The month of Ramadan was approaching and I was excited. I was a new mum and I was convinced I was going to enter this new phase of my life on a spiritual high. In previous years I had spent Ramadan mainly at the masjid in the company of beautiful sisters, reading Qur’an and attending inspiring talks. However, when the month arrived, things turned out quite the opposite and this disillusionment is something I now best describe as my Ramadan blues.
As a first time mum I was physically and emotionally exhausted from the new responsibility. Although I was able to fast without it affecting my nursing and my daughter’s health, I could feel the neglect of other aspects of my worship.
I was so exhausted that I couldn’t achieve most of the goals I had set for the month and when the time would come to open my fast, I would eat and then feel so fatigued that other than looking after my daughter I couldn’t do anything else.
I was unable to spend my nights at the masjid as I had become accustomed to doing, which made me feel
so isolated and honestly it didn’t feel like Ramadan at all. The month came to an end, Eid passed and I was deflated.
A lazy servant of Allah
Initially, I was very hard on myself. ‘You were just lazy, your intentions weren’t in the right place, Allah wasn’t pleased with you’ and the list goes on. I later realised that this type of self-blame and negativity wasn’t benefitting me, nor was it improving my imaan post-Ramadan. Eventually, I started to redirect my questions more constructively; ‘why was I so tired?, how did I mismanage my time? What could I have done better?’ These questions led me to understand that my failure to optimise Ramadan was not due to laziness but rather unrealistic expectations.
Motherhood and Ramadan: a proactive approach
As the years have passed and through talking with
other mothers it seems that such struggles are common for mothers, especially during first time motherhood. This was something pivotal for me, not only in my motherhood journey but also in experiencing Ramadan as a mother, learning from the shared experiences of other mothers. In talking to different mothers
each whose marriages, family structure and life circumstances were different, it has become clear that while these struggles of Ramadan is the experience of some, it is not the experience of all. The defining factor- realistic expectations and planning.
I got real with myself
So I stopped lying to myself and faced up to my new reality. It was actually a harder pill to swallow than some might think, facing that reality that your time is no longer fully yours and that you have to find new ways to simply just ‘do you’.
My responsibilities and capabilities had changed. And although my husband was not demanding in terms of cooking and household duties (Alhamdulilah), this didn’t change the very heavy load of motherhood, especially in Ramadan. So, I basically just started to ‘wing it’.
For myself, it didn’t seem a realistic expectation to be able sit down in all serenity with my Qur’an. I had small children, let’s be real. Some days I would have to literally wear my baby when she was being fussy in her carrier and walk around and read Qur’an. It wasn’t perfect, but my intention made the worship manageable.
Other days, the first opportunity I would have to pick up my Qur’an was once my daughters slept, toddler on one side and nursing baby on the other and tired little me in the middle.
By the time my second Ramadan as a mum approached I was expecting again. The main struggle that I experienced was that I felt so constrained by my daughter’s rigid sleep/nap/wake/everything routine. I was trying to still put my daughter for her normal nap times and bed routine, feed her and everything in between but my own routine was completely altered during Ramadan.
But, as for my third Ramadan, I just went with the flow as I had two small children. My daughters ended up waking around suhoor because of noise in the house and sleeping when I slept. It allowed me to a nap after Dhuhr. I had more energy and I didn’t have to deal with cranky babies right before iftaar (most of the time).
Experiencing another Ramadan is a blessing that none of us are guaranteed. There is no benefit in being overcome by fatigue and hopelessness. Rather, as mothers we need to proactively find ways to get the most out of Ramadan in a way that works for
us. Follow the guidance of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, “Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few”[Ibn Majah]. Most importantly, remember, Allah SWT sees you striving for His sake.
It is indeed a struggle, but the beauty of the struggle is in drawing nearer to Allah SWT and that closeness is the essence of Ramadan.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Umm Summi is a revert and twenty something mother of two firey little girls. A former widow and recent newly wed/ step parent, she is the author of the blog beyondiddah.com. She is also the co-founder of Her Project Inc. a recent initiative for empowering leadership and understanding identity with young Muslim Women. A passionate advocate for reviving the Islamic family structure, Umm Summi is also a novice gardener and experienced lover of food.