I type this while my 2 month old son lies fast asleep next to me. I really ought to sleep too. Eh, I will, after this. Blissful solitude is something I don’t get much of in the daytime!
So, what’s it like having a 2 month old, almost 2 year old and 4.5 year old?
That, my friend, is a summary of my day.
Alhamdulilah for my three healthy, vibrant and strong little ones ❤
Novel update: I got my query letter, synopsis and manuscript in shape in time for Pitch Wars, but didn’t win a menteeship. Still, it was a great experience. Lotsa supportive writer folk on the Twitter #writingcommunity
Good news: I scored some wonderful literary agent interest through the #DVpit Twitter contest on October 28th! One of my winning tweets:
MEAN GIRLS x GILMORE GIRLS x CHARMED
16F Insyirah moves to Malaysia and inherits her grandmother’s handsome and loyal Star Trek-loving jinn. Take that, school bully. Keeping him means risking harm from evil jinn. Exorcising him could kill them both. #DVPIT #OWN #F #IMM #CON
I’ve submitted (query letter and partial manuscript) to four agents so far and oh, the waiting game, the waiting game. It’ll take weeks, if not months, for the agent(s) to get back to me requesting my full manuscript, and then it’ll be even more waiting to see if I get an offer of representation (or not). Egads. Traditional publishing is not for the impatient. Luckily, I have small children, so I am literally not going anywhere. They are the Jedi Masters of teaching me patience.
#PitMad, another Twitter pitching contest, is running on Dec 5th. I’ll aim to pitch my manuscript then too.
So how do I write with a newborn, toddler and preschool? In very small bites. lol. Literally. It all adds up! Writing is also how I decompress and make sense of my world ❤ But it’s either write or sleep so eh, one day I’ll feel more rested.
Alhamdulilah, I gave birth to my baby boy, Mohamed Suhail, on Sunday, the 8th of September 🙂 Please make dua for my little boy and his two excited big sisters. I didn’t think I’d be that mother with three kids under 4.5….but there you have it. Motherhood has taught me to never say never! Back to the newborn haze, with waking up every two hours to breastfeed ❤ And the delicious newborn snuggles. And watching my little girls adoring their baby brother. And then fighting with each other, and then being friends again. Never a dull moment.
Writing-wise, I’m giving my manuscript a break while I rest and recover. This is my third newborn rodeo, and I’ve surrendered to the reality that it’ll be a pretty exhausting few weeks and months. I’d like to work on revising my manuscript and getting it agent-ready, but, honestly, imma too tired. And that’s okay. I look at all the writing mamas out there who juggle so much, get books published through the chaos, and I hope that one day, my turn will come too ❤
Wooooo alhamdulilah, I’ve more or less finished my first draft! Truly, it goes to show that consistency does pay off. Sikit sikit, lama-lama jadi bukit! If I can write 60,000 words with while pregnant, with a 4 year old, 1.5 year old – YOU CAN TOO! I couldn’t have gotten this far without the hands-on support from my husband and mother-in-law – thank you for all the help!
My first draft is with my trusty beta readers now, and I hope to get some super helpful feedback within the next few weeks.
I’ve also sent my manuscript to be edited by Michele Sagan, who has been nothing but incredibly supportive from the get-go. Thank you, Michele! The fact that she is an editor, an agented and published author, and a mother of FOUR CHILDREN gives me so many warm, fuzzy feelings. My manuscript is in good hands ❤
So what’s next for me, writerly-wise? Some ideas:
Not to look at my manuscript because I’m at the stage where I’m like…WHO’LL EVEN READ THIS?!!!
Start writing my second novel! Or at least, start outlining it.
Research agents for my first book.
Start drafting query letters to agents.
Keep lurking on @pitchwars and prepping for the December #pitmad.
In other news, I am 37 weeks pregnant. I AM LITERALLY GOING TO GIVE BIRTH SOON. To an actual baby. Not a book baby! A baby baby! This is both exciting and terrifying. Please pray for me and baby. My 4 year old and 1.5 year old can sense a big change is coming, and are clinging to me for dear life…..so let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m no longer worried about hitting my word count :p Now I can just (try to) rest, listen to birth affirmations, and enjoy the last few weeks of being a mama of two ❤
So it’s been a while. And yes. I’m PREGNANT. Again. Yup, baby #3, alhamdulilah, due this September. Please make dua for me, baby, my 15 month old and my almost 4 year old. We are gonna be in for a partayyy with 3 kids under 4.5!!!!
