What Fear Looks Like
When I was younger, I wrote a short story in a creative writing class titled “Fears.” It was about marriage, written by an unmarried Muslim romantic with hopes to one day have enough experience and material to write a book about it. That book idea has been shelved for many years, and no matter how many fears I had about marriage, however difficult it is, it pales in comparison to being a mother.
See, there is nothing more frightening than being a mother.
Every waking moment, we are coordinating what they ingest, who they meet, where they are, how they feel and making hundreds of decisions, but it doesn’t stop with sleep. Many a time I’ve woken up in sweats or tears because of a dream I’ve had about my kids. Even when we try to practice “self care,” everything reminds us of them:
“Oh, look at the bunny, the kids would love that!”
“Wow, this is delicious! Baby girl loves this, too.”
“This room is big enough for the whole family.”
And the ever pestering questions, “Am I screwing them up? Will they be practicing Muslims when they’re adults” plague us all the time.
Add to that an unexpected illness in your child. Imagine being strapped to a “too elastic” bungee cord by your feet, upside down off a bridge, your head submerging in frigid water every time that cord snaps back, holding your unsecured child desperately, trying to protect her from the water and the underbelly of the bridge. And maybe there are some rocks jutting out of the water for added surprise and the challenge of preventing more trauma to your kid. This is how I can best describe the limbo of not knowing what is happening to your child, navigating the American medical system, and trying to fit life around a child’s illness. This is what fear looks like. It’s a bloody whirlwind and there’s no one at the top of the bridge to pull you back up.
Except there always is.
Whether we pray regularly or not, Allah SWT is always there to carry us when putting one foot in front of the other seems impossible on our own. Rich or poor, devout or non identifying, He runs this show for His creation. And even when we have the utmost belief that He’s got this and all we need to do is wait, it’s while holding our breath. Underwater. With rocks occasionally beating our heads.
This can be hard to remember in the throes of a sick kid’s life. It can feel like praying in a vat of molasses, your limbs stiff and lips sticking, unable to voice what you need: Ya Allah, remove this harm and purify my child and our through this. Let there be no more need of the treatment, but provide it and thank You for making it available. Thank You for not giving us more than we can bear.
Takeaway for today: If you don’t have kids, don’t do it. I’m dead serious. It is the scariest thing you’ll ever do. Allah SWT tells us:
“And know that your possessions and your children are but a trial and that surely, with Allah is a mighty reward” (8: 28).
If you’re here though, you probably have kids. So you get it. To all those dealing with a mother’s worst nightmare, who sit everyday with this real fear daily, rib squeezing hugs from these lines to you. You are loved so much by Allah SWT that He chose YOU to mother this extraordinary child. You are so resilient, that this is the trial He chose for YOU, because YOU are strong enough to walk this path. This child needed YOU and only YOU. And we are honored to witness it.
“For indeed, with hardship there will be ease.
Indeed, with hardship will be ease” (Al Quran 94:5-6)