Can waking up early be a genetic trait? It would make sense. Before you guys were born Baba and I would often be out fishing at 6am and it’s been few and far between the mornings you’ve both slept past 8. However unlike in my pre-mummy days, when hours were set by me and indulgent naps could fill the afternoon, you two rarely napped and the early morning air served as survival for 5am starts.
Before we moved to Iznik, the coast of the Bosphorus or the mid-city haven of green we found were our stomping grounds well before the rest of the city had started its’ day. Living here, we’d stroll into the town to pick up bread from the firin, meandering the country-road and picking our ‘goz haki’ tastes from fruit trees along the way. We’d say good morning to street cats and pet the sheep grazing under the remains of the ancient town walls. Sipping from the coffee cup cradled in the roof of your pram, I’d savour the cool dampness before the humidity rose. 6000+ steps racked up before breakfast, fresh bread on the table and all sleepiness shaken off. Now that our quiet country roads are the temporary through-roads to Bursa, we’ve been heading to the nearby park instead, taking books to read on the basketball court and diggers to explore the soil, letting the morning and coffee soak into us slowly. By 10am, you’ve run off your morning energy, Mummy’s caffeinated and you’re calm and ready to work. Currently our mornings are a lot slower paced as Ramadan, high summer and a distinct lack of coffee gives life a rather different time scale. Mornings are leisurely pyjama-clad ones and nights like the day. We swap lessons after breakfast for lessons after lunch, and later on when the heat’s died down, we’ll pop to the park or lake; essentially having flipped our days upside down.
Having felt like much of the past few years has been spent in a sleep-deprived fog, I’m surprised by how well my body copes on 6 hours sleep when it’s me that is setting the times! Ramadan days form an almost pre-defined schedule so that every time we’re awake, it’s with a purpose and nights hum to a different tempo. The stickiness of the weather makes sleep scarce even without waking for sahur, so we’ve mostly given up, swapping night sleep for afternoon naps and lazy mornings. And you know what? We’re all almost happier for it. There’s a sense of peacefulness in our home right now that’s tangible. The pressure I felt to have us on a routine has melted away, and yet, without the routine, we’re as productive as we were. Navigating Ramadan with you two has always been one of my biggest challenges, though not for the reason you’d think. Yes, there are days when my energy levels are depleted within hours of waking and curbing the ‘hangry’ is a test, but mostly my body handles fasting well. No, the test has always been how I wanted Ramadan to feel for you now and as you grow. I desperately want you to see this month as a blessing of bounties not a trial of deprivation, and I know that for you to feel that, the memories you forge now will shape your feelings growing up.
Last year in the UK it felt like an uphill battle. Everything in our lives was up in the air, I was unable to fast for medical reasons, there were few Muslims around us and little comprehension that the month was significant. We plodded on with our Good Deed jar, and our faith focused crafts, but there felt like something missing from the month. Perhaps it was just that you were younger, or I was struggling to find my feet as a British Muslim still, but the change from last year to this feels monumental. This year our 3am pre-fast meals are filled with your songs and questions, and your enthusiasm to join is joyful. You scramble to be the one to open the envelope on that days’ calendar. Inside each envelope is a word pulled from a passage of the Quran that we explore as a family and it’s changed your connection with our faith. The simplicity you now see in the logic of the Book spills over to our everyday life. Word association games – one of your current favourite things – are often answered with the confidence of faith and you reference Quran stories in relation to our lives. It’s not that we have a stronger community here, nor is that we’re actively involved in a mosque, it’s more that our identity here revolves around our home; we create the normal, and the normal is this. For that, if nothing else, I am truly, truly, grateful that we were forced ‘home’ to Turkey.
As I type this, we’re in the home-stretch of Ramadan; the blessed ten days has arrived. Our hearts are full of hope and the past few weeks have lifted our spirits to look forward again, begin writing plans for our future. For all I worry about our national identities, I’m so thankful we are first and last Muslim, even if that does add an extra layer of confusion, but mostly I’m grateful and proud of us all for this quirky Turklish family we’re forming.