As-salaamu alaikum sisters! My apologies if there is already a thread for 2012, but I only saw one specifically geared toward Ramadan.
I'm not new to MDC, but I converted this past February, so I'm new to the Muslim Mamas area and enjoyed reading the 2011 thread.
I'm really hungry for sisterhood right now, which is probably what's inspiring me to post. I don't have any particular issues to bring up, but I want to introduce myself and just be a part of this community, because I'd like to be a support to other sisters and to have support when issues inevitably arise.
I remarried 3 months ago and my husband and I and our children just moved in together--his two youngest who are 5.5 and 4, and my two who are 5.5 and 3. He has an older daughter (12) who lives full time with her mama and visits us a few times a month. We are both Sunni converts, but his family is Iranian (he was born and raised here in the Midwest) so Islam is much more culturally acceptable in his family. My parents are devout Christians and have not been happy about my conversion or my relationship and marriage to DH, though they have been respectful for the most part. My family (parents and siblings) have withdrawn from me quite a bit since DH and I got engaged and that has been pretty painful. We married relatively quickly, from a Western perspective, and did our nikah very quietly and simply. We went to the local Botanical Gardens with our children, a friend of mine who has been a big support through my conversion journey who had agreed to act as wali, and a few other friends as witnesses, and that was it. It was lovely and simple, for me, but of course very different from what my parents and extended family/friends are used to in terms of engagement and wedding. We may have a reception this spring/summer, but we just couldn't afford it at the time and it was more a source of stress than joy, so we decided to skip it. Honestly at the time I'm not sure my parents would have attended, so maybe something a year after our actual marriage date will give folks a chance to get used to it, get to know him/us as a couple and inshaAllah they will feel more supportive.
I had studied Islam for about a year, off and on and then more seriously, before deciding to take shahadah. And my interest/draw to it goes back several years--I was actually looking through my journal archives the other day and found one tagged with Spirituality from 2008 where I talked about feeling drawn to Islam but feeling unable to pursue studying it because of my marriage at the time (which was to a Mexican Catholic) and because of thinking it would be such a shock to my parents/family (it was). Alhamdulillah, it's comforting now to notice these little things over the years that now look like little seeds being planted and leading me toward Islam. I have several memories from my childhood of other kids who were Muslim that stand out to me--encounters or little conversations that I always remembered. One little boy who moved here from Yemen, I remember him teaching me how to say "Asalaamu alaikum" and just being one of the nicest kids. And other things. I always thought I just remembered them because they were different culturally from my own family and I was drawn to that, but, I think God put an interest and an affection in my heart for Muslims and Islam early on.
Anyway, those little experiences and "seeds" over the years have served as a source of comfort to me lately because my overwhelming feeling has been loneliness and alienation. I have lost my closest friends, two of whom were friends of 10+ years, and one of my sisters who was also a close friend has withdrawn quite a bit. My first marriage was abusive and my husband's first marriage had some abusive elements and was volatile at times, so friends and family were understandably concerned about us repeating those things. We talked really openly and honestly about that stuff from the very beginning, and worked with a trusted community friend who helped us examine that stuff and figure out if we were a good match--I really feel confident that marriage was the right choice and that Allah led us to each other with similar life experiences in part, at least, because it has helped us understand our responsibilities and roles within our marriage in a really profound way that we didn't take so seriously the first time around.
I have met many sisters in my local Muslim community, at the masjid and at local events/workshops/lectures, and that has been nice. I have felt welcomed and people are very kind, for the most part. But, still, there is a lot of history lost with those other friends of mine, and so these new friendships are not really able to fully substitute that loss. Actually, while it has been painful, I have really seen this distancing from my family and (some) friends as a good thing, and it has highlighted my over-dependence on them and given me an opportunity to really get to know myself again, to clarify and firm up my spiritual foundation, and to get a reality check about the impermanence of things. To see where I was using other people/things to try and fill up a void where really, only Allah swt should be. Sooo, alhamdulillah for that perspective.
I am here anticipating checking in with you ladies every so often for experience, strength and hope in the areas of teaching Islamic values to our kids in a world that makes that feel somewhat daunting, at least to me. Inspiration about celebrating Islamic holidays and about instilling little traditions and things that can help us build our identity as a Muslim family and help the kids feel excited and proud of who they are being raised to be. My childhood is full of warm, happy memories...all around major Christian holidays. My mom did a great job of starting family traditions and incorporating traditions from various parts of our heritage (English/German). So, that's great, except I don't have any experience celebrating Islamic holidays or "Muslim-ifying" other aspects of our home life, if that makes sense.
Please say hi so we can get a feel for who is still hanging around!!