(Current background on all my devices courtesy of Knit picks with slight modification by me)
So I finally met my deadline. Yay I got my two thousand word essay submitted on time, just barely.
When coming up to a deadline does anyone else feel the pressure building and building and building… no one? Just me? *flops down with a dramatic sigh*
In a way I think I normally thrive on that pressure. The tension builds up, and I bolster myself by looking forward to that feeling of relief and joy that I usually get as soon as the essay has been submitted. However today that feeling was nowhere to be found, I submitted my paper in turnitin and I just felt like okay. That’s good. You got it done… okay.
Things just rang a bit hollow. You know? I talked myself into doing a little happy dance, just because one of my commitments to myself is to celebrate milestones along the way.
I’m wondering if the recent chapter in my life’s story book beginning its conclusion overshadowed my joy. Im not sure because in terms of that I feel very much at peace and have a deep sense of clarity and acceptance.
Maybe I pushed myself too hard towards the end and my brain just needs a reset. That happens quite often. I mean as much effort as I put into the planning, and as much as that made theessay writing easier, I did still end up writing up about one thousand eight hundred of those words between the hours of 1pm and 3:52 pm this afternoon. That’s pretty radical when i think about it.
Hmm, okay I’ve got it now. Writing is such an illuminating process. My conclusion and introduction were both very rushed, and I have a sense that they may bring my grade down, however a late submission would mean an automatic 5% deduction of my mark. So I chose to submit on time. My takeaway? Even if you have a great planning strategy, you still need to factor in time to write, proofread, and submit your essay.
Ah it’s good to have gotten a handle on my internal thouggt process through writing this. .
All day I just noticed myself being a bit slower, slightly more thoughtful, so very aware of my need in front of my Rabb, and grateful for the small things. Whilst these are all good things not being able to put my finger on why was sloghtly agitating.
Now I can happily get bavk to be grateful for things like taking my kids to nursery and not needing to lug the buggy up and down three flights of stairs, my youngest bubba is getting to be a big boy 😭😭Alhamdulillah
Fine words weave
P.s. another commitment to myself is to get some writing on this blog once a week. At the very least.
I set off on a voyage a long time ago, and now my ship has reached the seas of Ramadan. The moon has been sighted, Taraweeh prayers have begun, and my heart-sails have been unfurled and now fill with the winds of joy and anticipation at the powerful potential this beautiful month has for lasting change, growth, and evolution.
This year I enrolled in the Evolve during Ramadan workshop by LaYinka Sanni. The four week course was a dock of sorts, where I pulled my ship in, and underwent necessary repairs to ensure my ship was “sea-worthy” in the lead up to this beautiful month.
Repairing the hull, reflecting, and learning
Pulling into port and undergoing ship repair looked like; reflecting on myself, who I am as a person, learning about how past challenges or “failures” are actually opportunities to learn something, opportunities to identify where I am, where I’m going, and where I want to be; Opportunities to re-chart the course of my journey, and realise that I do not simply need to retrace the route of Ramadan voyages past. I can set a new course, explore new facets of myself, and ultimately exit this Ramadan (body of water) having attained taqwah.
I wanted to share a gift with you, something I discovered during my time spent in port.(I’m having too much fun with these nautical metaphors :D)
This will be the fourth Ramadan running where I am not fasting. This year I am at peace with that. Not only am I at peace with it, but I am also incredibly grateful for it. I want to share my journey to this place, in the hopes that those reading this who are setting sail on a similar journey can develop this feeling and be buoyed up by it. Becalmed & Unsettled
The winds still, and the waters silence, dark clouds gather rapidly on the horizon, threatening a storm of catastrophic proportion. And the little ship sits uncertainly in the sea, the water’s current suddenly nowhere to be seen, and any way to avoid the gathering storm a distant dream.
This is exactly how I felt during the last three Ramadans.
The first Ramadan that I wasn’t able to fast, I was mid way through pregnancy and battling Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I could not keep down water at all, and not much food either, I had been in and out of hospital due to dehydration, I’d lost over 10 per cent of my body weight, and now weighed less at 20 weeks pregnant than I had before getting pre-pregnant; Physically very weak, and unable to stand in salah (prayer) I was struggling with the realisation that fasting was not an option for me.
