Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): As a mother of two sons and daughter, your three nieces and nephew, as a wife, sister, attorney and active member of the Nation of Islam, how do you maintain a healthy balance to be effective in every aspect of your life?
Sadiyah X (SX): I am very deliberate in my life as wife, mother, sister, lawyer, friend, etc. about finding balance. I know what it feels like and the consequences of not having balance when your life if full of everything and everybody. I strive to maintain balance by finding time and nurturing every facet of my life spiritually, mentally and physically. Also, I have an awesome network of support from my family and friends, which has enabled my husband and I to raise 6 children. I know that without this support system, the demands of raising and nurturing 6 little people would be extremely difficult and overwhelming.
One of the most important things as a mother in maintaining that balance is the ability to be grateful for the opportunity to raise and nurture our children. I take time in the morning and before I go to bed thanking God for this opportunity. I position my mind of gratitude, and when I do this the task of everything a mother does is not so daunting.
I maintain a healthy diet, because I know that I need to be operating in every aspect at a high level, and my diet is an important aspect of motherhood. I walk from 3 to 5 times a week even if it is a 30 minute walk. If given the opportunity, I will take a nap. I love pampering myself with spa treatments.
Schedules are important in my house. My husband and I sync our calendars so we will always know what is going on, not just work-wise but also as it concerns the childrens’ activities and personally.
I practice criminal law, and I am at the court house almost every day. When I am in court my focus is totally there. However, as soon as I leave and finish my legal work, my brain totally goes into domestic mode. I have implemented protocols in my practice to free myself up to be a wife and a mother. But make no mistake, as a lawyer, I am just as efficient, professional, knowledgeable and compassionate. Fighting for justice is a part of my nature.
At home chore charts are a must. Everyone in my house, including the 17 month old, can cooperate and participate in the running of our household efficiently. On our refrigerator is a weekly chart of chores and also Daily Expectations. It is my attempt to run our house efficiently and when everyone is doing their job, then my job is easier.
In our house we love our play time. The motto is, “We work hard we play hard”. And believe me, everyone in our house works hard so we reward the children and ourselves opportunities throughout the year for travel.
Finally, my husband and I find creative ways to spend time together so that we can nurture each other’s spirit and continue to build on our bond and connection. Without a healthy us, there cannot be a healthy them.
EM: In your ability to be efficient, what were the days leading up to that like for you? [From the moment you obtained custody of your nephew, got married, gave birth to your daughter, maternity leave and returning back to work, adopting your nieces and gave birth to your son]
SX: It has been a whirlwind of a life. I had acquired custody of my nephew when he was 2 years old (he is nine now) due to some family issues. At the time I was single and had no other children. I took on the challenge, because it was important for him to have a stable environment and I believe I could provide that. However, if it weren’t for the help of my mosque family I know my job would have been a lot harder.
A few years after that I got married, so now I had a male support system for me and my nephew who I considered my child at that time. A year and a half later I had my first biological child. Fast forward ten months later, in 2010, I acquired through Children’s Protective Services my three nieces due to neglect and abuse in their immediate family. They are my nephew’s sisters. It was never an option to separate the family. My husband and I did not even blink or consider as to whether we should take up care of these children.
At that time we were living in a two bedroom apartment with a 5 passenger vehicle. Within a month we had to move into a house, get a car that required at least 7 seat belts, put 4 children in private school and everything else that goes with taking care of 3 more children. We did not have any financial support from CPS at the time because they were considered kin.
Three months later I find out I am pregnant with child number two, that makes six. Getting pregnant was not an accident.
October 16, 2011 my second son was born.
On April 25, 2013 my husband and I legally adopted our 3 nieces. Yet, from the moment they came into our custody, we knew they were our children.
EM: What is a typical day like for you from the moment you awake to the moment you lay down for rest?
SX: I wake up between 5 -5:30 a.m. I pray and do guided meditations. I wake up the older three children at 5:30 a.m. While the smaller children are still sleeping, I get on the treadmill in the garage and do about 30 minutes of High Intensity Intervals. From 6:30 a.m. I am ushering the older 3 children out of the house as I dress, feed, and pack lunches for the smaller children. Our 4 year old nephew is dropped off every day at our house, because he attends the same school as my 3 and 5 year old. His mother takes the older 3 children to school where she works. When I was nursing, pumping bottles were in that equation.
I eventually prepare myself for court. I leave the house about 8:15 a.m. I stop by Jamba Juice to get an ounce of wheat grass. I then drop off the children at their school Little God’s Academy. They do not go to a daycare. I then drive five minutes down the street to drop of the baby to the care giver who is also one of the Sisters in the mosque and one of my best friends. She kept both of my biological children from eight weeks old until they enter school at 18 months. I pick up the care givers child at the same time and then drop her off at Little God’s Academy, because it is on the driving path on my way to the courthouse.
