It was a sweltering hot summer day when I was visiting my parents at their home. It must have been at least 100 degrees outside and the AC in their brick house was out of order. My daughter was begging me to take her to the playground. I was already miserably hot, but I figured it couldn’t get much worse by stepping outside. We hopped in the car and drove a couple of miles to a local park.
When we arrived, I immediately scanned the playground for a shady area where I could sit, but Duaa dashed that hope of relief from the sun when she insisted that I push her on the swing. I looked over at the big blue swings and just sighed inside. These swings couldn’t have been situated more directly in the sun and I just wanted a break, but I couldn’t say no, so I headed over, lifted her on, and started pushing.
I noticed as I approached the swings, another woman pushing her own daughter on the swing. Her daughter looked about 10 years old and it was evident the young girl had some severe handicaps. As I approached closer, the woman and I exchanged hellos and started chit-chatting. I was already admiring this woman for the way she was patiently pushing away at the swings in the blistering heat, but I was about to admire her a lot more. I learned from our conversation that she takes her daughter to that park nearly every day because that playground has the only swings for the handicapped in town, and the swinging soothes her daughter. Furthermore, she was the one who proposed the idea of installing the swings to the local government, and fought to have them constructed. It was her daughter’s right, she said, to have a playground accessible to the handicapped.
Well, about 15 minutes later, Duaa had enough of the swings and wanted to move on to the slide. We left the playground about an hour and half after we had arrived and when we left, the mother I had become acquainted with was still pushing her daughter on the swing.
I left the playground that day feeling, to be honest, a bit ashamed of myself. Here I was, complaining and miserable because of the heat, while this mother couldn’t have reflected a more ideal picture of patience by being an advocate for her child and nurturing her daughter with special needs in such a gentle and loving way.
That experience happened over 2 years ago, but to this day, I still find myself remembering that woman when I am being ungrateful for what I have or when I am impatient with my children. I felt like Allah had sent me to the playground that day to teach me a lesson, and I hope it will be a lesson I will never forget.
Hagar lives in Maryland with her husband and two young children. She enjoys attending Islamic halaqas, reading, learning new things, and spending time with her family.