-By Sana Zubair
Food simmering away on the stove, toddler yelling for a diaper change, the doorbell ringing! There I go stumbling and tripping over an array of toys, but finally victorious in making it to the door to get the groceries I ordered. Soon after, a glance at the clock jolts me up as I realize it was almost time to pick my children from school. Like every other day, I had promised them I wouldn’t be late. Giving my toddler a quick wash I strap him up in the car and there I go racing against time to make sure I don’t see grumbling faces for not keeping my word – ah those demeaning looks. Right in the middle I slammed the brakes. Had I turned off the stoves. With that came the deafening honking of the cars behind me accompanied with flashes & alarming looks for my abrupt halt in the middle of the lane. If only I could tell them how hard I had worked all morning on this new recipe, the fruit of which would now literally go down the drain. Well no one fancies a burnt meal. In no time, I realized it was futile crying over spilt milk. I rather come up with alternatives for my famished kids.
For most of us, this is how a typical day takes off. We are frantic & panicky struggling to cope with several errands. As is rightly said “moms do not have a 9 – 5, they have a when I open my eyes to when I close my eyes”. When I come to think of it, this whole day’s exercise is nothing but a struggle in pursuance of my peaceful dreams at the switch off time. Dreams of raising a happy, healthy family and well rounded children, who can succeed with all their undertakings in life. A cycle which we plan at night & enact from dawn to dusk.
Reflecting on my dreams, I bump into an aspiration I have always had, which with time & circumstances has become hazy but stands well in place. The aspiration of understanding the Word of my Lord, the ambition of contemplating over the language of my Prophet (SAW). How successfully was I striving to accomplish it? Was I really putting my heart and soul incessantly to its pursuance. Or was it just a secret desire, tucked somewhere cozily in the depths of my heart. Heavy heartedly I would come in terms with my reality. If it meant something, I would not yet be referring to it as a “dream”, rather it would have taken the place of pursuit. In retrospect, there were so many dreams and aspirations we set for ourselves in a lifetime and years later how many of them were really sought. How many of those do not succumb to the perpetually changing demands of life and make their way on your to-do list one day. I would console myself by holding on to the dream, considering its existence a sign of goodness, despite an inefficient manifestation of working towards it. Like my childhood toys in the attic, this desire had submerged in the dust of time, awaiting to be reclaimed and like my childhood memories it had always been a part of me – unforgettable, inseparable & cherished.
Better late than never, I could give it a start now. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step after all. After getting things in a positive perspective, I eventually decided to plunge in with a determined mind & a passionate heart. I was aware there would be surges and slacks, yet hoped for a smooth sail. There would be times when my role as a homemaker would need more commitment. The reins of this skill called “time management” were in my hands, hence it was absolutely my choice to make it an overwhelming pitfall or a key to accomplishment.
Somethings in life are easier said than done. The execution of “belling the cat” was my first hurdle. I wanted a plan which was flexible and practical. Of course, there would be certain compromises that learning the Arabic language will rightfully demand. The nature of which, however would remain a personal choice. Therefore, by roughly chalking out a kick-off plan for myself, I empowered myself with a strategy.
Initiate by jotting down an entire day’s activities from waking up to bedtime chronologically. This would include every activity, no matter how trivial or mundane. This elaborate sketch of your routine will help you extract the required nitty gritty i.e. the time invested productively as opposed to the time futilely wasted. This is what I meant by the “nature” of sacrifice which would be my choice. Am I avid enough about learning Arabic to let it sneak onto my Facebook/WhatsApp or similar leisure pursuits. Or probably let it penetrate that “me time” I cherish with friends on phone. Well again, the choice is mine.
The 2R approach – Realistic & rational
Strike while the iron is hot. Make an effort within your circumstances to avail and maximize the window of opportunities. Whatever roles we play in our life, the real art of living is to know how to make the most of our situations as and when they arise and while they last. For instance, with multiple household responsibilities, I know I will never get that perfect day for myself when I will get to snug in my couch with a cup of coffee at hand ready to study in a relaxed and stimulating environment. Sounds so dramatic doesn’t it, wondering when was the last time I experienced it. The only thing that will work for me is to maximize those free time pockets that I get hither and tither all along the day. While waiting for the meat on the stove to get tender, waiting at the school gate to pick kids up, sitting aside on the bench while kids play in the park, the ten minutes I have after winding up the kitchen at night before hitting the sack, waiting for my turn at the hospital or salon and many such time slots that we get but just let them slip away.
The plethora of e-resources further facilitates the learning opportunities. For an organized and prim person like myself, the idea of such an erratic plan of action seems bizarre. But then again, if this be my only way of realistically getting to it, why not. Why should I wait for that “ideal” moment to study, why not make it happen instead? Why have a “goldilocks” approach waiting for the “just right” time when I can incorporate it into my routine. At the very least my learning would not be passive. The pieces of knowledge I gather along will surely integrate into something meaningful, something significant enough to help me gain momentum no matter how miniscule, while juggling to strike a balance. The sense of contentment driven by the fact that I unfalteringly stood true to my wish and gave it my best, is surely inexplicable and a milestone.
The infallible orientation
No matter how much I try and persevere, at the end of the day my hopes should be fixated on Allah SWT for success. It is only His Qudrah (will) that can put any good or any benefit in an action. If my struggle stems from such an anchorage it will sprout to be fruitful. All I need to do is adorn every investment with fervent duas (calling on to God), knowing if He has got me to it He will Help me through it.
With a strategy in place, I am ready to take on this challenge. Not just to live but to lead. I shall reminisce over my past someday with grey hair & trembling hands, feeling blessed to have accomplished my dream. Despite all my shortcomings and weaknesses, I pursued. I want to be able to feel overwhelmed with joy at my decision of not succumbing to any language barriers to fathom His Word.