Attiya Shaukat, UK
It’s not just me, is it? This lockdown feels tougher than the first!
I give Kudos to schools who have been more organised with online classes. However, parents with young children like me, mostly must join these classrooms, often inconspicuously hovering in the background and learning the lessons too!
In case you are wondering, I did go to school, but things have changed since our time. No doubt two plus two still equals four, but it’s all taught with different strategies. Trying to teach maths our way, is not encouraged as it will just “confuse” the child. It’s tempting not to mouth answers to questions from the side of the screen, but that’s tantamount to cheating.
On my part, I’m sorry to say that teaching fractions has turned me into a coffee drinker. I am positively averse to stimulants to numb the present. My excuse, however, is that it helps with the onset of my headaches triggered by mathematical enigmas. Fractions is one of those triggers.
Despite all this, I feel most sorry for those mothers who have to work from home, homeschool their children, make sure everyone is being fed three meals and do the household chores! Each one of these tasks is a job on its own. Mums are the superheroes of lockdown.
Sadly, for a long time, the world has ignored motherhood as a vocation, despite this being the hardest job of all! People don’t realise that it takes patience to even entertain these blessed little clones.
The Holy Prophetsa rewarded the pay of motherhood as Paradise under her feet (Sunan al-Nasai). What better pay, is the pay of Paradise under your feet? I know women are fighting for equal pay at work – it’s unfair that this basic right is still being fought – but I also take comfort that Islamically, one mother’s reward exceeds the entire pay of all the men.
On reflection, mothers were already doing a lot before lockdown, but the pressure is at an all-time high now. It doesn’t require a genius to conclude that a stressed-out mother will leave a stressed effect on the child. I worry that as a society, will we one day have to listen to the devastating toll of the pandemic (BBC News, January 2021) from the women and children who were lacerated by it?
Most people have moved away from the Victorian method of punishing a child when teaching, disciplining, or releasing one’s own frustration. Nevertheless, I think parents have compensated one evil with another by shouting at their child instead (The Guardian, Loud but not proud 2001), which may not leave marks on the body, but is certain to scar the child mentally for life.
All in all, whatever the stress for women was before, we have all seen a huge increase in lockdown; this is where our other half can come to our rescue.
In Islam, it is a husband’s responsibility to provide food, shelter and clothing for wife and children, to the best of his ability. Just before the pandemic took centre stage, the Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community reminded his followers at Jalsa Salana Germany 2019, as to how Muslim men could help at home too. Citing the example of the best amongst men, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa stated:
“The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, would help his wife in chores around the house. He would wash his own clothes, sweep the floor, tie his camel, feed the animals, milk the goats and do all his chores. If he sought help from any of his helpers, he would assist in carrying out this task, to the extent he would even prepare the dough for bread and would carry his shopping home.”
Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa explained in simpler terms how men should not be neglectful of their duties: “… some men show great arrogance. If clothes are not washed on time, they spew disorder in the home. Nowadays, one does not even have to wash their clothes by hand, as washing machines are available; they [men] can easily put the washing in, but they cannot trouble themselves even to do this … they can easily vacuum the home, yet even in this, they show disdain; these reasons cause unrest in the homes”.
These words are more pertinent now than ever before. But have you ever heard of a political or religious leader telling men to help their spouse with household chores? No, neither have I. But lucky for me, my husband has heard the Khalifa speak. It means I don’t need to resort to stronger beverages to escape the present.