I get to court about 9:00 a.m.. I may have anywhere between 3 to 8 cases average per day at the court house. Most dockets are cleared between 9 a.m. and 12:30. After court I leave to run business errands and personal errands. I make it to the care givers house and I would nurse or feed my children. I nursed my first for 15 months and my second child for 11 months.
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I work out with a trainer at 1:45 p.m. I then pick up the children from school. On Mondays I don’t get home until about 7 p.m., because I take the children to the park and piano practice. I am generally at home by 5 p.m.
When I get home I sit for about 30 minutes to decompress from the day. Then I get up and start preparing dinner for the night. The children have their homework and chores. They know exactly what to do by the time they get up and go to bed.
My husband usually comes home from work about 6:30 p.m., but on Wednesday and Friday he picks the oldest boy up from karate practice and is home about 7:45 p.m. I am a member of several community organizations so some days I may be in these meetings until 10 p.m. and my husband or another member of my support system will help me.
So from 6:30 p.m. to about 8:30 p.m. I am being the domestic goddess and preparing for my next day in court. At 8:30 p.m. I am ushering the smaller children to bed. It usually takes them until about 9:15 p.m. to finally be sleep. At that time I prepare myself for bed. I am generally sleep about 10 p.m.
EM: How are you able to be emotionally available for each person in your life especially your husband? What activities do you create for everyone together?
SX: In the mornings I take intentional time to focus on the spiritual aspect of myself which allows me to connect with those around me. I believe in expressing myself and taking the time to let others know how much I appreciate and value them especially my husband and children. In the mornings my husband and I check in with each other. We plan our time together for the week by ourselves and with the children. When I pick the children up from school I check in with them about their day. At home I individually talk to them about what’s going on at school or at home.
We spend much family time together. We make it a point to eat dinner together as a family almost every night. We travel often as a family and vacation at least three times per year.
At least twice a month one of our supporters watch the children so that my husband and I can have date night. At that we check in with each other and discuss where we are at as a family and couple and how to progress. I love those times.
EM: When and how do you spend time with yourself and just yourself? Do you battle feelings of guilt when you want to and decide to spend time alone? How do you overcome that?
SX: I do not battle with any guilt feelings with spending time to myself, because I know it is necessary time so that I can be whole for not only myself but everyone else. My husband is great at freeing me up so I can cater to me. Early mornings are mine. I can pray, meditate and work out. On Saturdays my husband takes over with the children so that I may attend my women’s enrichment class and spend time with the sisters and myself or do absolutely nothing, guilt free.
It took me years to realize that I must invest in myself in order to be able to better serve others with the best possible spirit. When I did not do that I constantly remained tired, irritable and contentious. However, as I have gotten older and more experience as a wife and mother who works outside the home, having alone time has become necessary. Now when I do absolutely nothing for a short period of time, I relish in it. Also, I take vacations with the family, my husband and more importantly, myself.
EM: What advice or tips can you offer to women who feel overwhelmed by motherhood? How can they begin being more efficient?
SX: Teach your children independence. In the beginning it may be frustrating to teach your children new skills, tasks and chores but once they have learned, it frees you up and creates confidence in them.
Organize your life. Take the time to write out a system of organization for every aspect of your life and then stick to it. If it doesn’t work revise it but organize. You do not have to be O.C.D. (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) in your cleaning or household management. Once you have order and organization in your household the children and the husband will follow. They crave that organization. Plus, it helps our minds to function at an optimal level when we are organized.
Plan in advance. Plan your day, plan your dinner, plan your weekends, plan your vacations, plan your couple time, etc. Planning helps build better communication between you and your family, gives a sense of expectancy, frees your time up instead of waiting until the last minute and also helps save money.
Establish a Solid Support System. Connect with others about your life as a wife, mother, etc. We don’t have all the answers by ourselves, but collectively we can solve any problem. The support system will allow you to free your time up to enjoy your husband during those date nights or just someone who will continually encourage you as a parent and wife. That support system can be family or friends. We need each other.
Take time for yourself. Charity starts at home. Schedule, plan or organize time so that you are always in the equation of what you do even if it is to take yourself to the movies. Do something that has nothing to do with anyone but you. Workout, read a book, pray. Feed the spiritual, physical and mental part of yourself.
Gratitude. By acknowledge the blessings, yourself and the people in your life, the heroic job we call mother becomes gratifying every day.
Learn more about Sadiyah X on Twitter @SadiyahX and on Facebook