I clench my fists and grind my teeth, but I can tell already that I won’t be able to hold in the onslaught of anger. I’m tired, so tired of refereeing games and wrestling matches; the he took my, she hid my, he hit me, she ate my…. constant bludgeoning of my senses. Sometimes I can’t tell whether the wailing screech I hear is one of pained anguish, or hysterical laughter. The noise level beats me to my knees, and I beseech Allah for peace…. just as bedtime rolls around. I prepare to bask in the quiet but it’s shattered; she’s in my bed, he’s in my room, he hid my toothbrush, she keeps turning on my light.
Even as I’m struggling for composure, I already know that I’ve lost this battle. Every day I resolve to stay calm, I think of solutions in advance to head off impending calamity, but alas I am finally willing to admit that I am at a loss.
Dr. Phil, Nanny 911, I spent hours watching your episodes, modeling your behavioral modification methods, adopting your positive reinforcement speech, to no avail. I used to think that asking for help meant I had failed in some way, that I had not nurtured enough. But I know in my heart that I did the nurturing, that I provided a safe home environment. This is simply their nature, to be competitive, aggressive, ambitious, sometimes ruthless even, with one another. I redirect their hostility, try to channel their energy into vigorous activities, construct situations where they must become allies.
But I have finally asked for professional help. And to my surprise, it feels good to know that there is yet hope. I am not weak for reaching out, but strong for admitting the need.
One day I went to open house at school, and I was introduced to a side of my kids that I very rarely glimpse myself. “Your son is the most polite student we have.” “Your daughter is so compassionate; she’s always helping others out.” I’m told my kids are full of energy, organized, always volunteering for activities. Masha’allah, the echoes of their praises rang through me. I bowed my head and humbly thanked Allah.
I thanked Him for the strength to reach out for help, for the eyes to see their goodness, for the ears to hear their praises sung, for the voice to let them know that I am proud of them and for the fortitude to keep seeking and finding that composure.
I know there are things I’m doing wrong. But I must be doing some things right too. So I’ll keep on putting my faith, my trust, and my hope in you, Ya Allah. Guide us to wisdom, direct us to the straight path, give us the strength to do what needs doing, the humility to accept help, and the courage to ask for it.
Amanny is a mother to an energetic pack of kids who enjoys curling up with a book and sipping a good cup of coffee.