Assalamu’alaikum & Marhaba!
Recently, there have been numerous articles online and blog posts from fellow moms about the importance of self-care. I had drafted a post myself about the topic and various suggestions such as exercise, eating healthy, and other forms of “me time.” But while re-reading it, I felt I was just regurgitating what was already out there.
In hindsight, all those other things I began to do to take care of myself were distractions from the real problem and not really helping me the way I hoped. There is nothing wrong with spa days and taking time to read or relax. However, there was something far more pressing that I needed to take care of if I really wanted to feel better. And that was the state of my heart, a topic I do not believe is addressed often enough as part of “self-care.”
I was well aware that my ibadah (worship) had decreased quite a bit after becoming a mother. You would think your spirituality would be at an all time high out of appreciation and awe of the miracle that is life. Unfortunately, that is not what happened at all for me and all the other new moms I knew. It is pretty hard to maintain khushoo’ (sincerity/presence) in Salah (prayer) and not rush through when you have a crying baby or screaming toddler at your feet.
Aside from just my worship, I feel mentally and physically exhausted. I am overwhelmed, tired, stressed, and anxious on a daily basis. Every night, I go to bed without doing everything I had set out to do that day. My to-do list is only getting longer and longer, and I feel as if I am drowning most of the time. On some days, I think I can handle it and on others the negativity spills over affecting my parenting, my marriage, and my physical health. And I know many other moms are in the same situation.
Knowing that my iman (faith) could be stronger, I did make a small effort to attend lectures and classes whenever possible as part of my “self-care” routine. I always knew I needed to do more, but this was a stepping stone for me to get the motivation I needed. When you seek out Allah (swt) and sincerely ask for His (swt) help, you will always get a response in the most unexpected places. That is what I feel happened for me when I took this Al Maghrib course with Sister Yasmin Mogahed called A Sacred Conversation.
I really thought that it would be a “refresher” course of things I already knew but needed reminding of. Alhamdulillah, praise be to Allah (swt), it brought to light a major issue that I did not even consider problematic and the reason behind my weak iman and overall state.
“What is at the absolute core of your heart?”
This was the question she posed as she started her talk. She urged us to sincerely and honestly contemplate this question for ourselves. Essentially, she described the heart as having compartments. Everything we value in our lives, our passions, families, careers, and so on take up different spaces within it. That which is at the very center is the one thing that we live for the most in the world.
We all know what the right answer is supposed to be, Allah swt. But being completely honest with myself, I found it was my family, my spouse and my children, that were sharing the same space that should only be reserved for my Creator.
She made some profound points that made me think about my own self-care in a completely different way. One of which was that our greatest pain comes from loving something the way we should love Allah (swt). And as mothers and women, we end up sacrificing everything, including ourselves, for our children, our spouses, or our careers. Even after we are constantly reminded in the Qur’an, that our children, wealth, and other blessings are gifts to test us.
Allah (swt) says,
“Yet, mankind are some who take unto themselves (objects of worship they set as) rivals to Allah, loving them with a love like (that which is due) of Allah (only) – those who believe are stauncher in their love of Allah…” (Al Qur’an; Surah Al Baqarah, Verse 165).
What is the result of sharing the core of our heart?
We allow our hearts to become vulnerable and eventually destroy it. This is when pain, anxiety, and stress take over our lives and the worst kind of suffering ensues. We become slaves to worldly matters and in turn unhealthy, mentally and eventually physically. And it is why we lose barakah (blessings) in our time and we feel on the verge of falling apart.
So how do we best care for ourselves? Sister Yasmin broke down a plan to help us compartmentalize everything we value in the proper places. In the next post, I will share her recommendations on how to work towards a sound heart. Once our heart is functioning the way it was meant to, we will find a better balance and overall healthier way to handle the changes that come with motherhood and other life challenges.
For now, I ask you to identify for yourself what is sharing that space that should be reserved for Allah (swt) alone.
I pray for forgiveness in any shortcomings in my writing or content of this post. Please like, comment, and share with anyone who may benefit.