Life Lessons from Asma Bint Abu Bakr (ra) – 2

cherryclossomWe continue with some more characteristics of Asma bint Abu Bakr (ra).

Steadfastness in Religion

When Asma (ra) migrated to Madinah, her mother Qutalyah bint Abdul Uzza came for a visit bringing along some gifts. Her mother being an idolatress, Asma (ra) did not admit her into the house or accept her gifts, until she asked the Prophet (sa) about relations with the idolaters. The Prophet (sa) told her to welcome her mother and accept her gifts.

It was her Taqwa that made her rank Allah (swt) and His commandments above everything else. If she was unclear about a certain matter, she did not proceed on her own, until she received clarification regarding it. “And whosoever honours the Symbols of Allah, then it is truly from the piety of the heart.” (Al-Hajj 22:32)

Lessons to draw: Seek knowledge of the religion and protect yourself and your families from committing that, which might be displeasing to Allah (swt). Be conscious of your earning, your food, your clothing, and the kind of people you keep company with. Put Allah (swt) before everything else.

Perseverance and Generosity

Life for Asma (ra) wasn’t easy. Her husband Zubair (ra) had neither money nor property. Asma (ra) would do house chores as well as look after her husband’s mare. Tending to the mare was the most difficult of all jobs. When she complained to her father, he advised her to be patient.

It was her Taqwa that made her rank Allah (swt) and His commandments above everything else.

When Allah (swt) improved their financial condition, instead of increasing her living status, Asma (ra) increased her charity. She was a woman not blinded by the attractions of this world. She was focused on the hereafter and that which pleased Allah (swt). Advising her children of benevolence, she said: “Spend, give Sadaqah and charity and do not wait for abundance.”

Lessons to draw: Many women complain of not having enough to give. There are many simple ways of contributing in the way of Allah (swt), and it does not always involve money. One can contribute in the way of Allah (swt) by giving their time, talent, special skills or even provision. Prepare an extra meal one day and feed an orphan child. Volunteer to teach Quran, a Dua or even academic studies to one of your domestic help’s children.

Haya and Modesty

One day, Asma (ra) was walking home with a load of dates on her head. Upon seeing her, the Prophet (sa) signalled his camel to sit down, so that Asma (ra) could climb. But Asma (ra) refused and continued to walk. There were other men with Prophet (sa), and Asma (ra) did not find it appropriate to be the only woman in a group of men.

Once, her son Al-Mundhir sent her an elegant dress from Iraq, but Asma (ra) refused to take it. Her son, knowing his mother, contested that it was not of a transparent material. Asma (ra) replied that it was not, but it was of tight-fitting and revealed the contours of the body.

Lessons to draw: We might spend a fortune on looking elegant and distinguished, but does our clothing cover all the parameters of Haya? Let us dress up to please Allah (swt).

When Allah (swt) improved their financial condition, instead of increasing her living status, Asma (ra) increased her charity.

Motherhood

Asma (ra) instilled in her children religious values and instructed them about always standing up for the truth. She transferred her love for charity in them and raised them upon best characteristics. After her husband divorced her, Asma (ra) started living with her son Abdullah ibn Az-Zubair (ra). Raised by his mother, Abdullah (ra) grew up to be prudent, intellectual and a master archer.

Lessons to draw: Connect your children to Allah (swt), because when the hearts are empty, they would take in anything that Shaytan leads them to. Teach the Seerah of the Prophet (sa) and his Duas. Tell them about Shirk, and teach not to depend on anyone or fear anyone besides Allah (swt).

Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat.

Do I Really Love My Baby?

Vol 5 - Issue 2 The flip side of MotherhoodThe love I developed for my baby during the nine months of pregnancy quickly vanished over the long duration of sleepless nights that followed his birth.

I didn’t notice it at first, but it was becoming obvious that this is too much to handle. I was overwhelmed, scared, paranoid and crying over every little thing.

I’ve always looked at babies as innocent, harmless creatures just hanging around, crying when hungry, sleepy or wet. The truth about babies dawned on me, after I took up the mommy duty. The truth about babies became scarier, when I couldn’t differentiate between my son’s hunger and colic cues.

