Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Birthday Wish

I posted this last Friday on my birthday and it garnered a lot of likes and positive reactions on Facebook. In light of all that has happened in the last few weeks, I had to unload some of the heaviness in my heart. Thank you for reading.

"Today is my birthday, yet on my way to work I had tears running down my face. Black people fearing for their lives, Muslims fearing for their lives, LGBTQ communities fearing for their lives, police officers fearing for their lives, innocent people around the world going about their day fearing attacks and slaughter. So much violence, pain and fear.

I was at Eid prayer this past Wednesday in a park in my hometown. The Muslim community has grown so large that we cannot all fit in the mosque, so we had our morning prayer in a public park. The day as beautiful, sunny and peaceful. Yet my heart was dark and cloudy with dread. I looked up as people began to pray and noticed that there were men from the mosque posted around the prayer group, scanning the environment. I realized that instead of praying they were playing the part of security, trying to ensure our safety. My sister even whispered to me before that "do you think they hired security?". Security. For a peaceful prayer at a park in America.

I mourn for the black community, I have never stopped mourning for the black community. I have worked alongside my brothers and sisters from this community since I was 16. My heart is heavy with devastation after seeing the two videos that are in a long line of execution videos, because the systems that criminalize the crime of too much melanin in our skin will not admit their mistakes, they will not concede the need for change.

I mourn today for police officers who were gunned down in Dallas. I have great regard for police that do serve and protect their communities. Once my mother was lost on the highway and flagged down a police officer for help because she didn't know how to get home. When he told her how, she realized she didn't have toll money and the police gave her money for her toll. She was so grateful to him for his generosity and help. On the other end, my husband, who is of Latino background has been routinely profiled and stopped for no other reason than the fact that he was Latino, and based on that alone he was handcuffed to the side of the road and had his car searched because they thought he had drugs. My husband was a Marine, he even has a Marine sticker on his car.

I mourn my community in Bangladesh, as they reel from a terrorist attack in an area full of family members and friends and where my parents lived before immigrating to this country. I mourn for Syria, Baghdad and Turkey. I mourn for Orlando and for the LGBTQ community that have shared their safe spaces with me, no questions asked.

I mourn for all the families, parents, children, siblings and friends who have lost and are losing people here and abroad to anger, violence and rage.

In the end all I can hope for is that each one of us works to make the world a better place in the realization that peace, equality, and empathy are all values we can carry and act on, not only in our daily lives, in our work and in our efforts for justice but also something we demand from the institutions that govern our lives.

You aren't supposed to tell people your birthday wish but that is my wish, this and every birthday."


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Happy Birthday to Me: Motherhood a Year Later

Every time you celebrate your birthday by going to town on an obscene amount of shots, or by partying the night away, or eating a pint of ice cream in your pajamas, what you are also celebrating is the day a woman's body pretty much ripped itself in half to give you life. Since we are not in the matrix yet (or are we? ::shifts eyes::) this is true of every single human being in existence ever. For me, this is not just my son Zakir's birthdate, this is my first year anniversary of being a mother.

Me right after birthing Zakir trying my hardest to smile. My face says it all.
At 1:44am a year ago, I gave birth to my son. I was in labor for I suppose about 20 hours, but it wasn't so bad once the drugs kicked in. Drugs were so awesome. I don't think I could thank modern medicine enough for giving me relief during labor. Cool beans to ladies who have done it without drugs, but life is enough of a struggle for me than to make child birth one of them. It chilled me out enough to facebook post during labor and take some nice naps in between throwing up. Because as happy as the epidural was, the pure force of labor still made me vomit all over my mother and the nurse.

SEEN HERE : not me
Motherhood has changed how I look at everything. I don't think being a mother is any different if you physically give birth or adopt. I think loving, caring for and raising a child is one and the same. I also don't think motherhood is a good fit for everyone and that women who choose to never have kids shouldn't be asked constantly to justify their no child status or pressured into having any.  I also realize that motherhood is a privilege, there are women whose greatest wish is to give birth to a child, and for many that deep desire remains unfulfilled. Then there are the mothers who have experienced miscarriages, stillbirths and the loss of an infant or child. For them once they are a mother, they will always remain a mother to that child. In my life I know women who fall under each of these categories, and though I will never pretend that I understand all of their individual experiences, my feelings towards these different situations has only deepened in understanding and respect after becoming a mother myself.

