First Quarter Report : Doing Dream As a Mother

So….we just finished our final exam for this quarter where we covered the basic fundamentals of Arabic grammar. We have Friday completely off this week (yay!), and half day Thursday (yay!), and I feel like writing. So far, how has my experience been in the Bayyinah Dream program?

First of all, I don’t have much complaints, as getting this opportunity alone is such a huge blessing in and of itself. The ease through which I have been able to keep up with daily homework and material is truly Allah-given. So no complaints, really. One of my friends wrote to me, “You don’t sound stressed at all! I’m so happy for you!”

I didn’t realize that was how I sounded in my update, catch up emails to my friends. I don’t sound stressed at all. Interesting. I haven’t really had that  much time to mull over that, but I guess, one way I can explain that is that the Bayyinah Dream days go by so quickly that you literally have to go at 250 mph. At that speed, you don’t even have time to dwell and mull over stuff.

As a mother of 3 teenagers and one 7 year old though, I have to say that Allah has really made things easy for me, alhamdulillah. There are 6 other mothers in the program this year. Our kids’ ages are all different, so we have different struggles and eases. I wouldn’t necessarily say that some of us have it easier than the other, because comparing hardships is like comparing apples and avocados. There are too many other factors to take into account of to make for fair comparison. Each person’s tests are customized based on these factors. For example, my husband is unique. My children are unique. Our backgrounds and experiences are unique. All of these unique factors are woven together to form a fabric that may have had serious snags in some spots, smudges in other spots, irregularities along the edges, and really awesome eye-catching brilliance in some places. And as long as we are alive, this fabric is still being woven!

A fellow classmate commented to me, “You’re not surviving by the week, Juli. You’re thriving! I mean, you’re running a house.”

Her words left me somewhat speechless. After I went home that day, I felt uneasy for the impression I may have given others without realizing it. Yes, I do have four kids, and I have a husband, but, I’m not super mom. I left that role years ago, because being super mom requires some unrealistic expectations and imbalance. I decided years ago that being super mom is not for me, and will only hurt myself and those I love in the long run. So I quit being or trying to be super mom. No, seriously. Being super mom, is seriously overrated.

I don’t really run a household. My husband and my teenagers do. I just exist among them, especially now. I go to class, come home, and everything is pretty much done, most of the time at least. I don’t cook, because my kids do. I only cook during the weekends, and even then, it’s only because I feel like I owe them, not because if I don’t cook no one else will. My husband and I have been married while we were both students studying overseas in a foreign country and we had both become new parents at a young age, while being students. Through this test (dang it, it wasn’t easy), Allah has lovingly shaped us to become who we are today, and we have developed strengths that enable us to do what we are doing and hopefully what we will be doing (all that is good and pleasing to Him).

Sure, I still feel stressed out on Sundays more than other days, because young Z is under the full responsibility of his father. And we all know that men don’t have motherly instincts and will at times make decisions that are boyish and immature. The kid needs proper lunch. The kid needs to wear a sweater, yes, even when it seems hot outside, dang it he already has some sniffles. Yes, you do have to cut short your own soccer game so you can send your son to school on time. “Do I have to do everything?!”

So, yeah, there are those times. A mother is still a mother. A wife is still a mother to # of children + husband. But, considering that general stereotype of men, my husband is still awesome alhamdulillah! He was the one who told me to do Dream. He has always been my support. Just like the times he made sure I studied for my finals back in college, by calling me at 3 am during dead week because we were states apart (long story), he also did help shield me from my kids’ when I am studying. He also helps man the ship by calling all lower deck laborers to do all their manual labor in the galley, while I study.

And yes, there are days when I have to call the girls and remind them to defrost, or cook, or feed the 7  year old. Sometimes they listen, sometimes they test my limits. But most of the times, for the most part, they realize they’re part of this team, and know that we all have to work together and back each other up.

So, no. I don’t really run the household. Allah runs my household by giving me wonderful children and a very supportive and flexible husband, alhamdulillah!

A few days ago, my 7 year old had a fever. His temperature went up to 105 Fahrenheit. To cut a long story short, lack of motherly care led to this condition, because the mother wasn’t there. So, that night, I scolded whoever needed scolding, and did what I do when any of my kids get sick like that ; prepare to wake up several times at night. I told you that Dream days go at 250 mph, right? Well, I think, because of that speed, I didn’t even have the time to react like I usually would when any of my kids got sick. I simply kept quiet, did what needed to be done, and I’m not kidding you, that night, I thought I wouldn’t be getting enough sleep. I wondered how I would stay awake in class. Subhaanallah, I think Allah placed barakah in that night’s sleep. Haqqan! I don’t know what happened, but I was so calm that night and the following day. I am not usually like that when my kids get sick, especially not when the temperature is 105 Fahrenheit! Is it the Dream barakah? I don’t know. All I know was that I felt calm and collected. I did worry, but, for some reason, that worry didn’t engulf me like it usually would. Subhaanallah…