Helpless, anxious and frustrated, I was afraid I’m hurting my baby. I couldn’t figure out why he’s crying. I couldn’t understand, why the women were bombarding me with questions and observations such as “He’s still hungry. Didn’t you feed him?” “You don’t know how to nurse him.” “If you don’t have enough milk, give him a bottle, he’s not taking the bottle, is he gassy, or is he sleepy?” “His diaper is full, when did you change him last?” I’m asking myself these same questions, I don’t know myself. So please just stop.

I was restless inside. I couldn’t sleep due to the fear that he might wake up soon and disturb my slumber anyway. I wanted to scream. I did many times. I pulled my hair, smacked my head and cried a lot. “I just want to sleep! Please, I just want to sleep!” I fought with my husband. I fought about everything existent and non-existent.

I told them I might be suffering from post-partum blues. Nobody believed me. It sounded too dramatic and “western”. I knew my hormonal fussiness reduced after twelve days. But I was still hormonal and crazy, just not as much as the first two weeks after delivery.

In this chaos, I had begun to un-love my son. Yes, I changed him, rocked him to sleep, nursed him and walked with him – did everything else I had to do. But, unfortunately, I couldn’t love him… I tried to find the emotion within myself, I really did.

It was like being in a perfect relationship for nine months and then going through a rough breakup. I wanted to patch things up, but I couldn’t forgive him for the sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion. Don’t even ask me, what went through my head regarding my husband and everyone else at home.

In this chaos, I had begun to un-love my son. Yes, I changed him, rocked him to sleep, nursed him and walked with him – did everything else I had to do. But, unfortunately, I couldn’t love him…

I seriously considered packing my bags and leaving with my son. I don’t need anyone! I can do this on my own, without people accusing me of having insufficient milk and lacking diaper changing skills.

But I stayed. I’m glad I did now. It’s been seven months and those sleepless nights seem so far away. But I shudder every time I think of it. He still wakes up during the night, but its okay, because he falls asleep quickly. These nights are better than the ones at the start. I get his cues now. I know what he likes and dislikes. I know what to do most of the time.

Sometimes I catch him looking at me, simply staring at my face. And then he smiles. It’s like he’s checking, if I’m still there and then telling me how much he loves me, too.

I enjoy preparing his food, even on days when I’m totally not in the mood. But I push myself to do it, because I want him to eat healthy, homemade baby food. I don’t want to give in to the packed foods. I know it’s easy, and I’m sure it’s not harmful. But I still can’t get around to introducing foods to my child that were cooked and packed months ago.

He’s the first one; you always do it for the first child, people tell me. Oh really? Are you telling me that you love your first kid more than the others? Okay fine, love is debatable, but the concern regarding their health and diet would always be crucial, wouldn’t it? At least for me it is and would stay the same. My mom had four kids; she fed us all homemade food. She didn’t cook up special pureed meals just for me, because I’m the first child, and then relaxed with my three pesky brothers, who came along later. So, please, don’t tell me about the first kid thing, because it’s not true.

I’m hygiene crazy; I wash his toys, rinse his bowl and spoon with boiled water before putting in food. I clip his nails, oil his hair and moisturize his skin after baths and before bed. We have a routine now, and most of the time it works. I have time to shower now, use the loo and even brush my hair! I also have time for naps, workout and meals.

This too shall pass is what I kept reading online during my mental frenzy. And, Alhamdulillah, I’m so grateful to Allah (swt) that I’ve made it this far. I know there’s more to the package. Teething is around the corner. Then there’s the constant fear that my son will put something harmful in his mouth, nose or ear. He might fall and bump his head, if he tries sitting up, when I’m not looking. I fear my niece might trip on him, sneeze, cough or maybe sit on him like she’s almost done thrice already. I’m afraid she’ll want to share her snacks of sliced cheese with him or maybe her gummy bears or chips!

I’m always afraid. But then I calm myself down. In my heart, I say a little prayer. I ask Allah (swt) to look out for my son, when I’m not looking or when I’m unaware of things that can potentially harm him. I remind myself that I can’t prevent accidents that are meant to be. Like the time he rolled with his walker outside the kitchen door and down onto the garage floor. The incident unravelled within seconds. There were three people around, yet nobody noticed he was speeding out the door. I was there too. This was last week. The scene is fresh in my mind, and it will always be.

