The #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag has been trending on Twitter for three days now and just went viral, pointing to a much-needed conversation. We’re so proud of LoveinshAllah.com contributor Aisha Saeed for spearheading the campaign with a team of other folks, including publishers, agents, bookstores, & writers. Join the movement!
Recently, there’s been a groundswell of discontent over the lack of diversity in children’s literature. The issue is being picked up by news outlets like these two pieces in the NYT, CNN, EW, and many more. But while we individually care about diversity, there is still a disconnect. BEA’s Bookcon recently announced an all-white-male panel of “luminaries of children’s literature,” and when we pointed out the lack of diversity, nothing changed.
Now is the time to raise our voices into a roar that can’t be ignored. Here’s how:
Read more about this critical & strategic campaign at story & chai!
Before I became a parent when mothers shared stories about their children’s first day of nursery school, their eyes glistening, their voices catching as they described walking away from the school building and leaving their children behind, I tried to empathize, but truly, all the emotion over what is essentially, a part of life, befuddled me. Until, of course, as with most things parenting related, I had children of my own.
Though my eldest was signed up for nursery school just twice a week- and half days at that- seeing him drive away with his father to school for the first time felt like an emotional sucker punch to the gut. Yes, I wanted this for him. I wanted him to have consistent playmates and to learn some school routines before official school began. I trusted his teachers, the school’s philosophy, and the parents and kids I met were wonderful. And yet- watching him leave, taking in the quieter house and wondering how he was, what he was doing created a strange free-floating feeling that rattled me.
It was the feeling of vulnerability.
You’ve got to meet my brother, my friend Mina tells me as we wander the streets of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter while our husbands attend a conference nearby. He’s a drummer. His band’s toured quite a bit, some of their songs are used as television theme songs, and one of their tracks is in Django Unchained! Next time he’s in town we’ll all get together. You’ll like him. He’s an artist, like you.
I wanted to protest this comparison. Yes, I write. I’ve written for several print publications and at my site for almost a decade. I’m a contributing author to the Love Inshallah anthology and a monthly columnist for this website. And I’ve poured my heart and soul into two completed YA novels. I have an agent who believes in my writing and I have edits I’m working on when I have a moment to breathe and yet, when Mina referred to me as a writer- an artist like her brother- I had to do a double take because an artist?
An artist is whimsical and freewheeling. An artist wears faded jeans and grows a butterfly garden with wind chimes in the front yard of their lovely Tudor brick home. An artist has a villa off the coast of Italy to ruminate properly, or sips coffee while scribbling in a black notebook overlooking the river Seine.
An artist is not running after children while coated in flour from a cookie dough experiment gone awry, or propping up weary feet at day’s end when dishes are loaded and kids are asleep to do some online, off-season boots shopping. An artist gets paid handsomely for their art.
Always show your love. Even when you are upset. Especially if you are upset. No one under four [or any age for that matter] reacts as well to disapproval as they do to the promise of unconditional love despite their mistakes. It’s important to remind them that despite the partial egg and toast remnants stuffed up their younger brother’s left nostril and the time-out inevitably in his future, you do in fact, still love him.
Be one with the television, or at least, be forgiving when you cave. I cringe at the vision I had of myself pre-parenting. I walked in the land of absolutes and one of them was absolutely no television. I was fairly strict until he turned two, but then, with the cautious approval of the American Pediatric Academy to nudge me on, I dipped my toes into youtube videos. It began virtuously enough with Sim Sim Hamara, Pakistan’s version of Sesame Street. And then I discovered he could learn an Urdu song while I sipped a cup of chai without worrying about second degree burns. Wow. It was a slippery slope then, this TV thing, as we then escalated from the two minute videos to a 12 minute episode of Curious George, throwing in the occasional one-hour Sesame Street episode where I could gather the laundry and my thoughts without a child using my leg like it was his own personal hockey stick. Is it good to use the television as your baby sitter? No. But three days a week, it sure feels good. Most of us let our kids watch television from time to time. Most of us feel guilt about doing so. Don’t. Embrace it. Accept it. Drink chai.
Many of us love to write and aspire to cultivate our thoughts through the written word. But most of us feel intimidated by the process, imagining that if we don’t have the villa off the coast of Italy and a cup of coffee steaming as we begin our deep musings, why bother? Because I once was that person myself, someone who wanted to write but was terrified to actually do it and thus put it off year after year, I’m sharing five motivators to actually get to it and procrastinate no longer. With GIFs.
Eds. note.: Happy 11th wedding anniversary to our columnist Aisha Saeed & her husband Kashif!
Sleep deprivation is an ugly dragon of a beast. Allow me to describe it, for I know it intimately. It is at once amorphous and concrete with a uniquely menacing gait. Its tentacles are dark and wiry—firm. It wraps you in its fold, wrings you out, leaving you completely disoriented.
But that’s not the bad part.
The bad part is how it fogs a beautiful blue sky. How it lures you into believing that this hazy reality is all that was and will ever be. How you look at your home, the piled laundry, the cluttered family room, and try as you might to use your rational mind, all that emerges is the one singular thought It’s no use, I’ll never get on top of any of this.
And then, along comes the dragon slayer.
How do you find the time to write?
After questions of sleep habits, and diaper bags, it’s the question I’m asked most frequently. Between sleep deprivation, chasing one son while soothing the other, and the other seemingly endless tasks that can quickly eat away at a day, many moms find that their writing takes a back burner.
It could just be me, but as I talk to more women I’m beginning to suspect that it’s the nature of being a stay-at-home mom. You prioritize and reprioritize but somehow taking the time to hone your creativity is on the bottom rung in terms of importance because it’s something so exclusively and unquestionably yours. When your main role is to be the caregiver, it’s easy to forget to care of yourself. And taking time to create, as any creative person knows, is as much a part of self-care as showering or brushing one’s teeth.
With two little ones under three, it’s not as easy as it once was to find the time and mental bandwidth to write. But, slowly but surely I’m on my way. So how do I manage to create the time and space to ensure that I write? Here are five tips that work for me and may be of benefit for you: