Brief Reflection on the Fitnah of Children
وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَأَوْلَادُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ عِندَهُ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ
“And know that your possessions and your children are but a trial and that surely, with Allah is a mighty reward.” (Surah Al-Anfaal, 8:28)
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ عَن ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ
"O you who believe, let not your properties or your children divert you from the Remembrance of Allah. And whosoever does that, they are the losers." (Surah AlMunaafiqoon 63:9)
I admit, my postpartum hormones have gotten the best of me. The proverbial image of a disheveled, exhausted, inconsolable mother attempting to breastfeed her newborn pretty much sums up my current state.
When my husband and I decided to have our second child just 20 months apart from our first, my biggest anxieties were whether or not our son would be jealous of his sister, whether or not I would struggle to get our daughter to latch (our son struggled), and whether or not I would get any sleep once I was outnumbered by small human beings.
In fact, in my first two weeks postpartum, these have become the least of my concerns. To my surprise, my anticipated anxieties have been replaced by a painful feeling, one I've never before experienced. It is a new sort of sadness for which there is no precedence in my life. It is the profound, bittersweet sense of watching your child grow up, watching him slowly, but surely, become more independent.
I miss my boy.
I miss my boy's pre-toddler days, when we would snuggle skin-to-skin for hours.
I miss my boy's pre-language phase, when communication was limited to hand gestures and jibberish, and when growth spurts were still novel occurrences to me as a first-time mom.
I miss my boy's infancy, the not-quite-ready-to-exercise-independence phase that precedes toddlerhood.
I miss my baby boy.
I would be lying if I didn't admit how painful it has been in the last few months of pregnancy, and especially in the last two weeks postpartum, to come to terms with the fact that my first-born has made the leap from highly vulnerable infant to verbal, independent toddler.
I was the center of his world. Now, he wants - needs - to experience the rest of the world.
Less mommy time, more exploration time.
Less kisses and hugs, more digging in the dirt.
Less needing to be fed and dressed, more let-me-do-it-myself.
The irony? I'm a Montessorian. I believe deeply in the importance of cultivating children's independence. But before I am a Montessorian, I am a mother - protective, emotional, and envious of anything and anyone my child chooses over me.
These 20 months have flown by like feathers in the wind. I am powerless. I have no control over the passage of time. It is this sense of powerlessness and desire for control that is the source of my current sadness. Still, knowing rationally that my son (and, indeed, time itself) are only ever under the control of Allah (SWT) has not been enough to assuage my aching heart. My longing for bygone days has left me nostalgic in ways that are hard to describe. And, admittedly, I have been struggling to focus on anything else. Indeed, this aching feeling has become a distraction.
Perhaps this is one of the ways in which our children test us. Maybe the above ayat are a reminder to us as parents that the greatest amana Allah provides many of us is a fitnah, a trial. It never ceases to astonish me that every trial and tribulation is referenced in some way in our Noble Qur'an. Alhamdulilah! I am not alone.
For me to be enveloped by feelings of longing and loss is both a distortion of reality and an act of ingratitude to Allah (SWT). AstaghfarAllah. In other words, it is not true to reality that I am losing my son, despite my emotions telling me so. It is my weak practice of shukr at this time that has left me feeling this way. It is my spotty remembrance of Allah (SWT) that has made me a slave to my current emotions. I must recalibrate.
I must exercise gratitude through dhikhr and shukr each and every single day.
I must be thankful to Allah for allowing me the invaluable experience of becoming a mother.
I must focus on the blessings that Allah has provided, the glorious memories of my first 1.5 years of motherhood.
Alhamdulilah for the honor of being your mother, my dearest Ali and Selma.