Whenever I think about my childhood, I remember beautiful memories that my parents helped me build. My dad took us to the beach more times than I can count. We would take our food and go spend the whole day on the beach. Other times we would head out to Bear Mountain and go camping all day long. We would explore the woods, row some boats, and just enjoy each other's company while being in such beautiful and natural settings. Coney Island amusement park was another childhood favorite. We would go on all the rides, then continue going on them until we can barely stand up still. I even remember my late grandfather (الله يرحمه) agreeing to go on the roller coaster with us. He was in for a ride... quite literally.
One memory that really has never left me is when my father took me and my youngest brother on a walk. It was a very long walk. We walked all the way from Brooklyn to Manhattan. We went on the Brooklyn Bridge and watched all the cars below us. We watched the trains go by next to us and people of many backgrounds walking on the bridge. Needless to say, that was an exhausting day. However, it was also one of the most amazing days my brother and I ever had.
Other memories were very simple and subtle. My favorite day of the week was Sunday because my father would bring the Sunday comics home. He would bring me comics all week, but the Sunday comics were much more than just the small daily segments. Other days of the week, he would hand me part of the New York Times or Daily News and I would just sit there on the couch cuddling with him and reading the news.
My mom and I would explore every inch of Brooklyn and Manhattan. We would take bus and train rides to different places and spend the whole day out exploring. We would grab some coffee and run into the crowded NYC train hoping to find a seat. If we can't find a seat, I would hold on to the pole in the middle of the train and wrap my body around my mother. She had a hard time balancing when the train was in motion.
I also have other memories that weren't as fun, but still important. I remember one time I was with my dad while my mother was overseas. He woke me up at 3:00 am letting me know he wasn't feeling well and he has called an ambulance. He told me he would wait for the ambulance outside so that they don't disturb me. I jumped out of bed, got dressed, and ran out the door after him. I was barely awake, but I know my dad and he wouldn't call an ambulance if it wasn't serious. I went with him and stayed until 7:00 am. Then I went home, grabbed my backpack and headed to school.
My parents tried very hard to help us build memories and to constantly be there. My dad worked hard, but he always, always made time for us. Even after I got married and had kids, he would still make time for us. I remember after having my oldest, my dad would randomly ring my bell with food he had brought for me. Whenever he brought food for himself and my mother, he would make sure to get me some as well. He would make some excuse about how they couldn't eat it all and hand it over to me.
Any time spent with family is extremely important. We need to cherish these moments and make more memories. Having a good relationship with your family could mean the difference between happiness and living a life of sadness and misery.
With the Coronavirus crisis requiring that we all quarantine, we have the best chance to build memories. Yes, we can't go out to crowded places and we are pretty much limited to our homes. However, there are so many memories that you can build right inside your home. It's time to get to know your kids and your spouses. Get to know everyone in your household. Play silly games, learn their weaknesses and strengths. Joke with each other, read books together, and enjoy each moment you have together. Read the Quran together, memorize together, learn a new hadith, or each week choose a Prophet and read his story. Read the morning and evening athkar together.
The COVID-19 pandemic will test everyone's patience. I took my kids out to dig for worms in the rain today. It was either that or we all lose our minds inside the house. As they say, desperate times call for desperate measures. Find things to keep yourself and your family entertained. Keep calm so that everyone around you will remain calm.
Think outside of the box and do things you don't normally do. It's okay to be out of routine and out of schedule. This too shall pass. Next week, kids will probably be on some type of e-learning schedule and things will be a little easier to manage. Take it day by day...
What memories are you building with your families?