By Fatima Asad
I’m going to be honest here. The title of this article makes you think that I was the perfect daughter who awaited my Abu’s call for the next cup of tea or happily washed all the dishes before Mama told me to, a few (billion) times. Now, in the role of a wife and a mother, you might think that I’m an expert model. Not only do I make the perfect biryani but also wait impatiently for him to come home after work so I can feed him homemade besan ke ladoo. Ah the children…If you think that I have the perfect Pinterest-worthy playroom set up or that my girls are walking around in matching dresses with their perfect little curls wrapped up in perfect satin ribbons, you are too kind…and delusional I might add.
This is the real world! I too am guilty of rolling my eyes when Abu asked for a simple cup of tea. I am really guilty of asking my husband why are you here early today? “Aj phir jaldi agaye?” Oh and I am seriously guilty of cutting those perfect curls when they get to the point of no de-tangling…did I mention I cut them with kitchen scissors…in the kitchen? Yes, we all serve our families…but do we do so willingly? With our utmost happiness?
What really turned things around for me was when I learned the difference between compromise and sacrifice.
Compromise is when we have to do an action. Since it’s Ramadan, let’s take the example of fasting. Compromise is opting for the attitude that “Yes, it’s Ramadan, so I have to fast. I don’t really want to- it’s so hot!” Whereas sacrifice is taking the road of “I want to fast so I can get closer to Allah! I want that reward He promised. I want my sins erased.” See the difference? When you are compromising, you lack commitment, satisfaction, and happiness. On the other hand, when you sacrifice, you are getting the ultimate satisfaction and contentment of the heart. Don’t forget that sacrifice ensures getting rewarded by Allah SWT.
This Ramadan, I decided to change my attitude drastically. I realize that even though I am taking care of my family, I might not always see it that way. The first thing to happily serving your family is to change the way you label yourself. I am a “Rahmah” (mercy), a responsible, loving daughter – not a spoiled, ungrateful, sassy teen. I am a team player, co-manager, best friend, partner in crime, personal therapist, an awesome chef, and loving wife– not a nagging, bossy, dishevelled, smells-like-garlic, sobbing, diabetes-causing headache. I am a nurturer, leader, dress up queen, high-heels sharing storyteller, smells-of-roses-and-jasmine friend, can fix a boo-boo with a simple kiss mother- not a yelling machine, house-obsessed, brand conscious, impatient woman who gave birth and thus should be called mom.
Most of the time, we place negative labels and unneeded burdens on ourselves which lead us to simply serving – without happiness. Remember, the first thing you need to do is stop overfilling your plate. Know your limits and do so much. Don’t go above and beyond on things that don’t matter or will not benefit your family in the long run. For example, if you are intent on making a 5-course meal for iftaar, there is no way you will have any positive energy left to read the kids a bedtime story or two – at least you won’t be doing it with a big smile on your face.
Take care of your family. Take care of them with all your heart. When we stop doing so happily, when the simple tasks and duties involving our loved ones become a burden, we need to reexamine our intention- are we doing this simply because we must, or is there a higher purpose in mind?
Doing it for the ultimate purpose of pleasing Allah SWT will not only make it easier but also bring contentment and happiness. And above all every little act then, will be rewarded beautifully inshaAllah!