When my older kids head off to school, I start my other job – the dirty sock picker. I try to look at the bright side while doing this job – keeping my tongue moving in the remembrance of Allah (swt) or simply working out things in my head, keeping my mind busy. I am not perfect though and, sometimes, I do not see the glass half-full and can almost watch my life pass away as I pick up dirty socks, clothes, toys, and anything else that can be thrown on the floor. And on a bad day, the resentment of having to pick up after my kids will carry through the rest of the day.
Things changed recently though, and now those terrible dirty socks don’t seem all that bad.
My 2-year old son Muneeb was admitted to the hospital requiring emergency surgery for having swallowed 7 small magnetic balls. Some balls were in his stomach, while others were in his small intestines. They were magnetically attracted to each other – the lining of the stomach and small intestines stuck in between the magnets. My little boy was taken to the hospital listless… after three days of not being able to keep anything down. I felt as though my little active monkey was gone, and instead here lay a sick child.
Muneeb looked worse off initially, after having undergone major surgery. A tube going through his nose into his stomach, a catheter for urine, IV and various monitors connected to his little 25-pound body. The first thought that entered my mind after seeing him like this was: la hawla wala qowata illa billah. There is no power or ability except from God. Here laying in front of me was Muneeb’s form, but it wasn’t really him. Everything about him – his constant energy, smile, playfulness were all absent at that moment. Indeed all power and ability comes from Allah.
In those minutes, hours, and days in the hospital I thought about the things my husband and I dream about sometimes – all the things we hope to have. And I thought to myself, “What if I had all those things, without Muneeb with me?” In a flash, all those “things” meant nothing, and indeed no longer seemed to carry value if I could not share them with my husband and all of my children. What a blessing I had all along in my hands! Why didn’t I take notice of everything I had before? I felt so much humility in front of Allah, having taken the health of each of my children for granted.
During the coming days in the hospital I was jumping through hoops to get little Muneeb to smile. Five days after surgery, he finally gave us a brief smile. What a blessing! That smile made my heart fly. Day after day he continued to get better, and after ten days in the hospital we returned home.
Sometimes we need little reminders in our lives to show us the beautiful blessings around us, and sometimes we need big ones. This was a big reminder for me, and I am grateful to Allah in whose Hands lie all our precious babies, that He chose to let us keep Muneeb a while longer.
I am reminded of the verse in the Quran:
“Wealth and children are the adornment of the life of this world. But the good righteous deeds that last are better with your Lord for rewards and better in respect of hope.” [Al-Kahf 46]
Not only is our wealth fleeting, but our time with our children is fleeting as well. Some may even leave us during our lifetime, but at the very most they’ll spend what – 70 years with us? Today we may be spending every minute of their waking hours with them, but tomorrow we’ll be spending perhaps just minutes a week with them. As difficult as it may be to digest, our babies will not remain with us forever.
What will remain with us, as Allah (swt) promises, are those righteous deeds – those little things that we do to invest and take care of our little trusts from Allah.
You know, picking up those dirty little socks doesn’t seem so bad after-all.
Soulafa lives in New Jersey with her husband and five children. She is an active MAS member who enjoys working and talking with youth.