Photo Credit: Roberto Whittaker
Accepting whatever comes up means that we endeavour to choose acceptance, rather than resistance to the stuff that happens at home. An example of this could be when our children spill stuff. ‘Qadr’Allah’ is my desired response along with a ‘we can try again. Let’s help clean up’. Sometimes acceptance feels like the harder choice as parenting mindfully can be challenging especially after a long day or triggering occurrences; it’s easier to snap or to huff and puff (and I’ve done both).
The conscious choice does require more energy from us but it is walking-our-parent-talk and modelling good character and manners. Ever asked your child to keep it down in an annoyed and raised voice? (Sheepishly putting my hand up)
I feel like I pass and fail at acceptance with my kids equally. I have phases where I’m better or worse at it (and on the worse days or phases, I feel like I’m often apologising for being harsh or unkind).
Acceptance and Night Wakings: A Tale of Wake-Up Parties
I remember when I had my second child. Until he was 3 months old, we lived in a one bedroom flat: hubs, our two boys and I. I was getting up to nurse my son a lot in those early days and sometimes, my elder son, then aged two, would at times wake up and climb into our bed. And something about that situation would make me feel…a little anxious…like I wanted it to be different. I think it may have been the thought that we may awaken (and then keep awake!) my elder son. And then have a ‘well, whaddaya know, both kids are awake in the wee hours’ type of party: the type of party that I did not wish to attend. The only party I wanted was a ‘let’s have a quick feed whilst everybody that should stay asleep does, and then let’s let Mummy catch some zeds’ type of party. I was down for that kinda bash, lol.
Anyway, when the Mummy-catching-some-zeds party was put under question, I would, when I remembered, just observe the situation and find myself uttering ‘I submit’ in those moments. To what? I submit to the decree of Allah. I submit to the situation He has chosen for me. It’s not like I could change it in any way. We had no spare room to set my elder son up in at that point. And we weren’t making a clamour. So I wasn’t responsible for his waking up. I could accept it though, and choose to work with the situation.
After choosing acceptance, it’s (at times) possible to see the beauty or blessings of those moments. For me, during the wake up parties, Big brother would often be uber quiet and oh-so-smiley in those moments. I’d feel incredibly connected to him, smiling and stroking his face. I remember the smiles, the stillness of the night and the beauty of the moment lighting me up. They are still beautiful memories. They could have been like the ‘nuisances’ that I sometimes perceive when I don’t accept or submit, but instead resist.
‘And be patient with a beautiful patience’
Saying ‘fasbir sabran jameela’ (and be patient with a beautiful patience – 70: 4) can really help us at certain moments – when two children cry at the same time, when one child has a sudden meltdown. And when we can bring that He witnesses to mind, I find it makes the minutia that is happening feel like it is, at times, fine, and at others, bearable. It can also help in being mindful, knowing that He sees us.
Let Go and Let God
Another phrase that helps me with acceptance is ‘Let go and let God’.
As a Mum, testing times have arisen for me around helping the boys get to sleep. And sometimes, I’ve been resistant and/or found it harder to accept the challenges. I’m focused on the result: sleep dearies, so Momma can get a recharge.
But when I’m focused on the result, I’m so not present. I’m a little pushy (okay, sometimes, I’ve been very pushy ), and I’m internally not accepting of my situation. And guess what? It does not feel good. Nor does it necessarily bring about the result I want…at least in a way where I wouldn’t regret it (by being harsh, etc).
Let Go and Let God can help in reminding us that Allah knows better for us. In every moment. That even though we would love for him to just sleep easily, I’m trying and its not happening? We accept and surrender to Allah. We can do something replenishing, even if for five minutes. With acceptance, there may still be discomfort or disappointment, but there is also the potential for internal peace and calm. There is knowing that He is in control. And that He is building us. Here is a poem about acceptance that I wrote.
Acceptance and Spotting The Good
Photo credit: Roberto Whittaker
After acceptance, maybe we can go further and see if we can find the beauty or upside of this . You don’t wanna nap? I wanted to read and write, but it’s cool, Allah chose this so wahey, no nap means early bedtime = more Mummy solo time in the evening. Wet bed and, therefore, a wash needed in the morning? Cools, alhamdulillah: hows about we wash your whole body and hair, instead of just the needed parts, and then, no bath or wash tonight? One less thing to do in the evening, ka-pow!
