We are often reminded, as young Muslim couples considering whether to start a family, that children come with their rizq. Family elders smile at us through their wrinkled eyes, knowingly and offer reassurance that Ar-Razzaq has already made provisions for us. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“And in the heaven is your provision and whatever you are promised. Then by the Lord of the heaven and earth, indeed, it is truth – just as [sure as] it is that you are speaking.” [Qur’an, 51:22-23]
And it was. Our family has been blessed with rizq even more so after the birth of our children. I learned, only recently, that rizq doesn’t just refer to money. It refers to that which is better for you. This can be in the form of money, material items, emotional well-being, and even spiritual betterment. For both my husband and I, this came in different forms.
A little over four weeks after my second child was born, there was a knock on the door and my husband and I answered it to speak to a gentleman from the community trust located on the first floor of our apartment building. He wanted to address concerns that residents had around noise and anti-social behaviour and wanted to reassure us that he was doing his best to seek a resolution. He explained there was a vacancy at the centre that they were looking to fill and once this was filled it would be easier to put more stringent procedures in place. When he mentioned that there was a vacancy, I said ‘Oh really?’ He replied with ‘Yes! Would you like to apply?’ He described the role to me and it sounded like something I’d be good at. I started to get quite excited by the prospect of it until my husband and I finished speaking with him, shut the door and immediately one of the children needed to be tended to. I thought to myself that applying for a job outside of the home was a ridiculous idea with two children under two.
My husband and mum disagreed and encouraged me to apply. They came up with all sorts of ways that it could work and I figured that I’d apply and then if in the lead up to it, it didn’t seem like it was going to work for whatever reason, I’d just retract my application. So I applied and waited. I was invited to a first stage interview, and then a second interview, following which I was offered the job. I was required to work 16 hours a week and it was flexible so they were happy to accommodate my schedule.
As I was exclusively breastfeeding, I pumped for the baby or if I didn’t have a stash of breastmilk, I’d feed her just before I left and then run up the two flights of stairs to my apartment when my husband told me she needed to feed. I would then run back down and continue working. This really was a breastfeeding working mum’s dream. At the time, I was working remotely from home for another company and was a little worried about how I would balance two jobs, two children, a husband and a home, but I did it for exactly 14 months before resigning from the one that required me to work outside of the home. Here’s what I learned:
- Allah gives you rizq from where you least expect it, at a time that you need it most
There are not many working mothers that can say their commute to work consists of walking down two flights of stairs and being able to run back up to the baby whenever he/ she needs a feed or being able to work after 7 pm when the children are asleep. The rizq, quite literally, came to my front door and at a time (four weeks postpartum!) when I was least expecting it.
- You can channel your guilt into positive change
You will feel guilt for being away from your children, even if only for a little while. Channel that into being present with your children when you are with them. I recall a time that my son asked to please put my phone down and although I was working and not browsing through my Facebook feed, I remember being horrified that a toddler needed to tell me that to get my attention. Do more with them and for them whilst you are present, and you will find it a lot easier to work the next day having felt like you’ve had quality mummy-and-child time.
- Check yourself
When a source of rizq begins to interfere with your spiritual connection with your Creator, and makes you neglect (not out of choice) your primary duties and responsibilities as a mother and wife, it is time to say no. This takes a lot of self-reflection and whole lot of being honest with yourself about how much you are willing to sacrifice for the sake of employment. Giving the job up when I realised I was at this point, was very difficult, but when I closed one door, another opened for my husband. I was tempted to stay on, but I declined because I knew I needed to scrape less important things off my plate and pile on the things that I had been giving less than my 100% to – salah, ‘ilm, self-care, my children, my husband and my home.
- Perfection should not be your goal
As someone that struggles with anxiety, things that are less than perfect often make me very anxious and result in a tired and worn-out mum. Whilst I do and should strive to do the best I possibly can in whatever I’m doing, whether that’s putting together an important proposal for work, organising a cutlery drawer, writing a blog post or planning activities for the kids, everything does not have to be perfect. Social media and Pinterest may tell you otherwise, but the less time you spend on those things, the happier you will be.
- Give yourself a pat on the back
So much of the time we are so many things to so many people and we rush around fulfilling our duties, helping others where we can, and at the end of the day we’re cross with ourselves for not finishing x or cleaning y or that we didn’t cook z. We rarely look at what we have accomplished and pat ourselves on the back for it. We look for validation and appreciation from others but we forget to give it to ourselves.
Whether you’re a mum who works outside the home, a stay at home mum, or a mum who works from home, know that if you commit to doing everything that you do for the sake of Allah, fulfilling your duties and obligations; whether they are contractual, spousal, or parental, you are doing enough.
“And whoever places his trust in Allah, He is sufficient for him.” [Qur’an, 65:3]