Ambitions of Mother

Sometimes I think I’m too ambitious as a mother. Well, not as a mother exactly. I mean, as a mother, I may sometimes be too ambitious about the number of non-mothering things I want to do.

Like yeah, that jacket I made for baby turned out really good, so of course I can make six other jackets for her cousins. Why don’t I start a business and sew hijabs to sell while I’m at it? And of course I should read Quran every day. I’ve been a bit negligent of that, and I should be learning new surahs, not just reviewing what I know. Also I haven’t been studying Bengali lately, and I have 3 library books and a whole pile of magazines to read.

I can work on these things in the hour or two after Baby goes to sleep… If she goes to sleep without any trouble…In between those ridiculously long nursing sessions she’s been doing lately…After I do those things that my husband asked me to do.

Hmm. Where did all the time go? You’re too tired now? You’d better do it tomorrow, definitely.

Hiking Amidst the Ruins (Kaaterskill Hotel)

Kaaterskill Hotel

Last weekend we went hiking at North South Lake State Park. We went along a scenic ridge where at least one overlook was called Inspiration Point. I’m not really sure what anything else was called. On our way back, we came looking for the site of the Kaaterskill Hotel. It was on our map. We hadn’t actually heard of it before. I speculated on whether they would put a sign up marking the location.

At a juncture in the trail, we came upon three other hikers. They asked us if we were looking for the Kaaterskill Hotel. They told us they had been looking for it all day. Apparently there was no sign. They said they had found some cooking area and small ruins. My sister suggested that was all that was left, but they said they had seen pictures online, and there is supposed to be a lot left.

We continued along the trail to see what we could see. I pointed off the trail at a deer trail leading into sumac and suggested we should look up there because a hotel would have been built on higher more open ground. We came across some old stone foundations. It did not look like an exceptionally large building, but we had never heard of the Kaaterskill Hotel. Perhaps it was not very large.

We wanted to go to the other side to see if there was more to find, but there didn’t seem to be any way around. I hesitated to walk through the foundation and made a comment to my sister about it. She agreed that it “just felt wrong.” A friend told me once that jinn hang around ruins, but I won’t say that was what it was. It just felt wrong to walk through it. It could have been that the ground was simply less even and we feared to turn any ankle. Whatever the case we did not go through or trespass there.

We walked back down to the trail and came across the other hikers who we had seen tromping higher up. My sister asked them if they had found it. They said yes, but there wasn’t much left. We walked off into the woods in the direction they had come. There wasn’t any trail. We came across a small portion of a facade of a concrete building. There was hardly anything left.

When we got home, I looked the Kaaterskill Hotel up online. I was stunned. It had not been a small or even modest hotel. It had been a colossus, one of the grandest most expensive hotels of its day. There is something eerie to think that we had been walking there where such a place once stood, and hardly a trace was left. Not even one hundred years, and people are wandering through woods having to search to find even a small sign of it.

Surely this is one of the signs of Allah, that something that seemed so impressive and grand, so massive and strong, could vanish into woods where hikers tromp through, leaving scarcely even ruins behind.

ISIS in Bangladesh?

My mom just mentioned this to me yesterday. We weren’t aware of this going on in Bangladesh. We have been planning a trip to Bangladesh to take our baby to see her Dada and Dadi and all her other Bangladeshi relatives for the first time. I have been looking forward to it very much as we hadn’t seen them in more than 1 1/2 years, and several of us were all going to be there at the same time with our babies.

Now I see that this group has claimed it as a goal to attack foreigners in Bangladesh. It makes me angry. They do such things in the name of Islam. What is at all Islamic about murdering people for their ethnicity? It sounds pretty evil to me. And aren’t there tons of hadith about how we aren’t really believers if our neighbor’s life and property aren’t safe from us? These have to be the kind of people mentioned in the Quran who like to cause mischief on the Earth. Why shouldn’t my baby be able to visit her Dada and Dadi without fear for her safety. Doesn’t a mother worry enough for her children already?

