My dad walked out of Palestine as a refugee at the age of 10. My mom is the most elegant Lebanese woman of her generation, learned English as a third language, and taught my sister and I that taking care of ourselves as Mamas is important—as in, a manicure is as important as a routine pap smear. She taught our brother how to waltz and hug.
I grew up all over and live in Dubai. I have lived in New York, London, Riyadh, Nottingham, and Cannes. I’m a mommy of three. I try and feed my little ones organic fruits and vegetables but I mostly don’t. I buy parenting books by Ford and Ferber and Dr. Spock but I skim read, oh, and I lose my shit too. A lot. But these days I can’t tear myself away from my continued reaction to that giant Cheeto who spouts misogyny, racism, xenophobia, bigotry, and bullying statements as if it were mere punctuation.
In the last few years, since becoming a mom, I watch the news differently. It’s no longer a vague unease about how I might be affected or my parents or siblings. It’s worse. It’s how will my kids survive in this new world? What injustices will they face? What judgments and executive orders can I try to protect them from? What belief systems should I instill in them and where do we draw the line in the sand? Will their last name, first names, eyebrows, hair or skin tone doom them?
How do I tell them that I’m scared now? How do I hide my concerns about traveling to the US to see my husband’s family? My kids may hold an American passport, but they’ve never lived there, their grandparents are all from majority-Muslim nations, and they’ll never be treated as Americans by people like Trump. I know this.
But there’s something else I know.
I’m a Muslim and I’m also a citizen of this world. There is no denying it, it is a crazy time full of headlines that strike fear in all of us, but I keep looking for the headlines about two words: human decency. And I see them.
Part of human decency is seeing each other. Here’s what you see with me.
I’m a mom. I tuck my kids in at night and pray angels visit their dreams in the night. I ask God to protect them and I raise them to have manners and kindness. I say things like “This too shall pass.” I wipe poop and pee and sneak vitamins into juices and research which concealer will best cover my most hated piece of luggage—my eye bags.
I see Trump in the same light as Muslim extremists. No control over himself. If I were trapped in an elevator with him, I’d say, You’re ruining it for the rest of us. Because we 1.7 billion Muslims live with that double look: initial suspicion and then wary “Let’s see if they’re that sort.” Even though you’re way more likely to die from a car accident than from any extremist.
I could list the ways in which the US has gotten cooler because of Muslims, followed by a bar chart (or Venn diagram… or nifty info graphic), but I’ll keep it to a mom’s take: Donald, I have to say… your mom should have raised you better than this. I fear it’s all up to us moms. But us moms are great at holding up the values of society, the human decency. We are anti-fragile.
So, I’m still a mom. And I’m still a Muslim. I’m still going to raise my kids with common decency at the top of the manners list. And I’m still praying to angels every night when I tuck them in.