Keep Hope Alive No Matter How Dark it Gets…..

I open my eyes to yet another morning, a dawn full of promises. Rushing with my morning chores whilst trying the calm and cheery ‘wake up calls’, I get myself ready for the routine of home schooling. School, once such a reassuring second home, suddenly became a very distant and stressful period in all our lives since the pandemic.

It’s quite alarming to realise that an year has passed since the WHO announced the pandemic. Since then, schools have been shut for most of the months and innumerable offices have been closed, compelling work from home and online learning forcing parents to combine work and teaching. Being a mother, never an easy task, has become even more complicated during these closures. Mothers juggling lots of duties are expected to adapt and change, yet this adaptation has been very rueful and almost is a ‘silent killer’ in some families. As a working mum and a mother of three, I can relate handling the pressure of two daughters whose GCSEs got affected year on year and a four-year-old whose foundation education was robbed off him as he was just grasping and enjoying the idea of school.

What about the mothers who are working and who need extra support having special needs children at home? Those mothers who are pregnant and new mothers who have just given birth, deprived of the joy of rejoicing this with family? Those mothers who are daughters, unable to fulfil duties to their mothers in the care homes. Let’s not forget the mothers who’ve been victimised… who’ve had their babies stolen by this killer of a disease.

I’m dragged back to reality as my phone beeps, cringing at the notification. My work assignment is due in two hours and my sons lesson is happening in five minutes. As I get him settled in front of the screen after the never ending “don’t unmute yourself…. No! Don’t leave the meeting! Can you please listen? Sit on the chair and not on the table!!”, my thoughts race about lunch. An hour and half is all I have to get my assignment ready and get lunch ready for the ever hungry demanding tummies. Lesson done, cooking done and assignment finished. Phew! Beep beep! Oh no! is it already time for my son’s next session? “Girls” I call out. “Can someone help me with his lesson please?” I look at my teenage daughter, head immersed in a book, headphones on. I say a prayer for the mothers who are helplessly watching, unable to do anything as their teenagers deal with uncertainty, confusion and fear. The media has not helped, has it? Mismanagement of information, discrimination, fear, stigma has all given more reasons to detest this situation and fear the loss of hope. I am again brought back to reality when my hungry four-year-old wants his midday snack. I pick him up lovingly and give him a cuddle as I feel ever so thankful for the joys we are blessed with amidst this dark and uncertain period. It is not surprising to any of us how the Quran has answers to all situations and undoubtedly about the situation we are facing right now. We need to look for good even in the hardest of situations through sabr (patience) and forbearing. Without a doubt, this is what has got all mothers this far. Have we not relied on this verse time and time again - “Fa inna ma’al usri yusra” (94:5) For indeed after every hardship comes ease.

Many people have acknowledged the unbelievable family time they have been opportune with due to the pandemic. Amidst the hardships and challenges, this period no doubt has helped us evaluate our lives and focus on what’s important. Family rhythms have shifted but the ties have become stronger and mothers definitely have a part to play in it. As I wash my dishes I look outside my window and a smile spreads across my face as I see the many tiny tulip bulbs pop out through the snow filled flowerbed. How miraculous for the plants to survive the tormenting chill winter and resonate its beauty through it all. Isn’t Almighty teaching us a valuable lesson? Future generations may look back on this time and attempt to piece together what helped humanity push through. While the sciences will have worked to heal our bodies, it is the mothers who will have healed the spirits with their love and compassion – and that will ever be what makes all the difference.

Sister Sabreena Azad