Saturday 29 March 2008

Looking Ahead

I had some news at work yesterday, which gave me pause for thought. After having worked here for only four months, I was called to see the senior manager with the rest of my team – a lesson in that; senior managers only call staff to meetings for bad news. We were told that our department was one of many across the borough being reviewed and that there was a small chance of us being made redundant.

I wasn’t sure what to think at first, except why have you been recruiting if you knew this is coming? Those of us who started recently could have found work elsewhere instead. As I thought about it I knew I had to decide whether I could take the risk of waiting to see what would happen (the process up to knowing could take around four months) or start job-hunting straight away.

I like the job and save in travel cost as its near to home. The people are great and it was a good place to learn about local government. But it also feels a bit provincial, a bit “out in the sticks” and I miss the scale and kudos of working in central government. Perhaps my question has been answered there. I’m also a bit fed up of being back at the bottom of the heap and having to do things like typing people’s letters and photocopying.

I also know that my background in casework has a limited market value and I am not sure how it stands in terms of transferable skills. I was hoping to work here and at the same time gain some kind of qualification in counselling as my degree was in psychology and I am interested in counselling Muslim women, something I would be able to do independently and would have a lot of meaning for me. I also wanted to start focussing on my writing a bit more.

All of this after reading this article in the Times about impending recession and sitting there thinking, well thank god I have a secure job (when I should have known better that there is no such thing anymore).

It doesn’t help that at the bottom of it all, even as a confident mum alhamdulillah, the guilt never entirely goes. I feel as if I am not a good person or a good Muslim sometimes for thinking about work and career and planning when my whole focus should be on my babies. I think this will be something that will always hold me back from filling my whole potential – but I am not sure I mind too much – that’s the sacrifice you make as a mum, and its not much to ask I guess.

After stewing on the bus home (perfect time to break bad news – Friday afternoon) I sat down and spoke with my husband as soon as I got home. Although I wasn’t too upset, he helped me put things in perspective. I could stop thinking that the whole burden of the world was on my shoulders and that we would end up homeless for starters. I loved how he put it:
“since you were born have you ever had to go through a day without food or shelter”
“then there is no reason why you will in the future too – Allah provides for his creation.”

Allah tests us and even his tests are for our benefit. There is in goodness in everything from him. This is a big chance for me to take stock, to make some decisions, to find direction and perhaps to try something new.

"Know that your wealth and children are a test". Al- Quran, (8;28)

And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sâbirin Al-Quran (2:155)

"Allah does not burden a soul beyond its capacity." Al-Quran (2; 286)


  1. Salaams Sis:

    Do you have a master's degree? If so, you may want to look into LPC, licensed professional counselor. It's a very marketable credential.

    Also, take a Civil Service exam for your state. Many CS positions are union, and it's a bit more difficult for them to get rid of anyone. The higher paying counselor/casework positions are usually in the prison systems, substance abuse, etc. Stay away from the welfare, etc., jobs as they usually don't pay well at all.

    And sis!!! Islam permits a mom to work, have a career, and other interests as long as she is meeting her obligations at home. Don't beat yourself up about that.

    Love and Salaams/Safiyyah

  2. Assalam-alaikam lovely sis Saffiyah,
    trust you to give good advice.
    I think I will be going back into the Civil Service, its not been a year since I left so it might not be too hard to get back in, will start finding out this week insh'Allah.

    In the meantime I definitely intend to find out about counselling qualifications.

    I hear what you are seeing about being a mum and working, but I am not sure that it is something that ever goes away - whether Muslim or not.

    The best advice I ever got was from a still working mother of five really nice grown women - a doctor, a lawyer and three at university who told me to stop navel-gazing and just get on with things.

  3. Salam wa alaykum sis.
    What a heart felt post! I agree with Safiyyah - I believe Allah is forcing you to take the next step in your life and pursue your love; psychology! It's wonderful how Allah helps us when we don't help ourselves in that Allah can feel your guilt for wanting to work and be a good mum (which you are)and alhamduillah guides us in the right direction to make those important decisions happen. Once you get that job that positivity will flow into your kids who will also succeed in life because mummy has too!

  4. Salaams Sis:

    I like the navel-gazing advice! I'm going to use that one with the women I work with :)