I’m working on my first novel – a YA multi-generational family mystery with a backdrop of Malaysian magic realism. Have I finished planning it? Nope. Because I am a panster, with a vague novel outline. SO I kind of know where my novel is headed-ish. I’m 28,389/60,000 words in, so I’m almost 50% in! PRAY FOR ME TO FINISH THIS BEFORE I GIVE BIRTH. Plz. Thanks.
So my plan is to keep at 500 words a day, and I either write in the mornings when my eldest is at preschool, my baby is napping, or in the evenings when my kids are asleep. I’ll keep the word count update here, to keep me going too. Once I’m done, please let me know if you’re keen to be one of my beta readers 🙂
Dictation is my friend! It’s kind of hit and miss with the dictation function Google Docs. What dictation software do you use your on iPhones? Do share.
I think of my sleeping daughters, my husband, and my family living in the West. I think of the families in Christchurch who quickly kissed/hugged/salaamed goodbye before attending Friday prayer, and then wept goodbye when they buried their loved ones. I think of gunfire and screams shattering Friday prayer, and the blood of men, women and children splattering over walls and soaking into carpets.
My heart breaks and rages over this tragic culmination of the rising tide of anti-immigration and anti-Muslim sentiment. For those who ask for proof of the harm of Islamaphobia, I give you today’s bloody carnage.
Murder is what happens when people choose hate over love, and forget what it means to be human.
Please support the survivors of the Christchurch mosque shootings, and share it with your loved ones.
Pray for the families who have buried their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives, daughters and sons. Pray for humanity. God help us all.
Alhamdulilah, my letter won second place in the Letters To The Beloved competition! I am so surprised, so grateful and a little embarrassed. You can read it here, alongside the incredible winning entry and my friend Lina Abdul Wahab’s heartbreaking third place entry.
My deepest gratitude goes to Letters to the Beloved ﷺ team, Rabata, Sanad Collective, and especially to Anse Tamara Gray bringing my letter to life with her warm, heartfelt recitation ❤ I hope to read it to my daughters when they’re older some day. You can listen to the recording here (scroll to 26 min). I loved hearing from Anse Tamara, as always, and was really moved by Brother Ali’s talk (48 min). He acknowledges the role of women in understanding Prophetic love.
I would love to say that I wrote this letter with a warm cup of tea at a quiet cafe – but I didn’t. I wrote it in my bedroom, in quiet snatches while my daughters were asleep, over several nights. (I try not to have tea close by because I could spill it on my MacBook Air in my chronic tiredness – as I have done previously!!!) I edited it a couple of times, and then sent it just in time for the deadline lol. This is my modus operandi, these days :p
If you’re an exhausted mama, I hope my letter brings you some comfort. If you’re an exhausted mama writer, then I hope my letter shows you that what we lack in time, we make up for in other innumerable ways – and God, in His Mercy, fills in the rest.
If you haven’t already, please read the different letters from past competitions. I’m blown away by what the children have written, especially! And maybe, just maybe, you can set the intention to write your own to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). His blessed heart and soul is connected to ours, even when we forget.
In less than a week, Irfan will be running a workshop at Urban Hijau! He has a talent for breaking down permaculture topics into easily digestible nuggets e.g. “Grow what grows!”
If you’re interested in growing your own fruits/veggies/simple herbs, and wondering how to make your own compost, then this workshop is for you. Please spread the word, and sign up before all participant spots are filled up!
I love how much emphasis this course places on self-regulation. So instead of looking outwards and blaming my kids for “making me angry”- I need to look inwards first and figure out why I’m getting so rattled in the first place. I need to accept my feelings of overwhelm/anger/helpless/etc, choose to respond from a place of calm, and not react from my own triggered lizard brain. Yup, easy to say, hard to do. But the beauty of this approach is the more I practice pausing while one (or both) of my little girls are screaming/crying/wailing/etc, then the easier it’ll be. I’m telling you, kids under the age of 5 are Zen masters who can train you to be one too, but only if you don’t terrify them into compliance. Be open. There’s a lesson in there.
