Saturday, 24 May 2008
We all need family in one way or another…………the care, love and support of family members so vital to ones well being and existence. For someone who was raised in an extended family atmosphere in the West, who grew up knowing what the extended family meant. I spent most of my 6 weeks hols from my British school at various aunties’ homes, where in turn I learnt to cook, clean and baby-sit and all this from the age of 10yrs old. It also gave mum a break and we came back refreshed, that was the idea. As I got older and the work load and tasks became harder I began to see it more as a slave labour! You know what? Now I don’t knock it for a second as I learnt very important life skills that I apply today and this really was a very important aspect in my growing up! It is a common practice in the Asian culture and I see it here to in Algeria and it is something I like and value as a part of family life with the extended families.
Now soon after my conversion to Islam I lost all my family for 10yrs (i am talking about no contact at all, mum, sisters ,brothers, aunt’s, uncles the whole clan , inafact after 10yrs all I have contact with is my mum and sisters. The relationship is not so wonderful but alhamduillah its better than the lonely 10years of emptiness on that side of the very relationships that make you. This was and is a very painful period in my life , I feel sad for my kids as they don’t have cousins to hang out with , sleep overs, days out , again the very things that helped shape you during thoses tender years and early adulthood. The sleep overs were best, midnight feasting and shopping trips. One of the reasons for making hijrah to Algeria was to be with family so that my kids can have the cousins and aunts, uncles and family ties that I lost.
When we first arrived in Algeria for hijrah suddenly the family I knew on the holidays was no longer the same, maybe I was naïve , maybe I didn’t read between the lines, maybe it was mainly necsities on their part and I didn’t see the real deal? Anyhow whatever , I just want to remind myself we are all sinners and no one is perfect , we can strive to be better and do better , so in no way am I putting a family down that I care for despite and I loved and still love! A family that if I need them will come whatever the time of day or night, wherethier they do it because I am the wife of their brother or son Allah knows beast! I would prefer it if it was for the sake of Allah and because I am seen and taken as a daughter or sister by them inshaAllah. The last two years have been empty of family and this has had a tremendous effect on my mental wellbeing as well as my children but we got on with it , I mean at the end of the day I offer you family ties for the sake of Allah and because I love and care for you as a sister/daughter/aunt ect does but I can’t force you to return that very love back. I can’t force you to like me and love me back; I can only be at my best for you! Just recently I am going through some very hard hitting issues alhamduillah and I felt I was reaching the end of my ability to cope, almost giving up. I decided I can’t do this alone anymore and I need the support of the family and love, I am talking about genuine love! I presented myself upon them this weekend with the kids in tow. Alhamduilah they were very welcoming and very kind mash Allah just like the family of the holidays before I made hijrah. This meant a lot to me and my children and upon arriving at the head of the households home , many members of the extended family were there , having the exact sleep overs I talked about and supporting one another and learning and sharing task most of all caring and loving because they want to. This weekend was very positive and had a great effect on my children’s well being as well as my own, knowing I don’t need to carry this load alone alhamduillah. I am a great believer in moderation and the middle path, so I would not impose myself and my kids on them too often but enough to maintain a healthy relationship inshaAllah. We all came home feeling we need this , we are missing out, I have also come to realise life in Algeria functions with the family, one who is an orphan or an immigrant to Algeria like myself with no maternal ties here will suffer a great deal of loneliness esp. if the in-laws are not accessible for various reasons. As life in Algeria functions with the family , the extended family play a very important role in the functioning and living life in Algeria subhanAllah I didn’t realise just how much until lately. An example when the wife needs a break from the martial home and life she will go and stay with her maternal family and her mum and sisters, brother and father will support her in so many ways. This is repeated throughout the year many times. She will also if she does not already live with the in-laws spend time with them in a similar fashion. By going away form the marital home it gives her a break and a change of scene to come back refreshed inshaAllah. As I do notice there is not much going out here in Algeria for the women folk as the men do the shopping and most out door dealings, womenfolk stay at home , manage the homes and children, the exception would be for students and working women.
I noted 2 things that are very important for life in Algeria regular outings as a family on the weekends, example would be picnics, drives, walks, short holidays even but an annual one is defiantly a must. The second being family ties, good strong family ties or at least with sisters who really care and are not superficial and offer a fake and temporal love or sisterhood. That when they address you as sister they really understand its meaning and are not superficial about it. If these sisters are going to take the place of family ties then they need to consider the kind of relationship and what it entail they are offering or lack off and the effect this will have on the recipient.
Well what I have decided is we all need family one way or another , I have decided to make the family here more involved in our lives and be involved in theirs more to a limit naturally, we need each other , I have a very big void and my children also, they need to be accepted and loved by their extended families inshaAllah. Sometimes learning to forgive and forget is better than destroying and being resentful. This is what I intend to do inshaAllah but at the same time I don’t want anyone to think I have MUG written upon my forehead and walk over me and my emotions and take advantage of my nature and profit form me in whatever way they want and dump me , relationships work both ways efforts have to come from both ends.