I cried a lot, saddened because, I felt like I was disappointing Allah, and letting myself down. I knew that not fasting Ramadan was a concession for those who were unable, but I wanted to fast.
So much of my Ramadan experience was tied to fasting, going to iftaars breaking the fast collectively. Spending time at the mosque, that first sweet sip of water or bite of a date after 14 hours of fasting, the spiritual heights of spending hours suppressing hunger in an effort to seek my Creator’s pleasure. I wanted that. I didn’t want to be so sick and weak that at times my salah consisted of head movements only.
Thunder and lightning crashes, and abundant rain pours down on the ship. The hope of blue skies and plain sailing are woefully far away.
The second Ramadan that I wasn’t able to fast I was breastfeeding an infant, and still recovering from the physical toll Hyperemesis Gravidarum had wreaked on my body. I felt disheartened and resigned. I’d tried fasting some days sporadically leading up to Ramadan, and it hadn’t worked out well, aside from that I feared losing my milk supply. I looked for articles online, ideas for how to get that Ramadan ‘feeling’ when not fasting. There were plenty of ideas but my heart wasn’t in it. I tried to do what I could, Tried to pray the full amount of taraweeh prayers at home on my own, but eventually, between sleepless nights, exhaustion, anaemia, (one of the left over results of 10 months of near starvation where my body kept breaking itself down to find energy to keep going), and my infant sons’ natural & frequent demands for milk, I ran out of steam.
The little ship had come to dread sailing into Ramadan waters; sad and longing for pleasant, spiritually reviving Ramadans of years past.
The third Ramadan, Alhamdulillah, I was pregnant and once again battling with hyperemsis gravidarum. This year I was hopeful that I would still derive some benefit, and had more practice with not fasting. I looked for little things I could do, to feel connected to Allah, to the benefit of this month. I worked on my relationship with dua (supplication). I tried to find a deeper peace and connection in salah, active toddler noises notwithstanding. Still a large part of me longed to be able to fast.
A Loftier Goal
So here we are. I’ve pulled out of the port, and sailed into Ramadan, the journey is the same, but my outlook is poles apart from year one, and year two, a huge development from year three.
My little ship bobs on the Ramadan sea, and my eyes are on the horizons not on fasting, but on a loftier goal. Taqwah.
This is what I want to share with you. The goal of Ramadan is not to fast. The goal of Ramadan is to attain taqwah. Said another way the aim is to develop an intimate relationship with Allah, that steadies you and keeps you on course for the entire voyage of your life. Fasting is of course a wondrous means to attaining that connection, alhamdulillah, for those that fasting is not an option for, there are still abundant means to working towards taqwah.
You have been gifted with a different path to achieving that same lofty pursuit. Do not despair. Instead make a choice?
Make a conscious and intention filled choice. Receive your gift from your Rabb:
He has bestowed it on you for a reason. Think and reflect on the lessons can be learned, the good that can yet be attained. Work with your strengths and your weaknesses. What strengths have you been blessed with? How can you use these to attain your goal, to draw closer to your Lord?
By not fasting, I am accepting Allah’s generous concession for me. I am gracefully and gratefully accepting it. He knows. He knows my circumstance and conditions, and potential, and longing to please Him. He has given me this opportunity and gift. How pleasing to the giver of the gift when it is happily received, accepted with grace.
With the answers to these questions, set forth on the Ramadan seas with winds of hope, and gratitude, towards greater consciousness of your Lord.
In a conversation with my mother recently she mentioned a Yoruba proverb.
Eni ti eyan ma ku han, eyan okin fi ara pamo fun
Why hide yourself from the ones you’ll be exposed to when dead
Consider this, when we die there are certain people to whom responsibility will fall. Those who ought to wash our (respective) bodies and prepare them for burial, those it falls on to take care of the rites, and organise things. In essence they are those who must take charge of our bodies, the ones to whom the obligations and, in effect our bodies now belong.
What can be inferred from the proverb is that these people have a stake in our lives, and a responsibilty towards us after we are departed. We can not hide ourselves from them in death, so logically it does not make much sense to hide ourselves from them in life.
If we feel the need to hide our problems and or struggles from our nearest and dearest, shouldn’t we also consider that at a certain point these will become their struggles too?
