Yesterday, I dropped off my son to university where he will be entering a new phase of his life, inshaAllah. How do I feel? Excited. Not just for him, obviously. I am also excited for myself.
To be around to witness the academic journeys of my sons and their evolving maturity as they move onto independent living, is something that would make any parent quietly proud. I hesitate to use that word ‘proud’ since it has many negative connotations; it makes me seem arrogant – as if their development was a credit to my efforts alone. I will never take full credit for anything my sons have achieved. All along the way, I have been so conscious of a quiet divine intervention which has brought us all to where we are today, Alhamdulillah.
That being said, it is also divine intervention that has kept me grounded and not let me lose my head at a time when I could very easily have done so. My faith in Allah was the only thing that reassured me that He was – and always is – dictating from behind the curtains of the stage of life. Just like an actor deserves praise for their performance, so too the director is a key figure without whose instructions, things may turn out very differently.
With my sons now fast becoming young men and less dependent on me for their daily survival, I feel these next few years, should I live to see them, will continue to bring great reward for me, inshaAllah. Although the worries of a parent never cease, they take a different form as the children grow up. I don’t deny I am relieved to be almost free of the essential schooling years now that my youngest is at his last stage too. Whilst I miss the formative childhood years with my children, I don’t miss the constant monitoring and policing of almost everything they did or said. I have now learnt to loosen the rope between myself and them so that they have the room to grow and even make minor mistakes. After all, what is a life which hasn’t had mistakes? Aren’t they the most efficient and long-lasting way of learning not to fall into the same pithole twice?
It is only now that I have come to find that I can sit and talk with all my sons as a group of adults. I relish the times we have sat together and talked candidly about so many things. Sometimes I have let them dictate the direction and flow of the conversation. Other times, I have instigated healthy debates and discussions. Most recently, we spoke about the sordid topic of pornography. Alhamdulillah, there was not any awkwardness in that conversation since I presented the preamble that, in life, uncomfortable subjects need to be spoken about to clear any misconceptions and to be aware of the world around us. As Muslims, we know there is no shame in discussing these things for the sake of educating ourselves. More importantly, I want my boys to know that, with their mother, they have a safe place to talk about such topics without judgement. I would much rather they come to me than resort to an unreliable and misleading alternative. What has been quite revealing is that they even told me they would much rather have had these conversations with me than their father even though it would seem that, man-to-man, it would have made sense if he were here today to guide them. For me, that was a testament to the closeness and the trust we have developed between us over these last few years. I see now that this could have only happened when other distractions had been removed. My wish is that, as brothers, my sons amongst themselves will always maintain a sense of responsibility towards one another irrespective of the other variables in their lives.
Alhamdulillah, for everything. As the months and years go by, I am deeply grateful for the permanent deviation which I experienced from my previous path five years ago. It is no exaggeration to say that I am finally beginning to enjoy the fruits of my labour. And no sooner than I utter those words, I must immediately follow it up with an eternally heartfelt sense of gratitude to my Creator, without whom I would not be here and without whom I could not reach anywhere else. It all starts and ends with Him.