Bed is wet and I need to change the sheets? Might feel long, but I accept: I’m gonna change it knowing I can change this specific bed later than I’ll change the rest of the family beds. So bed changing will be quicker this week. Uh-huh! Noticing flowers, and not weeds, as a bracelet from The Hands Free Revolution read. It’s good for our internal peace, and happiness…and sense of lightness as people.
Sometimes, noticing the good takes effort and doesn’t always come straight after something we dislike happens and that’s a-okay. I wouldn’t force myself to feel this but I’d try. If we’re still in the midst of disappointment, just accepting and being kind to ourselves is great, and then, we can move to spotting the good later if/when we can or when a situation that illuminates it arises insha’Allah.
So whilst not always easy, the more we do it, the more we can remember and strengthen that Qadr-accepting, Allah’s plan trusting, beauty and opportunity noticing muscle and mindset. And then peace and contentment become more frequent abiders in our internal world (more of that please, ameen!)
Acceptance and Problem Solving
Acceptance also paves the way for problem solving. When we resist, we are stuck. And that doesn’t feel good. Acceptance, and being patient, doesn’t mean that we don’t try and change whatever we can. It just means that we start with acceptance, and then from that place of internal calm, solution what we can. This can feel empowering, because the very situation at home that may have depleted us, made us feel less than optimal, can leave us feeling empowered if, after accepting, we are able to plan for what we’ll do next time, should it reoccur.
The Prophet SAW said “A believer is not bitten from the same hole twice” (Bukhari/ Muslim)
“If you don’t like something, change it. If not, change the way you feel about it” – Dr Maya Angelou
Changing After Accepting
One weekend, the kids and I would be out on three evenings in a row. The first night in IKEA was all good, but the kids were tired as it was way past their bedtime. So it was a bit up in the air when we got home. As we were off routine, I felt a bit disoriented as to where to begin, so I felt a bit resistant to get bedtime routine going. Same type of thing happened the following night at a family dinner. All this was making me come off all controlling and ordering and we were completely doing the ‘I’m the parent, get yourself moving and I ain’t got time to entertain your whines’ routine [though, I’m the one who didn’t help you and prepare you to succeed at this!].
So it helped to accept that what was happening didn’t feel good for either me or the kids; I acknowledged my humanness, and thought ‘Ima prep for tomorrow night, insha’Allah, fam!’. So the next day, for the late family lunch, I prepped pyjamas for both boys and took them with me. I took some dinner for them, as well.
I thought we could leave around/just before their bedtime, but that I’d give them their dinner there, and pyjama them both up for bedtime before we left my cousin’s home for ours. I thought my younger son would most likely fall asleep in the car, knowing his sleep timings, and with pyjamas on and dinner done, that was a-okay with me. So that’s what I did.
And because of the loose plan, when we did leave slightly after bedtime, I was fine, and not resistant to helping my kids if they were slightly overtired or struggling. When we got home, we helped the boys to bed alhamdulillah and I don’t remember details, but it was a smoother, more internally peaceful experience. But it all began with acceptance.
Don’t Project The Challenging Moment Forward
Photo Credit: Roberto Whittaker
It can be helpful to remember to ‘not project the moment forward’ when it’s challenging. Which means that if we find ourselves in such moments, we choose not to believe the thought that says that just because this was a challenging moment (I’m knackered, I lost it, I’m disengaged), the rest of the day, or the next day, has to be impacted negatively by it. No. If we choose to be bold with those thoughts, whisper up a du’a, and just experience and witness these thoughts and the moment now, it may not necessarily be the case that we will be impacted negatively by it beyond the now.
Of course, this isn’t always the case. The moment does perhaps contribute to challenges later (you’re tired no matter what, for example).
But not projecting the moment forward really helps in halting the story in my head. ‘Cos when we take the story as truth, I feel like we almost invite it in. But if we hear those thoughts (and oh, I do) but relate to them as an observer and think ‘okay, this just a moment and it, too, shall pass’ , I feel we have a much better chance of it being just a moment (or some).
