Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shibly, the man of cheer

My sister-in-law went on vacation to England to see her family: an uncle, three brothers, and several cousins. Her brother Shibly escorted her and her three kids home.

I briefly spoke to him on the phone many times, while I received and delivered the phone to my sister-in-law.

During those conversations he would joke: You sound like a little girl ha ha ha! (in the gentlest way) I could not help but laugh with him. He told me how he loved my son's name, named after one of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad who's name means "abundance" in Arabic.  And he would encourage me to keep good relations with his sibling who I live with, as a gesture of keeping it real. 

And there he was, in person.

Everyday for a week, Shibly attracted guests, neighbors, and family members to our home. He would sit on the couch and literally all you would hear would be him talking followed by a heartfelt good laugh. Laid back, easy-going and friendly he would generate and carry-on even the dullest of conversations.

For example, my father-in-law asked him, "Is your wife older or is your (younger) brother's wife older?" His wife is older.

Shibly, who has been married for about a decade doesn't have any children, brought a handful of toys for the kids to play with. His wife and he are trying to conceive. They have been trying.

One day while he sat on the couch in the living room, he talked about the treasure of mothers.

A summary of what he said:

Child services are so expensive. In England you could get paid about 350 pounds a week in foster care, or $700. That's a lot of money. On the other hand, a mother doesn't get paid anything. For some women who chose to work (full-time) rob themselves the joy of raising their children and giving them a peace of mind. They are not only expected to bring home money but they are also expected to start their second full-time job as soon as they get home: homemaker and mother. They are on a short-end. Some cannot stand it when their children make noise. When they are excited and loud. By the second time, the kids are in trouble.

For others, mothers leave primary child-rearing to their mothers/mother-in-laws, and that is for free. What do the grandparents get in return? Nothing. Not a payment nor a gift (he meant in general child-caring is just expected of them). Yet childcare is worth at least $700 a week, per child.

All this made me think. I finished my undergrad last December and haven't been "seriously" looking for a job. One of my reasons is to care for my infant son. As a writer, I can find jobs online jobs and petty things. Most of my services end up being for free.

I'm afraid of just what Shibly described; losing precious much-needed time with my son.

I am guilty of leaving my child with his grandparents while I went to school, which I justified through a pre-marriage talk of continuing my education after marriage. I also justified that while he was a baby he wouldn't "miss me as much" or "need as much care" rather than when he was older. It would also be harder for me to leave him home once he was older and understood I was leaving him behind. I was afraid I'd be less motivated to continue my education if I gave up just then (I was in my 3rd year of college when I was pregnant.)

When I was pregnant I thought about giving it all up. At the time I was taking full-time credits, doing an internship and transitioning from single college life to married college life. I was dealing with living in a multi-family multi-complex home. I still live there.

But then I came to my senses. One of my favorite verses in the Quran is: " No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear. (2:233)" This verse has given me the strength to carry on every time the road looked rough. God tests us to make us stronger and to bring us closer to Him.

"Your wealth and your children are but a trial, and Allah has with Him a great reward. (64:15)" Subhanallah, Glorious is Allah. 

As parents, our reward on Earth is already mentioned in the Quran too...good treatment and respect from our children.

"And We have enjoined upon man, to his parents, good treatment. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship, and his gestation and weaning [period] is thirty months. [He grows] until, when he reaches maturity and reaches [the age of] forty years, he says, "My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I have repented to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims. (46:15)"

Sometimes we need people who don't have children to remind us of the gifts we have, and the blessings we take for granted.


Constructive Attitude said...

oh what a beautiful post.


love your way of thinking and the way you voice your thoughts !

Anonymous said...

This is very beautifully written.
Parenting is a great gift, no matter what form it comes in...fostering, natural, adoptive, kinship. It is all special and powerful. The impact you have can go to far beyond what you can see. I would like to note that foster parents do work hard.. Often the children they work with have major life difficulties, some being exposed to violence, drugs, prostitution. Some being abused, neglected or abandoned. Often foster parents are not only parents but also professionals. they are counselors, and negotiators, some times punching bangs. They attend meetings and medical appointments, visits with natural family, and school meetings during the day and at night spend it with the foster kids.
All parenting is a lot of work and a great privilege no matter what capacity it comes in.

Softly Spoken said...

I definitely give props to foster parents, on top of their services they have to deal with separation...if they don't end up adopting those kids that they may try so hard to help.