, she reacted as we'd expected. As did I - I burst into tears in her classroom and then Mo drove me to Sea Point where we sat overlooking the ocean while I sobbed uncontrollably for another 40 minutes. These traumatic (and dramatic) partings continued for the whole of the first term and then, when she finally stopped crying in the mornings, the school holidays began. As expected, once the new term started, we were back at square 1. (Don't worry, by this time, she was the only one crying - it's not as if Mo and the teacher were having to pull crying mother and daughter apart every morning).

And she remained teary in the mornings - up until the beginning of this week when, after giving Mo and me our ritual greeting (three kisses and three hugs each) she smiled and waved goodbye. Alhamdulillah. I pray that this continues and is not just a short-lived respite from our agonising morning drama.

So, as I was saying - I had planned to focus on my own personal development this year. Instead, I spent so much more time focused on my family's needs. The funny thing however, is that I don't feel frustrated by this. For the first time I am actually enjoying doing exactly what I'm doing right now, which is being there for my family while they need me (as they seem to be needing me more this year). I don't expect that this will be the case for too long - as these challenges too shall pass. Last night I sat reflecting upon this year and I realised that I have grown/developed somewhat - I am coming to realise that these day to day challenges are temporary (which brings to mind the verse, " "Verily, with hardship there is relief" (Qur'an 94:6) ) , and I should stop viewing every obstacle as an insurmountable challenge. I'm learning to keep these day-to-day challenges in perspective by looking back at 'problems' we dealt with a few months ago and how these did not signal the end of the world - instead here we are, still facing life's curve balls and still (with the help of the Almighty) knocking them out of the park one by one Alhamdulillah.

Again, I digress. I was talking about the fact that I've not accomplished what I'd set out to do this year. Mo pointed out that I have never been able to achieve inner peace and contentment when it came to 'what I should be doing with my life'. For years I felt that I should be doing my articles because I'd done my law degree. Then when I eventually moved past that, I was never contented in my jobs - I always thought there was something else I should be doing.

But funnily enough, for the first time I have not been feeling that restlessness and discontent for a while now. I think that this is because I realise what a huge difference my role as a stay-at-home mom is making to the kids right now. They really need me this year and Alhamdulillah, by the grace of the Almighty, I am able to be here for them. I know that this will change, as life is ever-changing and won't always be as tumultuous as it has been for the past few months. Maybe then I will focus on the plans I had for myself at the beginning of this year. But for now, I think I am exactly where I should be.

Grade 8 Natural Science project (in case you were wondering)

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