Not Wanting To accept: A Holiday Tale
An instance of me not wanting to accept whatever comes up. So last year, we were on holiday, and my son starts to stir in the night. He lets out one cry, tosses and turns, and then another. My first thoughts are ‘please don’t wake up, please don’t wake up’. I feel disappointment that the plan for my evening chill-out might be brought to a halt. These thoughts become pleas to Allah ‘please don’t let him wake up, Ya Allah.’ But they are not coming from a place of acceptance; I feel that pinch of disappointment and for a good few seconds, I feel myself frantically wanting the situation to be what it most certainly is not. So I notice that feeling in my stomach and I reluctantly accept the idea that I may indeed have a different evening than I had planned. I do not like it. But I (eventually!) accept whatever shape the evening may take. Because Allah is the best of planners. So internally, I relinquish control. Who knows what beauty we may encounter on this different route than planned, right? ❤ And subhan’Allah, he went right back to sleep.
Acceptance Is Harder When We’re Not Taking Care of Ourselves
I must also add, the inner work of acceptance and patience become almost impossible without regular, intentional doses of self-care; even if small. You’re trying and you’re a few hands down perhaps due to circumstances. Or maybe the day-in, day-out nature of motherhood makes it a little harder to practice. And I fall into this at times; sometimes, often.
If I do feel my cup is nearing empty, I try first to head outdoors, to do some strewing to invite play or to prepone my children’s screen time (which is usually in the afternoon) if it means I can take some time to read, to pray in peace or to journal, call a loved one or take a shower…a little shuffling around of plans is much better than a overwhelmed, about-to-lose-it me.
Asking for help, and appreciatively receiving it when we need it is a-okay, and crucial to being a mindful parent…you can’t make conscious decisions and do the inner work of acceptance from a depleted place. And we can lovingly be the helper and offer help whenever a loved one or people we know could do with help or an empathic ear, too.
I remember asking my friend if she could come over (to just chill and connect with) once when hubs had to suddenly leave on a family emergency; and my other friend checked in on us and asked me to send her a shopping list of the stuff we needed and I appreciatively obliged. These things help.
So as mothers of young children, what can we do practically to practice acceptance?
1) Plan When Ya Can If I try to loosely plan things, and then things don’t go my way, I know it’s Allah’s plan and indeed, that really is the best plan, so I can submit easier. For example, that night at my cousin’s. If my kids got cranky or something, I would have had better internal resources to accept and deal with it because I had tried to plan their bedtime routine. But if I hadn’t, I would know it was my lack of action that brought it about…I still have to accept that to make it better, but that was something I could’ve affected, ya dig?
2) Have some adhkaar and ‘mantras’ that help you to accept :: For me, these are:
– QadrAllah wa maa sha’a fa’ala
– Let Go and Let God
– I submit
– I accept
– This is not an emergency (from Dr. Laura Markham)
– Fasbir Sabran Jameelaa
These are tools that can move us (not always easily) from resistance to acceptance. Sometimes, with the acceptance, can come enjoyment, and that is a beautiful gift; cherry on top, ya’ni.
3) Don’t project the moment forward This means that whatever hard time we’re having with our young kids, we try not to draw negative future conclusions from it. We do not run away with the stories that the rest of the day or week is going to be ‘bad’.
4) Spotting The Good, no matter how ‘small’. This doesn’t need to happen in the moment, and you do not need to pressure yourself to do it. But if/when we can, it’s great.
5) Consider Using D.I.G Deep (by Dr Brené Brown) I sometimes know I’m resistant to stepping into my day when I’m overbinging on social media, or it’s a challenging moment and I’m tuning out. So next time, we are kind of mulling through the day or come up against a challenge, it can be helpful to ask ourselves to DIG Deep. Dr. Brown says the wholehearted get:
“**Deliberate** in their thoughts and behaviors through prayer, meditation, or simply by setting intentions; **Inspired** to make new and different choices;**Going**. They take action.”
DIG Deep can help us accept, face up to and take action on the things we would rather numb, I find.
I hope some of these tips help, and I pray for us to have peaceful days with our children – ameen 🙂