A constant question that arises in our minds as mothers is how we can maintain individual fulfillment while making sure that our children are being nurtured and cared for. One of our GrowMama mothers posited the question this way:
Why is the mother’s role frequently limited to raising leaders instead of being leaders, or being the seekers of change? Am I raising two girls so that they will raise more girls who will raise more girls? Sometimes I wonder when WE get to be our own people instead of people who raise other people. I don’t look down on the necessity or importance of raising amazing kids, on the contrary, I am a mother and I would love to raise my daughters with the most amazing character, heart, and action. But when can I dream dreams that are about me?
While this will be a constant tension amongst many mothers, seasoned veterans offered sage advice and perspective. Here are some points that have been a source of help. Please share yours in the comments section, below.
” The way I see it is that in every stage in my life, I have certain priorities and dreams. When my kids started needing more of me, my past dreams were clashing with my current reality, so I made a switch. In theory, I like to think that once they need less of me (yeah, right! in 15 years or more?) then I can have a another paradigm shift and focus on other priorities.”
“A dear friend of mine who has 6 children, almost all adults now, made a very wise point. She said that your life has “seasons” to it. Now is the season of babies and young children. There will be another season and it will look different. Your goals and abilities will be different then. But you have to be realistic about what is possible in each season for you and work with it. Maybe even lower your expectations. I know I have had to lower my expectations in the name of consistency. I would tell myself “I’m going to read half a juz’ each day even if it kills me.” It would work out for a week or so. Then things would start falling apart. It is very hard to be consistent with things when you have children because children (and really all of family life) are unpredictable by nature. Then when I wouldn’t be able to read as much– or at all– for a few days, I would feel defeated and hopeless and stop even trying to read at all. Yet I found that if I set smaller goals for myself that are easier to accomplish, even though they seem foolishly small to me, they are less vulnerable to the unpredictability of life and I am more likely to be consistent and therefore more likely to keep up reading at least *some* Qur’an and to feel like there is something I accomplished from my own goals that day. So for me, it has been at times a page only. Sometimes 1/4 Juz’ if I’m fortunate. If I can go longer, great. If not, I’m not lacking.”
ME had a lot to say about this! She writes:
- ” Intention, Intention, Intention. Work on making everything count, the time in the car, the bath times, all the mundane things that maybe we resent sometimes. Make them into acts of worship so that we feel that it is actually the ultimate source of personal fulfillment. I know that’s really hard sometimes!
- Finding the priority of the moment, of your stage in life. For those of us with little kids, it will most definitely be our kids and our home. I often tell myself, “Allah swt entrusted me with THIS child, not any other one, not a different personality, a different temperament, with all her quirks and strengths and faults and amazing potential, because I—not anyone else—am supposed to raise her and give her something. NO ONE else in the whole entire world can do it but me, because this is the assignment given to me by Allah.”
- Realize that a mom who meets her own needs for fulfillment and stimulation will likely be a more happy, contented, peaceful mom who can give even MORE of herself to her kids. Let yourself be a human, a person, and figure out what you want to do. I find when I do things that I love or believe in deeply, I become a more confident, fulfilled, deeper person who has more to give, even if I’m a little more busy. When I take out a little time to write or take pictures or read a book or interact with adults on something totally not-related to parenting, I relieve a little bit of the stress of child-rearing, and come back calm and refreshed. When I take some time to work in dawah, I tell myself, as a mother of girls, I think—I hope!—I’ll be setting a good example for them AND I also think it’s healthy for kids to realize that every woman, including mama, has loves and talents and passions and they are not the center of my universe, although they are certainly a very, very important part of it.
- Good management and ORGANIZATION. I think we can all find a way to do the things we love and feel strongly about, with just a little better organization, management, and maybe some sacrifice. If it is something we truly believe in, like working for Islam, it’s worth staying up for an extra half-hour to push ourselves to do something. Or doing without a tv show. Or cooking a 20-minute meal instead of stuffed grape leaves. Or getting a little help at home if we can afford it and stop with the pride and perfectionism that stops us from doing so. Also, finding a pursuit or line of work that gives you the greatest payoff—the greatest amount of fulfillment, a personal outlet, use of your talents and interests, effectively serving and giving for what you believe in, contributing to your role as a mother, and not taking away from your role in the home. For each of us, that balance and middle ground will look different, because it depends on our responsibilities, our talents, our creativity, our needs, our life circumstances, our children, SO MANY different things. I don’t even listen anymore when anyone compares me to someone else, or compares someone to me, even indirectly, because there is no way I can tell what I would do in her shoes, or what she would do in my shoes, and all I have is me and my trusts and my mission assigned to me by Allah. Every woman has to find her own way, her own balance, and it’s between her and her Lord.”