I vividly remember experiencing the first “growing pains” of my first pregnancy. Just barely 11 weeks along, tears were streaming down my face as I clutched my abdomen in pain. I quickly called my mom and apologized profousely for any and all heartache or suffering that I had put her through, specifically those particularly difficult teenage years. If my own baby that appeared in the ultrasound as a mere peanut was already putting me through this, I was nervous about the future. Fast forward a few nausea filled weeks later while I’m sitting in the passport office awaiting my turn to pick up my passport for my upcoming trip to Palestine. It would be my first time meeting my husband’s entire extended family in Jenin, alone. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the office, while zoned out in my thoughts, I felt the first movements of my daughter. Like dainty little bubbles popping, I could feel the new life that was inside of me. Again, the tears flowed from my eyes as I reached for my phone to call my mom. It became evident that if I were to enjoy this venture into motherhood, I had to be patient and find the beauty in the struggle.
Everyday I have opportunities to either dwell on the negative or focus on the positive. Just last night, even though dinner was cooked earlier in the day, we didn’t sit down as a family until 8 pm, the children’s assumed bedtime. After soccer pickup, we had to head to the fabric store to pick up supplies for a costume and swing by Target for laundry detergent — and 26 other things, am I right? — before heading home. By the time homework was completed, everyone was settled, and dinner was reheated, I was exhausted. Yet, I still had to keep trucking on because we had a costume to complete. The little ones were put to bed before I ran a quick search on Pinterest to pick out two easy tutorials for our interpretation of a polar bear. I completed the fluffy fur skirt and vest by 10 pm. As my daughter eagerly tried on all the components of the costume, I looked around my dining room where my sewing machine sat. It had looked like I had just shaved a white cat, the fur was everywhere. Never mind the pile of dinner dishes that sat precariously on the kitchen counter, awaiting my attention. I was done. I wanted nothing more than to curl into my bed and wake to find the house cleaning fairy had taken care of it all while I slept through the whole night. At that point, my daughter entered the kitchen looking like the cutest, chicest polar bear, smiling ear to ear. Her eyes shining brightly, she hugged me tighter than she has in a while and said, “I love it! You’re the best mom ever!”
I have to seek out these moments, preserve them, replay them in my mind when I’m feeling down and out about the multiple struggles we all face in this difficult yet rewarding journey. I have to be realistic about motherhood, too. There will be sibling rivalry, inconsistent parenting, numerous requests to clean their rooms, and times when I need to be away from my kids for the sake of my sanity. But I have to step out of my role as their mother to see that there is something worthy of treasuring in those instances. The sibling squabbles give me the opportunity to remind them of the hadith of our beloved Prophet (pbuh): “Do not hold back (from giving to people and helping them), or Allah will withhold (His mercy and blessings) from you”. When it comes to parenting discrepancies, I’m able to appreciate my husband’s viewpoint. He tends to be more lenient, while I am more strict. Is it really that bad that they stay up past their bedtime to play with their father who has come home late? And those messy rooms are usually a byproduct of their gleeful exploration of outfit combinations, quiet solitude of flipping through their favorite books, and creative art projects gone awry. Motherhood has so many blessings in it. The simple fact that Allah has even blessed me with the privilege of being a mother while so many women are trying to conceive is reason alone to praise and give thanks to Him. I have four, healthy daughters that all shower me with love in their own unique ways. There is the one that pushes me to my limits, to do more, work harder, strive for excellence before her affection shines through. Yet on the other hand, one daughter, currently sitting in my lap, constantly smothers me in her devotion unconditionally.
It’s taken me a while, but I’ve come to learn that it’s totally okay and completely necessary to seek out help along the way. Without fail, the days that I find myself behind in my housework coincides with the week that my monthly housecleaning help is scheduled to come. Side by side, we make the house sparkle just long enough to savor for an hour or two before the girls come home from school. I have a circle of friends that each offers me the exact comfort, advice, help, and guidance I need. Reaching out to them, I know that I’m not alone during my daily struggles. Even attending Jummah prayer at the masjid, while sitting amongst other mothers with their children in the Mother’s Room of the prayer hall, reminds me that I’m not alone and I am blessed! We have a legit prayer room with windows to the main hall, a great audio system, and a screen to view the Imam. How many mosques across the US can say that? Find the beauty in the struggle, Mamas.
Sleepless nights, runny noses, meal time struggles, crayon on the walls, crumbs in the car, sibling squabbles, none of it is in vain. Legos are not the only thing beneath our feet, if you know what I mean. “Verily, Paradise is beneath the mother’s feet.” – Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
Editor’s Note: Amnah Ibrahim writes for her blog, LittleLifeOfMine.com, where she chronicles her life as a crafty, stay-at-home mom to four rambunctious girls. In addition to recipes and project ideas, her blog helps mothers find humor and magic in the mundane. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow her on twitter @LLifeOfMine. The views expressed here are her own.