One morning I woke up, opened the fridge and it was basically empty. After two week of viruses and chaos, we had finally come out the other side, Alhamdullilah. My house on the other hand, looked like it had been raided; piled up laundry yet to be put away, buckets and garbage bags available at all exits in case of an outburst of bodily fluid, a queue of laundry to be done piling up through the kitchen. It was ridiculous. But I was exhausted and honestly I didn’t care. It was the first time either one of my daughters had been hit with a virus and I braved that storm of vomit and loose bowels solo and I felt like a casualty. So when I opened the fridge that morning, exhausted and looking at the state of my house, all I remember thinking was ‘is it too early for pizza delivery?’ I asked my three year old, hoping she would spark some ideas, as to what I was going to feed her. She said, ‘I want chicken nuggets and tomato sauce’. I opened the freezer and boom, there were chicken nuggets. So my daughters and myself, had chicken nuggets for breakfast. After spending the greater part of the day juggling making the house livable again and entertaining the girls, our dinner were some oh so nutritious bowls of cereal.
Why am I sharing this? There are plenty of mothers probably shaking their heads in disapproval at my excellent mothering ability. But, like I said before I honestly don’t care, Alhamdullilah. I am sharing this for the mothers, who struggle day in and out (like the rest of us), but they care. The judgement, opinions, comparisons, insensitive remarks, they care about all those things and it wears them down. Motherhood is HARD. It is a constant night shift on a non-rotating roster, an ever repeating spill on every single aisle ever created, an hourly UN peacekeeping mission between the siblings and a 24/7 surveillance of the way too accessible food supply (if you have an easily opening fridge I know you feel me on this one). It becomes so much harder when you lose your number one ally, either to death or by abandonment or simply because he’s a crappy ally and more of a sperm donor who provides financial support (unfortunately those men exist). May Allah SWT help us all and give us all sabr. I don’t understand how some women so easily judge and look down on the efforts of other mothers, may Allah SWT soften their hearts. We can’t change other people and we can change their opinions, we can only change ourselves and our reactions.
A few years back I too used to concern myself with the opinions that people had of me, that was until I received some advice that changed my life and that advice was through the story of Luqman, his son and their donkey.
A lesson from Luqman the Wise
“Many, many years ago there lived a man called Luqman. He was not a Prophet. But he was very wise. He was an African who was caught as a slave and sold in another country.
Luqman was so wise and respected that a Surah in the Qur’an also is called by his name (Chapter 31). He gave good advice to his children. His advice is equally good for all the children of the world even today.
Once Luqman said to his son, “Oh son! Do not tie your heart in seeking the pleasure of people. You are not likely to succeed. Do not pay attention to what people say. Instead tell yourself always to seek the pleasure of God.”
Luqman wanted this lesson to be always remembered. Never to be forgotten. He thought of a way. He then told his son to ride a donkey. The son obeyed. The father followed behind on foot. They travelled in this way for some distance. After some distance they came across a group of people. Seeing the son on the donkey, one of them said, “What an impolite and bad boy. The old father is walking on foot. The young son is comfortably riding on the donkey. This is no manner to show respect to one’s father”.
Father and son heard this. The son came down from the donkey. Luqman rode on the animal. After sometime they came across another group of people. On seeing the father riding the donkey, the elder of the group said, “Oh you old man! This is not the way to bring up a son. You make him walk in the hot sun, while you sit comfortably on the donkey.”
Luqman paid attention to what the people said. He came down from the donkey. Both father and son walked on foot. The donkey walked in front. They went a little further. People seeing them, said, “How foolish you are? You walk behind a donkey. Why don’t you ride it?”
Luqman and his son once again accepted what the people said. They both rode the donkey and went further. They came across a river. There was a bridge to be crossed. Some people were sitting there. They saw Luqman and his son riding the donkey. One of them said, “It is very unkind and cruel of you two to ride on the poor donkey. The little animal can hardly take all your burden.”
So taking this advice Luqman and his son dismounted from the donkey. They travelled a little distance further. Looking very lovingly Luqman said to his son, “You have heard and seen what the people said. It must have assured you, by now, that whatever you do or whichever way you move, one is not able to please the people of the world.” He pointed at the flowing river and added,
“A person can build a wall across the river. It will stop the flow of the water. But it is not possible to shut the mouth of the people from criticism.””
You can never shut the mouth of people from criticism, if it isn’t that you are too tough on your children, it’s that you are too soft or you give them too much attention or they’re in childcare too much or you control their food too much or they’re a bit chubby, etc. Everything you do, especially as a mother, someone is a critic. And then even more so as a single mother because for some reason without the advocacy of your husband people generally second guess your authority as a parent.
So if you find people’s opinions are cracking through your armor, you beautiful women of strength, here are some reminders, insha’Allah they help you through.
- One of the purest intentions is that of a mother for their child. Remember who you are raising them for, to please Allah SWT. He is the Most Merciful and He sees your struggle and your effort. He is the ultimate judge, His judgement is always just and your reward and recognition is truly with Him.
- There is a time to bite your tongue and patiently endure but there is also a time to speak up, ‘I value your opinion but I would value it even more if your didn’t share it’. JOKES!!! As much as you probably want to say that, it may just create more struggle for you. Perhaps the person who is giving you the constant advice and criticism doesn’t know your struggle. Try, ‘I am doing the best that I can, please make du’a that Allah SWT makes it easy for me’.
- Every. Mother. Struggles. Her house does not look like that on a regular basis, it’s just because guests are over. Every meal for her toddler is not like her Instagram pictures, it was probably a 1 in 10 successful attempt at feeding her toddler. Her disciplining tactics are usually not that smooth, but people were around. You, myself and every other mother struggles. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled by people’s facade of perfection.
- Islam is the most important teaching for our children. Who cares if your child doesn’t know how to blow their nose in a tissue, they said ‘Alhamdullilah’ when they sneezed. Big deal if they’re not on some super productive routine, they follow you around when they hear the adhan and its time to pray. So what if they ate chicken nuggets for breakfast and cereal for dinner, they remembered to say ‘Bismillah’ and they ate with their right hand 😉
May Allah SWT purify our intentions and guide us to raise children who submit entirely to Him. May He give us sabr and make this patience a means for our entering into the gardens of paradise. May He put mercy in our hearts towards other mothers just as we would want our own children and the Most Merciful to show mercy to us.
Umm Summi xx
I would love to hear from you insha’Allah!! Let me know your experiences, thoughts and feedback.
Image credit: http://fanon.wikia.com/wiki/File:Messy_Kitchen.jpg