Salaam Alaikum wa Rahmatullah
I’ve been looking at myself lately and I don’t much like what I see. I’ve been short-tempered with my children. More than short-tempered. I’ve yelled at them and been harsh with them. I could blame my cranky attitude on being sleep-deprived or on the fact that I have to tell them to do stuff ten times before they do it, but I can’t put my bad behavior off on anyone. I have to own it. It’s my fault. It’s my sin.
I ask Allah to forgive me for not treating my children with the mercy that I ask Allah to offer me. I ask Allah to forgive my harsh words, a sharp smack on the bottom, the toy thrown angrily into the toy box, the roll of the eyes and the muttered words under my breath. I ask Allah to forgive me and I’m going to ask my kids to forgive me, too.
How did I get to be the angry Mommy? I think when life is full of challenges and you feel helpless, when you’re tired and frustrated, the behavior you’d normally inhibit comes out. Not full force – I don’t whack on my kids or deprive them of food or lock them in their rooms or anything like that – but it comes out in snarky words or a sharp tone or even in just ignoring them when you know you really need to pay attention. You would never condone abusive behavior, but you can understand why a parent might snap. Sometimes you find yourself on the verge of really losing it, and only the greatest effort of self-restraint stops you. Then the anger drains away and you stand there thinking, How could I ever even imagine hurting my child? And you step back from the precipice and realize that something has to change.
I am making that change. I am going to start with a new attitude. I have to remember every day the miracles Allah blessed me with. Five wonderful, beautiful, adorable, active, curious children. They are a trust from Allah and I have to treat them like the precious gifts they are. Even when they put the toy school bus in the cats’ litter box. Even when they spill grape juice on my light brown carpet. Even then. Especially then, because they know that Mommy is capable of showing a lot of anger and I don’t want them to fear an explosion from me when they do something I’ve done a hundred times before. I’ve broken more dishes than they have; I’ve spilled coffee on the rug and ruined a shirt while ironing it and burned dinner and more. And no one yelled at me, called me stupid, hit me, or sent me to my room without dessert.
I’m going to start treating my kids more like they are other peoples’ kids. Imagine that I have guests over. Guests with small children. One of those kids spills his drink. What would I, the gracious hostess, do? I would say “That’s all right dear”, smile, and clean it up. Imagine if I stood there and yelled at a friend’s child. I’d be major Evil Lady. So why do I do it with my own?
I love my kids. I sometimes get teary-eyed when nursing the baby. I get lost in my six year old’s deep brown eyes. I watch in amazement as my five year old masters the computer. I brush my daughter’s golden ringlets. I laugh raucously with my oldest son while watching a funny TV show. When I’m at my best, I am Super Involved Mommy, taking one to swim class, teaching another his alphabet, helping another learn to pray. I know I have the potential to raise really amazing kids, if only I don’t get in my way. So that’s what I’m going to do.
This is important. It’s the most important thing I’ll do in my life. To raise mentally healthy kids who are strong Muslims. Even the best parents are up against a society that tries to undo all their good work. I have to really work harder, work smarter, and be a better person if I’m going to do this. So that’s what I’m going to do. Failure is not an option.
My life is not ideal. I am struggling with some issues that impact my life daily, and not in a good way. I have to learn to get over it and get on with it, and still have the grace to live a good life and to love my children and not punish them for something they can’t control. I have seen what bad parenting can do. I do not want to go down that path, not even one inch. I am throwing myself on Allah’s Mercy and asking Him to help me find some grace in my life, so that I can carry on and be the kind of person I need to be. So I’m going to take a deep breath, get off the computer, go see what my kids are up to, and apologize to them. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Make du’a for me.