The doctors told me to wash her bed sheets and give her a shower tonight before her surgery, which isset for 8:30 AM. She can’t eat after midnight and I must be at the surgery center at 7:00 AM to check her in. The doctors called in a prescription for hydrocodone which I have ready in my room, where she will be sleeping.
In typical Sabina fashion, I strip all the beds of the sheets of the linen and comforters and wash everything. I call in the carpet cleaner to deep clean the carpets. Just in case. Bacteria is no joke.
This Ramadan, I am trying to reconnect with my spiritual side. Find my calm. Find myself.
Before I had my children, I distinctly remember hearing that children bring us closer to Allah. So every time I felt myself falter, I thought, one day when I have children and I will be nearer to my creator. I will be at one with the stillness and nature around me.
Motherhood has been anything but calm. Every time I think that I have found some time to sit down, the children either start fighting with each other, someone is hungry, or one of them is just there, needing my attention.
Be grateful. I can hear my mother tell me.
I am grateful. I am so blessed. These babies are the world to me. I am not one of those women who thinks that children are the reason for our limited freedom, I think it is the structures that make it so. I truly think that my children have enhanced my life. But it isn’t easy.
Parenting is the hardest job I have ever had. It’s not just the daily grind and lack of sleep that makes it difficult but the burden of responsibility. These little humans that once were in the protection of my belly are now walking around and exposed to so many harms. I have to make sure theysurvive and don’tcause fitnahor harm to others or to the world around.
But when I am in the thick of it, all this pontification means nothing.
I find myself trying to just survive, making sure that I do not lose my mind. When things calm down, I close my eyes to meditate and maybe do some dhikr, and the sound of a screechy “Mama!” tears down any hopes of reflection, I bite back a curse word.
This Ramadan, I was supposed to be relaxing and praying. I just finished my second semester in my Graduate program. I also just finished teaching 77 students in an Islamic school.
It was a beautiful but chaotic experience, not only because I was dealing with angsty teenagers, coming up with creative and engaging ways to teach them the material, but because I felt mom guilt for not being around my children. Every day that I kissed them good bye in the morning while they still slept, I bit the inside of my cheek, wishing that I didn’t have to leave them.
But now all that was finally coming to an end. With my modest, homemade Ramadan decorations up and an Eid counter that we actually use daily, I feel like I am winning. Or at least it is my version of winning even if it is not Instagram worthy. I still took pictures.
It is possibly Lailat-ul-Qadr tonight. A night of power and devotionMuslims wait all year for. It is a Thursday night before the final Friday of the holy month. I feel like I should be praying. Sitting on a prayer mat and quietly in supplication.
I am, instead, at 9:00 pm, waiting for the last load of laundry to get done so I can put it in the dryer. I am reading the doctors’ instructions making sure I am doing everything correctly. And I am arranging for my father to help drop my son off at school and my mother in law to pick him up.
A part of me is annoyed, no angry, that I keep missing the opportunity to truly benefit from the blessed days of Ramadan. Why can’t I just be still? Why can’t I be like those people who seem to be in perpetual worship? Will I ever be able to pray with khushoo, with the mindfulness that all prayers are meant to be prayed with? Will I ever be able to stay awake all night and pray like I once used to?
My daughter’s clothes are laid out. Her belly full. Her body clean. I kiss her on top of her head. Wisps of her soft curly hair brush my lips. I stroke her soft skin. I listen to her small breaths with fascination. I pull her closer into myself,against my chest, she smiles in her dream.I thank Allah for the gift of being her mother. I prayeverything goes well. I pray for my children and my husband. I pray for my parents and all those that I love. I pray for those around the world who may need my prayers.
10:00 PM. I close my eyes. I need all the rest I can get before the long day ahead of me.
Please Allah accept my daily work and actions as a worship.
Sabina Khan-Ibarra is a mama and writer.She is currently working on completing her MFA in Creative Non Fiction at San Francisco State University and plans onteaching others, especially those traditionallymarginalized, how to tell their own stories through writing. She is working on her memoir, Poppy Flower about a young Pashtun American woman growing up in Northern California.