I was down to the wire. It was just a few hours before sundown, the deadline for my kids to be fed dinner, washed up and go to bed. But before I could check those items off the list, I needed to get laundry done. My two daughters had a hair appointment the following day so their hair was in an afro. I knew that I had to move swiftly!
The sooner I could knock out the laundry, the quicker I could feed my kids dinner, wash them up and put them down for bed. But as I gathered the clothes together and proceeded to get the kids together, I paused. I was faced with a pretty relevant question: “At this particular time, how much importance should I place on my kid’s appearance?”
I had envisioned myself unloading the clothes in the machine at the laundromat, immediately get the cycle going, completing it and then getting out. I knew my kids didn’t necessarily look presentable. Since I had to take their braids out, their hair was in transition.
Down To The Wire
A thought popped in my head: maybe I should put some big braids in their hair before we went out or try to do something with it so that they look a little bit presentable. But that would really be cutting into my time and I was a person who liked to think logically about things; it had to make sense to me in order for me to do it. If this would be something that would give me more work to do and push me behind schedule, and take time away from me later, was it worth it?
As a mother of three little ones who has struggled with time-management for years, there has been times when my back was pushed against the wall and I was left to make choose between being on time and appearance. On one particular occasion, I was completely stressed out, and despite my efforts to hurry up and get out of the house on time, I failed miserably. Not only did my kids not look presentable on that occasion but in order to make it on time, I had to skip a shower and literally throw on my clothes.
It was such a challenging day! I felt uncomfortable and had a feeling that people would talk about me and I was right. Many times people don’t know the story behind what’s happening and just make judgements based on what they see. I felt and looked like a mess and worse felt like I had limited options.
What To Do?
What was I supposed to do in a situation like that? I had to leave the house and make my appointment. The cab was waiting for me and I was running around like a mad woman, trying to gather my belongings and get into the car. I had been working tirelessly but did not have the tools in line in order to be effective, which is why I was frequently late and struggled to get out of the house.
It was easy for people to make comments about me behind my back and say things about my kid’s appearance but the ones who showed concern and offered to help remain to be special people in my book who will continue to benefit from my du’a.
I am proud to announce that months later I had achieved much progress. I began to develop some type of schedule for myself, a routine for the kids and put things in place which would dramatically decrease the amount of time it took me to get myself and my children ready in the morning. I was amazed at how smoothly it could be when it was time to get ready to leave the house. It doesn’t have to be something stressful at all.
However, because we make progress and things get easier, does it mean that we can expect things to be smooth all the time? Anyone who believes this would just be deceiving themselves and anyone who sees this life as the final product, where we are expected to be “perfect” as opposed to being “in progress,” many times live their life afraid to take risks or make mistakes, thus limiting their growth and potential.
Not A Good Feeling
I immediately felt uncomfortable as a lady stared me and my children down, upon me entering the laundromat. I expected that reaction from at least one person even though I hoped that I would be spared from it. No one likes to be judged.
It’s not a good feeling at all. Even though I consider myself to have pretty tough skin, still we all are human beings and have vulnerabilities and during that moment I was felt pretty vulnerable. I felt like I was out of order and doing my girl’s a disservice by allowing them to leave the house with their hair undone and didn’t want to represent my family in an unsatisfactory way.
The people who don’t know me or my situation have no idea what challenges I am being faced with. According to them, I am a disgrace for the way that I present my kids. Even though I felt like no blame was on me and that I had to do what I had to do, given the overall bigger picture and taking into account what was really most important, a part of me still felt guilty and felt like I should be doing better as a parent.
The lady at the laundromat didn’t have to say anything; her eyes and her facial expression said it all. It only took a split moment for her to look me up and down and make a judgement against me, without knowing anything about me. Isn’t it ironic how we can do this so many times in a day without thinking much of it?
We judge people, frown at them and make them feel uncomfortable not realizing the effect that it can have on them. Many times we do this because it makes us feel better about ourselves or our own situations. We may not be thrilled about where we are in life so by comparing ourselves to others and looking down on them, we temporarily don’t feel that bad about ourselves.
But is that real satisfaction? And how long does that “satisfaction” last? Undoubtedly, the real and lasting satisfaction is knowing that we spent our time wisely on this earth, that we took care of what Allah entrusted us to the best of our abilities and that we treat people the way we would wanted to be treated, sparing them from judgement and harm.
Allah says in the Qur’an, in the translation of the meaning:
O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames.
(Surah Hujrat 49: 11)