Posted on May 22, 2020
Editor's note: All this month, Haute Hijab team members are bringing you our Ramadan Diaries, posts about how our month is going, things we've learned and struggles we may be having. We are figuring out fasting and worship at home, strengthening our connection with Allah (S) and how to build community while in quarantine, just like all of you! This last entry comes from Noor Suleiuman, our Marketing Manager.
I wrote this post in my head like three different times. It was always profound. And now when it’s time to put pen to paper, this is all I have:
If I don’t prioritize myself, no one else will.
That’s it. That’s my Ramadan reflection. I actually asked Dilshad, our editor, if that sentence alone would suffice for this blog post.
Marketing Manager Noor Suleiman in her pre-kid days. :)
I’ve tried to do all the things this Ramadan. And in some sense, Alhamdulillah, I’ve been able to accomplish a lot for my kids, my home and my work. But some days, it doesn’t feel like that. This quarantine has stripped moms of their villages and left us having to figure out how to balance all the things – and it’s just not humanly possible. I know that.
But it doesn’t stop the endless tabs from staying open in my brain:
Am I doing enough to teach my son? I know a healthy dose of boredom is good for him and his development, but am I doing enough? Ugh, no, I need to get more organized and set a syllabus for homeschooling now that school’s out for the rest of the year (thanks to COVID). Maybe I can work on that on the weekend. I should also food prep on the weekend so that I can free up more time to spend with them on the weekdays. But then that means the weekends aren’t for rest anymore, and I have to work seven days a week ...
My son’s allergies are getting bad – is he taking the right medicine? I hope his cough doesn’t turn into something more. Is my 18-month-old on track for all her milestones? Should I be doing more activities with her? WHEN can I even do that?! Oh man, I still didn’t order the kids summer clothes, and shipping takes forever. I need to get on that. Yay, more decisions to make. They need shoes too, and jackets. Kids grow like weeds!
How do I make sure I raise my son and daughter to love each other and not resent each other? I need to read up on that and make sure I don’t inadvertently do something to cause that. Oh man, I never printed out her baby pictures!!! I really need to organize those. Yeah, maybe later in the summer. Shoot, I need to order my friend’s gift. Groceries. Thankfully, we’re on top of that. What should I make for dinner tonight? More decisions!
I miss my son’s school, but I also now am wondering if the school system is designed to fail our students. Should I just commit to homeschooling him? I need to research some outdoor activities for them now that summer’s here. I need to be better at planning in advance so I can make all these things happen. I also need a better morning and night routine. Maybe that’ll help me be on top of everything.
Then, a moment of quiet! I open Instagram for a few minutes just to get some rest and passive entertainment/inspiration. HOW do these moms do it all?? I know they don’t. They know they don’t. They don’t even claim they do! I’m so thankful for mom bloggers, especially during this season of quarantine, because I’ve gotten so much inspiration from them. But some days, it makes me feel incredibly inadequate. Do I just delete my app, even if it’s been helpful to me?
GET. IT. TOGETHER. NOOR. I say this to myself week after week.
This is just a tiny little snippet of what goes through my head. I know I’m not the only one. Most moms who read this will vigorously nod their heads and relate to this stream of consciousness that seems to be a permanent fixture in our brains. I know this, because every time I speak to a mom, they either vent about this very thing or agree with me if I say it.
If I sound stressed out, it’s because I am. I feel like life is happening to me, and I’m just going with it, going with the daily motions, doing what I need to do. I’m filling everyone’s cups but my own. I feel out of control (not that we’re ever entirely in control, but you get me). And, I truly don’t mean this in a depressing way. I’m not alone – quarantine aside – Alhamdulillah. I’m surrounded by amazing family and friends who truly love and support me!
But they don’t know what I’m feeling, or what I’m attempting to juggle. I need to ask for more help. I need to turn off my brain, close some tabs, and write my thoughts down so they stop fogging up my brain and stressing me out. It’s crippling, it causes so much decision fatigue as well as emotional, physical and mental stress.
In many ways, this quarantine has been great, especially during Ramadan. It gave us the opportunity to slow down and focus on what’s important – like Melanie wrote, it provided for us the Ramadan we all needed. But with all the “extra” time, came a want to make the most of it. In doing so – in trying to do all the things – I forgot myself.
And that’s when it hit me: I realized I had nothing left to give my Lord, and that was a big fat reality check for me. If I can’t serve Allah (S) right during Ramadan, what do I have?
ALL of the things I metaphorically carry meant that by the time the last ten days of Ramadan came, I couldn’t even fathom being able to get vulnerable with Allah (S), make du’a and cry to Him, to stand my nights in prayer. The thought of doing that was exhausting. I reached a breaking point and came to a very important realization. Well, many important realizations:
1. Self care is vital to my ibadah (ability to worship), and my ability to foster a relationship with Allah (S). I cannot possibly serve my Lord appropriately if I’m this burnt out.
2. If I don’t take care of myself, if I don’t prioritize myself, no one will.
3. Self care is a personal responsibility, not just an afterthought. And how that self care manifests is different for different people depending on what you need to let go of and what helps you ease your mind. It’s not something I should just “fit in” when I can. I need to be unapologetic about it. It is as much a necessity as anything else.
Now does that mean I miraculously have newfound time on my hands to take bubble baths? That would be a big fat NO. But, it does mean that for my mental health and sanity, I will make time to check out of everything and check in with myself. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) used to do this during his stays in ghar hiraa (the cave of hiraa). If I don’t regularly check in with myself and refuel my tank, I can’t be the person I want to be.
Quarantine is still under effect, Ramadan is coming to an end, life is still not back to normal, and I’m still left balancing all the things. So long as our society doesn’t fully support mothers and families, the stress will always be there – so please don’t mistake this post as simplifying the load of motherhood/parenthood.
But with a little more grace and a little more me time, I can take care of myself, Insha’Allah. I’m still figuring out how and what I can do, but I’m looking forward to figuring it out, unapologetically, Insha’Allah.