This is a guest post by Fatema Baldiwala.
“Aw, mom, I cant get up says my younger son, snuggling more deeply into his blanket, shielding his eyes from the bright light. “Its too hard”, mumbles my elder son, as he defiantly turns his head away, refusing to get up.
Its 3.40 am in the morning. I need my kids up in time for sihori the mandatory morning meal before sunrise, so that they have energy to fast throughout the day.My first reaction is to yell, shake them up, I had prepared them before putting them to bed that we would be getting up early for sihori, yet here they were refusing and time was running out…..tea was percolating, the special breakfast that I had so painstakingly prepared was getting cold.
The month is Ramadan. This is a month dedicated to fasting, prayers and for spiritual and mental growth. Spiritually, mentally it is a month of restraint and striving. Striving to be a better individual, striving to be purer and more charitable in your thoughts as well your deeds.
And charity and good deeds begins first at home.
Many view Ramadan as the month where emphasis is on the needs of the body, but that is like seeing a picture incompletely. Ramadan means not only being aware of your body’s needs but also it is a month dedicated to mental and spiritual needs.
My kids like most people view Ramadan as just needs of the body being deprived. they grumble about the hunger they feel when fasting, or the lack of sleep because of the long nightly prayers, but Ramadan is much more than that. It is month when you strive mentally and spiritually to be a better person. But how do you get this message across to kids?
I have tried by picking on every teachable moment. Those moments when you see your kids acting like they normally do, arguing about petty things, like who gets the bigger slice of pizza, or who gets to sit where in the car. their constant dodging of household/school chores, their wanting to spend the entire day playing video games or watching T.V. All those present teachable moments, to talk about doing the right thing, making the right choices, even if that choice is more difficult and it is easier to just give up, or just give in. As a mom you need to pick and choose your battles, and yet there are times when they win, and you are left exhausted and defeated.
Its summer. Kids feel entitled to what they term their “break” away from school work. A day is full of these moments. Those moments when you want to pull out your hair in frustration because they just don’t get it, that is not the way to act or talk.
Yet, it is Ramdaan You have made a promise to be more patient, more kind in your interactions with your kids, less bossy, less “because I say so” and more “this is the reason…. while ensuring your tone is gentle.
I tried being “mean, bossy mom” to no avail. it just made my kids more defiant, more aggressive in their collective and natural tendency to do the opposite of what I want them to do. I tried “bribing” and giving points but that only reinforced their greed.
The message of Ramadan is to strive for what is right, even if it is hard. it is 3:40 am in the morning. Not exactly the best time of day to be kind, patient, understanding…
Yet it is moment I can use to teach them the message of Ramadan, where I can teach by example. Because however much I try to deny it, if my daily actions were put under a microscope, how would I fare? Would I be able to live up to what I tell them is the right way to act and speak?
As a mom, with little eyes watching your every move, seeing if you are practicing what you preach, in this month especially, the question haunts me, how do I make the conscious effort to practice what I preach.
With a sigh, yet a new determination, I bend down gently to wake-up my kids.
Fatima Baldiwala is a writer and a mother in Los Angeles.
Related: Ramadan, the month of Jihad