I’m always afraid. But then I calm myself down. In my heart, I say a little prayer. I ask Allah (swt) to look out for my son

So am I finally in love with Abdullah? Is this constant concern evidence of my love for him? Or is it just a fear? Is it both? I think it’s both. You are always afraid for the one you love to be harmed. It was easy to love him, when he was inside the safe, protected home in my womb. But now there are all these external things to worry about.

Like, will he be a loser at school? Will the other kids like him? Will he study well? Am I feeding him well, am I not feeding him enough? Will he love me, will he disrespect me?Will he pray, will he willingly read and love the Quran? Will he hold his dad’s hand and walk to the Masjid for Salah? And then I say a little prayer inside. A prayer my Dad taught me, when I first told him I’m expecting. A prayer he prayed for all his children before and after their births. Ya Allah (swt) make my child healthy, wise and beautiful. (Sehatmand, Hakeem aur Khoobsurat in Urdu)

May Allah (swt) guide my son, my husband, me and the rest of the family onto the Straight Path. May Allah (swt) guide you and your families, too. May Allah (swt) bless us all. Ameen

Till next time, happy parenting!

Bring My Mom Back

missing_silhouetteI am a ten year old helpless and poor girl; a girl who has no mother. But sometime back I too had a mother, in whose lap I used to sleep and whose face I used to kiss. Though I was of a pervasive nature, yet my mom liked me the most. I was her sweet kid and never thought of parting away from her any day, any time. My mom was ever ready to change my dress, sleep beside me, and comb my hair. I resembled her completely: the same cleverness, the same prettiness, the same smartness and the same joyfulness!

You cannot evaluate the merriment and joy we shared with each other. She bought me all the nice items that I would desire—the finest dresses, the shining shoes and a heap of precious toys. Do you know why? I tell you. All was done because of her utmost affection for me. She always treated me as her darling. She received strength from me, and I received strength from her.  As a matter of fact, I was “she” and she was “I”. Whenever I used to call her ‘Mom, Mom’, she felt a sort of pride, as if she had won the whole world.

But alas, all these realities have diminished into the stories of the past! She is no more with me. Anonymous, stone-hearted people have snatched my mother. Mom is nowhere around me! I have been forcibly deprived of her. A faded image flashes in my mind every now and then, my mother hugging and kissing me. My poor mom! It is a story, an incident that took place nine years ago, when I was barely two years old.

But Alhamdulillah, I have attained the age of eleven now. During these painful years, I have remained all aloof; unaware of my mother’s where about. I know for sure that she too would have been crying for me, “Sunny, Sunny, where are you? I am missing you badly!” People state that the snatchers of your mother are heartless, merciless and faithless. They only recognize dollars! So they will neither pay attention to your tender voice, nor the screaming of your mom. Uncle, please, let me know if all what people say is true.

Kindly inform the snatchers of my mummy that her dearest daughter is waiting for her, as my mother too will not be at peace with them!

Years upon years have passed but my mother is still absconding. I have failed to locate her up till now and none is there to help me out. Whom should I call my mom now, as none fits into my mom’s compassionate figure? Years have elapsed, I have not slept in her lap, and I miss her cooked meals. How tasteful are the meals that are cooked by the mothers and offered to their daughters by their own hands!  Sweet, delicious, aromatic and appetizing!

How sweet it sounds when some daughter calls out, “Mummy, mummy”. And at that very juncture, I ask myself, “To whom should I award with this sweet title, as I have no mother around; quite oblivious of the fact, as to how had she been lifted by the Great Powers as the people speak of ?

Do you mean to say that she had left the house, because she had found herself unhappy with me? Nay, she had never remained unpleased with me, always calling me as “My little pretty toy”!  I do not remember if she had ever scolded or slapped me. Once I got frightened in the night all of a sudden because of some horrible dream. I was in a tender age then. And my mummy rushed to me, embraced me, and solaced me spoiling her entire sleep all the night long. How can I explain to you, how intensely she loved me, dear Auntie!

We have searched for her a lot; every room, every corner, every office, and every street. But to no avail. Everyone tries to console me explaining that my mother had been picked up by a mighty power. I ask you one thing sir:  Should anyone kidnap someone’s mom and leave the kids astray? Kindly tell me honestly if all that was just no matter who had done that. Do they hate the tiny, rosy and sweet daughters of Pakistan? Daughters who are a true replica of their mothers-   smart and happy!