Last night, hubs left his keys in the car, so he came home by train. This morning, the day of my final exam, he asked me to drop him at the train station by 6 am. Today is Thursday, and I also have to drop my daughter at the local community college for her classes in the morning  before I go to Bayyinah campus. His fatherly plan was for me to drop him and dear daughter at 6 am, then go home, and continue the morning as usual. Leaving my daughter anywhere when the sun has not fully risen is unnerving to me. So, I dropped dear hubby off by himself, went home, prayed Fajr, dropped dear daughter at her college, dropped dear son at the masjid and then went to Bayyinah campus. I hadn’t really finished studying by the way. Oh well…

I was feeling stressed last night when hubs told me of this morning’s plan, all because he had left his keys inside his car, but because of Bayyinah’s 250 mph day speed, I wasn’t able to throw any tantrums whatsoever (bummer). So, in a way, this 250 mph day speed has turned me into a more patient mother and wife. It’s like when you are going so fast, the wind distorts your face that you can’t even form a proper scowl! Go with the wind. Bayyinah Dream gives it a new meaning.

I don’t even have the energy to talk about the details of my days subhaanallah. All I know is, I’m enjoying the learning. I’m loving the application it has to my relationship and appreciation of the Quran. I love the mental challenge it gives me. I love being a student.

I do however have some trouble adjusting to a classroom setting after all these years. I used to take online classes, and one thing I noticed, is that within a real classroom setting in such a program that ends with graduation, grades take the stage. This produces some unnecessary and unwanted results. I have personally changed and come to my own educational philosophy over the years, and I disagree with the whole grading system. I lean more towards mastering of a concept instead of letter grades. I mean, we should be able to zoom out of this classroom setting and know that success is not quantified by letter grades. When you hear of people recounting how they were top students way back when they were in school or college, you can’t help realizing how we can be so locked up in a superficial world. Real life don’t give you letter grades. Real life is out here where it doesn’t really matter if you’re a straight A student or a valedictorian. I mean, who really cares if you were a straight A student? Really. Nobody cares #Sh.ANJ

Through my own evolution in these years, I’ve learned that too much focus on academics can produce an imbalance such as lack of life skills in these straight A students. Universities now sift through so much A’s that they’re looking for other things that make a student stand out. I can go on and on about this, but let me get back to Bayyinah Dream.

In an environment where there are grades and tests and homework, even if you don’t care much about grades, you can’t help but be pulled by the dominating current. I admit it. I check my grades, not regularly, but I still check them nonetheless. Every time I do so, I mentally kick myself because I know I shouldn’t be caring about them too much. And every time I do this, I try to circumvent it by going out of my way to find some things about these exams that are beneficial beyond the letter grades. These exams are beneficial, but it’s what we take from them that makes them beneficial. I admit that thinking of getting a 100 on my test excites me. So far, no such thing yet, and so I also admit with all honesty that when I don’t see a 100, I feel my heart sinking. However, I think I may have immunized myself fairly well against this educational system, because I had that feeling when I only saw my letter grade. But once I checked where I had made mistakes and understood why those were mistakes, I went,

“Oh, yeah, that’s why that was wrong!”

“Oh, I didn’t know that…”

and the sinking feeling didn’t linger that long. Sure, I didn’t get a 100. 100 is just a number. Just like age is just a number. Right?

For me, all the basic grammar we have learned so far, I apply them when I read the Quran, when I review my hifdh, and when I’m listening to Quran. The experience, I tell you, is utterly rewarding. Subhaanallah…totally worth it! At least for me personally, that’s what is most rewarding. For other people, it may be something else. For me, at this level for me right now at least, I find great pleasure in knowing why something has kasrah here and why something has dhammah there, especially when I’m reviewing hifdh.

I told my son this morning, as Saad Ghamidi’s Aali Imran played in the van while I was driving him to the masjid,

“When you know the grammar, it helps a lot because you know why this one has a kasrah and what needs to be on that one especially if you don’t quite remember what should be on there.”

Of course, you appreciate the meaning more too.

Next week, we will be starting SARF-ing in sha Allah. I’m excited. Truth be told, this is the part that gave me the most anxiety before starting Bayyinah Dream. I was horrible at memorizing those sarf families. I never could get them down. But now, after these grammar, I definitely feel that sarf will actually make things a lot clearer and easier! Getting those sarf families down doesn’t seem like such an intimidating beast anymore now. I’m ready in sha Allah!

May Allah continue to facilitate this journey for all of us, and shower it with barakah for each and everyone of us Dreamers and our families and communities. Ameen.







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