I was a teenager when I became a mother for the first time. I wasn’t married, and I had already begun the journey towards a college education and all that that would entail. In many families, such a thing would be cause for angry words, accusations, and a pulling apart of the fabric of the family. In my case, though, it ultimately resulted in my having a stronger relationship with both of my parents, as we faced the difficulties and challenges of unmarried parenthood together.
I don’t remember telling my mom, but I would guess I did so while driving somewhere or other in her little Dodge pickup. I do remember her telling me to go for a drive while she told my dad. When I returned after an hour or so he simply enveloped me in his big football player arms and told me he loved me and we would do this together.
The summer of my pregnancy passed quickly. Mom and I would go to the bigger towns that surrounded our little village of Gays Mills, Wisconsin, and shop on a regular basis. As a family we went to different tourist attractions around the state, like Villa Louis in Prairie du Chien, and the steam train in New Freedom. Dad would go for walks with me after every meal and sit up with me at night if I couldn’t sleep- something he continued to do after the baby was born- he would stretch out on the couch in his blue pajamas while I sat in the rocking chair nursing the baby.
When Mujaahid was born, on October 3, 1988, my parents were both present. While laboring I held onto Charlie, my stuffed monkey- Dad sat by me and held Charlie’s hand. When the contractions got too intense I sent him out to the waiting room. Mom said that he hadn’t attended the labor or birth of either of his own children, so I knew what it had cost him to sit in there, by my side. Mom stayed near the entire time, except for periodic trips out for a cigarette, telling jokes and lending quiet strength right up until the baby made his appearance.
And so it continued, even after I went off to college. My parents supported and assisted me in every way that they could, and I owe so much of what I am, and what my son is, to them. September 27 of this year saw the birth of my second grandchild, Yasmeen, to Mujaahid and his wife Hiyaat. I only hope and pray that I can be there for them, always, like my parents were for me.
Khadijah grew up in the Kickapoo Valley in Wisconsin and now lives in Yemin with her husband and eight children where she teaches Arabic and Islaamic studies to women and helps them recognize their importance and the need for their stories to be heard. Khadijah was the winner of the 2010 Story Circle Network Lifewriting Competition.