My Dear Yusuf, Ibraheem, and Summaiya…
This letter is months over due, but I can assure you that I have a good reason for being delayed. In six months we have moved four times, and just shortly after our family grew from four people to five. Shortly after Summaiya entered our lives, we moved to our own place. Shortly after that, we made a big decision to move to the other side of the world so we moved back in with Ami and Dada. Less than three months after our decision to move to Malaysia, we were on a plane. And alhamdulillah less than two weeks after arriving, we found a new apartment and are beginning to settle in.
I have been planning to write each of you your own separate letters but have resorted to combining it into one. It know it may seem unfair that I can’t give you each your own, but inshaAllah one day, when you have kids of your own, you will understand. Having three kids doesn’t mean I have divided my heart or love by any means. SubhanAllah Allah has given the heart of a parent an amazing capacity to love each child so much. But unlike love, free time is a rare asset that needs to be divided strategically.
I think I’m almost used to having three kids now. Perhaps it took me a little longer to adjust since a few other things popped up along the way after having a third newborn. I couldn’t be happier though. I can’t thank Allah enough for blessing us with you three munchkins. You fill our days and hearts with love and I can’t imagine life without you. I am so in love with the way you treat each other. Yusuf and Ibby, you have your moments of sibling rivalry here and there but you have an awesome friendship and I pray Allah always keeps you close. You both are crazy about your baby sister and I pray you always love her to bits and protect her and cherish her. Summaiya, your eyes light up when you see both your big brothers. You’re so lucky to have them and I pray you always look up to them. I can almost see a sense of respect in your eyes when you look at Yusuf compared to a sense of playfulness when you look at Ibby. It will be interesting how your relationships roll out to be with each of them.
Moving to Malaysia was a very difficult decision but here we are, in the land of tropical fruits, monkeys, monsoon rains and heat! I still can’t believe we made the decision to move less than six months ago. Subhanallah things went so quickly and so smoothly. I truly believe Allah guided us to do what was right for our family and eased things along the way. It was a mercy that things moved so quickly because saying goodbye and leaving was definitely painful, and the longer it dragged out, the harder it would have been. There were many moments (and actually still are) where I felt so guilty for taking you away from the only home you’ve known, the friends you grew up with, and the extended family who loved you to pieces. We had lots of get togethers, surprise parties and days of quality time with loved ones before we left. We still miss them, and are missed by them… its only been two and a half months since we came but it feels much longer. But alhamdulillah for technology which really makes staying in touch so much easier.
You’ve received lots of treats and gifts from people who said goodbye to you in Canada and who met you here in Malaysia. Even we began spoiling you with candies n toys out of guilt. Baba found us a beautiful four bedroom home to move in to. We have a pool, two parks and a badminton court in our apartment which we go to often. Eating out is so cheap. And a cleaning lady comes to help me out once a week. But this is not why we brought you here. Yes, life is easier for us here compared to Canada when it comes to certain things… But that was not the purpose of our move.
Baba fell in love with Malaysia over three years ago when he first visited. Since then he suggested moving but I could not bear the thought of leaving family and friends. However, we plan and Allah plans and Allah is the Best of Planners. Despite my resistance my heart eventually softened to the idea. It was actually at a tafseer class of Surah Taha that I knew we had to give moving a try. The sheikh was speaking about the staff of Musa AS and how Allah had questioned him regarding it. Musa AS replied that it was his walking stick which was a source of comfort that went everywhere with him. Allah commanded him to throw it down, and he did. It was only through Musa AS’s trust in Allah and sacrifice to let go of something he held onto dearly that he was eventually able to lead his people out of Firawn’s oppression. I’m not expecting to move mountains or defeat a tyrant here in Malaysia but it hit me that perhaps I had to temporarily let go of my comfort for the sake of my children to have an experience that will inshaAllah enrich their lives and shape them into better people. Its amazing that no matter what you are going through in life, Allah will always speak to you through His Book and I always want you to remember that. When you are looking for answers, I promise you that if you turn to Allah, He will never let you down.
