Friday, 18 June 2010

By Sumayyah Meehan

It is 7:00 on a Friday night and I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror I am so arduously polishing. I am stunned into silence. It is hard to believe that I am looking at my own image; I barely recognize myself. My hair is precariously perched on top of my head, and there are strands coming out in every direction. The skin on my face looks sallow and is absolutely parched. My clothes are wrinkled and I smell sweaty.

What happened to me? I was once a model of perfect grooming and was a stickler for looking my best at all times. How could I have grown so careless?

It took me several days of reflection and self-discovery to come up with an answer. I had been neglecting myself for a very long time. Ever since my children were born, I had let the rigors of being a wife and a mother take precedence over my own needs.

Islam explicitly states that we should strive to look our best at all times. I did meet the requirements of cleanliness according to my faith. However, I overlooked small details such as making sure my clothes were properly ironed. I rarely redid my hair aside from the regular morning brush, twist, and clip. I knew that things had to change, not only for myself, but for my husband as well. After all, he has to look at me every day. I had to be as pleasing as I could to his eyes.

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said

After fear of God, a believer gains nothing better for him than a good wife who obeys him if he gives her a command, pleases him if he looks at her, is true to him if he adjures her to do something, and is sincere towards him regarding her person and his property if he is absent. (Ibn Majah)

Fitting Me Into My Schedule

Thus, I began a course of action that started with a revamping of my daily schedule. Rather than being a workhorse all day long, I tried to slow down a bit. I started allocating "me" time for myself each day. It was hard at first because I love my family so dearly and relish the task of fulfilling their needs. Slowly, I started to allocate a few minutes for me each day and then let it grow from there. Eventually I got up to a whopping 30 minutes of free time each day.

I began to iron at least two outfits each day; that way I had something spare to wear if something oozed on me, which is a common occurrence in my household. I also experimented with some housewife-friendly hairstyles that would remain sturdy throughout my day of salah, cooking, and cleaning. I found that a simple braid did the trick and immediately ended the chronic bad hair I had grown accustomed to for so long. I began scheduling in time for regular facials (done by me at home) each week.

My attitude began to change as my path to reinvention progressed. I became consciously aware of not only my image, but also the way I am perceived by family members.

The Make-Over

However, the battle was only half won. The biggest obstacle was still ahead of me — makeup! It may sound silly to you, dear reader, but I had all but forgotten how to apply makeup. Prior to becoming a mother, I could put a face on in five minutes flat. Now, I can do it in little over half an hour. I decided to research this issue of makeup on the Internet. I was hopeful and optimistic that I would find a few "magical" techniques to accentuate my lips and my eyes.

I was not picky, I just wanted something to jumpstart my darling husband's heart when he saw me. The first and only website I visited looked remarkable to me. It had all the parts of the face divided into categories, and in each category there was a model along with numerous techniques. I could barely control my excitement!

It took me at least 15 minutes to realize how big the models' faces were and at least another 10 minutes to discover that I had been sifting through a transgender website! Astaghfirullah. I was so embarrassed and immediately shut down my computer. So much for that. I grabbed my makeup box and began experimenting on how to enhance my beauty with makeup.

Well-equipped, I decided to embark on the final voyage of my new identity. I scheduled a "date" with my husband. It was to be on the following Friday. I spent all week getting caught up on my household chores and when Friday came around, I put the kids to bed early. I needed peace and quiet so that I could concentrate on getting ready, which takes me longer at my age. There are more lines and creases to camouflage. Once I got started, there was no stopping. I was very satisfied with the finished product.

A Rekindled Romance

When my husband arrived home, he was dumbstruck. The poor man was speechless. The polished and sophisticated woman he had married was back (for at least one night anyway). He must have missed her because he locked me in a huge embrace. His perception of me changed that night. He stopped looking at me exclusively as the family caregiver and saw me as a woman. I think we had both gotten ourselves into a rut when it came to fulfilling each other's needs. We had been so wrapped up in our obligations to Allah and to our children that we had forgotten about our duty to each other.

[They are an apparel for you and you are an apparel for them.] (Al-Baqarah 2:187)

[And one of his signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest in them, and He put between you love and compassion; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect.] (Ar-Rum 30:21)

My husband morphed into the newlywed husband he had been long ago. He was openly loving, and he kept stealing bashful glances at me while we ate dinner. And I was a nervous wreck. My hands were shaking and I could barely swallow a bite of food. No one would have guessed that we had been married for 8 years by the way we were behaving!

The simple act of dressing up for my husband had reawakened both of our senses. It relit a spark in our marriage that had started to dim several years ago. The romance that had been eluding us ever since we became parents came flooding back. It was amazing.

Date night, as we have come to term it, is now a regular ritual that my husband and I perform at least once a week without ever leaving the confines of our home. And now my husband gets ready too. He gets a haircut or buys a new shirt. It has worked wonders for our marriage and it has helped us to be better mates, al-hamdu lillah.

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