How disappointed I feel when I find the girls of my age playing, running, gossiping and shopping with their affectionate mothers! But since I have no mother, I remain aloof the entire day. Who can accompany me in my games and shopping then?

Why doesn’t anyone make any effort to bring my mom back? Don’t you realize how sad I have gone without her? Only yester night my mummy appeared in my dream and wept bitterly before me. But still consoled me promising her safe return soon and a rejoicing again.  And then all of a sudden she disappeared. That night got very heavy for me. I still need her shadow, her lap, and her sweet words.

We have searched for her a lot; every room, every corner, every office, and every street. But to no avail. Everyone tries to console me explaining that my mother had been picked up by a mighty power.

You see that I have no father even. He had parted away from my mummy long time ago. I am therefore a girl without any dad and without any mom- a fragile girl! Can you assess my sentiments then, dear Auntie? Can anyone of you provide me with her where-about? I know that she would also be fainting, crying and running all the time from one pillar to the other with the desire to embrace me. But all her efforts go fruitless. I know that she would be hungry too because she preferred to dine with me always.  How would she be eating without me these days, many a times I question myself?

Do the concerned authorities have no hearts? Doesn’t their heart palpitate with their daughter’s love? Don’t their eyes shed tears upon someone’s agonies?

My handicapped old grandma laments over the situation stating that she has become worn out now after running pillar to post to locate her daughter.  Which office-door is that, that she had not knocked and which personality is there that she had not met in order to appeal for her daughter’s secure return. But you know that all our efforts have resulted in vain! And now consequently, she has fallen sick. Tears never stop from my grandma’s eyes whenever she recollects her memories. And when does she not recollect her memories!

Yes, I too weep bitterly for her. We both shed tears each time when we peep together from the doors hoping to greet my mom Aafia but we find Aafia nowhere. Whenever I am awarded for any of my school’s success, I do not know why tears commence from my eyes. I get extremely emotional and impatient to show my award to someone – but to whom? There is no one to appreciate me. Sometimes I get filled with some vague questions such as ‘Who is there to buck up me? Who will embrace me out of love? Some inner voice assures me that  some year, some  month, some  day, your  mother will definitely be sitting next to you;  describing all the tortures that had been exercised over her. O Allah (swt) what an unending period of sheer disappointment am I facing without her!

We both shed tears each time when we peep together from the doors hoping to greet my mom Aafia but we find Aafia nowhere.

My sweet mummy, please do return now. You see how darkness has engulfed all of us. Mummy I have gone weary. I have gone tired. I have gone hopeless. What a loneliness I feel without thee O Mom! Or else summon me as well to the place where you have been confined; in absolute solitary and where there is no facility awarded  to you. I will sit beside you, solace you, and share your sorrows, emotions and ailments. Then you will feel no loneliness, no sickness, as I will be there to chat and help you out my dear mother.

You are the most courageous fighter, the greatest and the most daring lady, my dear sweet mom. Look! How unanimously the entire nation is paying tribute to you.

I again appeal to those who have my mother with them to have mercy on me and bring my mom back .

Stress Less – Workshop Registration

Stress-flyer

Registration will be confirmed only upon receipt of complete payment. Please fill out the form below to register:

Register Online

Full Name *

Address

Telephone No. (Required)

Email Address (Required)

Payment Option

Enter the words as shown in the box below

captcha

No One Can, None Other Except..

muslim-mother

Her frail legs carrying my growing load,
Facing hardships, yet such care she showed,
Despite being delicate and petite,
Always active and up on her feet.
Who can love me as my precious mother?
No one would, none other.

Indulgent hands work for hours on end,
On her gallant soul I can always depend.
Her eyes well up seeing me in pain,
My loss is her loss, my gain her gain.
Who can love me as my precious mother?
No one would, none other.

Her valued advice, devout and sincere,
She’s always listening, she’s ready to hear.
Warm are her gestures, reassuring too,
Blend of love n care, she’s a soothing hue.
Who can love me as my precious mother?
No one would, none other.

That encouraging pat she gives to my back,
Giving me whatever I seem to lack.
Her supportive words echo in my head,
‘I know you can do it,’ she has always said.
Who can love me as my precious mother?
No one would, none other.

