As a mother, I wouldn’t be unusual if I said that most of my life is dedicated to my children. I wake up each day thinking what lies ahead of them for that day. Then I go to sleep reflecting on the day done and wondering whether they managed to meet their personal goals and where my role was in all that.
That sense of responsibility is, I believe, an inherit trait in any mother. However, for me, it became exponentially larger when I found myself left to manage my four boys on my own. Back in 2016, life had thrown an unexpected curve ball which I was not able to dodge. Like a bolt from the blue, everything I had ever known, was thrown into complete disarray. My husband wanted out. The best analogy I always use to describe my situation is that I was left steering the ship and its occupants whilst our captain jumped ship. In that vacuum, I reluctantly took control and together with my boys, we rode the rough waves until we set down our anchor. This is how I’ve always imagined my life since my divorce, had it been narrated through pictures.
I have always known about the prophetic hadith (saying) above through which we are taught the superior position of a mother vis-à-vis a father. It made perfect sense to me as history shows us time and again the sacrifices a mother makes for her children in every regard. It was my own reality as a child and for many others who I have ever known. Yet when I revisited this hadith in my mind, post-divorce, it took on a completely new meaning.
I actually realised how intense and deep the role of a mother is. She is the one person who shrinks her own desires and expands her life to accommodate her children’s aspirations first; she buries her own pain and consoles her children first; she walks patiently behind whilst her children run ahead chasing their dreams.
Mother is the eye of the storm.
All of this became so starkly apparent when I was left to manage my brood without their father. I would be lying if I said I did not feel bitter and angry about that daunting prospect. Almost four years later, however, I see life differently. I understand the hadith differently. I now hear the words, “your mother, your mother, your mother,” and understand how the repetition is not just an emphasis on the honour of a mother. The fact that the father features further on, shows how he pales into insignificance in terms of his input into his children. My own reality bears witness to this truth.
Imagine that hadith ringing in my ears as a woman going it alone. I feel vindicated. Allah has honoured me with an even greater share of reward than those mothers who have the physical presence and help of their husbands. However deep that hadith is, it just got deeper. I take great comfort from it being where I am in life on my own. Allah has put the reins of my young family in my hands but He is there with me. He always was and always will be, as long as I care enough for that to happen. The truth is, I am not alone. I never was.