Is it too late for a year retrospective? Unlike the calendar of Pope Gregory XIII, our year never seems to start on January 1st. Somehow, we just feel our way through the seasons. But generally speaking, the past year–give or take a few months–has been new territory for all of us on all fronts.
As parents, we are in a new stage. Z asserts opinions and Moulay asserts will. It’s a challenge coming up with your own hybrid style of parenting. Like an experiment, we try to cultivate responsibility, social manners, and grit while allowing for freedom of expression, self-determination, and autonomy. It’s an ongoing balancing act between the vision of what we want our relationship with our children to be and the reality of what we’ve experienced and seen around us. Sometimes Urbndervish and I chuckle to ourselves saying, “These kids don’t know how good they have it!” We watch the tempers and tantrums flare but are careful not to fan them with power struggles, nor suppress them with aggression. Instead, we step away, pause, and ponder. The hard work of modeling, connecting, empathizing, and, yes, a bit of lecturing often feels inefficient but more effective in the long term. It’s tough but stopping to breathe instead of reacting brings so much more to the surface of a scenario.
As homeschoolers, we’ve added more structure to our days and weeks. There’s still a great deal of self-direction, but we recognize that some learning skills are weak while others are stellar. We have set some expectations and have allowed Z to experiment with different ways of achieving the goals that we’ve set for her and the ones she sets for herself. But we’ve come to terms with needing to be more involved with time management because in all honesty, Z’s concept of time is still quite abstract. She really does need us to help her keep a schedule to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Similarly, we’ve had to declutter and ‘minimalize’ her room and our common space where most of the learning takes place.
As a couple, we have finally found babysitters. (Thank the good Lord!) Not for hire but with a family that we really love. We have great family chemistry and aligned values, so it has been the perfect win-win scenario. When you actually are assured that your children are not only safe but nurtured by other spiritually-minded and loving adults, it’s a tremendous blessing and we’re grateful to finally have ‘date nights’ again. In past years living abroad, we would wait until summer vacations with the family but frankly, the state of affairs in America make the idea of going out after dark less desirable for us as brown and Muslim people.
And finally, as a writer, my freelance career is getting off the ground. Three years ago, I started investing in myself and have started to see the returns on my investment. I received a few commissions for magazine articles, interviewed my favorite chef, and have my sights on new achievements ahead. So, when things are quiet in this space, don’t hesitate to pop over to my site or Instagram page to see what we’re up to. It’s very humbling to see others appreciate and value your work and actually be in a position to turn down opportunities because you know they are not aligned with your personal path or simply not in your time and energy budget. Gradually, I’m clearing my ledger so I can update and write more here in the coming months and I’m really looking forward to that.