I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. I drove my parents crazy from around the time I turned thirteen. Like many young adults, I was immature and self absorbed. My heart aches when I think about the sleepless nights I must have caused them.
Every time I pray—five times a day or more—I ask God to have mercy on them as they had mercy on me. I ask Him to forgive me for my ways.
Last night at 2:30 am, my 9-month-old daughter, Zainab, woke up with stomach pains that made her wail. I held her tight, rocking her back and forth. No sooner did I put her down did she wake up and begin to cry again. We did this over and over until daybreak.
A couple of hours later, I make my way to the kitchen and get the day’s cooking and cleaning done. Exhausted, I finally sit down in the family room. “Mama, can we make a bee?” Asks my three-year old son, Ibrahim, pointing to his arts and crafts box. Running on empty, I get up and force a cheery voice as I read out the instructions for constructing a bee out of pipe cleaners and pom poms.
Realizing that I hadn’t had a sip of water all day, I thirstily made my way to the kitchen with Zainab in my arm. As my mouth salivated at the sight of the ice-cold glass in my hand, Zainab began kicking her legs excitedly. I knew that she wanted some too. Before taking a sip myself, I put it to her mouth. As I was about to quench my own thirst, Ibrahim ran into the kitchen and said, “Mama, I want mayya (water) too!” So I gave him the rest of that glass.
Then a thought struck me. My children are my redemption. If, as the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) narrates, a prostitute can go to heaven for having mercy on a cat, then my children can—God willing—be my key to salvation.
In their young age they are physically wearing me out and I’m sure they’ll keep taxing me in different ways as they grow older. Although I feel drained, I also secretly feel happy that I can somehow pay it forward. I can’t change the way I treated my parents —despite how badly I wish I could—but I can do my best to have mercy on own children, in hope that God will have mercy on us all. For As the Prophet tells us, “Be merciful to the people of the earth and the One in the heavens will have mercy upon you.”
Bushra Tobah is a mother of two, residing in Toronto, Ontario. She has an MSc in International Business from the Ivey School of Business and has currently put her PhD on hold to stay home with the kids. She loves writing because unlike young children, writing makes sense.