Author: Klaudia Khan
And in the first weeks following the birth of my daughter I was genuinely disappointed that I just felt the same. Yes, there was a new little person in my life which I was learning to love and new responsibilities, but otherwise I felt just the same. So was it alright? Or maybe something hadn’t ‘clicked’ and I was not really a mother yet?
In the following weeks I learnt that being a mother really brings about a difference, liberates formerly unknown emotions and most importantly, changes your perspective. But then, the transformation that I was undergoing did not really mean becoming the ideal mother-figure that I had constructed in my head based, at least partially, on famous mother-characters from literature such as Dolly in Anna Karenina. Yes, I was very patient for my daughter waking up every fifteen minutes and demanding milk, but I had no more patience for other people, especially not salespersons on the phone and otherwise, receptionists in the surgery who liked to take their time and friends of friends of my mother who stopped me on the way to have a peek in the pram and carried on talking while I knew that the baby will wake up soon and be hungry and I was still fifteen minutes walk from home. I just felt like shouting in their face: ‘Stop wasting my time! I’ve got a baby!’ And all my precious time was for her only!
Second lesson was that the hardest thing about bringing up the baby is not knowing the right thing to do, but rather choosing which right thing to do. My mother’s advice regarding newborns was sometimes exactly opposite of what my mother-in-law recommended and then, there were so many aunties and cousins, all of whom managed to bring up healthy children and could not wait to share their opinions on best methods of mothering. As a young mother I had to learn diplomacy, bearing in mind that everybody wishes my child well. Even though I felt, maybe little boastfully, that I know my child best, I did not want to offend anyone by refusing their guidance. I hoped that with the second child it would be a different story, but nope, it was all over again!
Alhamdulillah my beloved daughters have managed to survive under my care. The older one is now a very sweet and talkative two-year-old. The younger baby, a cheeky ten-month-old girl, is starting to show her character, so much different to her older sister. I observe them both developing their own character, forming their own ideas and opinions, their likes and dislikes. And every day, I feel, motherhood teaches me something new. My two daughters are giving me like lessons for life. I guess you could learn it the other way as well, but being a mother gives you a very close and intimate relationship and this can produce the most meaningful insights.
Even if you don’t understand everything, someone else, who is more experienced that you and who cares for you, does.
My daughter likes to take things slowly in the morning. She likes to bring some toys to bed, lie down and have a cuddle or have a bedtime story retold when she wakes up. And then she does not really like to be hurried up to bathroom, to get dresses and have her hair combed. She cannot sit still at breakfast time. ‘Eat up quickly, because mama is going to work soon.’ She nods, but I’m not sure she fully understands, being distracted by the sight of a squirrel outside the window and she surely does not approve of me leaving. Some days when she gets upset it cost me a lot of effort to get her calmed down before I have to leave and she stays with her father, who works afternoons. ‘Why do you have to go to work? Why cannot I stay in my pyjamas? Why there’s no time for the story now?’ I try to answer this questions asked hundredth time the best I can even though I feel like saying: ‘Because I say so.’ So what if I say so? I know better than her. I am older and more experienced, I understand things she couldn’t comprehend yet and I am her mother. And then this thought strikes me: someone knows better than me. So many times in my life I ask: why is it happening? So often I fail to understand the dynamics of life and get upset, because of my helplessness.
But Allah SWT knows best. He knows what we don’t know and could not comprehend. If I am really older and more experienced than my two-year-old daughter then I should know that everything in this life happens for a reason and everything that Allah gives us or makes happen to us is good. Some things are clear blessings, others are tests meant to strengthen our faith and perfect our character. AsProphet Mohammad (PBUH) said: “The matter of the believer is amazing. All of his matters in his life are good, and this is only applicable to the believer. If a calamity befalls him, he is patient, and this is a good thing for him. If he receives a bounty, he thanks Allah, and this is a good thing for him.” (Authentic Hadith, Narrated by Muslim, 2999). My daughter may not like morning hustle and bustle, but because she loves me and trusts me, she can get persuaded to do things on time. So I understood that with the same trust that the children have for their parents, I should trust Allah and believe that whatever he has decreed for me is for my own goodness and it is only up to me to accept it and benefit from it or otherwise fuss and make myself unhappy. Alhamdulillah for everyday blessings that I fail to notice and for those blessings obvious to my eyes, such as healthy children and loving family!
