This is Day 21 of the #30Days30Writers 2016 Ramadan series.
By Umm Juwayriyah
And We shall set up balances of justice on the Day of Resurrection, then none will be dealt with unjustly in anything. And if there be the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it. And Sufficient are We as Reckoners. Quran, 21:47
The old adage goes, “A mother’s job is never done.” During Ramadan this saying couldn’t be more truer. From sun up to sun down it seems that Muslim women are the most busiest during this blessed time of year. As women who are aware that this is a month full of blessings, so many of us eagerly await the challenge each year to do our best for ourselves and others.
There’s elaborate food to be cooked for suhoor and iftar, prayers to be made throughout the day and night, cleaning, washing, children to be taught or entertained with Islamic inspired themes and arts and crafts and family and friends to host. Even for the most Martha Stewart-trained and polished homemakers, Ramadan often leaves many moms exhausted.
Enter Autism and other special needs within the family, and for many it’s either a complete game changer or in some cases, game over!
I choose game changer.
Ever since my youngest daughter was diagnosed with Epilepsy and Autism eight years ago, Ramadan has taken on a new meaning for me. My time — already carefully divided between my family, career and providing for her care, medications and everyone’s emotional rollercoasters — always seems to come up short during Ramadan. It’s never an easy defeat to swallow.
That sweet potato casserole that I pinned on Pinterest months ago hoping to surprise my husband and parents with for iftar gets overridden by my afternoon trip to the park with my daughter so that she can sleep throughout the night easier. And those lectures with the sisters that I had hoped to sit in on at least once or twice within the month, I swapped out for the chance to pray salatul Tarawih in congregation while my mother watched my daughter.
Even hosting events at my home are now a challenge due to her sensory issues. I often have to fight off feelings of inadequateness and jealousy for those Muslim Mommas doing what appears to be “ it all.” I wanted to be like them: cooking, cleaning, hosting events and praying all night. But over the years I have learned that Ramadan is one of the best times to work on perfecting my intentions and acknowledging my gratitude for those tasks that I am able to complete.My intentions during Ramadan are always to do my best with what I have to give for the sake of my Lord first.
Putting the needs of my special needs daughter first is what I have been entrusted with 365 days a year. The needs of my child don’t diminish because it’s the first ten days of Ramadan or the last ten nights either. The needs of my “Peachy-Poo” don’t diminish because some masajid and Muslims aren’t special needs friendly, aware or accommodating.
The needs of my middle child don’t diminish because I am fasting, tired, a juz (chapter) behind everyone else and really bummed that I won’t able to make it to the IHOP suhoor gathering with sisters for the fourth year in a row. The Ramadan race has changed for me forever. This is the life that Allah has chosen to test me with.
I choose gratitude.
A mother’s work is never done, and I am still that Muslim Momma giving Ramadan my all from Fajr to Isha. Though my Ramadan often doesn’t look identical to my sister-friends, I am grateful to Allah that I get to serve, love and guide someone that He has already favored in this world and in the next.
I am grateful that even though I miss out on many Ramadan activities, that He has provided me with bountiful opportunities right in my own home to gain His blessings. I am grateful that even though many nights tears fall from stress and exhaustion, every morning He pulls me up and through another day of fasting and purification. I am grateful that even when I am doubtful of my giving and doing during Ramadan, He reminds me that it just takes faith the size of mustard to earn His greatest reward.
I choose to submit to His Mercy.
On the Day of Resurrection I will intercede and say, ‘O my Lord! Admit into Paradise (even) those who have faith equal to a mustard seed in their hearts.’ (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Hadeeth 600)
Umm Juwayriyah is the author of the critically acclaimed novel: The Size of a Mustard Seed and the first Islamic English children’s book on special needs: Hind’s Hands – A Story About Autism. She is also the founder of #MuslimGirlsRead, a reading initiative for Muslim girls worldwide.