She lends me her shoulder to cry on,
I know she prays for me at early dawn.
Hiding her worries while smiling at me,
Disguising her fears being brave as can be.
Who can love me as my precious mother?
No one would, none other.

Solemn tears she sheds while praying for me,
Beseeching her Rabb, they are part of her plea.
Her Duas do wonders like nothing else would,
They turn evil away and then it’s all good.
Who can love me as my precious mother?
No one would, none other.

Oh how much I long for that cheering hug,
Those Duas she makes on her prayer rug.
Her presence makes my day worthwhile,
I could give the world for her single smile.
Who can love me as my precious mother?
No one would, none other.

There’s nothing more pleasing than her charming face,
She’s the essence of comfort, compassion and grace.
Her thoughts are honest, her feelings so pure,
She can never mean harm, I’m always so sure.
Who can love me as my precious mother?
No one would, none other.

How blessed I am for His favours to me,
Her being in my life is written in my decree.
Feeling a glimpse of Allah’s love in her ways,
Inexplicable it is, in a single phrase.
I now know who loves me more than my mother,
Allah it is, He is like none other.

Image courtesy: www.mentalhealth4muslims.com

Training to be a Mother

Training to be a Mother

Every professional needs to be trained, be it a teacher, doctor, pilot or an engineer. There’s no job difficult or easy that does not require some basic training. Centres are built and workshops are conducted. However, the personnel with the most important job, the bearers of the ‘next generation’, are often left without adequate guidance and preparation.

Motherhood – The Best Career!

The problem in our society is that being a mother holds little to no significance! Some women prefer careers over children. Most well-off mothers hire maids for every kid they have. Today, the Ummah is in dire need of true leadership; yet, the hands that are to mould the leaders are too busy.

The first step in training ourselves as mothers is to learn the significance of our job. Most women look down upon motherhood, thinking it’s all about changing smelly diapers. In fact, it’s about shaping the minds of our future generations. Any mother would tell you that no matter what she goes through, it’s all worth it, when she sees her child laugh, play and grow up. Allah (swt) has elevated our status by the responsibility of motherhood; therefore, this should be our first and foremost priority.

Yes, motherhood needs life-long training, which includes the following:

  1. Rearing Iman (Faith)

The most important aspect of our training should be in the field of faith. Mothers must equip themselves with strong Iman. Every vessel will spill what it contains. Thus, to empower our children with Iman, we ourselves need some nourishment of faith. We must connect ourselves and our children with the tenets of faith and the true sources of knowledge and guidance: the Quran and Sunnah.

Start building a powerful connection with Allah (swt) by pondering over His names and attributes. You’ll then be able to connect your child to Allah (swt), telling him how Al-Wadood loves him, how Ar-Razzaq provides for him and how Al-Bari has fashioned him in such a beautiful manner. These small instances will create deep love for Allah (swt). Ponder over the Quranic verses that mention Allah’s (swt) attributes and relate them to your children according to their level.

Mothers should have a constant relationship with the Quran, memorizing and reflecting upon it as much as they can, as this is the foundation of guidance. It is the book that transformed the simple nomads of the desert into the leaders of this Ummah. You may then recite to them while you nurse and play, explaining short verses. When they are older, study alongside them, so that you grow together; this shall be the strongest source of bonding between your children and yourself as well as your children and their Rabb (swt).

Additionally, no matter how busy they are, mothers must take out some time to acquire knowledge about their Deen. Whether it is by means of reading books or listening to beneficial lectures, gaining time-to-time doses of Islamic knowledge ensures that we are constantly reminded of our purpose and position in this world. Familiarize yourself with the Islamic history and culture to withstand the rising tide of western civilization.

Mothers and expectant mothers should also make a habit of reciting daily Duas aloud for their children. A recommended read on this Iman-rearing aspect is “Nurturing Eeman in Children” by Dr. Aisha Hamdan.

  1. Patience

A very important quality of a good mother is patience. Lack of sleep, busy days, tension and fatigue may make you irritable and vexed. Once you sign on to be a mother, 24/7 is the only shift they offer. However, you don’t need to boil out your anger on your children; they’re not your waste bin! If you do feel like venting out, reach out to your Lord (swt); furthermore, writing a daily diary may extinguish your flame.

