If anyone were to tell me that I would move to New York City and leave with a husband, a daughter and a new religion, not only would I have considered you somewhat crazy, but a total killjoy. Nothing could have been further away from my mind than being a wife and mother with a deeply spiritual connection to it all. Five years ago, I had an objective in mind that involved none of the above. And yet, I have come to embrace being a wife and mother with a fervor and zeal that doesn’t compare to any other worldly pursuits.
I had a plan. No one could have told me any different. In 2009, I said goodbye to sunny Southern California and ‘hello’ to New York City. I was focused. I was determined. I had dreams of Conde Nast, a killer wardrobe replete with edgy designer names only fashion insiders were privy to, and a chic Manhattan apartment where I would write and edit late into the night. I was going to be the Black Carrie Bradshaw; my name was going to appear on the masthead of Vogue, Elle, or W–I didn’t care which one–under the title Fashion Editor. I was in the perfect place and I had experience. But more importantly, I had the requisite modern attitude towards success and my role in society as a woman.
Having been raised by a single, working mother, it never occurred to me that a woman would need to be confined to her home while catering to the needs of her family. In my mind, this was an archaic concept that not only had a negative air to it, but belonged to the realm of fantasy–a concept that was played out in movies and television by mostly white people. Just about everyone I knew had mothers like mine. A woman not working was something I’d considered to be a peculiarity. I was never taught the importance of taking care of a home. Cooking meals from scratch occurred only during special occasions and holidays. Getting married and understanding the meaning of a healthy relationship didn’t have its place in my upbringing. Instead, the message was get a good job and make good money. Don’t worry about men, they just get in the way.
Having been imbued with these Western attitudes towards traditional roles, I was naturally repelled by the idea of relegating myself to the service of my home and family. Marriage was something I’d stored in the back of my mind as a possibility, not a goal, an attitude that helped goad my aspirations. However, exactly one year after my move to the Big City, a strange thing happened. I had adopted the faith of Islam and became a wife to the man I today call my husband. As I learned more about my new faith, I slowly began to peel myself away from an industry that I felt was in opposition to my new beliefs. Thanks to my new mother-in-law, I learned what it meant to take care of a home. I learned how to cook real food, everyday, a feat for someone who barely knew how to use a knife. I witnessed how serving and taking care of your spouse isn’t the worst thing in the world. In fact, there was an element of joy and fulfillment I had never sensed before.
A few years later, I became a mother. And then something completely unexpected happened. We left New York City, a place that I believed would be my final resting place, to go back to my old small town in Southern California. I felt burdened by the possibility that my daughter wouldn’t be able to thrive spiritually in such a fast-paced environment. I had become the person I never expected to be. I welcomed and submitted to the role of a stay-at-home mom. I pored over homemaking blogs and books about the art of running a household. I perused Etsy for long stretches of time looking for the perfect apron. I even went so far as to start a “homemaking binder”, which didn’t turn out as successful as I’d hoped. Some things just aren’t for everyone. Nonetheless, I’m in a place where I know what works for me and what doesn’t.
There is a genuine, strong desire to be the best mother and wife I can possibly be. It’s a difficult process, having to undo decades of self-centered philosophy, spearheaded by a materialistic, commodity-driven society which convinced generations of women to leave their homes. It’s even more difficult when you’re taught to believe that a man’s role in your life has more to do with fulfilling your own egoic needs as opposed to a mutual companionship that honors each others differences. Looking back, I can’t help but feel contrition for my old mindset and slight bitterness for not having the advantage of being prepared sooner. I know now though, that God had better plans. Through Islam, I now view just how important and critical my presence is in my home. I’m learning everyday that being a wife entails so much more than what we see on the surface. It surpasses anything superficial and forces one to exalt higher traits; to cultivate a character that is wise, patient, yielding and gentle. If my daughter learns anything from me, it’s that she will be the light that permeates her home, if God has so willed.
Author: Princess Glover
Princess Glover is a freelance writer, stay-at-home mother and aspiring homemaker. She is a Muslim convert and former fashion assistant for SURFACE Magazine. She’s worked in many areas of fashion media and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications.