This post is for my fellow mothers who have struggled with an anxious/high needs baby and have never felt understood.
AlhamdulilIah, my daughter is 4 years old today and doing fabulously, but I remember those difficult nights, especially during the months of Ramadan, like it was yesterday.
She was breast feed exclusively for 1.5 years because I could not get her to eat anything else so fasting was out of the question for me. Crowds and unfamiliar faces made her cry hysterically, so taraweeh was also out of the question. I could not put her down or just sit with her long enough to reap the benefits of reading the Qur’an, and she slept very few hours (woke up every 2 hours until she was about 2.5 yrs old) so my own exhaustion, on top of all my other struggles left me spiritually void.
I have a PhD in the field and knew exactly what she needed to grow out of this. She needed me. Though still, I tried EVERYTHING else, because how much of me could I possibly give. I tried everything that others suggested from every range of parenting philosophies. I tried things that I desperately read about in articles, and even things that random strangers suggested. Because like all good mothers, I doubted what I knew and I doubted my instincts. Nevertheless, above all, she needed my unconditional love, and Patience (with a capital P). But there were nights, especially in Ramadan when I felt angry, exhausted, and had nothing left to give.
As I reflected on the state of my soul, I was disgusted by the fact that I went from praying tahajjud every night of Ramadan to missing fard. I no longer had a relationship with the Quran, and worst of all I no longer had a relationship with my Creator. I always imagined that my children would be not only the inheritors of my Iman but the source of my betterment. All those dreams were perishing faster than the month of Ramadan was passing. And I wish someone who went through what I did, told me what I need to tell you now.
It gets better. And not just a little bit, but better then it has ever been.
Remember my sisters, this is your ibadath. The time you spend with your children, loving them, nourishing them, being patient with them is not time spent in vain. It is an investment in your dunya and akhira with a return that is a 100 fold. It is rewarded more generously than anything else anybody can do not only during Ramadan, but over the span of their entire life.
I reminded one of my clients in the past that Allah swt never said Jannah lies under the feet of those who pray the nights of Ramadan. But indeed, Jannah lies under the feet of the mother. Jannah. The magnitude of this status reflects the magnitude of the struggles that a mother endures. And remember the man who performed Hajj while carrying his mother on his back? He did not repay even a single one of his mother’s birthing pains. SubhanAllah!
My extremely intelligent, extremely sensitive, precious little child needed a little more time then others in certain developmental areas in her life. Most of all she needed my patience, my understanding, and my faith in her that she, would be OK. The return I was talking about a moment ago, Alhamdulillah, I already experience it. As a matter of fact, I have experienced it for quite sometime now but it has gotten so much better so quickly that I wanted to take the time to share what it is like now. So my sisters who are going through what I went, can inshaAllah, have a glimmer of hope that helps carry them through.
At four years old, she already has several surahs memorized, and is learning Arabic. She has been reading since she was 3 (english), can write full sentences on her own, sleeps restfully, eats a wide variety of fruits and vegetables like you will not believe, plays on her own for extended periods of time (which i NEVER thought would happen) and is the most loving, caring, sweetest little child you will ever meet. Yes, I am extremely biased. But this is not even the best part.
Last week as I was preparing/planning my life for Ramadan I was so focused on managing my clients, juggling my research papers and of course figuring out food and everything else we do as mothers and wives, I had no energy left for trying to make it fun for my child. My focus and preparation was so much more on the dunya rather than the actual holiness and celebratory aspect of this month. I was trying to make excuses like she’s only four how much can she possibly benefit from Ramadan, let me just get my work done, and when shes older I’ll do more. But then I had to stop and remind myself, that this chance will never come back again. She is more impressionable now than she will ever be, if I turn away from her how can I ever expect her to turn back to me.
At first, almost begrudgingly I started perusing the internet for ideas for making Ramadan beloved to her. And, SubhanAllah, the more crafts we did together, the more I stopped to think about and define for her why we did things and what everything meant, the more our Sunnahs became meaningful to me. The more I explained why we loved and followed the prophet, loved Allah, and loved to fast, the more my heart felt prepared. I can honestly say, this year I have felt more prepared for Ramadan that I ever have in the past, even pre-baby and pre-marriage. Moreover, she gets so excited to see her “friends” at the masjid how can I deny her that? And me, I get to pray taraweeh again, even on those nights I don’t feel like going.
High needs/anxious/sensitive and even stubborn babies, the way she was, tend to be easier as children and later on easier as teens. If you think about it, with their stubborn nature they will not be persuaded by peer pressure as easily. They also tend to be extremely intelligent and perceptive. Like all children, she watches EVERY move I make and picks up on it…internalizes it. How has that helped me? When I wish for her to read Quran I read more, because she is watching. When I wish for her to love the masjid, love the deen, I go more, I practice more. When she watches me make wudu, I make it better. When she watches me pray, I pray better. She makes me better. And not just for a month, but she makes me better for all time. Allahu Akbar!
My sisters, in the heights of your frustrations, and in the depths of your despair. I wish to leave you with hope. Your struggles, your patience, your investment in your baby will not pass in vain. This IS your ibadaht. And remember no amount of Quran, Salah and even Hajj will be rewarded the same way as you will be rewarded for you struggles as a mother.
I pray that we make this the best Ramadan to the best of our abilities according to our own circumstances. I pray that Allah grants us strength in our moments of weakness to raise our children in His path. And I pray that Allah helps us nurture the loving fithrah they are already born with.
If you want to share you struggles of motherhood with me and could use some guidance click here to schedule an appointment.