As December draws to a close, Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil gives some reflections on 2018 and the growth that she and her family experienced.
I started to write this article when my daughters were asleep. Almost a year ago, my younger one was born in January. Now I have an 11 month old and a 3.5 year old. It has been both a wonderful and challenging year of growth, for all of us.
I am now a lot more forgiving of my own parents, who had six children in twelve years. My mother migrated to Sydney with us while my father stayed in Singapore to financially support us. These facts alone explain so much about my childhood beliefs. From a very young age, I learned that parental love and attention are scarce, and how stressful it can feel to be part of a racial and religious minority.
Now that I am raising two little girls in Malaysia, I hope to impart different messages to my daughters. I hope that they will learn that there will always be enough love, for both of them, and that Islam is something that adds hope, meaning and direction to their lives.
When I had only one daughter, she had my undivided attention. Now, I am always torn between both of them. Part of me feels guilty that even from my pregnancy, I struggled to be present with my second baby, like I was with my first. I try to make peace with the fact that it will never be the same, and I pray that Allah will fill in the blanks.
Ups and Downs of Parenting
The upside of having two kids is how much they love, play and laugh with each other. It warms my heart to see my eldest daughter feed her baby sister, help change her diaper, or sing to her. Watching my baby try to copy her oldest sister – from pretending to read and even to write – never fails to make me smile.
But, because we are in the dunya, it is never perfect. I am so tired, every day. There are times when I wonder if I will ever sleep well again.
The importance of self-care
My biggest lesson from 2018 year is this – when I look after myself, I can look after everyone else better. When I neglect my self-care, I am more irritable, and less able to attend to the endless needs in my household. I am not only a mother to my children, I am also a wife, a daughter-in-law, a daughter, a sister, and a friend.
Looking forward to 2019
I hope that with the gift of 2019, I will be better able to ask for help when I need it. I plan to create a better routine for myself, my daughters, and the rest of my household. I plan to exercise more self-compassion when I make mistakes. I plan to be able to spend more quality time with my husband. I plan for longer hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Most of all, I pray for Allah to accept my good deeds, forgive my mistakes, and increase me in gratitude for His innumerable blessings in my life.
Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.