I know that Allah SWT is the Most forgiving and the Most compassionate and so it is He whom I seek forgiveness for regarding all my faults, however I have to be honest and say that I also ask Allah to have my children forgive me as well. When I first became a mother, I was 18 years old. I had no real knowledge of what it took to really care for another life and so I did what lots of new moms do, and took directions from other women.
With my second child three years later, I became a little more confident but still lacked in looking at my children as individuals and myself as the final expert. Having children (or even one) will not only teach you things about yourself that you never knew before, it will also teach humility. With the five children I have, all five are different Alhamdulliah. Here are a few pointers I wanted to share that might inspire (or remind) us mommies to look <<within>> for directions, and not always out and some unwanted consequences looking "out" might bring
- Babies / Children are NOT status symbols of your value or worth - When I brought my son home from the hospital I felt like I had the coolest toy on earth. I was so naive and thought that this little person would prove how "awesome" a mom I was. Being the most beautifulest baby on earth (as far as I was concerned), I beamed with pride whenever anyone would compliment him - and I enjoyed showing him off. Taking him on walks around the neighborhood even though it made him cranky and he should have been home in a quiet and still environment. But I didn't stop there. Thinking selfishly, that as a baby he should be lead by me, I introduced him to baby food and juices before he was even a month old (resulting in painful constipation,gas and vomiting). I had stopped breast-feeding when my son was 3 weeks because of an epidural attempt that resulted in me suffering with a spinal headache and had me basically bed ridden. Alhamdulillah, I did have a procedure that made the headaches a little more bearable but instead of just enjoying my baby and getting to know him I wanted to get back on my feet, go back to school and work and shoo him off to daycare. I wanted to show the "world" that I could do this.
*What I would have done differently
I would also like to encourage that moms take at least two years off (that's a lot of time, but then don't YOU want to raise your own child?). Again, I lived the other side of the spectrum and I now regret it. No amount of money, no position on a company board, no recognition from dunya would have been more valuable then giving my children a mother that was available, and attentive totally. Alhamdulillah, by the time I had my fourth child, I was forced to be home and prioritize my life around my children.
- We all have different situations, some mothers do have to work, but if there is an opportunity not to (at least cut down) I would definitely encourage it. This might even mean down sizing, or moving in with your parents. Only you know whats in your inventory and what you have to sacrifice. I just encourage that the sacrifice not be the children. It wasn't until I was laid off, that I realized that my oldest in seventh grade at the time was being bullied and showing signs of deep depression. It was this time when I noticed my daughter in about 2nd grade was doing so poorly they wanted to hold her back a grade. While I finally had a chance to slow down and actually examine the lives of my kids, I discovered the wonderful hidden talents in my children I would have not had the time to notice or appreciate before. By the mercy and permission of Allah SWT my second oldest in fourth grade at this time, wanted to try out for basketball when he didn't even know how to play. Today they are all excelling and doing great, Subhan'Allah, but this all because I was forced to put them first, (after Allah SWT) and dunya last.
* What I would have done differently
Take ME out of the equation and sacrificed MYSELF (not them for me and my choices of paths in life). Ask for help / take the help offered. There are so many mothers like me who would have loved to have more family support but every situation is NOT perfect. Appreciate what you have and disregard what you don't. As long as you are not taking advantage and letting others raise your children , the intentions will be clear to your child as they get older In Sha Allah.
Having a baby is just to the beginning - Don't burn yourself out!
You still have a LONG way to go :-)Life is a test and Islam encourages us to remain balanced. Do not burn yourself out with the small things in parenting. Having the perfect "clean" house, pressuring your kids to impress or compete with others, trying to have the calm quiet child *they DON'T exist*. Trust me, if you spend all of your energy nit-picking everything your child does as a toodler/kid, you will be a burnt-out, emptied vessel of no use when they become teens and REALLY need you. Discipline and set boundaries by all means, however, proceed with balance. At the end of the day, we are responsible for raising the ummah of tomorrow, a job not to be approached or considered as mediocre or minor.
(More on this topic soon In Sha Allah). Share your advice and lessons learned in the comments. There are NO perfect Mothers however we can strive everyday to be excellent one to our children.