At times I think I was a better mother before all of this happened. I was perhaps less quick to snap and more cautious with my words and actions. I was more careful. To be fair, I also was sharing the burdens of life and now it feels, at times, that I am buried beneath a list of endless to-dos and all encompassing parenting pressures. I could pick which role I wanted to play at any time, good cop or bad cop and my husband could take the alternative but in this reality I play all the roles. Sometimes I feel like I am doing everything wrong, because of the absence of that comforting reassurance saying ‘take it easy, you’re doing okay’ and other times I over estimate what I am doing right in the void of that partner to critique me and bring me down to earth when I become a ‘mumma monster’. These thoughts and concerns can be all consuming. Parenting is a struggle against yourself and your upbringing- constantly trying to stay true to the things you said you’d never say or do. But at least, when there’s two active parents, you have someone to remind you of the agreed way that you had chosen to raise your own children, an improvement or updated version of your own upbringing.
Single parenthood is a constant self-reflection exercise. Alhamdullilah, it is most definitely a true learning experience of getting to know oneself, not as a choice but as a necessity. In all of His wisdom, Allah swt chooses us specifically for the roles that we are able to handle, we have to accept that. That there isn’t anything Allah swt assigns to us that we cannot achieve, otherwise we would not have been privileged with the task. Because that’s how we should look at it, right? A privilege as it is an opportunity to display patience and reap the rewards from bearing the struggle with “beautiful endurance’ (Qur’an, 12:18/83). Allah swt has told us how to seek assistance from worldly trials and also that there awaits a beautiful reward for those who seek assistance in this manner:
“Seek help through endurance and prayer. It is indeed hard except on those who are humble.” (Qur’an 2: 155-7)
“I rewarded them this day because they persevered in patience. They are indeed the triumphant.” (Qur’an 23:111)
So the solution to the tests and trials of parenting or anything else of this life is to show sabr. In english, we know this word to commonly mean patience, but that one word doesn’t do justice to the meaning. Many scholars and pious predecessors have attributed sabr to a wide array of attributes and qualities and Ibn Qayyim in his book Uddat al-Sabirin wa Dhakhirat at- Shakirin, condensed the word to three parts:
- to restrain
- to find strength
- to pull oneself together
He further explains these three parts as to restrain the soul from worrying, i.e. by putting trust in Allah swt and His decree, to control the tongue from complaining, to find strength through prayer and supplication and to prevent oneself from committing acts that displease Allah swt in moments of trial or calamity.
To a lot of us one word stands out from that explanation- complaining. It seems that even the best of us are not immune from this disease of the tongue. But even so, there are two types of complain according to Ibn Qayyim and one of those is acceptable:
- where we complain to others by our words and actions, this is incompatible with patience
- where we complain TO ALLAH swt and this is not at conflict with patience, in fact it is exactly what Prophet Ya’qoob (as) did when he was tested,
“I complain my distress and sorrow to Allah” (Qur’an 12: 186)
So, the chores may be never ending, your children might be constantly tired and hungry and you’re about to burn out, perhaps you’re a single mother and you feel like you’re drowning, or maybe you’re a married but over-burdened mother, what ever your condition, Allah swt knows that your struggle is most definitely real and He swt has most definitely given you the solution in the Qur’an. Know that your complaint to those around you doesn’t assist you in your burden but rather it adds to it but that your complaint to Allah swt (respectfully) increases your reliance on Him, which insha’Allah will increase your triumph on a day where you will be grateful for the trials Allah swt tested you with.
Alas, a reminder to the mummas out there hanging on a thin thread, for myself and others, ‘sabr is the courage of the soul’ (Ibn Qayyim). Motherhood is no easy job, so be courageous and rely on your Lord in a world that tells you to rely on everything and everyone else. Perhaps when the final hour comes and you see your rewards you will be grateful for the burdens of this life.
“O Allah! For you is praise; to you is the complaint. You are the One whose help is sought for and you are the One to whom the supplication for support is made. On You we are reliant. There is no power, no strength except with You.”
(Du’a of Musa, At Tabarani: al Awsat (3394) and al Saghir (1/122)).
I would love to hear from you, insha’Allah! Please leave your feedback, experiences or even just a bit about yourself. Sometimes the journey is a lot easier traveled with company 😉
Umm Summi xx
Source: Ibn Al Qayyim (n.d). Uddat al- Sabirin wa Dhakhirat al- Shakirin. Darussalam: Riyad, pp. 5- 22.