Which Mould Of Society Are You Trying To Fit IntoJul 29, 2022
Time to get a bit real here.
People always ask me how I'm getting so much stuff done.. kids, kids' homeschooling, my grad school (masters), my business/work and to answer this, I want to tell you about a conversation I had yesterday with my doctor.
First of all, why was I even at the doctor's? Because we all know, moms and even many dads don't go to the doctor unless its some kind of emergency. Why would we go for something minor when we can just ignore it? 😬 So I was there because my university wouldn't let me sign up for classes for the next semester until they had an updated immunization record from my doctor who then told me they can't give me more shots without a physical so here I was, at a doctor's office... without an emergency. Just chilling out (side note: it felt really nice:))
After doing the physical- she wanted to know more about my mental health.
Dr.: So how's it going for you, how's the pandemic?
Me: It's ok.. not bad. I haven't drowned in depression yet.
Dr.: Well, that's wonderful because lots of moms are- especially ones like you who have young children and also work etc. I can give you anxiety medication you can take on the go when things get too hard.
Me: Actually, my anxiety has been very much under control lately. But I wonder if something else is wrong with me... I'm skipping a lot of basic duties. I'm starting to wonder if I have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or something.
Dr.: How do you mean?
Me: Well, I'm trying to do laundry and then I get distracted by my work and pick up my phone and start replying to client texts' etc.
Dr.: Ahaan- what else?
Me: Same for cleaning.. I wake up every morning thinking I'm gonna clean my whole room top to bottom and then, I don't know.. I end up sitting on my computer working on my assignments.
Dr.: So you're not having trouble focusing on your work and school stuff?
Dr.: And you mentioned you're homeschooling.. how's that?
Me: It's ok.. there's more 'home' and less 'schooling'. I mostly just play with the kids or do stuff they wanna do.
Dr.: So you're spending quality time with your kids?
Dr.: So.. in other words.. you're doing great at your work, your school, with your kids.. things you enjoy and love, and you're trying to skip cleaning and housework?
Me: Well.. yeah.
Dr.: Sounds like a great survival strategy to me. You're thriving. You're healthy and happy- exactly what your kids need. You're letting go of things that don't matter. Are you all starving or is your house a hygiene hazard?
Me (laughing): No.. I guess we're eating too much outside food and we all do clean enough for the house to stay safe and hygienic.
Dr. (smiling warmly- as evident from her eyes since I couldn't see her face): You're doing great. I'm very happy with how you're handling things. I'm often struggling to make my patients understand that we're in a state of trauma- a global pandemic of this proportion is not something to take lightly and whether we acknowledge it or not- our bodies sure do.
We chatted a little more about what's it like having four kids home for the whole year during a pandemic, and again she appreciated how nice it was that we were all staying happy and healthy.
And I walked away from her office feeling even happier and more light-hearted. I know I always tell you beautiful people to prioritize and be kind to yourself and as I spoke to her, I realized I hadn't been following my own advice and had fallen into good ole' #momguilt and #notgoodenough mentality to some extent- not shame level extent but still. She helped me put things into perspective. I didn't need to be hard on myself. We are in survival mode and if we're surviving with our health and happiness in tact, then we're ok!
So that- ladies and gentlemen, is my 'secret'. I'm focusing mainly on things that 'spark joy' and that joy becomes my fuel. This means stepping away from the 'mould' I'm supposed to be in and accepting that my value is not diminished as a woman if I don't do certain things and focus on certain other things.
And if you're reading this and thinking, "But Maryam.. you're so lucky because I live in a joint family system or my husband would never eat outside food.. or I can't afford to not cook..." I'd say, I'm sorry.. that IS hard.. you don't have to do everything I'm doing... everyone's capacity and limits are different... can you let anything go? Can you be just a little kinder to yourself for letting stuff go? Can you ask someone for help? Can you take time to do something for yourself for even 5-10 minutes before you go to sleep?
All I ask is- be aware of how the world sees you and refuse to try and fit in that mould neatly at the cost of yourself. If you're a woman- society expects you to find your self-worth in how clean your house is and how many home-cooked meals you make and whether your 3yo can spell APPLE and count to 29 and never throw a tantrum... if you're a man, society expects you to 'man up', hide your struggles, work hard at your job and provide all sorts of luxuries for your family as if your kids will somehow be 'left behind' if they don't have the latest gadget or toy or shoes.
This isn't to discount the value of a clean house or working hard at your job- this is to say, we are in a crisis.. us and our kids. We can't be great at everything and we must let some things go and choose things that bring joy/relief over things that are 'required' so we can reduce our stress levels (also reducing chances of getting sick) and get through this hard time in one piece in shaa'Allah.
Controversial P.S. It's also ok to be easier on yourself, not care about the 'mould' and create your own priorities even when there is no pandemic;)