Growing up, it has long been ingrained in our minds that we should aim to achieve enough in life to afford comfort and happiness. Myself, as a parent, I hope that my children will also grow to achieve in their lives, a level of comfort and stability that everyone wishes for. Not so very long ago, I was a young woman with a multitude of dreams about attaining an university degree, having a job that I would love and possibly travelling the world to see places only seen in magazines and on Television. I was once a young woman who, like many other women, thought that life would always go the way we planned, with everything fitting into place, just as we would like. Sometimes, however, our plans fall out of place, and right before our eyes, life takes an unimaginable turn.
I was once pursuing a degree that would have assured me a comfortable placement in the world of work and being newly married, things seemed perfect and life was going ‘as I planned’. Then came the curveball, I became pregnant with my first child who, by Allah’s decree, was stillborn at 36 weeks gestation, practically full term. My life’s plan was thrown off course as dealing with such a trial took its toll. Needless to say, depression followed and continuing my education was no longer an option. My reliance on Allah greatly helped me to overcome and move on with life, which included having more children and being a stay at home mother – accompanied by all that motherhood entails. This job is by no means an easy feat, and it goes without saying that in the years gone by, I wondered if life would have been easier, had it gone as ‘planned’. I have seen friends complete their degrees and have successful jobs, as well as families, who also go through trials and sometimes found myself comparing my life to theirs.
Then I changed. As life went on, and I became better at doing what I love – being a mother- I came to the realization that, perhaps, the person I thought I would be isn’t the person I am meant to be. I am a mother, a caregiver, a wife; I am a confidant and my children’s first teacher. I am their instiller of morality and good behavior, and I am their means through which they learn about Allah and His Mercy. I am the one who tries her hardest to ensure they are involved in extra-curricular activities to help them to become better and more productive members of our society. I am the one given a trust from Allah and the gift of motherhood, which in and of itself is a trial, a trial I am determined to win with His Help. Through it all, I discovered me.
For many women, the feeling of being stuck in life, not being able to accomplish more in life perhaps, because of motherhood, (or a variety of other circumstances), is one that is all too real. The feeling of what could have been had circumstances been different resonates the world over, among women across all backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities. I have asked myself many times, must it really be this way? Must those feelings of unaccomplished dreams fill our hearts and our minds and make us question, “what if?”? The answer is certainly no. As believers in Allah and His Qadr (Divine Decree), we must never believe that things would have been better for us if things had gone the way we intended. Allah tells us,
“O you who believe! Be not like those who disbelieve (hypocrites) and who say to their brethren when they travel through the earth or go out to fight: ‘If they had stayed with us, they would not have died or been killed,’ so that Allah may make it a cause of regret in their hearts” [Aal ‘Imraan: 156]
“Say: ‘Nothing shall ever happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is our Mawlaa (Lord, Helper and Protector).’ And in Allah let the believers put their trust” [At-Tawbah: 51]
As strong Muslim women, whether we are mothers or not, whether we are out there advancing our careers or we are caregivers and nurturers at home to children, parents or other family members, let us realise that our purpose in life above all is to worship Allah alone without associating partners to Him.
“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” [Ad Dhaariyat: 56]
Whatever circumstances we are in right now, no matter how hard we try on a daily basis, it is what Allah decides is best for us, and there is no way we can argue with that. Let us empower ourselves, to become better than we are now in the roles that we have been allotted in life, because looking at us for support, inspiration and guidance are people we love, cherish and want the best for. We need to take a look at ourselves in the mirror and be happy with who we are, where we have come from, and never underestimate our abilities. As believers in Allah and the Last Day, know that our roles in life will never go unnoticed by Allah as even the small deeds we do, with the right intentions can gain us huge rewards, by His Mercy. It is time we discover our inner strengths and apply them to our lives, because we are here only for a short period of time. Let us not focus on what has gone by, but rather focus on how we can better ourselves and that of our families, in order to attain the ultimate goal, Jannah. Let us then accept, that, who we thought we would be, wasn’t necessarily who we were meant to be.