I’ve have always known that I have a terrible memory. Now, after having two children, I sometimes wish it were better. I wish I can commit to memory how elated they looked when they took that first step, or how high their voice was when they said their first word, or that look of surprise on their face at the first taste of sweet, frosty ice cream. Nonetheless, I have come to the realization that my weak memory has actually been a blessing for me.
It took a long time to reach this part of my life. Nearly six years into our marriage, my husband and I decided we were ready for children. As a young couple, it was the next natural step for us, so of course it would happen without any trouble. Right? Apparently Allah had different plans for us.
By then I had been at the side of several friends who had trouble conceiving. It was hard to watch, even harder to imagine that feeling of having no control over a situation that seemed so possible, yet impossible. I resisted thinking about the prospect of not conceiving so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed with sadness. I told myself it was just the process of having children (obviously, I was not paying attention much in biology). We went to our doctor several times before being referred to specialists. Then we went back, week after week, for blood tests, urine tests, etc. We didn’t know what we were being tested for, but we were submissive. I thought that some doctor must know the secret to having kids, right?
Over and over again, we turned to medicine expecting it would bring us results. That was our first misstep. We did not start by turning to Allah first. We leaned on science when we should have been leaning on Allah. We should have engaged in more supplicating before making appointments with several different doctors. Who did we think we were? We had said to ourselves “okay, now we are ready, let’s have children,” but forgot that all of life comes from and with the permission of Allah. It is He alone who gives. In that moment I forgot Allah, but in His infinite mercy and grace, He did not forget me.
Nearly two years later, we were blessed with our first child. It was a natural birth, with a long intense labor, hours of painful stitching, and lots of blood loss. And yet, while holding my first child in my arms just a few hours later, the memories of pain were gone and I said to my husband “I can do that again.”
Months later I remember telling my husband “Wow, we are just so blessed and lucky.” Our life just seemed so peachy in that moment. But, he bought to mind the anguish and wait we had endured in conceiving our first child, and of the impressive debt we accumulated as he attended graduate school. He also reminded me how much time we spent away from each other in our early years of marriage as we both worked late night and red eye morning hours. How benevolent is Allah that He makes us even forget the tests we have endured.
Nearly two years after my first child, it happened (without planning) that we were blessed with a second. The intense pains of labor, seemingly unending periods of wakefulness in the middle of the night, the uncomfortable nursing sessions, all came back like a tidal wave over me. How fortunate that I had forgotten these challenges, for I may not have been as eager to have another child had I remembered them. .
On most days, raising two kids leaves me speechless. No two days are ever the same. Each one brings numerous challenges. Sometimes it is an issue or problem I faced a month earlier, but was fortunate enough to forget how bad that day or night was.
This has been the summer of sickness in our house. The children were ill almost every week for the past few months. At one point we reached a new height, when both girls had fevers consistently for several days. I was scared. I wanted my healthy, happy children back, and I could not stand to see them as anything else. By the grace of Allah, everything turned out okay in the end. The girls remain to be healthy and normal.
I needed that admonition from Allah. I had spent so much time running away from the dangers our children face in this world. Physical and social dangers, sickness, disease, natural disasters, violence-the possibility of them was so very real that the only thing to do was block it all out. Allah reminded me that while anything was possible, nothing would befall us without His permission.
I am now realizing what a blessing good health is for myself and for my family. It is not something to be taken for granted. I have always known this in the back of my mind, but thank you Allah for bringing it to my attention.
Thank you Allah for making me remember. And in that remembrance, thank you Allah for pulling me closer.
Shereen Noor is a mom of two, struggling to raise exceptional children without losing her mind, or herself in the process.