Family, Life, Love, untigering, Iris Chen

Reconciling Asian Values with Peaceful Parenting

If you’re an untigering Asian parent like me, check out this INCREDIBLE recording. Iris Chen is an unschooling Chinese American mother who inspired my article as well as my daily commitment to untigering.

I loved listening to her conversation with Joline from Chapter Zero Singapore, Syazana from Sassy Mama Singapore, and Justina from Raised with Wonder in Malaysia. My people! It’s so validating hearing them share their stories which are so familiar to mine. I love the beautiful parts of Malay culture and want to embed that into how I raise my kids, but I reject the toxic parts. It’s an ongoing process for me, my husband and my children. One day at at time. We have the gift of living with my elderly mother-in-law, so that’s another layer of nurturing for my children.

If you love her content, you have the option of supporting Iris on Kofi.

Family, Islam, Life, Writing

Selamat Hari Raya/Eid Mubarak!

Selamat Hari Raya/Eid Mubarak! My kids are all asleep after an exciting and exhausting first day of Eid. We made it, alhamdulilah, to the end of Ramadan. And what a Ramadan this has been. May we meet many, many more. May there be an end to global oppression.

We’re back to MCO 3.0 in Malaysia. Inconvenient but necessary because Covid19 numbers shot up once again. This is my second Raya/Eid in lockdown…I miss my family and friends back in Sydney. I don’t think we’ll be able to fly back to visit anytime soon, so in the meantime, we have our family Whatsapp groups, video calls, messages….this is our new normal. What a test of patience.

In writing news, my latest article on SBS voices is up: I loved reading fantasy growing up but there were never any characters like me. Stay tuned for more!

Family, Life, Love, motherhood, pandemic

Wait….2021?

So. Malaysia is in a state of emergency. We’re back to a MCO (Movement Control Order). I have a tendency to spiral into anxiety and doom-scrolling, so here’s my antidote to overwhelm – gratitude!

I’m so grateful that my husband, kids, mother-in-law and I are safe, have a comfortable home, a big garden for my kids to run around in, and we have healthy food.

I’m delighted by the daily antics of my children, who are growing into loving, hilarious, incredible people.

I’m sad that I won’t be able to visit my family and friends abroad for the foreseeable future.

I’m angry that systemic racism, white supremacy and unchecked privilege are hurting and killing innocent people.

Multiple realities can exist. I try to make space for all of it, and trust that all feelings pass.

My baby boy is almost 1.5! My youngest daughter turned 3. My eldest daughter is 5.5. They are my life-long passion projects who cannot be quantified or controlled (note: they actively RESIST control! I teach them ‘body boundaries’ and ‘no means no’ so evidently that means I can’t control them either hahaha le sigh). They can only be coached, guided and most of all, unconditionally loved. When I remember to relax and be present with them, I marvel at these three little humans and how much they love me and forgive my many, many shortcomings.

I’ve handed in my manuscript edits to my amazing agent. Now I’m waiting for her feedback, and I’m excited to either do another round of edits, or go on submission. At this moment though, I’m resisting my compulsion to start immediately on my next project. I choose to rest, to recharge, to reconnect with my household. Rest is my act of resistance.

If you’re in need of some compassionate online counselling during these challenging times, I can’t recommend Cara Cara enough.

I’m absolutely devouring and loving Iris Chen’s book. I’ve read countless parenting books over the years and hers is my FAVOURITE. Read it! Tell your friends and family about it!

Iris Chen is an untigering unschooler, and I’m so inspired by her blog post on unschooling:

When the first MCO hit in March last year (wow last year), I was so upset about my daughters’ preschool being shut. I HAD WRITING PLANS! Now, I surrender to this new normal. No more preschool for the foreseeable future. So my kids and I are doing something that looks like unschooling because none of my kids can sit still and do worksheets. They’re spinning dervishes of creativity and spark. If I survive their childhood years, I can count on watching them do incredible things, at their own pace, on their own terms.

