Being pregnant was a surreal experience for me. I had never liked pets. You probably can’t see the connection between pets and pregnancy, but for a person who was never comfortable around little living, breathing creatures with anatomies that differed from mine, a slight stretch of the imagination is all you need to see what I mean. Plus the two were almost totally absent from my childhood. So when I felt the baby kick, and later hiccup, bend her elbows, and stretch her legs, I was in awe of Allah’s creation first…and creeped out second.
We had nine months to get comfortable with each other. Yet when she was born I was surprised that for me an attachment to her was not so immediate. Instead of accepting her as my baby, I had this sharp sense that I was entrusted by Allah with a soul that belonged to Him. Sure she bears my nose and her father’s eyes, but she’s not mine. Ultimately, she would return to Allah with only herself to be accounted for. Likewise so would I. So here we were; a family that Allah has united from among all the souls in this creation for the purpose of helping each other complete this journey. The first month reinforced this notion, as she was only in need of milk, sleep and diaper changes.
But, as she gets older, our interests overlap more, our routines meld into each other, and our lives become inextricably connected. That initial detachment melts away with each stage of her life. For breakfast, we take turns spreading the cream cheese then the jam. We each grab our watering cans and march around the house watering whatever comes in our way, hopefully most of the time it’s just the plants. When it is nap time, we each take our blanket and lie down in bed―only she gets up soon after to tuck me in and sing me a lullaby. She has become a part of me, and subconsciously I have become afraid to lose that.
That fear is a consequence of forgetting about the insight that motherhood taught me the day Maryam was born. But occasionally, on days like today, the memories come back to me. I turn to Allah grateful for the gift he entrusted me with and aware that it belongs to Him. Now I need to figure out how to live my life with a general detachment of this world so instead of fearing loss I can strive more fully for the sake of Allah.
Dalal is a 4th year PhD student in chemistry and a devoted mother to one gregarious toddler.