Another way of developing Sabr is long Qiyam. Mothers should have a habit of praying Tahajjud at least before their child is born. Staying up for your child comes automatically – why not do it for Allah (swt)?

  1. Learn to Manage Time

With kids at hand, time just melts away like ice. To keep up with the clock, mothers must learn time management skills. Firstly, learn to organize your household and teach the same to your children; this will save you a lot of ‘where is my shoe?’ and ‘where are my socks?’ moments of the day. Secondly, learn to delegate tasks. Bigger children can look after a few of their chores themselves and also help their younger siblings. Thirdly, prioritize; know what should be done right away and what can wait for later.

  1. Active Lifestyle

Coddled and cosseted young girls, who usually have faced nothing but books, freak out when they enter the real world of housekeeping and motherhood. The days of sleeping and lazing off to your heart’s desire are over now! Young girls must habituate themselves to a physically active and healthy lifestyle; learn to live without your mobile and the internet. Otherwise, when responsibilities start piling up, there’s a strong chance you end up being a short-tempered mother, which may leave negative effects on the personality of your child.

  1. Gaining Guidance about Parenting

Parenting entails responsibility and accountability. For learning about effective parenting, you may listen to Duroos, attend lectures and read books on the subject. Alhumdulillah, such materials are readily available and they’ll aid you in your journey. Nonetheless, take advice from your elders, your mothers and your grandmothers; it’ll be the essence of their experiences. If you are expecting your first child, start seeking knowledge now and if you already have children, it’s never too late.

  1. Removing the Negatives

Try to eliminate all the negative influences inside your home and your undesirable habits that you don’t wish to transfer to your child. For example, if you think television is having a bad influence on your children, refrain from sitting in front of the TV. If you don’t want your kids to adopt the practice of backbiting, don’t backbite. Refrain from using the words you don’t want them to utter. Children are sponges that will pick up whatever they catch from their environment – be careful! If you want kids like Hassan (rtam) and Hussain (rtam), get ready to follow the characters of Fatimah (rtaf) and Ali (rtam).

To put it succinctly, motherhood is not a walk in the park. It demands time, energy and efforts. Yet it is the instinct of every woman, the most adorable duty there is! Fathers shouldn’t assume they are exempted; they are equally responsible and must actively participate in their children’s upbringing. With the dew drops of Duas and hard work of parents, Insha’Allah, we will succeed in presenting this Ummah with productive Muslims.

The Flip Side of Motherhood: Postpartum Depression

Vol 5 - Issue 2 The flip side of MotherhoodIt’s the moment most women wait for – entering the coveted domain of motherhood! Tired of pregnancy pains and restrictions, the expectant mother excitedly anticipates the arrival of her baby, thinking that she’ll be fully able to enjoy her ‘bundle of joy’ once it’s all over. She can’t wait to cuddle and gaze at the life that has been kicking inside her for months.

Yet, merely hours or days after childbirth, most women couldn’t feel worse. Amid the congratulatory phone calls, text messages, flowers, gifts and visits of relatives and friends, the ‘new mama’ feels a cloud of gloom looming over her life. Like a whirlwind, the baby has disrupted her routine, usurping the lavish attention and care showered previously to her. She’s lucky, if she can sleep uninterrupted for more than three hours at a time.

So what are the ‘baby blues’? It’s when the mother feels overwhelmed by the burden of parental responsibility, over-worried about the baby’s well-being, displeased with her weight gain, at a loss of control over daily activities and disgruntled with the lack of quality time with her husband – all of this, plus physical weakness and dependence on others during postpartum, makes her tearful, edgy, short-tempered and over-reactive about trivial matters.

“Moodiness, tearfulness, anxiety and fatigue are all common on the roller coaster of emotions women may experience after giving birth,” says obstetrician and gynecologist Susan Spencer, M.D. “Postpartum blues are a normal consequence of adjusting to a huge life change and the sleep deprivation that comes with it.”

