By Hanaa Ibtes
Alhamdulilah, by the grace of Allah, I was blessed with a beautiful boy in May 2016, and then later a beautiful girl in June 2018. The journey has unexpectedly taught me so much about the person I am now, the person I was before I had kids and the person I want to be in the years to come.
Like most new mothers, I prepared everything for the arrival of my first child: the cot, push chair, car seat, babygrows, bottles; I read books on parenting, attended seminars on labour and I learnt the fiqh of labour, post labour and parenting, so we were more than ready… or so I thought.
Due to some complications in labour, I was rushed to theatre to have an emergency c-section. Although I enjoyed the procedure, recovery was painful. I remember thinking back then, just six weeks of recovery and everything will be fine. How wrong I was! This was just the beginning of a journey of self-discovery that would change my life forever, Alhamdulillaah.
Lesson 1: Rediscovering Who I Am
I loved having my son in my life. I would hold him very close to my heart whilst gently brushing his hair down with my hand, straightening his eye brows whilst admiring his beautiful big brown eyes, and thinking how grateful I was to Allah for having him in my life. Alhamdulillah it was a really enjoyable time, but I began to feel something change within me. I couldn’t quite put it into words back then but as the weeks and months passed by, it became more and more apparent.
I began to reflect over who I wanted to be and how my son would grow up to remember me. What would he say about his mama? How did she respond to tests and trials? How did she carry herself around people who caused drama and tension? I didn’t realise then that I was just about to go back through memory lane, remembering things from my past that I thought I had buried and forgotten about. Without intentionally choosing to, I reflected over my past heavily: my childhood, my adolescence, my adulthood, my relationship with Allah, my relationship with His creation. It was as though I was going through some sort of self rediscovery. I focused my reflections mostly on the choices that I had made up to that point – choices about who I was and about how I wanted to show up in the world, and I was not content, to say the least. Changes had to be made. This is not my story. My son is not going to grow up and see his mama play this role anymore, I thought determinedly.
Shortly after this, my journey of self care began; if I was to permanently instil love and care for myself in the present and in the future to come, I realised that I had to begin by showing love and care for the Hanaa’ in the past. She had made choices based on what she believed were right at the time. She had genuine intentions behind her choices. She really had done the best she could. Once I was able to love her and care for her, I was then able to let go of the hurt, pain and blame I had carried for too long towards her. Alhamdulilah. I witnessed how when I showered myself with kindness and gratitude, I was able to step into courage, contentment and happiness, which is how I wanted my son to grow up to see his mama, so that this could also be nurtured in him, bi ithnillaah.
Lesson 2: Acknowledging The Gifts of Allaah Upon Me Through My Inspirational Mother
When I recall how my mother raised myself and my five siblings practically alone with no parents, no siblings, without speaking the English Language, with no academic certificates and in a completely foreign land, far away from her family and friends and what she called home, I am filled with a sense of awe. She faced challenges, trials, many downs and lows, yet she kept walking, she kept going. She kept looking ahead, and Alhamdulilah she managed to do it all. I am inspired by her perseverance, resilience and more importantly her faith, trust and positive thinking about Allah, which built an unwavering strength within me that if she was able to surmount her many obstacles with grace and eemaan, I could do it too. In this way, I was able to acknowledge the many things I do for my children: how I show up every single day despite everything that’s going on inside me to be there for them; how much I worry about their future and the things I put in place to ensure that they will be in a good position in life when they reach adulthood; how much I was doing to create a life of happiness for them. Acknowledgement diminished all the negative thoughts I had about myself as a mother and it muted all the negative noise of others as well, Alhamdulilah.
Lesson 3: I am the best mother for my children
Two years ago, I was grieving over the loss of my mum who had recently passed away, I had a super active two year old, a 3 week old baby at home, I was recovering from an emergency C-section, and I was in South London which was far from everyone and everything I had known, and I was literally doing it all alone, day in day out. It was such a difficult time in my life and I felt I was continuously doubting myself over whether I could do this whole mothering thing. Who was going to support me? Who was going to uplift me on the days where it all got too much? Before, I would have just gone to visit my mum, and she would be so positive and tell me how things would get easier.
My son has always been a ball of energy, always so active, always on the go and always so upbeat maashaaAllah tabarakAllah. There were days where I really doubted whether I could ‘mother him’, whether I would be able to nurture him, whether I was capable, and whether I was strong enough? The fact that he wasn’t meeting his milestones despite my efforts and time compounded this self doubt that was slowly consuming me. I REALLY doubted myself.
As I said before, in the past, my mum would always reassure me that I was doing a great job and that it would get easier. When she left, I wanted to hear those words again. I wanted her alive again to say, ‘Hanaa’ you got this’. ‘You can do it.’ ‘I believe in you.’ ‘You can do it.’ I wanted someone like my mum that I could lean on, someone who could see my struggles yet uplift me.
Honestly looking back now, I don’t know how I got through it, but Alhamdulilah I did! Time went by and Alhamdulillah my son has grown up to be a 4 year old boy that I’m so proud of as a mother. Honestly I’m not saying this just because I’m his mother, but he amazes me everyday with something new he says or does. He makes me laugh so much and I’m learning so much from him. Of course he has his moments (which is absolutely normal) but overall, Alhamdulillaah, he’s truly grown up to be such a lovely young boy who I absolutely adore!
I’m sharing this for any mother out there who is struggling and feels like she’s the worst mother. I want you to know that this mothering role will be a test, it will be a challenge, it will throw you off at times. That’s why the status and the reward of the mother is so high! (Girl, Jannah lies at your feet!)
And at the same time I want you to know that you can do it. YOU are the perfect mother for your child/ren! Allaah chose them for you and you for them. You are doing an amazing job as a mother. One day it will all get easier and you will look back and just smile! I promise you!
One last piece of advice I will give you, is also to be careful who you choose to open up to about your mothering struggles, be careful in whose presence you breakdown in: some people may use those moments to attempt to break you down further and tell you you’re not cut out for it, or tell you how awful you are as a mother, etc. Their words are not true, because here I am two years later, Alhamdulilah thriving in my role as a mother Alhamdulilah! This is not because of how great I am, but because back then, that was my season of ‘test’ as a mother and today it’s my season of ‘ease’. And that’s how life is. Some days are ‘for’ us and some days are ‘against’ us. The key thing is to know that if Allah has brought you to it, He will pull you through it!
Alhamdulillaah for the journey of motherhood!
For the lessons above, I want to praise and thank Allah firstly, for without Him, I wouldn’t have been able to derive these lessons; and then secondly, my children, for it was through being their mother that I was able to experience, live and learn the above. May Allah preserve them and all of our children, ameen.
About the author:
Hanaa’ is a mother to two very sociable and loving children.
She’s currently studying Islamic NLP which she uses to deliver her online programmes with the intention to inspire Muslim women through their difficulties, through the ‘Breathe Online Programme’. You can connect with her at http://www.hanaaibtes.blog