I turned 35 last month.
It was like any other day, except I had butterflies in my tummy like I do every year on my birthday and there were presents and balloons!
I love birthdays even though recently (yes only recently) it dawned on me how everything is changing and going by.
I find myself reminiscing more and more about times when I was a kid and the most distinct feeling that comes is one of warmth, security and family. There’s just a certain type of nostalgia that is linked to the background noises of that time, the evening hours, the routine, the familiarity of it all. It is an almost peaceful and serene memory.
As I reflect on the life I have led so far, I’m amazed at how much I have changed and evolved as an individual. I
was a shy kid, quiet in front of people but quite a bit at home apparently, an 11 year old who had high hopes from this city as we left another to shift back home permanently, a 12 year old who found a group of friends and who’s life was her cousin, a 15 year old who was not doing too well in school and caught up in the drama of boys and O-levels, an A-Level student in a new school who finally found herself, an art student who didn’t know what she wanted to do in life but she was going to have a blast doing it, an almost graduate who was assertive but still very much a group player who always wanted a distinction but ended up with something better instead, an art director who thought she was living her dream, a teacher’s assistant who realised her true calling, a wife who struggled with her husband, wished they could have traveled more, an art teacher who loved being a kid again, a mom who thought she would mess it all up, a day dreamer, an accidental, occasional blogger, a creator, a thinker and a home maker.
I look back and it makes me smile. There are always going to be things I wish I had done and recently when going through a particularly down phase thinking I have done nothing, looking back and and going through my pictures made me realise that I have done so very much, I have so many memories and I feel so much love when I see those images.
The art of doing is a very ambiguous sentence. Doing means different things to different people.
I started thinking about this “doing” because all around me people were using careers and social life and milestones and travels to tick off this “doing more,” and me, well I’m not very social, I don’t have a career these days, and I don’t really get a chance to travel much.
So have I not done more with my life?
Fortunately I’m not an impressionable newbie anymore who used to be so hard on herself to try to prove to the world that she was “doing more.”
The only person who needs to know this is me myself.
And I now know it.
I have worked hard, I have loved and I have lived.
In these 5 years since having Leena I have realised that people will make you feel small. But remember you can’t feel smaller than you already feel so always feel big. People will judge you based on how they love their own lives so in their eyes you will never ever measure up. Nothing you choose will be good enough and there will always be something else you could be doing to make your life meaningful.
It’s been hard but I have reached a good point in life where it’s not my problem how they see me. I need to see myself first.
Since Leena I have done more than I could ever imagine. It’s a quiet kind of “doing more,” small personal achievements and little goals of happiness.
I’ve daydreamed. Oh yes I’ve been to some amazing places in my head. I’ve googled some beautiful destinations i would love to visit some day. I have blanked out with my cup of chai and just stared outside the balcony. I have spent some mornings doing nothing more than looking back at my girls milestones. I’ve imagined my life in different ways. I’ve talked to Allah more than I ever could back in the day.
I’ve created. I have done art, big messy art for nobody but myself. I have made dolls out of bottles not only for my girls but because I love making them. I’ve planned parties because I love the awe on people’s faces.
I have played, baked, danced, sang sometimes every minute of the day with my girls not because I have to but because I actually enjoy letting my silly out. I am proud of the fact that I have kept sane without any help in the form of a maid.
I have been introduced to and read so many books that I could not have ever imagined reading. I read almost 6 children’s books a day and 1 book of my own. We have acted out those stories, watched their videos on you tube, dressed up like them and hated them too.
I have had lovely little conversations with Leena, who still believes will all her heart that “bad guys don’t live in actual” and I have had arguments with Aanya, “but why Aanya?” only to get her usual response these days,”because it’s only better mama!”
Made memories. Cried. Felt sad for myself. Felt at peace. I’m still doing more. I hate telling people at the end of my day that it was hard and chaotic. My days are relatively peaceful by the grace of God.
My quiet doing more is my personal salvation.
When I get nostalgic I think I want my kids to look back and feel that same sense of relaxed security that I feel when I look back. The same lazy days I grew up playing pretend in. The warmth when I think of my childhood. I want them to imagine me and F right there whenever they needed us.
For those memories this is my “doing more.”
And sometimes when I ask someone “So have you read so and so book?” And they say they didn’t have time to read because their day was crazy, I smile, go back to my book and coffee and think I really am doing so much more!