Prayer for Women and Small Children?

We went to the masjid today, rather a big deal with Baby. As I entered the masjid, I saw a sign, off to my left, pointing off toward a classroom, that said: “Prayer for Women with Small Children.” I have a habit of talking to Baby, which probably comes across to other people as muttering to myself, so I read the sign aloud, and then said to Baby, “Mommy doesn’t think that’s right. It isn’t right at all.”

I proceeded to ignore the sign and took Baby to the women’s prayer hall, but I felt just the slightest touch of anger about it. Why should women with small children be segregated from the rest of the community? Why should the children for that matter? That isn’t how I want to raise my child. That isn’t the sunnah.

Children were present in the Prophet’s masjid. When they were fasting and the children cried from hunger, they made them toys to play with. The Prophet’s grandsons played on his back. He used to lift his granddaughter during the prayer. He shortened his recitation from what he had intended out of compassion for the child’s mother when he heard a child cry.

So I guess it disturbs me, this trend because it isn’t just this masjid. The others are doing the same sorts of things.What voice do I have, if I disagree? No one bothered me about bringing my baby into the prayer, but people are usually non-confrontational, so how many would have said anything? But, because I choose to ignore the sign and bring my baby into the prayer hall, she is the only small child there.

Not that long ago, I used to sit in prayers and watch the small children running around, and think someday one of them will be mine. Why did that change? I wanted that for my child.

The Dua for Your Deeds

It occurred to me today that we commit so many deeds each day, with little awareness. Perhaps kindnesses, perhaps evils, everything in between, and we don’t know or even think of what they are earning us.

We took Baby to the masjid today. As soon as I arrived in the prayer hall, a sister pulled out her key chain and gave it to Baby to play with, which she probably came to regret as Baby chewed and drooled copiously on it. Baby played with that key chain contentedly throughout the whole khutbah. As soon as the prayer ended, that sister rose and left very quickly, so I was not able to thank her or even give her salaams. So the best I can do to express my gratitude is make dua for her, and she will never even know.

It made me think, how many of our actions, good or bad, are a source of dua for us. Kindness, gentleness, and patience never hurt anyone, and you do not know what blessings they might be bringing.

Thinking about Homeschooling

Most of my adult life I fantasized about having kids, and I was going to homeschool them. Of course I could provide them with a better education, they would have more time to play, and of course they would have more time to study and practice Islam.

Now that I actually have a Baby, I question my motives, and I question what will actually be best for her. I mean, did I want to homeschool for selfish reasons? Do I want to control my child’s life too much? Will I be depriving her of the childhood experience of going to school?

I guess part of it is that a lot of the parents that choose to homeschool have a big problem with the public schools, and I don’t. In the area where we live, they are pretty good.When I was younger, I also had the zealousness of a recent convert. I was staunchly no Halloween, no birthdays… etc. Now I think, what’s wrong with birthdays? The Prophet (s) never actually forbade them. Why be so restrictive? And while I’m not actually going to do Halloween (I don’t think), I look at the costumes and think, How cute!

I used to think, homeschool up until the 3rd or 4th grade, then the child will no longer be bombarded with Halloween and Christmas as part of their curriculum. The child will have a firm foundation. Now I think, middle school is a harder time to be new, and most kids like school until they get to middle school or high school. High school was the time I would have liked to homeschool myself. Oh how I hated high school.

One part of my reasoning is my ambition for my child. I want them to be Islamic scholars, imams, etc. I want them to know the Quran, to know Arabic. Many people are content if their children are practicing Muslims. But I want so much more for my children, and is that wrong? So I still want my children to have time (lots of time) to be children. I don’t want them having hours and hours of Islamic studies or weekend school on top of an already overly full school schedule. From what I saw of Islamic school and weekend school, it isn’t enough for those goals I set. It may churns out practicing Muslims who know some Quran and Arabic. There are some who go on to learn more.

Oh well. These are just thoughts. Baby is still a baby.