Alhamdulillah, I think this has been one of the busiest times of my life. Fasionista’s baby, Kooky’s wedding, my little one being born making me a mum of five, with two Eid’s and Ramadan in between and Little Lady starting high school and then changing high school within half a term. It’s also our turn to host the local weekly ladies Islamic circle for a few weeks and now mum-in-law is preparing to go back to Pakistan. So of course I thought this was a good time to throw an Eid party.
I spent the first few days after having Baby feeling very overwhelmed and wondering how an earth I’m going to manage. I asked hubby for more help and mum-in-law pitched in and slowly I am starting to get a routine going. There are still days when I wonder what an earth I have been doing all day and where I make the best of intentions do something productive, but instead barely get through the day with everyone fed and the chores done.
Last week baby turned 40 days, which in South Asian culture is a milestone. Traditionally women rest for the first 40 days and take care to stay warm, eat special, nutritious foods and rest properly. In Pakistan this often means bed rest and daily massages by the local midwife for those that can afford them. Not getting the rest and nutrition is attributed by a lot of women to health problems later in life. I think I managed about three days of rest before I got super busy, with my mum telling me to rest or that I’ll face the consequences when I’m older (I have no idea if this attribution is accurate or not, but after worrying about it for a couple of days, decided there’s nothing I can do now).
Anyway, the 40 day milestone meant that I could end my bed rest (yeah right) and that I could start praying again (there is a really useful section in the book Heavenly Ornaments by Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (RA) from page 69 which details when to start praying after having a baby). This has presented the challenge of trying to pray in between meals, guests, chores and constantly feeding a new born, particularly when the baby is crying and it’s prayer time. On the other hand the routine of prayer has helped to establish a routine once again for our family life – waking times, meal times, the times at which we go out and the babys nursing times. For instance one night I waited until the baby would go sleep so that I could pray esha (the night prayer). She sleeps with me and every time I got up she would cry, so it was 1am before I could pray and she still woke up and howled. So now I pray esha at the starting time when everyone is still up and someone can look after her while I pray, this means dinner is slightly later, but at least I am not going crazy.
Being able to pray again, has also given me a big boost and helped me to stay positive when it all feels too much. These conversations with Allah (SWT) are such a comfort and provide so much peace.
On the day I ended up praying at 1am, I got a little angry and upset, I was so exhausted I cried and asked Allah (SWT) to help me to be a good mother and wife. I found myself getting angry at my husband and feeling guilty at not behaving in a more grateful way. The conversation with Allah (SWT) helped to calm me and make me see my situation not just as hard work but as a massive opportunity. I reminded myself that each of my children are a chance to send people into the world that could change the world and serve and benefit everyone around them – each of them is born with a purpose to serve Allah (SWT) and do the work he commands and it fills me with awe to wonder what path Allah (SWT) has laid out for my children and what strengths and qualities he has sent them forth with to discover and grow.
When I take that attitude, parenting is still hard work, but instead of a chore or challenge it becomes an adventure and a privilege. Then the long days, late nights, early mornings and the hours spent caring for everyone become an investment in our future and akhirah (next life). Taking this attitude is making the days easier for me and helping bring the pleasure back into life. It’s also helping me to accept that I won’t be doing most of the other things I wanted to for now and that that is okay.