The time is… or isn’t?
One thing all mothers learn is the value of time. With two toddlers I am constantly busy: cooking, feeding, washing, dressing, changing nappies, playing, putting to sleep, cleaning… When my two girls finally get to sleep in the evenings, and after I finish cleaning the kitchen and do all the other houseworks, that I haven’t managed in the daytime, I finally get some time for myself. I know it’ll be only an hour or so before I get drowsy, so I have to choose carefully what to do. There is a pile of some interesting books to read and there is this lecture recommended by a friend, there are some emails that need answering and it’s tempting to have a peek at facebook. So many things to do and so little time!
The famous hadith comes to my mind that “Health and free time are two great blessings the benefits of which most people are deceived about.” (Bukhari, 76:421) I still remember the time, before I got married and had children, when it seemed to me that there was plenty of time for everything. Indeed, I was doing things to “kill time”: watching silly TV programs, playing solitaire on computer or reading unworthy books and magazines. Now as I realized what a great blessing it is to choose what to do with my time I want to make sure I spend every minute wisely. So to get these few hours of ‘free time’ I try to get over with my chores as quickly as possible. I cook dinner early so that we can eat on time and I can get girls ready for bed before they get too sleepy and start fussing. I make them hurry up with the toothbrush and changing into pyjamas. And when everything’s done, both are sleeping peacefully and I can at last ‘do my things’ I start regretting that I did not read the longer story to my daughter and that I did not let them play few minutes longer in the bath. I got so much anxious about the time, or lack of it, that instead of enjoying the time spent with my children, I rather made it a duty, a set of tasks to be dealt with. I see my mother playing with my children and I envy her: she does not worry if it’s their dinner-time or sleeping-time or milk-time, for her it’s always ‘love-time’. She does not get to see her grandchildren that often and she does not bear the responsibility to discipline them, so she can truly enjoy every minute they spend together. Why I can’t do this? Why am I thinking all the time what do we have to do next? Why cannot I just relax and play with my children? The time I give them will make a better gift and will make them happier than any toy. Children are the blessing from Allah SWT and time is another blessing, so the two blessings combined should give me double happiness. Yes, I still remember that it’s not all play and I am the one responsible for discipline, but… The time passes so quickly, my children grow up and change so fast. I shall enjoy the time with them while I can. I’ll leave the dishes unwashed tonight and cuddle my daughters to sleep. But first we’ll enjoy some nice story with all the questions the elder one may come up to that would distract me from the plot. We’ll play peek-a-boo under the duvet with the little one and maybe even have a snack in bed. And this will be the time wisely invested. It would bring the profit of smiles and happiness and long-term return in happy memories. InshAllah.
Showing your best side…
My daughter is Mash’Allah a quick learner. She remembers new rhymes and stories in a flash. She is also a very shy child. Which means that there is no chance of my displaying to others how smart she is, because whenever I would ask her to show what she has learnt she would just pass a weak smile and hide behind my back. So it’s only me – her mother, her father and her little sister who really have a chance to appreciate her. Only we know her fully and only we can ‘read her’ while others see just the cover. My daughter is displaying the beauty of her mind only to her close family and really there is nothing wrong with that. This is her closest world and she gets appreciation there, we don’t need her to be applauded by anyone she meets. And that makes me think: how much do we really get to see of other people? What ‘cover’ do they put and can we really get past the habit of ‘judging the books by the cover’? People may appear good or bad to us and we are ready to determine it in these clear terms very quickly. But we only see them in certain social settings. A person may be, let’s say, a really bad boss, but a great mother/father and wife/husband. We see only one role they play, only a slice of their lives. It could work the other way too. We might meet a sister who is a very attentive and caring mother, but we don’t know that she is so engrossed in playing this one of her roles perfectly, that she disregards her other duties. Still it is better to always look at the bright side. As a famous scholar in Islam Hamdun Al-Qassar once said: ‘If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves.’ I tried. Well, I didn’t really look for seventy excuses, but I tried to find a few. I even applied it to random people that I’ve just seen on the street. It certainly makes me happier to see the people in better light. It almost feels as if the world has become a bit better place, just because I try to see it as a better place. Alhamdulillah for that.
….Where Practice Makes Perfect
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