Father of the Bride

Bride
On my wedding day, my father won’t walk me down the steps to my husband. He won’t lift my blusher and give me a kiss on the forehead. He won’t have a twinkle of tears in his eyes. He won’t take my hand and place it in my fiancé’s, and then take a step back as I begin a new journey with another man by my side.

He won’t do any of this, because he won’t be there.

It’s not because my father has a terminal illness, or because he passed away. It’s more painful than that. My father has chosen to leave during one of the most pivotal times of my life. As my wedding day draws near, his selfishness weighs down on me more and more.

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When Fairy Tales Fail Us

Fatima M. Jaffer

When a daughter is born into a loving family, she is cherished and treated like a princess and dressed up like pretty little doll with colorful plastic bangles and trinkets.

The beautiful princess is told fairy tales before being tucked into bed. Her mother speaks about the knights that saved Cinderella, Rapunzel and Snow White. Then, this little girl begins to dream of her very own Prince Charming and she starts looking for him as soon as she turns sixteen years old. Some girls get lucky and bump into him without trying. Others have to face mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and cousins who love them as single women —  until they hit a certain age. Then, some princesses find themselves unmarried or maybe divorced and still without children.

At that point, the fairy tales are over — unless you consider the types of mothers/aunties/cousins who are metaphors for trickster witches; it is often women who make girls feel miserable about the state of their lives. No matter how educated, talented and beautiful a single woman may be, she is always sidelined and frequently humiliated because she is unmarried. It seems that some women can’t imagine alternative realities for themselves or for their daughters.

I’m tired of fairy tales. We need new stories about our future that go beyond marriage saving us from a life of ruin and despair.

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The Hunger to Be Seen

huda

A titanic and towering swell of love lodged inside my chest after the birth of my first child. Here I was, just an ordinary woman of 25 years of age, but I had been entrusted with the world’s very best baby. In my eyes, he was perfection, the realization of my every dream. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why adoring someone so much left me feeling so destroyed. After I’d wrestled my baby to bed, I’d stand around our small high-rise apartment in Queens not knowing which of my needs or wants I had time to address before he woke up again. Could I get in a shower? Some exercise? Reading? Or should I give up and watch television, or maybe plant my face into the floor and cry?

In those small evening reprieves from childcare, I felt no relief, just heaviness. I’d imagined becoming a mother would endow me with the disposition of the sweetest, most energetic preschool teacher. I was going to be the kind of mom who crouched down to talk to my little one in an even and calm voice. I was going to be brimming with ideas for creative play and projects. But when my beautiful baby grew into an energetic toddler, I didn’t grow into the mom I thought I’d become. I didn’t get down on the floor and play enough. I raised my voice too much. I let him eat too many processed foods and watch too much television. And where was all the early education I had planned on—the language instruction and flashcards? Where were the crafts? I didn’t do nearly enough crafts.

At the time, my husband was in the midst of his first residency and his call schedule was brutal. A sense of urgency surrounded the nights when he was home. I only had a few hours to make him understand what a failure I was as a mother, how he didn’t know who he was leaving his child with everyday. Read the rest of this entry »


Marrying Muslim Men

How are Muslim men approaching marriage in our times? How do women feel about their approach? How much are we talking past one another rather than with one another? What expectations do we have for each gender, and how in-sync with reality are they?

Great video by Nushmia Khan/Zujaja Creative!


The Myth of a Shared Life

huda

I had the moment my future husband would see me in my wedding dress all planned out. Although it wasn’t necessarily a Middle Eastern tradition, he’d be waiting for me at the end of an aisle. I’d walk in with my father, and upon seeing me in all my bridal glory, he had had one of the following options: a) cry with manly restraint b) open his mouth wide with surprise before breaking into a smile of wild, uncontained joy c) step back and clutch his heart so stricken by my beauty d) some combination of the above.

When I got engaged at eighteen to the son of our closest family friends, I was disappointed to discover that my fiancé, Hadi, also had an image of the moment he’d first see me in my wedding dress and it involved no such dramatic displays of devotion. He merely wanted to be the first one to see me in my wedding dress in a private moment that only the two of us shared.

I’d never seen a bride and groom meet before their wedding in any movies or television shows. I supposed Hadi could have the kind of the reaction I desired when it was just the two of us, but then our guests wouldn’t witness his outpouring of emotion. How else would anybody know that we were not getting married because of our families’ friendship but because Hadi loved me more than any man, in the history of time, had ever loved another woman?

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