We are planted in the soil of our particular situations for a reason. (I firmly believe that this reason is growth, and developing a firm rooted understanding of our ultimate purpose in existence; to worship the Creator). With our ultimate reliance being placed on the Creator we can develop an understanding that support can come in from varying places and indeed people.
Reflecting, it dawns on me that I’ve made a lot of errors of late, and the one person that understands the most about how I feel concerning those mistakes, is the person I have made those errors against. What I’ve learned from this experience is that those around us can, if allowed, shed light on issues from different perspectives and help us to clarify our understanding of things, and in that way enable us to come up with a game plan for how we wish to move forward.
There is great benefit to be found in seeking assistance, and also from assisting others. As it is said, Islam is Naseeha, that is, the good advice. We can benefit from consulting with people. We still have the right to disagree, of course and that right is ours no one can take it away from us, but the blessing of having those around us who are invested and actually want good for us is that we get to make use of the resources they offer.
At times these people might be friends they may be family, the key is that they are trustworthy and want good for us, not only on a superficial level, and because of that are willing to point out to us, or indeed help us point out to ourselves where we’re going wrong or falling short of the persons we are/aspire to be.
In brief; Life is difficult at times. There is no harm in sharing part of that difficulty with those who will be there for your body after you have left it.
My 23 month old is crying; his face is all crumpled up, and tears are streaming down his face. He’s got quite the pair of lungs on him, so the sobs that wrack his chest are pretty loud. I don’t immediately rush to shush him, or tell him not to cry, or even tell him that there isn’t a need to cry over small things. Instead I reach for the tools and skills I’ve been developing and learning from my peaceful parenting course. The ones that empower me to parent from a peaceful place inside. To not let the tides of my own emotions overwhelm the ship of my parenting. To listen to him crying, to be there with him in that moment.
The huge swell of panic that used to immediately overwhelm me, the need to just make him stop crying, at near any cost, that, alhamdulillah has gone. Sure it has not suddenly become the highlight of my day when my toddler starts crying and screaming, but slowly slowly I’m building confidence, finding pockets of peace and breathing room, to think and make decisions as opposed to just react. I’m learning to listen to his upset, and not have it rock me and my emotions. I’m able to put my trust in my Lord that my child’s behaviour right now does not mean in future he will be whatever it is I fear. Crying over sweets doesn’t mean he will become spoilt. Pinching somebody else doesn’t mean he will become a bully. It just means his behaviour is off track. It just means he is learning.
He needs my love, connection and listening most, when he is off track. It is exhausting work, any type of parenting is.
But, I’m able to recognise his cries now, for what they are. A way of letting me know that he feels disconnected, that he needs to reconnect with me. He as young as he is, is still subject to his emotions just as we all are. He also faces the challenges and tests that come with living life, and the best way I can foster intelligence both emotional and other kinds, and encourage him to learn ways to deal with these challenges, is to offer connection during these times, to stay listening, and to maintain the limits.
Traditionally speaking, I will be, and have been told, that his behaviour is something I should control, that it is disrespectful or rude for him to be upset by things (perhaps a certain household rule, or something I have told him he is not allowed to have), that I ought to punish him so that he learns to respect me. What I’m coming to realise, is that punishing him for expressing his need for connection serves only to push us further away from each other. The truth is, it is impossible to control anyone else. In fact at times even controlling ourselves can be a struggle. Rather it is Allah that is in control of all of the affairs of the heavens and earth.
One of the gems I picked up during the course which really shook me up, and made me contemplate, was this. My child as he is, is not yet accountable to Allah for his actions, at least not until he reaches the age of maturity. I however am. If his spilling a cup of water on the floor sends me into a rage, or initiates a huge over reaction on my part, then where does this show of injustice lie on the scale of parenting as an act of ibadah. Quite far from ihsan (the best) I would say. And very far removed from the person I want to be.
I have been giving a lot of thought to the woman I am, and the woman I want to be. My personal standards and the esteem I hold my soul in leave me unwilling to be reactive in my parenting approach. I want to be better, and do better. It’s a journey, and not an easy one mind you, but I’m ready and willing to put in the work bi’ithni’llah.