Even though living here as Expats has its perks, that’s not what I want for you. I wont sit and watch you become spoiled while we live in our secured and sheltered apartment building. I brought you here so you can see the beauty of Allah’s diverse creations. The mountains and palm trees and beaches are breath taking. I brought you here so you can see poverty. I brought you here hoping to instill gratefulness and humbleness into your hearts. In this country I believe it is very easy to sway towards arrogance.. You don’t even have to look past our very front doors to see the poverty. The security guards in our building work 12 hr shifts, 7 days a week and their wages would only cover a mere portion of our rent. One could easily stick their noses in the air knowing how much more money they have compared to them and allow pride to take over. But I also believe that inshaAllah through Allah’s guidance, our eyes and hearts can be opened to those who have less than us (materialistically speaking) and we can have the opportunity to give more.
Baba and I always make sure that you speak kindly and thank the security guards whenever we see them. We have pointed out to you while driving people who are working on the streets in the extreme heat, or the run down homes we pass. Our interactions with local Malay people have been limited so far but I have already begun to notice that what many people told me was true; Malay people are so kind and humble and have very good manners mashaAllah. We have been to a homeless cafe once and inshaAllah plan to return once things get a little more settled down. My heart still aches to visit the orphanage and help out (something we’d never be able to do in Canada), but I am still trying to work out a couple obstacles, one being transportation and the other being Summaiya’s health.
Since moving here little Summaiya has been quite sick. Shes been teething, caught measles and is actually currently in the hospital for a severe urinary track infection (alhamdulillah we are being released today though, five days after being admitted). Today is also the start of Ramadan. Having a baby in the hospital, beginning Ramadan, and saying goodbye to Chachi, Kaka and your cousins (who came to visit for three weeks) all within a few days has been tough on all of us. Were missing home a lot but alhamdulillah the arrival of Ramadan is bitter sweet. Its our first Ramadan away from home, but at the same time it is our first Ramadan in a Muslim country and I am hopeful that many good memories lay ahead for us inshaAllah.
The biggest adjustment for us since moving would have to be the amount of time we spend together, just the four of us. Alhamdulillah we also see more of Baba but the amount of time you and I spend together has increased drastically. In Canada we knew so many people. We attended so many playgroups and classes and field trips. We were out pretty much every day. I did very little formal homeschooling with you because just about everything was outsourced.
I could drive technically drive here. Its not like Saudi where women cant drive. But its going to take a lot of mental preparation before I can get behind the wheel. The drivers side is opposite, the rules of the roads aren’t always followed, there are fearless motorcycles all over the place and the map of our area reminds me of arteries. Baba, and even Yusuf keep encouraging me but thats way out of my comfort zone right now… inshaAllah it will take time. I am also slowly getting in touch with other homeschoolers here and hope to find some friends for us, but again, that takes time.
So needless to say we spend a lot of time at home together. Alhamdulillah at least we have the pools and parks, but were kind of rediscovering our relationships with each other. I find Im learning a lot about myself and also have lots of opportunities for self improvement. But overall Im enjoying the opportunity to have minimum outside distractions and focus on just us for a bit.
Yusuf, you’re my eldest. My first baby. I know sometimes I expect too much of you, please forgive me as I’m still learning along the way. You are so much like me in many ways but are also growing into your little person. You’re so eager to learn and I know you will go far in life with the help and guidance from Allah. You are such a kind person and I am so proud of you.
Ibby, you’re my baby who made an unexpected early entrance into our lives. You are so strong and determined. You are at an age where you are testing your limits and I know I have lost my patience with you more than I should have. Please forgive me as well as Im still trying to figure things out. You can do anything you put your mind and with the permission of Allah I know you will accomplish great things, I am so proud of you.
Summaiya, you’re my little baby, our princess. You have melted our hearts and shown us a world we never knew existed. Having a daughter is a special gift and I’m so grateful Allah blessed us with a baby girl so we could experience the sweetness of both sons and a daughter. I cant wait to watch you grow up inshallah, just slow down a little, please.
I know you guys, especially Yusuf, miss family and friends a lot. But I hope and pray you meet people here and form lasting and meaningful friendships.
I pray Allah swt continues to teach us, guide us and provide us with countless memories that we will cherish for a lifetime.
Today marks the beginning of Ramadan and I hope this is our best one yet….and that Allah blesses you with many many many more, each one being better than the last.
May Allah always shade you in His Mercy and bless you with the best in dunya and akhirah, Ameen.
I love all three of you more than you’ll ever know.
With all my love and duas,
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