For some, this phase arrives days or weeks after childbirth; for most, though, it happens just after delivery. “At the hospital, I just wanted to take off all the IV drips and run away. I felt so chained and helpless,” says Nabeeha. She refused to hold her baby, due to the physical pain of a Caesarian-section surgery. “For the first two months, I couldn’t sleep, until my baby did. Even if she was lying in the cot playing, I would sit nearby, watchful.” After returning to her husband’s home abroad, she frantically called up her parents in tears, panic-stricken that she wouldn’t be able to do it alone. Hours of her mother’s consoling restored her composure.

Struggling to establish breastfeeding, constantly changing diapers and dealing with a spouse, who is unhappy with her new figure and her constant preoccupation, a new mother is terrified of making mistakes and of failing as a parent. Putting up with recurrent advice of older women is another headache: “Don’t hold the baby that way”, “use cloth diapers – it’ll save money”, “swaddle tightly for the first six months”, “press baby’s head into the right shape”… It’s no wonder then that the motherhood brings with it a great mental and physical fatigue.

Triggered by drastic drops in hormonal levels after delivery, the baby blues are experienced by 85% of new mothers. However, if this condition lingers beyond two weeks, so that it adversely affects the mother’s ability to take care of her baby, it can be attributed as postpartum depression (PPD).

“About 10 to 20 percent of women actually develop postpartum depression. The difference is in the degree and duration of symptoms,” says Dr. Susan Spencer.

PPD has more chances of occurring amid certain factors, such as: a difficult and/or unwanted pregnancy, a difficult older child, financial difficulties, poor relationship with spouse, lack of family support, or history of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) before marriage. How does one know that PPD has onset?

A significant change in mood and/or appetite, an inability to concentrate, excessive fatigue, inability to sleep even when a support person is there to care for baby are common signs of this more serious condition.

The signs of PPD are noticed first by the spouse or other relatives. It is very important not to dismiss them as trivial, because PPD is an illness requiring non-medication treatment and therapy.

“Becoming a mother is the most beautiful experience, but it doesn’t come without paying a price. Allah (swt) would not just throw heaven at our feet,” says Amna. “Dealing with sibling rivalry, if there’s an older child, maintaining (the latter’s) school and activity schedule, doing chores expected by the in-laws, having to cook and clean the house, losing the mental enrichment derived from a previous purposeful job, feeling estranged from spouse, if he is not supportive enough… it takes a good six months, or may be more, before you are able to settle down with the overwhelming responsibilities. You can only survive it by pouring your heart out before Allah (swt).”

What can be done? This writer also confesses going through the same phase twice in the past 3 years. That’s all the more why I would like to share the ways of helping women experiencing these problems.

Acknowledge that the problem exists

For the relatives: if you see your daughter or daughter-in-law acting as described above, empathize with her. Recall the pain you felt, when you delivered a baby (the stitches hurt, whether the delivery was normal or C-section) and don’t reprimand her for her outbursts. Also, try not to say: “I never went through this,” because you were fortunate. Other women have erratic hormones, even if you did not. And it’s not their fault that they do.

Ask for help

Whether it’s your husband, mother or mother-in-law, don’t feel guilty about asking them to take the baby for some time, so that you can relax and unwind. Pamper yourself: you need to recover from one of the biggest physical experiences ever. Go out, exercise, eat your favourite dessert or call up a friend, especially one, who has also recently given birth.

Remember Allah (swt)

If you cannot recite Quran, pray or fast, engage in extra remembrance of Allah (swt), particularly the Adhkar that repel the Shaitan. Remember Him, when you cry, when you feel the physical pain, when your toddler misbehaves or when the house is a mess. Remember Him, because He knows how you feel:

“And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years.” (Luqman 31:14)

Have faith in Allah (swt): help is near

Even if it seems impossible right now, it’s just a matter of 5-6 months for you to become ‘normal’ again. Your baby will start sleeping through the night, you will have ‘free’ personal time; you will lose weight and gain energy; you will enjoy leisure hobbies and your husband will revert to being more than a male-nanny.

Sister, remember that also this shall pass…

 

Depression in Teenagers

By Naba Basar

Depression is one of the most common psychological problems, affecting nearly everyone at any stage of their lives. It causes pain and suffering, not only to the one affected but also to the ones close to the sufferer. Serious depression can paralyze lives. One should distinguish the thin line between general sadness and serious depression.

