February is the month of love and languages. And, if you happen to live in the UK, it’s also the month of disruptive skies. Storm Troopers Ciara, Dennis and Jorge swooped over our bodies, souls and weekends, dampening, destroying, disheartening. As shops are kicking out winter coats and floral archways are popping up all over town, snow finally paid a visit to us snow-starved Southerners, reviving our #whitewinter dreams. For a grand total of 30 minutes, we got a taste of festive season all over again.
Last leap year, we had JUST moved into Southampton. This leap year, we are back in London, just having completed 5 whole months (or 4, if you consider the time I was away in Dhaka). The post-holiday slump is real yet I feel rested and refreshed. My anxiety has levelled off and I feel more settled, both mentally and physically. The flat looks a lot more sorted which makes a huge impact on my mental headspace. The guest room is still a dump but I am not going to lose my mind over that. It feels amazing to have this normal life, where both of us adults go to work and baby goes to daycare. Alhamdolillah. Its honestly a privilege. No unemployment. No nasty injuries. No anxiety attacks.
I know it’s too early in the year for resolution accountability but I still want to go on record to say that I am doing good on my 2020 goals. I have been religiously using my reusable coffee mug almost every morning, forging a newly minted friendship that I truly cherish. Also, I started a new hashtag challenge this month: #ishoppedmywardrobe, to document how I am trying to shop less and recyle more. This is my way of continuing with being more eco-conscious this year.
Alsoo, I took the plunge and got my fringe back. Bold move for a toddler Mama, I hear you say. I am paying the price, dw. My choices are: find twenty extra minutes to do my fringe (which inevitably means compromising elsewhere) or go out looking like a dishevelled puppy caught in a hailstorm.
Alsooo, I did a Valentine’s Day series this month sharing how TMB and I got together. Boy was that a hit! I have published the series in a separate blog post as I felt it was one for the archives.
I did a collaboration this month with My Salah Mat which has been one of my blogging highlights of 2020.
As winter moves imperceptibly to spring, Coronavirus is rapidly spreading across the world, with 19* confirmed cases in UK as I type this. I am switching between calm and panic and back (cuz panic is unsustainable and quite frankly, exhausting). It doesn’t help that I am always snooping around London Heathrow, a hotspot for the virus.
*On the day of publishing this post on 9th March 2020, there are 273 infected people and three confirmed deaths in United Kingdom from COVID-19.
We watched a handful of Hindi movies this month, including Mission Mangal, Maardaani 2 and Good News.
Girl, Women, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, is an interwoven story of (mostly black) women against the socioeconomic backdrop of modern-day Britain. Evaristo’s protagonists – girls, women, others – are complex, flawed and fierce. Only few pages in, my inner feminist was flexing her muscles in solidarity like a toddler on Red Bull. Although its fiction, the events in this book are real and topical, a writing style that I have been gravitating towards in recent times. You can tell that this book is a product of some intense research into the history of Black heritage in Britain.
This is a novel that pulls in voices that often get othered: lesbian playwright denouncing patriarchy. Muslim woman learning mixed martial arts. High school dropout trying to make it in life as a single mom. Immigrant parent fighting for a chance to break out of poverty. (‘You must go back and fight the battles that are your British birth right, Carole, as a true Nigerian.’). Nonbinary social media influencer Morgan who was once Megan.
I loved getting to know each of the 12 characters in this book and discovering how Evaristo weaved them together, loosely but cleverly. Finding each of those connections was like unearthing another hidden treasure.
As a feminist storyteller, reading stories about feminist women is my favourite hobby. Especially those that cover intersectional, intergenerational feminism. ESPECIALLY those that give an insight into the side of Britain that we rarely get to see. I love books that light a fire in me and this one did so on repeat.
After largely ignoring both my hair and skin last year, I am trying to make amends. I splurged on two nice skincare products this month: a moisturiser (Moisture Surge by Clinique) and a cleanser (Renaissance Cleansing Gel by OSKIA) . They have very similar consistency: gel like but with enough substance so that you can feel the product as you work it on your skin. While Moisture Surge is odourless, the cleansing gel has a gentle, natural smell that isn’t medicinal or perfume-y. I adore the smell of natural oils so this makes my dopamine levels rise. Both products leave my skin feeling amazing and pamperedl. I love using them everyday.
I kid you not, this kid is growing up FASTER than I can deal.
He is currently getting comfortable with identifying colours and really loves to explore the world through them. He wants to watch colour related everything on YouTube, preferably in Spanish, Mandarin or Italian. When he gets bored, he focuses on his other obsession – trains, cars and planes. We dont get to play anything else on TV these days. As always, he loves music and dancing any chance he gets.
His ever-growing vocabulary includes strawbelililly, chocolate, ice cream and chicken (boy’s a food in the making). He addresses us as ‘Guys!’, calls me by my name (Samira), gives us orders: sit down, come, lets go, give TV, ball dao, khabo. When he changes clothes, he goes to the mirror and says, Nice! His overdramatic expressions include, ‘Allah!’ (picked up from us), ‘Oh no’ and ‘oh dear’ (picked up from daycare).
He is going through a phase where everyone must acknowledge every little thing he deems worthy of acknowledging. And multiple times if the excitement quotient is deemed high enough by His Highness. First me, then Nina (TMB), then everyone else who happens to be in the room. His pure excitement is just so adorable.
We had his parent teacher assessment this month which went well. He has been called helpful and friendly and seems to have a good rapport with all of his teachers. To quote some lines from his assessment: ‘Aryan is aware of others’ feelings for example looking sad or concerned when seeing one of his peers upset.’
He understands routines and pays attention to little things. If I forget my glasses or his bag, he will point it out. If there is a discarded tissue, he will pick it up and throw it in the bin. He will remind me to pick his bag when we leave the house in the morning and daycare in the evening.
He was always an independent soul but with every passing month, he is getting more vocal about it. He hugs his ball and declares, ‘MY’! He can build little tower blocks on his own and say, ‘tower!’. He likes peeling oranges by himself, and sometimes won’t let us open his coat because HE will. At other times, he is as babyish as ever, refusing to let Nina put on his coat because it has to be Mommy. Often, he wants to go to bed or daycare with some toy or trinket and gets really emotional when we take it away from him.
Most days he wants to go for a little walk after daycare pickup, even though it’s so cold. If we refuse, we are given a right tantrum. Other causes for tantrums include not being able to put a broken banana together or eating gummy bears for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Time and again, he teaches me to slow down, to enjoy splashing on rainy puddles, to giggle helplessly over stolen kisses, to make up silly games (which somehow always involves him falling over!). Ever grateful for my son’s innocent presence in my hectic life.
Recipe on Repeat
I am back to enjoying my staple dinner rotation meal: The Roast Chicken. I have also religiously meal prepped through the month of Feb and feel quite accomplished.
What’s Coming Up?
Spring? Warmer weather? Stormless weekends? At least the days are getting longer, slowly but surely.