I think one of the things that we as muslims, especially muslim parents have to realise is that we must not be oppressors. Especially when it comes to our children, they have so many rights over us! They have been entrusted into out care by the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
And yes it’s a constant struggle (jihad ul nafs) to remain patient, and considerate, and respectful but it’s important to remember that raising a child is an act of worship (ibadah), it’s important to reflect and renew our intentions, to aim for the best we can do (ihsan), and to be humble respectful and not feel like you cannot apologise when you slip up asking forgiveness from them and also istighfar.
Look at our examples, look at the beautiful respectful and gentle way rasulallah salallahu alayhi wa salaam treated the young people around him.
One only needs to look to the seerah and hadith to see that he was extremely merciful, and patient when it came to children.
I’ll be the first to admit that I do struggle with this, so this really is a reminder to myself first and foremost. I pray Allah makes our hearts soft, and blesses us with patience, mercy, and compassion for all of the youth. Gentleness only beautifies a thing. 💕
Recently, I saw this picture on Instagram. I took the time to read it, I’m glad i did, it wast an incredibly powerful and beautiful reminder. Naturally, I decided to repost it, but when I found the caption I was typing underneath just kept getting longer and longer, I decided to turn my thoughts on it into a blog post.
The picture itself, came at a really good time, I’d been struggling, feeling overwhelmed, and in need of support. I’ve really been feeling the test of parenting lately, and keep finding myself in need of some serious self care, and rest! (Rest, a mother’s dream, right? :D).
This post though, it was a jolting shock, and a much needed reminder, of the bigger picture. Reading it prompted reflection, and a chance to refocus.
One of my chief complaints in the early months of my own motherhood journey was that it seemed to be a twenty-four hour gig, with no breaks, no pit-stops, or days off. That I was on-call twenty four seven, and it was just too difficult. Subhanallah! As I continue on this journey I keep returning to the realisation that all of the hardships we face and feel, every single one of them are a ni’amah (a gift/blessing) especially when they increase you in awareness of your complete dependence on and reliance in Allah.
And then when you consider the ultimate grace, that it is all counted as ibadah (an act of worship); That in loving, nurturing, teaching, and caring for your child/ren you are earning good deed upon good deed; that in being a mother you are actively building your place in the hereafter, you cannot help but be humbled and filled with gratitude that this, the hardest task you’ve ever faced in your life is as immense in reward as it is in significance.
That mothering, is merely another manifestation of the sincere actions of a slave before her Lord, and amazingly not a single second of it goes unrecorded, unrecognised, or unaccounted for with Him.
May Allah keep us sincere, and cognisant of this.
I pray that Allah keep us sincere in our intentions and ever conscious that each time we are tired, or stressed, or frustrated, or feel like we’re failing, or not doing as much spiritually as we had been, that as mothers our honour lies in our almost constant in a state of ibadah. Alhamdulillah! And we will, bi’ithni’llah (with Allah’s permission) find our reward for the struggle with our Lord.
Salaam alaykum, warahmatullahi, wabarakatuhu, (the Peace, and Allah’s mercy, and Allah’s Blessings be upon you).
This year I signed up to blogging101. A course i’m hoping will help me hone my blogging skills :).
I wanted to let you know a bit more about why I’m here blogging for all the world to see, as opposed to writing in a journal (which I still do on occasion).
I’ve always been a bit of a chatterbox, I have my quiet more reflective moments, but I really do believe that communication is such an important thing. It’s one of the things that helps us build communities. Blogging gives me a way of trying to reach out to a wider audience of people. To me this is an opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences with others. I hope that people will be able to relate to me, or perhaps i might, in sharing my own outlook, give somebody a new perspective with which to consider things. Ultimately I hope that this can be a source of goodness, and a place where conversation about life can take place.
I am so grateful to have gotten through the past month. It has had it’s upsides and its downsides, but ultimately I can say I learnt a lot. Alhamdulillah, all praise is due to Allah.
Today, whilst I was painting my nails, and watching Supernanny, I got to thinking about one of my younger brothers. He’s a really cool kid. He’s intelligent, funny, and he can be considerate, when he wants to be! Continue reading “R٠E٠S٠P٠E٠C٠T٠”→