Motherhood has been bogging me down lately. Now that I’ve said it, I can hopefully move on. How can I work on elevating my role as a mother when I am dealing with a 4 year old who now qualifies everything as boring? What a boring home! You’re the boring-est mom. Playing with you is so boring! A big THANK YOU to whoever taught her that word. In the low points, I wonder where I went wrong in her upbringing. Maybe she’s (gasp)…spoiled. Maybe it’s just a phase. I hope it’s just a phase. Still, even the satisfaction I used to get from making her smile is now a rarity and I learned the hard way that motherhood can be a thankless job.
Just as I was busy getting ahead of myself, I heard this beautiful lecture about investing in our children. My resentment and bitterness melted away with every hadith and verse that was quoted. Sure, we all know there is a huge reward for any good that comes out of our children. It’s the reward for the aspect of struggle and sacrifice that I had overlooked. Struggling in the way of Allah carries a huge reward and Allah is not unaware of our struggles. There is the beautiful story of the man who carried his mother on his back throughout the hajj pilgrimage. When he asked the Prophet Muhammad whether this would in anyway repay his mother for all she had done for him, the Prophet replied that it didn’t even equal one of her labor pains. Muhammad said a woman from her pregnancy to the delivery of her child until weaning is in a state of jihad (spiritual struggle). So if a woman were to die at any point before the weaning of her child, she dies a shaheed. Wow.
The other beautiful thing is the reward for sacrifice. We easily sacrifice for our kids and there is a great reward in that. Aisha, the wife of Muhammad, once saw a poor woman who was given three dates to feed herself and her two children. Aisha was astonished that the woman shared all three dates with her daughters, leaving herself hungry. When told this story, the Prophet said this woman earned heaven for that action. We sacrifice for our children all the time, whether it is of our time, money, or energy. Mind you, the reward for our sacrifice has nothing to do with whether they grow up righteous or not. It is simply a blessing that Allah has enabled us to be so merciful to our children; that we can sacrifice for them and reap that reward.
So, yes, teaching my daughter empathy, compassion, and gratitude is only the latest in a series of struggles. I have given my health and my resources to raising her thus far, and it only gets harder from here. Going forward, I just have to roll up my sleeves, buckle down, and make my mantra: this is my jihad.
Dalal is a chemist and mother of two from NJ. Her passions lie in healthy cooking, connecting with like-minded moms, bargain-shopping, and obsessively keeping up with current events.