Sunday, 7 July 2019

Difficult Days – Counting the Minutes

My husband is away for dawah work again this month. For those who are regular readers of the blog, you will know that my husband goes out to preach through his masjid every year for forty days (through a group called Tablighi Jamaat).  It is something we believe in and value and has been a part of our practise of our faith for almost the entirety of our marriage (nineteen years this year alhamdulillah). 

We have always faced heavy criticism from my family, and sometimes his (but a little less so) for the way we choose to live our lives, but we believe that this is part of our faith and the rewards make it worth the sacrifices:

“And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.” ~ Quran, 3: 104

“Invite to the Way of your Rabb with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious, for your Rabb knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance”. ~ Quran 16:125

“Whoever calls others to guidance will have a reward like the rewards of those who follow him, without that detracting from their reward in any way. And whoever calls others to misguidance will have a burden of sin like the burden of those who follow him, without that detracting from their burden in any way.” (Muslim)

As the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says: “God, His angels and all those in the Heavens and on Earth, even ants in their ant-hills and fish in the water, call down blessings on those who instruct others in beneficial knowledge.” (Tirmidhi)

When our children were younger, I found it manageable for my husband to be abroad and to take care of the household.  Sometimes one or the other of his parents would stay with us to help with the school run.  I would face the criticism with silence and a smile or try to explain gently why we do what he does and the fact that he hasn’t left me to deal with everything, but that I support him to do so.  There was a small part of me perhaps that even enjoyed having my own space and routine for a few weeks each year. 

In contrast the last two or three years have proved a little more challenging.  The kids are getting older and as they become teens they have tested my every fibre.  I have had to learn to parent all over again and question everything I do and believe in.  I am not getting any younger and although I am grateful for my health, to my own surprise I get tired now.  My husband’s parents are older and have become quite frail with various health issues and greater need for help and care.  This means his going away the last few years was so much harder on me. 

This time around he has gone for six weeks to India, something he has wanted to do for years.  I was a little wary after the shenanigans my oldest children got up to last time he was away and the stress and exhaustion of trying to manage everything alone.  Perhaps I was right to be.  This time round has been the hardest.  I don’t know how I am still standing or everyone in the household is still alive knowing my short fuse when I am stressed.

I have been playing war games with the oldest two – although we seem to made some kind of truce where Little Lady has calmed down and is behaving (I think…) and I am not quite best friends with Little Man (although that never lasts long).

The house seems to have come alive and is hell bent on self-destructive behaviour – a nasty leak from the upstairs bathroom has damaged a downstairs wall and means all eight of us in the house have to use the creepy downstairs bathroom (as Darling calls it), home of spiders and strange smells. The kitchen ceiling has also sprung a leak when it rains.

The fridge stopped working and three weeks later is still not fixed with the company waiting for parts to turn up (we think the leak in the kitchen roof meant water might have gotten into the fridge). We have a small spare fridge someone has loaned us, which is sitting in the living room blocking my running machine.  It’s so small that I have to cook more often because I can’t cook big portions to refrigerate – which is hard work with a family as big as mine that all have different dietary requirements (in-laws) or just refuse to eat certain things (in-laws and kids).

I have had a litany of fines and penalty notices to deal with, including one for a congestion charge that I pre-paid online and another because there were cones near my house to reserve a parking space – I don’t even drive!  That’s not counting the two penalty notices my husband left and asked me to resolve – I managed to get all of them cancelled – I am getting very good at it alhamdulillah.

My in-laws need a lot more help now – from the little things like using their mobile phones, to the bigger ones like finding they are intolerant to certain foods and need a special diet.  I have been struggling to keep track of their appointments, medications and complaints.  They are also eligible to use the NHS for some things and not others, so I have been having ongoing discussions with hospitals and doctors about what they can and cannot treat and trying to avoid doing anything that will land me with a massive bill.  This causes great anxiety for them and I have to limit what I tell them and answer the same questions again and again to calm them down.

They also won’t stop arguing and dad-in-law has become very deaf, but refuses to wear his hearing aid, which makes for some strange and random fights between them.  Mum-in-law's reduced mobility means she gets very depressed – and that is one of the things I find hardest to deal with after a long, intense day of work, trying to talk her up and out of her self-pity and feeling of helplessness.

Work is interesting, challenging, purposeful, fun, but so very exhausting.  I tend to work through lunch and not move for hours, engrossed in what I am doing - which is so bad for my health, but it means I have lost weight and my knees don’t hurt any more alhamdulillah.  The nature of the work – requiring deep thought and research, means that I don’t always have a lot of energy left mentally by the time I get home and I don’t get much time to de-pressurise between work and home to deal with home life.

My money has run out, like totally run out, I am counting the seven days until pay day and hoping no other unexpected expense appears. I hate the idea of asking anyone for help. I know I need to manage money better, but its not much use reminding yourself of this after all the money is gone.

Finally, I think I have taken on too much: work, home, elderly in-laws, social life, community activity.  I can’t really blame anyone but myself for that and I know I have to review my habit of wanting to do everything all of the time.  But even so, I am veering between managing things and feeling as if I am about to drown under it all.

There have been days when I open my eyes and think there is no way I can get through the day – just getting dressed and the kids ready for school has felt like wading through treacle. So, very, hard. The days when I am trying to work out what my mum-in-law can eat, or dad-in-law has asked the same question about a hospital letter seven times, or they think it’s too early to eat with the rest of us, so I am making chapatti’s at 9:30 and clearing the kitchen at 10pm.  The days when I have shouted at the kids and escalated a situation, when I should have just dealt calmly with it or listened and not flown off the handle over something that was not so big. 

