Have you heard the one about the convert who accepted a recited surah for her marriage? Or a promise of hajj or a complete set of Sahih Bukhari? If you know me, then you know how disinclined I am to make generalizations, however in this instance it is only converts to Islam who I know waive decent mahrs or accept token 14k gold sets from Macy’s or maybe a Ben Franklin (100 US dollars) as their complete mahr. Here is where I will caveat that this post is about me, me, me- another reflection for the #motherhoodproject, so while he is entangled in my mothering mess- this is not meant to be a reflection on my husband.
I was one of those converts. I got a Gucci watch and a 15-speed bicycle for my mahr. My teen now rides that bike and my tween is coveting the watch. Back then, I (haughtily) didn’t even wear gold, so silver didn’t make much sense for a wedding gift anyway, but then a strange thing happened on the way from the marriage negotiations to the onset of motherhood less than a year later- NO jewelry was bought by or for me. None. This is especially odd considering I worked in a boutique that sold lovely handmade/designer jewelry. And I did use to wear jewelry all the time. I’m sure I had no less than four earrings in my head when I met my husband. So what happened?
I don’t know. I can’t go back and ask my newlywed self, though I suspect she expected her new husband to buy her shiny things (and he likely assumed she would get her own since she was so picky and did work in that boutique). And then while she had picked up some new, more feminine clothes, after being married, she also almost immediately began buying maternity clothes and then ridiculously adorable things for her first born. Of course not only did my mommy-martyr gene activate during pregnancy, but honestly, mobile babies and delicate jewelry are a bad mix. I have had earrings snatched from my lobes and necklaces ripped off my neck by the teeniest of hands. And I couldn’t even find a groove to regularly wear bracelets: get dressed, put on bracelet, take off bracelet to make wudu for thuhr, get distracted by toddler attempting to climb on toilet or crying at the bathroom door and forget bracelet… I hear this giving up adornment is a common mommy problem.
But then again, I know other Muslimah moms (not converts) who I visited after they gave birth and several where decked out in sparkly and shimmer- some newly gifted to them for having said baby. Again, I can imagine my husband offering me a bit of jewelry after one, two or three births, but I can also see myself waving off the suggestion, “No, no. The baby needs a dresser. And a carseat. And…” Or a jogging stroller, which I have had a few worth the cost of some decent jewelry and would have preferred anyway to something sitting untouched in my non-existent jewelry box.
And then, finally, I recall an offer! I stopped working when my third child was barely a toddler and my husband took up extra work selling Indian-style silver jewelry at a weekend summer market. He was going to get me a little something, he said. I was long overdue, and this was just my kind of thing, so I eagerly waited. And waited. And then I got tired of waiting and decided to get myself something, like I used to do.
Somehow, while searching through Ebay, I found myself staggering the isles of “loose beads” and instantly in LOVE with a strand of faceted Chalcedony briolettes in a daydreamy shade of fairest sky blue. Not only had I not made any jewelry in several years, I also had no idea what one did with a briolette and I didn’t even like blue. Still, 3-5 days later I sent a child out to my roadside mailbox to retrieve my new, not-quite jewelry.
Then the weirdness got weirder. By the end of the summer I had set up a little studio for myself, mastered basic wire-wrapping techniques (I had made jewelry when I was younger), and read through dozens and dozens of resources about how to sell on Ebay- and I was selling- but still, I had zero new jewelry! Of course the husband didn’t bother to bring anything home after I filled the house with strands and strands of precious and semi-precious gemstones, and I was making fabulous one-of-a-kind things, but I didn’t keep any for me. Nothing!
This I blame on some kind of warped sense of humbled aesthesis mis-based in Islam. Have you heard the one about the ungrateful women who were shamed and tore their jewelry from their bodies, throwing it all into a collection for charity? Even with all the contradictory advices to beautify, beautify, beautify one’s self for one’s husband, I just could not bring myself to be one of those greedy, wasteful women who lavishes upon herself.
When I put my Ebay shop on vacation mode so that I could pack up my beads and relocate to Morocco, finally I allowed myself to keep a few things from my stock. Just a few, and still I rarely wore them since I have had a sparkle-snatching infant or toddler in my position for the last 15.5 years. I do find it… interesting that while I hadn’t been acquiring and wearing much adornment over the years I still found a way to be close to all the pretty, pretty things. And did, in some sense, manage to build up a wealth worth of gold and silver, but on a very practical level- something I blame on my culture of ingenuity and productiveness.
Recently while preparing to reopen my shop, which I had moved to Etsy soon after our move to Morocco, but then took another vacation after the birth of baby #6… I came across some large, angular silver pieces in my stock that I realized I had really been hoarding, why else hadn’t I used them in the nearly ten years that I have had them? Because I wanted them! So I made myself a not-so-little something. And I wore it! Sometimes it ends up in my pocket after wudu sessions, but this latest toddler is a master pick-pocket and she often pulls it back out for me.
While I post pics of works-in-progess and drool-inducing beads on my facebook page, I have heard from a few moms who similarly eschewed the sparkle, perhaps for practical reasons, perhaps as another inherent aspect of mommy-martyrdom. All are converts. So I’m curious Mamas, how is does your jewelry collection grow? Or does it not?
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