Special note: It’s so hard not to yell at your kids when you’re angry, or when they don’t cooperate. JUST LISTEN! OBEY ME! NOW! DON’T SHOUT AT ME! Gah. Now research shows how harmful that is.
But it’s so hard not to get mad at kids! I know, I know. I’m not saying don’t get mad, because every day offers plenty of opportunities of button-pushing behaviour…I’m just saying don’t yell, don’t spank, don’t emotionally blackmail/abuse..that kinda stuff. Find another way to discharge that stress. Just not on your kid(s). I’ve seen what happens in the long-run. Said kid will grow up and not want to be around you anymore. BUT when you inevitably mess up and lose it, which every parent does at some point because we are HUMAN…just say sorry. Hug. That teaches your kids something too – how to apologise when you mess up, and how to make things right. Valuable life lesson.
If you’re a chronic yeller, then something isn’t balanced in your life. Yelling like that every day is exhausting for you, your spouse, and your kids. There is a better way of living. And you can learn how. And your kids will cooperate without you needing to shout! As impossible as that future feels right now (I’m in the thick of it) – one day, our kids will grow up into adults and move away. How far away depends on how connected they feel to us, right now, when they’re still little. So. Hang in there. This is hard work. It’s every day. It’s relentless. But this chaos can also be fun, joyful, and full of wonderful surprises.
Here’s the course outline:
Peaceful Parenting 101
In this session, I’ll introduce you to the 3 big ideas that will change your life as a parent and shift your family, over the next 12 weeks, to less drama and more love.
Regulating Your Own Emotions
You’ll learn tools this week to notice when you’re getting close to the edge, and powerful practices to return yourself to calm. If you’re a yeller, here’s where you take your Vow of Yellibacy.
Connecting with Your Child
Parenting is 80% connection and only 20% guidance, because until children feel connected they have no reason to follow our guidance. In this session, you’ll learn best practices for staying connected with your child, and specific tools for reconnecting after tough times.
Parenting for Emotional Intelligence
This week you’ll learn how emotions work, including some secrets about anger that most people don’t know, how to help your child empty a full emotional backpack, and how to heal even the most turbulent emotions. We’ll practice using empathy, your magic wand, to give your child’s brain the best possible environment to learn to self-regulate.
In this session, we’ll discuss why children misbehave and what the research says about the best way to guide your child and teach the important lessons. You’ll learn how children develop self-discipline and impulse control and why time-in works while time-out doesn’t. We’ll practice setting limits that stick, without power struggles or drama.
You know those problems that always seem to blow up in your face and land your family in the breakdown lane? You can avoid most of those surprises with preventive maintenance. This week we’ll explore the power of routines, empathy, special time, scheduled meltdowns and other preventive maintenance practices.
Tips for the Transition to Peaceful Parenting
If you’ve been relying on bribes, threats and punishment to get your child to cooperate, you can expect some bumps as you and your children learn new patterns of relating. This week you’ll learn some tips to make this transition easier for your family.
You can only give your kids what you have inside. This week, you’ll create a self-care plan to keep your cup full, so you can be emotionally generous with others. We’ll focus a lot on emotional self-care, or how to parent yourself!
Mastery: Developing resilience, self-discipline and grit.
This week we explore how children develop the fortitude that leads to mastery. We’ll practice encouraging rather than praising, and learn how to find the sweet spot between free range and helicoptering.
Healing Your Triggers
Those times when you say or do something you later regret? They’re always when you’re triggered, so you get hijacked by anger. This week, I’ll guide you to begin identifying and healing those triggers, so you don’t get upset so often, and can recover more quickly when you do.
This week, we’ll apply the peaceful parenting principles to raising siblings, so you can stop the fighting and raise children who will be friends for life. You’ll learn simple yet powerful ways to foster a loving, supportive bond between siblings, and teach your kids to navigate conflict constructively.
Putting it all together
This week, Dr. Laura answers questions from Course participants in a Live Call. We’ll celebrate how far you’ve come! And we’ll help you put together a plan to use what you’ve learned, every day, to stay on track in the future.
Click here to get notified when the course open next on November 19!