One Voice: Tayyaba Syed

One Voice: Tayyaba Syed

It is never too early to instill in my kids these types of family values, which are a huge part of my religion.

Tayyaba Syed
Glendale Heights, IL
United States

When I am driving, I tend to jumble all the noises in the car as one big mixture of sound. It is almost music to my ears. There is someone talking non-stop, another snoring, one crying and one screaming for no apparent reason. Since I can not keep everyone at peace, I just let them be and focus on the road instead. This is a typical afternoon for me. It may seem as if I am talking about a car full of rowdy, uncontrollable children. However, only two of them are my kids; the other two are my parents.

I am proud to say that I am part of a “sandwich” generation. I am taking care of my kids and parents at the same time. I have a preschooler and a toddler, and my retired parents are in their mid to late sixties. My father has been quite sick for some time now, and my mother needs a good amount of help taking care of him. She has plenty of health issues herself. They live on their own about a half hour south of me. I am there almost every other day running errands for them, taking them on outings, helping them around the house, and just giving them company. My kids are with me the whole time. I do not mind it at all. I consider myself truly blessed. I have been given the opportunity to take care of my parents after all they have done for me. In my faith, parents are highly regarded; we have to honor and respect them unreservedly and treat them with utter kindness.

It can be hard sometimes to balance my time and energy between my kids and my parents. My mom tries to help me out with my kids as much as she can, but most of her time goes to assisting my dad. He needs help showering, getting dressed, walking, and doing simple tasks. Plus, the man absolutely loves food, so she is constantly cooking for him throughout the day. Unfortunately, I can not be much help in that department, because he only prefers my mom’s cooking. Nevertheless, it is this exact selflessness of my mother’s that inspires me to do more for them.

My kids have definitely gotten used to this lifestyle. They enjoy spending time with their grandparents, and they learn so much from them. In the same way, being around the kids keeps my parents content, energized, and distracted from their health issues. For example, my dad can not run around with the kids, so instead he tells stories to them, loves to tickle them, and plays simple games with them. Their favorite game is when he asks for a hug, he pretends to trap them, so the kids have to find a way out of the hug. Another example is if my daughter complains of her legs hurting due to restless leg syndrome, my mom forgets all about her arthritis and massages her granddaughter’s legs for her.

These types of moments are what give me purpose in my daily life. I can honestly say though that I did not learn to value my parents until I became a parent myself. I hope one day my kids will be able to take care of me in my old age as well. They will only learn that by example. It is never too early to instill in my kids these types of family values, which are a huge part of my religion. It is one of the things I find so beautiful about Islam. Trying to be a good person, keeping good relations, and treating people with kindness is what being a Muslim means to me.

About the Project

"The Muslim world" is a phrase that lumps together a complex and diverse group of people and cultures, but one that rarely humanizes the personal and cultural expressions of Muslim identity. On Being’s First Person initiative is an attempt to better understand adherents of the faith by asking each individual to share his or her perspective of what it means to be a Muslim living in the 21st century.