We are living in a time where everything has to be picture perfect, from the food on our plates to the décor in our homes. And number one in view of the invisible camera of scrutiny is motherhood.
Being a mother today is hard. With all the information gleaming the pages of Pinterest, directing us to websites and blogs around the world showcasing the perfect nutrition, the perfect post pregnancy tummy workout, the perfect parenting strategies, the perfectly organised home, the perfect kids education....the perfect life!
We send these links to our Watsapp groups, and we all buy into this idea that anything less than feeding the kids green smoothies with a side of raw nuts, living in an Ikea clad home, and sitting at the kitchen table to do daily Islamic inspired kids crafts on top of serving the perfectly balanced dinner and working all day (be that inside or outside the home!), is a failure.
Muslim women everywhere literally burn themselves out trying to keep up with the Joneses neighbour's, the Organic Ali's.
So we all cook with cold pressed coconut oil because the smoking point of olive oil is low and will cause cancer.
We organise the Ikea Expedit shelf with a well positioned arrangement of books and educational resources because not only will it ensure everything is super easy to find but also shows we care about our kids education...and who doesn't love an Expedit shelf?
We buy beautiful wooden toys because it helps the children to build on their natural creativeness during play, not to mention the fact that the plastic ones just look awful all over the livingroom floor.
We eat organic apples because we can't afford to go all organic, and since apples are on the top of the dirty dozen list, it at least shows we are educated about the pesticide-GMO situation and are not willingly throwing our entire family in danger.
We invite the children's friends and their Mum's over for playdates and lay out an array of freshly baked sugarless cakes made with raw honey and those organic apples we bought, because offering a big fat Victoria Sponge and instant hot chocolate clearly screams I don't care about my kids health.
We stock the freezer with 20 frozen dinners we spent a whole weekend batch cooking so that after a long day at work or running around after the kids we can have a good wholesome home cooked meal instead of throwing a pizza and chips in the oven.....the epitome of what bad mothers do.
We reheat everything in ten different pans over the hob that we will later spend an hour washing up, rather than even thinking about using the microwave because what sane person would feed herself let alone her kids a nuked plate of spaghetti leftovers which clearly boarders on being radio active, and like the olive oil and non organic apples will cause us cancer.
We mustn't let the kids play outside alone because there are lots of nasty people out there, and it is much safer to keep them inside. But we then must make sure we find something to entertain them with otherwise we are simply negligent of our duties if they are bored even for a blink of the eye, and we don't want the kids needing therapy when they grow up to fix the damage imparted upon them for being made to play without us for a couple of hours.
We bake fluffy cloud bread made of only eggs and cheese, because eating regular bread is just like eating a bowl of sugar once those white flour carbs get into the blood stream and spark up the insulin levels which will eventually cause diabetes.
We drive the kids to ten different activities, clubs or tuition sessions a week, because if we truly want them to learn everything they need to learn and expose them to the world of possibilities, then we don't want to make them miss out on something that will mean 15 years from now they can't get the job they wanted or marry the spouse (we) desired.
What are we doing to ourselves? Really.
It's like we think we are the first generation of mothers to have ever existed, or everything those who came before us did and knew was clearly all wrong!
You know what, a Victoria Sponge cake once in a while won't kill us (eating it every day might). We don't have to prove to the world we are good mothers, and we don't need to drive ourselves to madness trying to keep up with every latest parenting craze or idea.
I'm not saying we should bring back the microwave (I wouldn't) or throw out the wooden toys (those really are too pretty). But what I am questioning is why do so many of us obsess about getting everything so perfectly right?
The wealth of information now accessible, fuels our tanks of worry that we might do something wrong or not do enough, and we miss what is actually in front of us.....our kids.
And it distracts us from what we really should be spending our time thinking about.
Our mothers didn't worry about the smoking point of olive oil or entertaining us 24/7. Our Grandmother's certainly didn't. Go back further, a hundred years, two hundred, even a thousand. What has always been important for the Muslim Mother, throughout every single generation since Muhammad صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم , is raising children to know and worship Allah.
This is what matters.
And we don't need some website or blog with a picture perfect secret to do this. The answer is already sitting on our shelf, inside the Qur'an.
And our example is already waiting for us in the books of hadith and seerah.
And how we can understand the ways to encapture this into our lives, is by seeking the Scholars who are the inheritors of this perfect knowledge.
This is where the answers to perfect motherhood lies.
This is the secret formula.