With this is mind I can speak that for me motherhood in this first year is indescribable. I think that's the only adjective that really fits. I described it on my Facebook as "A beautiful, vomity, bloody screaming mess with lots of poop. So much poop. And hugs." I mean really, that about sums it up for me. Motherhood is so damn visceral, in every possible sense. We decorate moms and babies in pastel colors, with a halo of peace and love. Society makes it so serene, so perfect

Scrap that, motherhood is badass, it's bloody, it's nature, full force. I'm not talking camping nature. I'm talking lions ripping wildebeests apart, volcanoes erupting, dinosaur extinction nature. The hurricane force that goes through your body when you expel an entire person out of your being is the very core of existence. Raw, unhinged and wild. It was so intense that my brain literally forgot things and fogged out my memory from remembering the hardest parts, it was that physically traumatizing. There is a purpose to this convenient memory lapse, this is so I will want other children. Because believe me, I do want other kids,  nature and my cuddly awesome progeny has tricked me into thinking it's a good idea.

Nature is beautiful
But why is it a good idea? I'll tell you why, because motherhood has changed me. Everyone says it does, but it's so true. I'm still the same person, not even an ounce more mature or put together, but definitely trying a lot harder. Because frankly I have no choice. I have to put on my big girl pants for Zakir, because if I don't no one will put them on for me to raise him. Okay, I lied, my mother helps me tremendously and has been his primary caretaker when I returned to work. My mom helps me with my mommy big girl pants. 

Thanks mother, for helping both my and Zakir survive our first year together
More than that, I feel like my blood, my brain, my heart and my entire being has changed (scientifically it actually has). And I'm not talking about the 20 pound weight gain and missing sexy abs. It feels like my heart got carved out and filled in with something different, and that 'different' is my son. I know I may still have new mom hormones surging through my body but the way I feel towards Zakir is overwhelming if I actually stop to think about it. When he's making super high pitched noises coz I stuck him in his playpen again, or when it takes 2 hours to feed him one meal, the love feeling is kind of taken over by the "oh my god you are so annoying" feeling. But there are magical moments, when I hold him tightly against my chest because that's the only way to calm his yells for "mama, mama, maaaamaaaaaa" or to calm him if he's feeling sick or sleepy. Moments when I watch him sleep at night, tears flow freely from my eyes. Tears of the purest love, intense, overwhelming, I-will-die-for- you, move-the-earth-for-you kind of love. Literally he's a piece of my soul that decided to detach and join the rest of the world outside me. And that's excruciating, it's overwhelming, it's maddening, it's exhilarating, and I guess, well, it's being a parent.

Outside of these off the wall feelings during this first year,  I am just damn grateful.  I would like to pat my mom on the back for helping me keep my son alive and functional. I want to thank all of the friends who have absolutely spoiled my family with gifts, support and love. Seriously, my home is overrun with toys and baby stuff and I bought none of it. NONE OF IT.  They basically made sure Zakir has been clothed so far. I want to thank my fellow mothers who checked in on me and understood when for the first 3 months of Zakir's birth I felt like an absolute crazy person, and frankly hated being a mom. For the first 3 months I wondered why I didn't use birth control because Zakir was awesome but I felt terrible. Not depression as much as physical pain from breastfeeding and birth recovery, guilt at not knowing what the hell I was doing, weight gain I have never experienced and trying to get back to a life that has irrevocably changed. Thank you moms for making me feel less like a wild animal and more like a regular female who had just shaken her world from its core forever. Thank you to my husband, frenemy, partner, good-looking baby maker, Roberto, for taking this journey with me as we navigate our lives as new parents, as a couple, as people wanting to advance our careers as we try to navigate mountains of debt while unsuccessfully (so far) buying a home for our family.

While writing this post, it turned 1:44 am, the time of Zakir's birth. I took a break from blogging to give my sleeping angel koala baby a kiss Happy Birthday. The tears came again, I could barely even choke out the "Happy Birthday" part, and when I kissed him, my tears glistened upon his perfect sleeping face. He's perfect, who knows if I will think that when he's a hysterical toddler and an annoying angsty teenager who listens to music I hate. But for now, he's perfect and part of me thinks, angsty teenager or not, I will always think so.

I'll love you anyway kid.