When I woke up I knew it was going to be one of those days. I felt unsettled. On edge. In fact I’d been struggling with these feelings for a few days. I was feeling that constant niggling frustration that comes from being a stay-at-home mum, by dealing with two highly illogical mini-humans with strong opinions about everything, and a house that was ALWAYS ALWAYS messy and the cycle of cleaning, cooking, and trying to do things separate from the children to supposedly be a constructive member of society, but at the end of it all, feeling like everything was half-done. Half-baked. Nothing really achieved.
It was a Wednesday, and my eldest has swimming at 9:45 am, at a swim-school around 20 minutes away from home. Trying to get two kids under 4 out of the house by at least 9:15am is no easy task.
On top of that, there were still the remnants of the destruction wreaked on the house by the kids from the day before. Plus dinner dishes not done because well, life.
So I dragged myself out of bed, the kids in tow and proceeded to get them dressed, fight about whether it was “dress day” or “pants day” ( a rule I instituted with my eldest- let’s call her J- because, left to her, she’d wear dresses every. Single. Day), wrestle my 18month old- let’s call her Z- out of her nappy into a new one, and out of her pyjamas into clothes and so on and so forth.
I quickly settled the kids onto the table with some breakfast of Weetbix with blueberries, honey water and nuts, while I frantically tried to restore some semblance of cleanliness to my house. Of course what ended up happening was that breakfast was abandoned by the kids for a staring/giggling competition.
This happens A LOT. And most days, I can cope. I can come up with some creative way to get the breakfast into them. Such as read a book, or sing a song, or do handstands or whatever. You know, anything that works.
Today, I was at the end of my rope. I started stern, threatening them with the ‘thinking chair’ (more on this another day) and I ended with yelling and table banging, which just left my palms stinging in pain.
By 8:30 I was sitting on the couch crying into the phone to my husband about how “I JUST CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!” with my kids hanging uncertainly around me, wondering why mum was acting so strange.
Somehow we made it to swimming on time. And Z sat in the pram for the whole lesson (she never sits in the pram. In fact she hates sitting in general. She’s more of a walker/adventurer/curiouser and curiouser) eating breadstick after breadstick.
After the lesson I just couldn’t bear to go home, so we went to a park down the road.
When we got to the playground the girls went straight for the swings. As I pushed them, an older man strolled over with his granddaughter and sat her in the remaining swing. After a minute or so he looked up at me and said,
“Assalamu Alaikum! How are you?”
I was surprised of course, because I didn’t know that he was Muslim. I wear a hijab so, yeh, it’s obvious that I’m one.
“I’m good. How are you?” I responded. I wasn’t really in the mood for talking.
“Alhamdulillah!” was his cheery response.
Out of politeness and respect for his seniority, I asked about how many grandchildren he had.
Not only did he answer my simple question, but with sincere concern in his voice, he went onto share with me his worries about raising children in this day and age, the prevalence of mothers who went back to work so soon after having children, the lack of connection to a community or to each other, the isolated state that everyone was living in, and also lamenting the state of our hearts in relation to its connectedness (or lack thereof) to Allah (swt) and Islam.
I simply listened.
I observed his remarkably white hair and neatly trimmed beard.
I watched his gestures, and looked at his beautiful granddaughter observing me with shy curiosity.
When talking about his grandchildren, he said, “mothers should look after and care for their children. Their husbands should provide everything for them.”
Indeed. I myself struggle with being a stay-at-home mother or the need to go out and “contribute to society”, which is, you know, more of an achievement than raising children.
At one point, he put his hand over his heart and he said emphatically,
“I love Allah swt. I love learning about Islam and spirituality. We must all try our best to do good to others.”
He then made a series of duas (prayers) for me and my children, and left.
I turned to my children, overwhelmed. When I turned back to see where he’d gone, they’d disappeared.
I literally sank to the ground and cried.
In the middle of a playground that was suddenly empty.
It was so simple. Things that we had been taught over and over again.
But on that day, in that moment, it was exactly what I needed to hear. And I was crying because I knew that Allah swt had just given me what I needed most.
A reminder. A reminder that:
- Your role as a mother is the most important role that you can fulfil. You shouldn’t feel guilty about not doing more, or contributing more, or running a business on the side (which are all great things to do IF you can manage it with two young kids). That your responsibility to your children trumps EVERYTHING else. That through your struggle to raise righteous children, your reward lies with Allah swt.
- STOP overthinking! Keep it simple! And all it really takes, is to learn. To gain knowledge.
- Love with your heart. To start with the heart. The heart of all things, all actions, all endeavours, all successes and all paths.
I walked away from that park less burdened by the anxieties that plagued me just a few short hours ago.
I acknowledged that yes, it was damn difficult to be on the merry-go-round that is being a stay-at-home mum, but also to be thankful for being entrusted with two beings of sheer purity and light. For being entrusted with the responsibility to aid in moulding them, in nurturing them and in teaching them to know and love their Creator.