My kids are fasting again this year. Officially, 3 of my kids are fasting. Unofficially, all 5 are fasting. Basically, the 5-year-old and 7-year-old are fending for themselves. Truth is, besides iftar I’m not making food. I’m just not. That’s why cereal was created.
Besides the “How much longer to go?” question about a 100 times a day, it is getting easier for them. The difficult part remains in teaching them that Ramadan is more than just about fasting. Since we live in Jordan, the days are not very long in comparison to a lot of other countries alhamdulilah. Most restaurants, cafes, food courts are closed during the fasting hours. So my kids aren’t tempted by food while we’re out. They’re not the odd ones out either. Thankfully, my kids aren’t dealing with the things I did growing up in New York. I remember sitting in the auditorium with the handful of other Muslim kids who didn’t want to sit in the cafeteria at lunch time. Or when I was strong enough to sit amongst my friends while they ate, I fended off questions like “You can’t eat or anything?” and “Not even water?” I’m happy my children are growing up in a time when Ramadan is pretty well known and accepted. They’re also starting a lot younger than I did.
For me, fasting Ramadan was strictly about staying away from food. I remember the clandestine cookie, the “accidental” sips of water. I didn’t know much about Islam as a kid. I knew we were Muslim. We didn’t eat pork, we didn’t date, we fasted Ramadan and we were supposed to pray 5 times a day. That was the extent of my Islamic knowledge. My parents, God bless them, tried their best but I was not interested. It all seemed like a list of don’ts. Thankfully as I got older that all changed.
As a parent, I want my kids to grow up knowing more about Islam than I did. I want them to have love for Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him). I want them to see prayer and Quran recitation as something other than a chore (much the way I did, unfortunately).
I have made a lot of headway in these areas. Just the fact that my kids are doing these things at 13 and under is a huge win. As a mother, I’m constantly wondering what more I could or should be doing? I’m constantly second guessing and overthinking. Seeing them on electronics, passing the time til iftar drives me crazy but to be honest, I don’t necessarily have the energy to entertain them.
But, if I’ve learned anything this year, it’s to not be so hard on myself. This Ramadan I am setting goals for myself that I feel are beneficial and am doing my best to be consistent. I have given up reading fanfiction for the month. I have not beeped my horn at anyone while driving since Ramadan began (I am a notoriously aggressive driver). My kids and I have made the intention to complete the Quran this month, which breaks down to roughly one juz (22 pages) a day. None of us are fluent readers so this is quite an undertaking for us. Believe me, taking turns reading is a lesson in patience, let me tell you. Soon we’ll be travelling to America for summer vacation and I’m worried that with all the new distractions, reading 22 pages of Quran will not be high on my kids’ priority lists. It would be easy for me to get overwhelmed with what could happen but I’m determined to take it as it comes. Surrender and patience have become my new mantras this month.
Surrender as a mother because I may want a lot of things for my children but I cannot control their destiny. All I can do is offer a different perspective and hope that resonates with them. Surrender as a Muslim because Ramadan gives me a chance to put myself in Allah’s hands and truly give over control and trust that we’re all going to be just fine. Patience with others during this time but most importantly myself. I may not pray 20 rakats of taraweeh every night. But I’ll keep trying. I will never achieve perfection as a mother. There will be times my kids will spend way too much time in front of a tv. There will be cereal for iftar sometimes. And it’s all ok.
Every moment is a new moment. With renewed intention, I can start again. And isn’t that really what Ramadan is all about?