This is a guest post by Ponn Sabra.
Guest posting on MomsLA is a very exciting opportunity, because it serves as my public announcement to blogosphere that I’m officially a “Mom in LA”. Having traveled cross-country from Connecticut to California, all I can say is “WOW, what a difference!”
Born and raised in CT, my parents always reinforced our uniqueness for being a minority. Being an Asian, suspicious stares was normal after the Vietnam War. Now, as a Muslim mom who wears loose black dresses from head to toe; I attract even more stares and snares. However, this is just common life in the U.S…at least for me.
My girls and extended family have come accustomed to my “kill ‘em with kindness” genuine smile back, or even a hearty wave. (Of course, not when someone screams obscenities.)
While much of my family argues my insanity, I have always grinned back saying that I will not change for anyone; and that 99% of time, good has resulted from my open friendliness.
Well, in less than a week of being an LA-Mom, I have to share–I’m simply amazed!
There’s no comparison to the harsh-cold-winters and sour faces of the Northeast to the sunny-friendly environment and people of the Southwest. I’m simply awestruck by how incredibly welcoming Californians have been, even though I’m fully covered in black during this hot summer month.
We homeschool our girls and travel extensively throughout the country and world. It causes our family to develop many unique experiences and relationships. I’ll never forget going to Florida in July with 110-degree weather–The looks, finger-points, and cruel questioning or comments. Yes, there were a couple of curious inquirers, but I was in for a shock the very first day we arrived to California.
At the self-checkout lane the first encounter was a single suit asking my girls and I, “Are you prepared for Ramadan?…” Shocked in silence, we turned our heads, only to hear him ask, “Isn’t it like a month away?”. The girls proudly replied back, and he left saying “May your prayers be accepted.”
Then, the girls were having some problems with the self-checkout. So, I rushed to “blame” myself for the problem so I don’t have to deal with a cashier huff and puff their way to us with their “aww–another mom teaching her kids responsibilities…do it at home” attitude. The cashier was calm, unrushed, smiling, helpful and unusually friendly to the girls.
The experiences didn’t stop there.
The very next day at another grocery store, a worker strolling the aisles genuinely asked if we needed help. We obviously couldn’t find the items on my list. So, I replied, and again met an unrushed worker leading our way. He even offered to get an application for their loyalty card and caught up to us at another aisle. He decided to enter into friendly conversations about where we came from, and that I must be terribly hot in black during the summer.
Accustomed to answering this question, I had my girls answer for me:
“No. My mom is actually cooler than others in bathing suits for 3 reasons:
- With a light loose dress, air is circulated more. So, she has her own air conditioning system.
- Since she completely covered from head to toe, direct sunlight is not touching her skin. So, she’s cooler and not sweating as much…and, has less of a chance of getting skin cancer.
- She’s not exposed to indirect sunlight; as if she has her own shade.”
Whenever we share these three facts, the inquirer always asks “Really!?” or chuckles “Are you for real!?”
“Yes. Yes, we are.”
At checkout, we met equally helpful, friendly, kind, happy, unrushed cashiers and baggers.
The worker even showed up, and said “Thanks for the tip. I think I’m going to have to try that.”
Shocked by his response as we were walking out, I was only able to share with my girls “I think he means wearing black from head to toe…not the dress part.” “Maaa….” the girls huffed. “Hey, we’re in Hollywood…you never know.” “Maaa…”
Anyways, it has only been a week so far, and the kind-curious-questions, and smiles continue as we explore dozens of stores and markets.
As I continue to share stories with Daddy back in CT, and/or my not-so-easily-convinced hubby; they rebut with things like “It’s all the glam…Hollywood…make-believe actors and actresses…it’s ALL fake!”
So, Be It–If it’s fake–it’s making my life easier, smoother, and more pleasant.
However, Be It Real – Alhumdulilah! (“Praise be to God” in Arabic).
Now, there’s definitely one sour-note to share about LA: It’s that road-rage is not illegal. Given the bad driving and awful traffic, and maybe the forceful fake pleasantries shared above; I’ve always known that swearing is an outlet for anger. So, I’m sorta okay with it.
I’m just counting my blessings and know that when I’m yelled at; it’s because of my driving, and NOT because I’m a Muslim mom.
Ponn is a devout Muslim, wife and homeschool mom of 3 girls. After her first was born, she left her high-profile government appointment to travel the country and world. Twelve years later, Ponn and her hubby are trying to settle down in LA. A best-selling author and internet marketer, Ponn founded American Muslim Mom - the 1st and #1 ranked online blog network for Muslim Mom in the world. Ponn shares her love for online entrepreneuralship with her kidpreneurs, as they share their experiences and tips at Kid Bloggers Club.