I started to get frightened of how I felt on those days – of it turning into something more that I could not shake off or deal with.  On those days no amount of positive thinking, smiling, reminding myself to be grateful helped.  I just kept forcing one foot in front of another and making dhikr (remembrance of Allah) SWT until I found myself in a better place.

So now I am counting the days until my husband comes back.  It feels like the longest four weeks of my life and the next two weeks feel forever away.  The thought of those two weeks is daunting and makes me feel miserable.  I need someone to fix my fridge, the bathroom leak, the various other things that are damaged and broken.  I need someone to discipline the kids sometimes in my place.  I need someone to listen to my in-laws complaints and take them out sometimes to air them get some fresh air.

This time has challenged my faith in ways that I could not have imagined.  I have questioned myself, the work my husband does, the fact that I work, whether we have raised out children in the right way, whether hubby should stop going while the children are growing.  Whether we just got it all wrong.  There have been days when I have told myself that this is the last time he goes.  There have been days when my heart is so full to the brim with tears, but I feel too dulled to even let them out. Then there is the point every day when I think of the fight I will have when my husband gets back – the complaints and ultimatums I have planned and how I will not talk to him for days.

There are days when I fear that all the separation and hard work has been for nothing. I wonder if Allah accepts it or not, whether he is testing me or angry with me.  I yearn for a sign that we are on the right path and that I haven't got it all wrong.

But then there are days like today, when I wonder what all the fuss is about and I feel okay.  I am coming to realise that all of the challenges have forced me to grow in ways that I could not have imagined. I have spent my life trying to please others, fearing conflict and trying to win everyone’s approval.  I used to pray to Allah (SWT) to let me fear no-one but Him.  For the first time in my life, I feel as if I don’t need anyone’s approval.  I literally don’t care what anyone thinks - not my parents, not my in-laws, not my husband, not my neighbours, friends or community.  I cannot tell you how liberating this is. I can discipline my kids without caring if they don’t like me.  I can say no to people.  I can disagree with my in-laws without worrying about them disapproving.  I can make demands on my husband which I was always shy to do, but that is my right.  I am ready for a good fight, so the next aunty to comment on my not driving, or my weight, or my kids, or especially my husband “leaving me to go on holiday” is going to get verbally b*tch slapped back into their place.


I think my husband might find this new version of me a little disconcerting when he gets back, but it has been a long time coming.  I just pray and hope that we are doing the rght thing insh'Allah and that Allah (SWT) accepts it.

9 comments:

  1. Anonymous07 July, 2019

    Umm Salihah, you've spoken my mind. I think most people come to this understanding at a particular age that pleasing people is pointless. We are answerable to Allah. I t really is a liberating experience. Before I compromised a lot in my life pleasung people and my husband and living up to their expectations. But I found that this is not sustainable without it having mental and physical strain on me. I realised that if I collapsed then it would have an effect on all the people that rely on me, and it is a long list of people. So I've decided to let go of perfection and to to do things that I feel is right. Even if people disagreed with me.
    Surprisingly people quickly get used to the new you when they realise that the change is permenant.

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  2. Anonymous07 July, 2019

    This is so beautiful .. Really touched my heart!! Allah has so much of rewards in store for you for all the sacrifices that you have made الحمد لله ����for every step that your husband takes, you are definitely getting the reward as well. May Allah Ta'ala make it easy for you and grant you the highest stages of Jannah for allowing your husband to strive in the path of Allah and spread Deen to all the four corners of the world. This is such an important work that Allah only chooses his special servants to do it. May Allah shower His special mercies and you and your family ����

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  3. This might hurt you but in which fool's paradise are you living, even farz like hsjj cannot be performed if you have certain responsibilities.your husband has used, misused and abused your insecure personality.You are working full time, taking care of 5 kids, taking care of his parents and siblings every year for months, did he even try to improve his education and get a better job or skills and try to focus more on business, tableegh is not obligatory for certain reasons, and it begins at home, leaving your wife under burden of responsibilities and going off to preach is nit Iskamic at all, it is certainly not your responsibilityto do full time job with 5 kids and inlaws ,even bearing kids has such a toll on a woman's health but how we fool ourselves with assumed notions of love and care.Your daughter seem a lot more intelligent than you, I pray that Allah gives you reward for your neeat.

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    1. Anonymous09 July, 2019

      This comment is tough but I agree. How can your husband leave you alone with his parents, your job, your 5 children, and all the cleaning and cooking and what else? Would he do the same for you? 5 children - my god! And two elderly parents. You are a saint but I am not sure about your husband.

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    2. http://www.happymuslimah.com/2019/07/creating-perspective-on-love-faith-and.html
      xxx

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  4. Assalamaikum HMM, my heart goes out to you. The comments are well-intended but tough. It's very easy to tell someone off or judge them, but unless you walk a mile in someone's shoes, you cant tell them what to do or how to live. My sister is in the same situation so I know how you feel, bohot papar bel ne parte hain shaadi aur ghar ko chala ne aur barqarar raqne mein. Youve done above and beyond with dignity and grace, sure you've had rough moments, you are human after all. Any other woman would say forget this, and let herself, the house, the kids and in laws to fend for themselves. But, you dear lady have managed to take care of yourself, the kids, the house, the in laws, ur deen, ur social obligations and your family and extended family. Kudos to you, sorry to intrude, but how can I help. Do you have zelle or paypal, I can send you some money, it wont be much, but it will get you get by for the next few days or for a few things at least. Please do let me know. Sending you love and prayers <3

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    1. Salam sis,
      thank you for your prayers they are so precious to me.
      Please don't worry at all - I get paid in a few days - I am just really awful at managing money! Make dua I get better at it and tat Allah SWT blesses our rizq with barakah xxx

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