A “Wasat Girl” embraces being in-between multiple cultures, because this transcultured space is globalism living out loud. It was where culture happens, the place of power, that middle space – “wasat” culture. The children of wasat girls are pretty amazing, as well. In honor of Mother’s Day, Deonna Kelli Sayed explores the challenging yet rewarding terrain of being a single, American-Muslim mother.
I told my son that his father and I were no longer together while eating at one of those snazzy serve-yourself yogurt bars.
“How would you feel if your pader and I weren’t married anymore?” I asked.
I had no idea his thoughts on the matter. His father was abroad and had been for several years. They saw one another for a few weeks every couple of months. I know that they both loved each other.
“Well, I guess I’d be a little sad, although I suppose not much would change,” he commented.
I inhaled and nervously told him that we had decided to end the marriage. He remained silent for a minute, took a spoonful from his bowl and said in his 10 year old way, “Well, you know, now that I’m eating yogurt, it doesn’t seem that bad.”
Thus, I entered the ranks of being a divorced, single Muslim mother.
Dear Love InshAllah:
My husband is cheating on me. I found out because he wasn’t logged out of his Facebook account – I saw messages between him and a non-Muslim co-worker of his in which he’s trying to break things off (I’ve met this woman a few times at his office gatherings). We have a 2 year old son and have been trying for a second baby. I never ever imagined that I would be in this situation. My husband is a practicing Muslim (prays, fasts, doesn’t drink) and was a virgin when we got married – no one would ever believe me if I told them he cheated on me. I’m so angry but also humiliated and embarrassed. I have no idea what to do.
Cheated on by a pious Muslim man
Ms. Sunshine replies:
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July 3, 2009 – the day that I finally got the divorce papers in my hand. Walking away from the lawyer’s office, tears streaming down my face, heart overjoyed, arms wrapped for dear life around the precious file, I knew I was finally free.
The three years prior to that day had been difficult. I had consented to an arranged marriage, despite alarms going off like sirens inside my head, in spite of a very strong instinct telling me to run in the other direction. It’s strange, but I almost knew that divorce was inevitable even before the marriage ceremony occurred.
Yet despite the hours of debate between my hardcore feminist self working in the women’s rights field and my Islamic values and family ties, this good Muslim girl convinced herself that marriage was the right thing to do at that time. At 22, never even having had a boyfriend, I became a married woman. My notions of love up to that point were the stuff of dreams – a million infatuations with musicians, actors and the like, always believing that “the one” was out there for me.
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After my second divorce, I took a break from relationships to decide what I wanted in a future partner.
With two young kids, there was no time for dating. My kids needed me, and I needed myself. So, I composed a list containing everything I wanted in a man. My list had 45 bullet points, (including ‘doesn’t text while we’re together’, to ‘not homophobic’, to ‘likes sex’) that I required as I healed post-divorce
The man who embodied my list manifested in my life three years later – though that was still before I expected him.
Let me detail my faults before I showcase my better parts.
I am not a patient person. I am actively trying to identify deep zen moments when I become particularly impetuous about my being in the world. I cannot say that I always have a great deal of success, but I am making a real effort to improve.
I sometimes invest too deeply in people who do not invest in me. I hold on too long and hurt too much. It is with great regret that I admit the following: I do not know how and when to let go. I may be impatient, but I am painfully enduring when it comes to those I care for.
Yet, there are moments when I glimpse the profound goodness and value that I embody. These small truths take my breath away. It is almost like I am seeing another person — not this flawed specimen I call “myself” that haunts me on a daily basis — and I stand in awe of her.