Sumi is almost four months old now. She is cute and cuddly with smiling half moon eyes. I try to take in the moment, knowing that these days are precious and she is already growing up so fast. My father told me that the one thing he regretted was the fact that he didn’t get to enjoy us while we were children. He was too worried about work, buying a house, providing us with an education. Alhamdulillah, we came out alright thanks to his emphasis on hard work. He would always tell us that "Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes improvement," and, “Success is beautiful.” He usually said that after Pete Sampras won a Wimbledon or U.S. Open.
Now that I’m on the other side of the fence, I try to think of what would make the biggest impact on my child. I can overwhelm myself with thoughts of responsibility, how I have the potential to provide her with a great start or seriously dampen her chances, or I can concentrate on myself and my own improvement.
We all know the adage, “Do as I say, don’t do as I do.” We know that that’s never the case with children. I want Sumi to do as I do, but that means:
a) I need to always be mindful of what I’m doing. Am I raising my voice because the bathroom sink is filled with remnants of shaven beard hair?
b) I actually need to do, setting projects for my own self development. Alhamdulillah, with the encouragement of good sisters and my husband, I started running and getting back into shape. I hate running. I would much rather play volleyball, but it feels good not to always succumb to what I want. I had gained 63 pounds during my pregnancy and thus far have lost 60, alhamdulillah.
c) Prioritize what’s important. Am I instilling values and principles as opposed to pushing her to accomplish milestones and essentially creating an award based environment?
d) I need to surround her with people that also do. This is a huge worry for me. Not so much now, but when she is older. Will there be a good Muslim community for her to thrive in, where she doesn’t feel self conscious about being herself, and yet is motivated and inspired by the characters of others?
e) I need to trust in Allah. Trust so much in Allah that it is contagious in our household.
Allah has given me the immeasurable blessing of nurturing one of His servants. It’s time for me to buckle down, work on myself, and, here it comes…stay consistent. For if I can do that, then I am assured that Allah will help me with the rest.
Marwa Aly is a mother, wife, and sister who serves as the Muslim Chaplain at Trinity College and Wesleyan University