By Fatima Asad
If you’re like me, you despise seeing those tacky New Year’s resolution jokes on your newsfeed. This one really irks my soul: “My New Year’s resolution is to follow through with my last year’s resolutions.” Another one that sadly represents the majority of wishful go-getters is: “Thanks for not laughing at my absurdly unattainable New Year’s resolutions.” It is not simply the cheesiness of these jokes that bothers me- but our apathetic attitude towards a chance to improve the quality of our lives. Yes, December 31st is just a number and there’s no magic or daleel behind it but choose Ramadan or Muharram as your “New Year” if you please. We as imperfect beings strongly desire a line – a start/finish line that will allow us to start afresh; however, it is only that- a desire. Now, as a mother and wife, my plate of short-term and long-term planners is often overflowing and that liberating line is much needed to reorganise and get a new start.
Let me throw in another cliche: “If you fail to plan, you have planned to fail.” This is the one quote that I can confirm from experience is very true. The day that I have not planned is the day I get an inner panic attack either before or after breakfast. Mothers are all too familiar with the overwhelming feeling of disorganisation and are pros at masking it with an air of “I know exactly what I’m doing.” My to-do basket tends to pile up for days at a time, I am guilty of shoving clutter in the wrong closets, I miss my spa appointments regularly, I’ll let the kids have pyjama day (or week) when laundry needs to be done, and I’m definitely guilty of not straightening out the bed sheet before I spread the duvet elegantly on top. Why am I divulging my secrets? Because I want the other moms out there to know that: Girls, it’s okay to not meet society’s standards every single day. It really is! We have too much going on to worry about which total stranger or judgemental relative we need to please today.
Believe it or not there’s a method to our clumsy madness as mothers. We have far greater goals to focus on. These goals don’t just include fitness or diet goals- that was the easy part. As mothers, we have to make multiple planners for each new year: for me, for the kids, and for the husband (he can safely be kept under the children’s category). It’s fun to plan a family trip or which new colour to paint the bedroom wall; however, as Muslim mothers, our goals for the year should reach far beyond those walls. The purpose of setting goals is to improve the quality of our lives, as is pleasing to the Lord Almighty and to reach ihsaan (excellence) in all our actions and emotions. Notice, there is a difference between excellence and perfection. A chase for perfection will always end in failure- doing everything with ihsaan means I’ve given it my personal best.
I won’t lie; each year, the burden of raising little humans gets heavier on my shoulders as I know I must set goals that are wholesome for not only my family but also for the future of our Ummah. These goals include focusing on categories such as Islamic Studies, Quran Studies, homeschooling (did I mention I’m also the teacher?), diet and exercise, social activities and life skills.
Here are some gentle reminders for my fellow Muslim mothers (and fathers) as they begin or revise their goal planning:
- Focus on your ultimate goal of reaching Jannatul Firdous
- Renew your intention (Why and for whom are you doing this?)
- Begin everything with Bismillah (Yes, even as you wash the dishes) and it will turn the action into worship
- Let go of perfection and aim for YOUR very best
- Stop worrying about people’s opinions! Do what seems right for your family
- You’re still an awesome mother if you don’t do every project on Pinterest
- Stick to the sunnah- remember Islam makes your life easier!
- Read/listen about the great women in Islam and how they focused on their families, personal lives and their deen
- You need to have a contemporary role model who inspires you (public figure, fellow mother, coworker)
- Choose friends that bring positive energy in your life and help you grow instead of judging you (If you can have her over without having to change the kids out of those pyjamas, she’s a keeper!)
- Don’t go through goal planning and implementing alone! Have a strong network to talk to (husband, friend, relative)
Life was not meant to be lived perfectly, and this year will be no exception. We will make mistakes- lots of them. It’s important to make NEW mistakes and learn from the old, inshaAllah.