When a woman enters the arena of motherhood, she knows that that role will never be a static one. Over the years, as her children move from one stage of life to the next, so too does the role of motherhood also evolve. Each phase brings its own challenges but undeniable joy at the same time.
Today, I look back over the last few years and want to reflect on what I have learnt about myself and my own children.
One of the most obvious things is that I know I can’t deal with my sons with one blanket formula for each situation that presents itself. They are individuals in their own right and being brothers does not mean a ‘one size fits all’ approach will suffice. So I try to be conscious of how I word answers to their questions or handle issues, taking into account their unique idiosyncracies. Of course, I do make mistakes. All the time. But motherhood is a learning curve – one that never reaches a plateau since that would suggest that I know it all and have nothing new to take on board.
Another thing I often ponder on is how motherhood essentially gets more challenging the older children get. On the one hand this seems pretty obvious. On the other hand, it would seem unlikely since as children get older, so too their dependency on mother should become more tenuous; as they mature and reach adulthood it can be argued that they should rely on their own thought processes more. Whilst that may be true in terms of academic guidance or financial decisions, the reality is that as they venture out into the world and interact with all the variables out there, so too they must be equipped with the necessary emotional armour. This is where the wisdom of a mother comes in. With my personal experience and anecdotal evidence, I can help my sons navigate their way through life. Ultimately though, what they decide is their decision alone. At some point, as a parent I have to step back and let them be. As long as I have carried out my duty, then I have to trust Allah will guide them to all that is good.
No doubt, the challenges shift as the children become older. Yet the rewards are simultaneously also greater. As toddlers there were the usual cute milestones to celebrate, like their first steps, first spoken words or first drawings. As adults, there are now other exciting chapters of their lives I can celebrate with them, Alhamdulillah. Examples are them getting their driving license, going to university and generally mapping out their lives for themselves. The greatest difference is that my role nowadays has become more passive – that of a listener and someone with whom they can share their excitement about what lies ahead. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t speak up if I disagree or need to keep them in check but if I have done my homework right, then inshaAllah, there should not be any cause for concern. Needless to say, I will always strive to remind them that they don’t deviate from a wholesome existence where duniya (the worldly life) overtakes the pursuit of akhirah (the afterlife). This last goal is a constant that stays with the role of motherood for life.
Arguably, the most palpable thing I have learnt about being a mother since divorce is that, when push comes to shove, I have still managed to get the job done without the other parent. The female embodies a type of strength which many males can only marvel at. Alhamdulillah, I have been blessed with the emotional, physical, intellectual and financial ability to make it through each day. Despite the challenges, my sons lives and my life intertwine effortlessly together without ending up in an awkward knot. By far, it has been the unexpectedly best outcome of our family situation since 2016. Although I never wished it to be like this, I have had to accept the reality and do my best to make it work. Despite setbacks and blips, Alhamdulillah, for the most part I believe we have done well. My faith in Allah is an integral part of that determination to keep going. What choice do I have but to keep moving forward? So I may as well move with vigour and purpose and contentment. This is the sentiment that underlies all I do and all that I am. Although motherhood has taken on a different significance or shape given my circumstances, I embrace the role even moreso now since this is the mount upon which this family now exists. Being unstable simply won’t do.
Motherhood has no expiry date. There will never be a hiatus from this role till it’s my time to leave this life. It is not just a job. It is an honour of untold magnaminity. The fact that I get to sit in the spotlight of parenthood all on my own is nothing to be ashamed of.
In fact, on all scores, I am the more fortunate one, Alhamdulillah.