When I remember to breathe and count the things I’ve been doing with my kids over the years – baking, trampoline jumping, picking rambutans from our tree, dancing (awkwardly, me, wonderfully, them), singing, telling stories about Allah and His Prophets (peace be upon them all), roughhousing, mental math, phonics, reading, laughing, joking – I can relax. We’re building memories I hope they can look back on with fondness. I hope they’ll remember me as being grumpy 10% of the time lolol

Family, Life, Poetry, Reading, Writing

The Naming

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image source: https://wardahbooks.com/collections/new-arrivals/products/thenaming

Aaaaaaaah! This is the sound of my EXCITED KAKAK SQUEE! My adik’s poetry book is available at Wardah Books! Buy buy buy!

OK. More coherent words.

Taskeen, Husna (in utero) and I were lucky enough to make it to Aisyah’s chapbook reading in October last year. It was such a gorgeous, unifying event. It was wonderful to witness people from all walks of life come together for the sake of poetry. This is the beauty of art, and how it transcends so much.

Aisyah’s reading was so well-received, and I marvelled at how she had her first chapbook published in her early twenties. May this be the first of many more!

She very sweetly named (ha!) me as her nominated poetry reader, and I was so thrilled to be able to read some of my own work. I have a video of my reading, somewhere, and hope to upload it soon-ish. Here’s to my poetry being birthed one day soon and finding its way next to Aisyah’s at our favourite bookstore ever.

Once I re-read The Naming, I can post a proper review ❤ I remember loving how experimental, brave and lyrical it is. And I have a signed copy muahaha.

 

Family, Health, Life

Say No To GMO! @FabulousSISTERS

Say No to GMO!To those of you interested in learning more about the harms of genetically-modified food, check out my October SISTERS article:

Say No To GMO

Intrigued? I recommend watching the Seeds of Death documentary, which I wrote about in this blog post for Cultivate Central. What we eat impacts so deeply on our health and our children’s. Knowledge is power!

Buy your very own copy of this amazing magazine from the SISTERS website 🙂

 

art, Beauty, Family, Love, Poetry

My poem – Nenek (maternal grandmother)

Screen-Shot-2014-03-04-at-5.34.43-PM-165x200I’m on Week Three of a 30 day writing course – Digging Deep, Facing Self – and my poetry guru, Caits Meissner, has asked each of us to share our favourite piece of work as an exercise of vulnerability and bravery. I’d love to hear your thoughts on my poem. It’s still a very early draft, so be gentle, and please do comment!

Nenek (maternal grandmother)

I was thirteen and
an ill-fitting shoe
in my new country
of vegemite and Uncle Toby’s
I, child of chicken rice and noodles

when Nenek died

Mak flew back with Aisyah
I wish I had gone too
to say goodbye before the end
but only two decades later
when I awoke to the meaning of my ancestry

I lost your blue-stoned ring,
Nenek,
forgive me.
it haunts me
how careless I was

while I grieved for you,
refugees were shipwrecked
drowning
trying to enter the country
I waltzed into (via aeroplane)

“There are no children in detention centres.”
said the national lie
as more and more babies were born
into a cage

Nenek, you fled the communists
on a leaky boat with Datuk
not a cent to your name

your catalyst: being at gunpoint
Datuk told the soldier
“Shoot her first.”

you fled on a boat
like so many around the world
dark night, full moon swallowing the sky
risking death by drowning

you were a boat person
scorned
like the others left bloated
in the water
but you survived

you carved out a new life in Singapore
birthed countless children
showed them how to survive the ache of life
served tea to Datuk even when you could barely walk

Nenek, I am comfortable now
calm, grounded, married
you would have been so proud
I have returned to country you fled from
lifetimes ago

you paid for this, in the terror of your
night-time exodus
huddled next to your husband
towards an uncertain future

you have secured mine.

Books, Family, Writing, young adult

My novel: Finding Jamilah & The Story of Yusuf

my bookHere it is, ladies and gentlemen! In the flesh! I’m so thrilled to see my book in my Sydney family home. So exciting!

It’s been one incredible journey, and I’d like to thank everyone who’s supported me through it: my amazing family, my awesome friends, near and far, and my publisher, MyLegacy Publications, for bringing my story into print. Alhamdulilah, it’s wonderful to see my dream of being a published author come true. Truly, Allah is Most Generous.

The number one question I’ve been hearing is: “How do I buy your book?” Good question. For now, I’m planning to sell copies of my book at my book launch in Sydney. I’m currently in KL, Malaysia, and plan to be in Sydney between March 23-April 6.

Stay tuned for updates on my Sydney book launch, and I hope to see you there!