If you have ever felt gutted while browsing through the zillions of Ramadan related crafts and activities people share, or felt guilty at not giving your children and family the magical Ramadan that your neighbor is giving her family, step into the boat and we shall row far away from the wrath of the perfect parents.
The updates started to roll in, slowly but surely. Blogs and posts of extensive Ramadan decorations and crafts that threatened to crush my airway with their sheer difficulty were all over the social media.
Suhoor and Iftar menus were documented and recipes were exchanged. Children were presented with Ramadan baskets filled with handmade items to keep them occupied during the month as the mothers occupied themselves with preparing vast meals with intricate garnishing and memorized the Quran along with it.
Every single tidbit was photographed and plastered all over the home page to possibly motivate moron-mothers like yours truly.
I watched all the preparations with a sense of foreboding that increased as the first day of Ramadan approached. With a folder full of ideas and recipes, I was all set but for the sheer energy or time.
Mustering up the motivation to change out of my pajamas by midday is an achievement; the idea of making ocean themed pastries with finicky pastry is laughable when my belly is full let alone while fasting.
After finally stepping out of the baby bubble this year, I was faced with the prospect of fasting the entire month whilst homeschooling a highly inquisitive 3 year old and a 1 year old who puts the energizer bunny to shame.
Although the month began in trepidation, this Ramadan has been one of the most productive and calmer ones in recent memory, with the help of a few small but necessary adjustments to my mindset.
- Curb the need to shine on social media. You choosing not to parade your kitchen success on your profile does not mean you feed your family sticks of butter. This constant need for approval in the form of “likes” can be indulged in all other months but let it go for now.
- Keep your meals simple but packed full of nutrition. Simple additions to your diet, like a glass of water with a couple of dates soaked in it for 12 hours can go a long way to keep acidity at bay. A plate full of watermelon at Suhoor keeps you away from being dehydrated. This is the month of fasting and not feasting, no matter what tradition may say. Stick to your regular dinner meals if possible.
- Keep your phone on you as much as possible. Use an authentic Quran app to sneak in a couple of pages of recitation whenever you are excused from pretending to be a horse or patient at the hands of your little minions.
- If you are homeschooling younger children, let these last few weeks be focused entirely on teaching them Quranic stories. We opted for a word-a-day activity to last the entire Ramadan (there will be more on this in the near future). Children love stories and the Quran is brimming full of enchanting ones.
- When you feel boredom or restlessness creeping in, listen to short but relevant lectures by orators who are gifted with the power to awaken your need to learn. A personal favourite would be Br. Nouman Ali Khan and his hilariously concise analogies.
- Try and get the children to stick to their regular sleep schedule as much as possible. This leaves you ample time for focus on yourself and your relationship with the Quran.
- It would be preferable to have finished all the Eid shopping before Ramadan but not everyone sticks to plans or remembers to take carefully jotted lists when stepping out of the house. The final ten days are around the corner- rush out and get all the clothes and gifts before they dawn upon us.
- Do not spend the last few days getting ready for Eid. Need decorations? Begin now or simply print out a bunting banner and you are good to go. The spirit of Eid al Fitr cannot be dulled by the lack of finicky decorations.
- Keep a record of things you want to achieve before the month comes to an end. The Satan is locked away and cannot hinder you from turning on a new leaf. Use these weeks to rid yourself of habits that you are not too proud of because this is the easiest time to practice doing so without the buzz of the devil.
Tendency to indulge in a spot of gossip? Make a vow to dedicate a prayer for each time you re lapse.
Easily hooked on to shows and prone to binge watching? Reward yourself for every day you go without it.
- Handling children: This is a tough one but a breeze once you actually stop and think about it. Our progeny hold the immense power to make us go from benevolent mothers to scaring the wicked witch of the west in a few seconds. Short from having them on a leash (no pun intended), there is nothing we can do about it. Give them a free pass for the month. Let them have lots of unstructured playing whilst you sit in the same room (a witness is always required when you deal with more than one) and catch up on your recitation. It is entirely up to you if you feel that they need a structured time but this will require your already sparse energy too. When they squabble, make it a point to begin a long talk and they will learn to figure it out themselves (happy dance*).
Our religion is a natural one and we creatures have been exhaustingly making it as tough as it possibly can get. Mothers place undue stress upon themselves to live up to the insane standards set by individuals who are either blessed with amazing energy levels or have help at home; it is never possible to have it all AND feel a sense of satisfaction.
You will always have to forgo something.
It just does not have to be your sanity or your sense of achievement.
The mercy you show your children when you clean their snotty noses, the struggle you face in trying to coax food between their adamant teeth, the mini-asphyxiating episode you face as you wait for them to get off your head whilst in prayer, and even your funny faces to bring on a smile on their face is being recorded and rewarded a heap of times more than on any other month.
If the first part of the month was less productive than you would have liked it to be, let it go. You have the final 10 days to look forward to and make the most out of. Use the few days before those days to prepare yourself and your family to enjoy the rewards they come with.
In a highly materialistic world that places deep values in the opinion of society, it is difficult to stand up and do anything differently. Do it for Allah and remember that every family and their needs differ and you will surely be blessed with a sense of contentment, something even a zillion “likes” will never bring about.
O Mothers of the social media Ummah, you are the Queens of your households; reign as freely as you wish to!