Signs and symptoms of depression in teens:

  • sadness or hopelessness
  • irritability, anger or hostility
  • tearfulness or frequent crying
  • withdrawal from friends and family
  • loss of interest or enjoyment in activities
  • changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • fatigue or lack of energy
  • restlessness and agitation
  • difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • thoughts of death or suicide

If you are a parent and see similar symptoms in your teenager, take action right away. The sooner the problem is addressed, the better. Depression in teens can look very different from depression in adults. The following symptoms of depression are more common in teenagers than in their adult counterparts:

  • irritable, sudden outbursts or angry mood
  • unexplained aches and pains
  • extreme sensitivity to criticism
  • withdrawing from some, but not all people (unlike adults)

What are some of the problems that depression can cause in teens? The effects of teenage depression go far beyond a melancholy mood. In fact, many problematic behaviors or attitudes in teenagers are actually indications of depression. Remember that untreated depression can lead to: problems at school, running away from home, drug and alcohol abuse, low self-esteem, eating disorders, Internet addiction, reckless behavior, violence or self-injury, which can lead to suicide.

The question remains – what are you to do if your teen is depressed? The first thing you should do, if you suspect depression, is to talk to your teen about it. Share your concerns with your teenagers in a loving and non-judgmental way. Let your teen know, what specific signs of gloominess you’ve noticed, and why they worry you. Then, encourage your child to open up about what he or she is going through. As any parent knows, getting teens (depressed or not) to talk about their feelings is easier said than done. If your teen claims nothing is wrong, but has no explanation for what is causing the depressed behavior, you should trust your instincts. Remember that denial is a strong emotion. Furthermore, teenagers may not believe that what they’re experiencing is the result of depression. If you see depression’s warning signs, seek professional help. Neither you nor your teen is qualified to diagnose or rule depression out, so see a doctor or psychologist who can.

Tips for talking to a depressed teen:

  • Offer support. Let depressed teenagers know that you’re there fully and unconditionally for them. Hold back your queries but make it clear that you are willing to provide whatever support they need.
  • Be gentle but persistent. If your adolescent shuts you out at first, be persistent. Talking about it can be very tough for teens. Be respectful of your child’s comfort level, while still emphasizing your concern and willingness to listen.
  • Listen, don’t lecture. Resist your urge to criticize or pass judgment, once your teenager begins to talk. The important thing is communication. Avoid offering unsolicited advice.
  • Validate feelings. Their feelings or concerns may seem silly or irrational to you, but don’t try to talk teens out of their depression. Simply acknowledge the pain and sadness they are feeling.
  • Your job here is not over. Then it’s your responsibility to help your teenager out of depression. Your support is greatly needed at this point. It is now more than ever that your teenager needs to know that he or she is valued, accepted and cared for.
  • Be understanding. Living with a depressed teenager can be difficult and draining. At times, you may experience exhaustion, rejection, despair, aggravation or any other number of negative emotions. During this trying time, it’s important to remember that your child is not being difficult on purpose. Be patient and understanding.
  • Encourage physical activity. Encourage your teenager to stay active. Exercise can go a long way toward relieving the symptoms of melancholy, so find ways to incorporate it into your teenager’s day. Something as simple as walking or going on a bike ride can be beneficial.
  • Encourage social activity. Isolation only makes gloominess worse, so encourage your teenager to see friends and praise efforts to socialize. Offer to take your teen out with friends or suggest social activities that might be of interest, such as sports, after-school clubs, etc.
  • Stay involved in treatment. Make sure your teenager is following all treatment instructions and going to therapy. It’s especially important that your child takes any prescribed medication as instructed. Track changes in your teen’s condition and call the doctor, if depression symptoms seem to be getting worse.
  • Learn about depression. Just like you would, if your child had a disease you knew very little about, read up on depression, so that you can be your own ‘expert.’ The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to help your depressed teen.
  • Encourage your teenager to learn more about depression as well. Reading up on their condition can help depressed teens realize that they’re not alone, and give them a better understanding of what they’re going through.

 

I would like to recommend a book by Aiadh Ibn Abdullah Al-Qarni entitled “Don’t be Sad.” This book contains verses from the Quran, sayings of Prophet Muhammad (sa), of his companions and of wise people throughout history. “Be happy, at peace, and joyful; and don’t be sad” is the essence of this book.