My kids are still babies, the oldest is 6 (going on 16), but my nieces and nephews are newly minted teenagers. I have to say that, mashAllah, the good upbringing that their parents used to raise them is starting to blossom through their manners, priorities, and actions. In a group family message, they shared their resolutions for this Ramadan:
- Pray 8 rakat duha, daily
- Complete the Quran
- Watch the tongue and stay positive
- Do not touch anyone with anything that may hurt, annoy, or disgust them
- Attend weekly Islamic lectures
I was impressed by level of ambition in this list, and I pray they are able to meet their goals this Ramadan and maintain their enthusiasm for worship throughout their lives. However, I was mainly reminded of myself before I had so many commitments in my life and how I spent my past Ramadans: competing with my friends in reading extra Quran for hours during the day, spending hours in night prayers and the mosque, fasting the obligatory and extra days, and more. It was like I used to be in the driver’s seat of a car that represented my life, and tirelessly speeding to get to my destination, which was a place where I collected the most hasanat, counted the most number of pages I read, and the number of rakat I prayed.
In contrast, here I am now a mother of three, with additional obligations to my work, my parents, my family, and my body that remove the luxury of the self-focus I had when I was younger. It now feels like I am the passenger of a more slowly moving car. I am not as fixated on the destination. Instead, I am going along for the ride and enjoying the scenic views. I still pick up hasanat on the way, perhaps by giving to charity, by meeting the needs of my children and parents, by taking time to nourish my body through exercise and my soul through dua, by avoiding needless gossip, by maintaining the remembrance of God on my tongue, by keeping meaningful ties with righteous friends, and more. No need to lament my inability to fast, or make communal prayers in the mosque. Instead, I am learning to celebrate this phase in my life and, as one of my beautiful friends put it, “Savor the small steps. It makes the journey most enjoyable.”
Journey is the key word here. Maybe someday I will reap the fruits of my new labors of love by contributing to science and raising a young family. These are long-term investments that don’t provide returns in the near future. In the meantime, I am turning on the cruise control, and striving to use this Ramadan to foster a peaceful home and improve my dealings with others through mercy and forgiveness. As the first moments of this beautiful month begin, I pause amid the bustle to slowly breath in the fresh Ramadan air. Thank you Allah for another opportunity to benefit from these holy days. Ramadan Kareem to you and your loved ones!
Dalal is a postdoctoral scientist and mother of three (6, 2 1/2, and 3 months old) from New Jersey. Among other things, she enjoys healthy cooking, connecting with like-minded moms, and obsessively keeping up with current events.