This I Believe

Nina - Prior Lake, Minnesota
Entered on March 28, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I am 33 years old and think I finally have it figured out. Then again, I’ve thought I had it figured out in the past and I was wrong. I could be wrong again.

I recently took a trip to India with my kids; a more than 24 hour transatlantic trip as the only adult with my children, aged 3 and 1. Before beginning my journey, I browsed the web looking for any advice, ideas or support on how to survive. What I found turned out to be helpful not only for my trip but has now become the advice by which I intend to lead my life. This is what one mother advised: if your child is having a meltdown and the people across the aisle are giving you dirty looks, ignore them. Continue trying to appease your child and see what you can do to make them feel better. Sounds like a very simple idea, but sometimes I’m so concerned about my children disturbing others, I don’t fully concentrate on them. My main concern should be to try and calm down my children for my children’s sake. Any energy spent worrying about the glaring and sighing man across the aisle is just wasted energy.

I am a Muslim in a Muslim unfriendly time. It seems that many people are judging and misunderstanding us. I have decided to extend the advice from my trip to this aspect of my life. I will spend my energy not in defending myself, or worrying about others. I will spend my energy and my time being the best Muslim I know how. I do realize that we need people to speak up and correct misconceptions. I will leave that work for others. I will speak softly and carry no stick.

I am still working out the details of my new plan. For example, if by hoping that my quiet concentration will help others understand my religion and myself better does it mean I am again expending energy outwards? Does that take away from my ability to concentrate on myself? I am hoping these questions will work themselves out. Because ultimately my hope is to not just change myself. I hope to shield my children from the world’s opinion of their religion. I hope to make my children strong and confident enough to not need to defend themselves, or change their names, or change their religion. I hope my children can just live life. Does my hope to change others take away from my strength to change myself?

I survived my travel with my children to India, and I had to rely on my “ignore them” philosophy to pull me through a few times. I was a happier person for it. It worked for my children, now let’s see how it works with the rest of the world.