Attiya Shaukat, UK
As summer holidays approach, you know the kids are going to hang around for a 6-week period. You get to plan ahead your ideas of how to entertain them; whether visiting family, having people over, catching up with school friends or going on holiday.
Having all four children at home with only a two-day notice has not yet sunk in. It’s passed one week now and still it has not sunk in.
At first, the kids and I thought it was just a long holiday, with a joke that “an MP in Scotland is saying that most likely, we won’t be going after the summer terms.” “As if!” we all laughed.
Suddenly, over the next couple of days, that statement looked far from exaggerated, rather it now seems conservative at the time I write this.
The idea that we are on holiday at home has also changed. The schoolwork is coming in daily, but the relaxed environment of the home is making each lesson seem laborious.
As I am the main carer, I have succeeded to burn, cut and slash my hands due to the high demand for baking, cleaning and cooking respectively.
It is also mind-boggling to see how long I spend cleaning one area from another area. Yet, magically, either I find a new mess conjured or astonishingly, the mess reappears. I am still at odds in deciphering how this trick works.
Anyhow, I have decided not to stress too much, for I don’t think anybody will be visiting us soon. Now, where our door mat lays for guests to dust off their shoes, I have permanently parked my vacuum cleaner until further notice. The mop will join it soon.
The constant pleas to reduce screen time is getting boring, even for me to say it, so much so that I feel I should now not bother saying it at all. My progeny has mentally applauded this thought also.
Despite these things and some more, the kids are stuck with me and I with them. Truthfully, having my children at home is an utter pleasure. I am getting the chance to talk to them, to tease them. Rather provokingly, I quoted someone’s illogical quote, waiting for any child to take bait. I was only mid-sentence, when one of my children explained the philosophical flaws of the comment … success!
Not all battles have to be won. I whisper something daily that will make them realise God. I do something small for the community around me and they see my damaged hand. I hope they learn enough maths during this time to equate that their mother is doing this out of love, propelled by faith, albeit a flawed one, as I too am learning. I desperately hope that they aspire for a purer, better and perfect version of what I am trying to achieve.
Living in close confines means that we all have to respect each member of the family a little more. To me, it has meant that giving into some tantrum is not losing the battle but winning the heart.
I hope at the end of this, when they leave home and go back to school, that I have gained enough of their heart, so that when I call them, they come flying to me. Moreover, it is true that most things only grow properly when treated with close, kind nurturing and care.
Prophet Abrahamas especially asked God how to bring about change in something. God answered saying:
“Take four birds and make them attached to thyself. Then put each of them on a hill; then call them; they will come to thee in haste. And know that Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.261)
The word “attach” in Arabic means become as close as mincemeat is entwined. So if we attach things to our filthy state, then we will make everything close to us impure, or we can aspire to a better self to produce better attachments of us.
I therefore, have come to the definite conclusion that it is not so much the children who are under my scrutiny, but it is me under their microscope. The drama has started, the curtains are rolled back and the lights are focused on me. The kids are watching and they will remember my “acting” for a lifetime. It will shape their performance forever.
At this moment, I am engulfed with an anxiety that I have much to pray for in order to bring the necessary changes in myself so that I can change what is nurturing before me.
It’s action time … Lord help me!