It’s bedtime at our house (between 7 and 8 p.m.), and at this daily parenting finish line the usual toddler negotiations begin. Every night, my husband and I “own” a child and are responsible for bath (if it’s a bath day), lotion, clothes and any last minute needs of the kids. It’s a regular routine that involves demands such as, “I’m cold” or “I’m hot” or “I’m still hungry.” Many evenings my husband and I are tired, but today, we are truly exhausted. It’s the month of Ramadan, a month where Muslims fast (refrain from eating, drinking and engaging in inappropriate behavior such as lying, cheating or cursing). It’s a blessed month that I enjoy, but as a mom, it comes with it’s challenges as I learn to practice patience with my littles while maintaining some closeness with myself and my religion.
This summer, the days are long and the heat is exhausting. The fasts go from sunrise to sunset. This year, I wake up before 3:30 a.m. eating boiled eggs to help me make it through the day. I don’t eat again until after 9 p.m. in the evening (when the sun sets). Between 3:30 a.m. and 9 p.m., I sleep, kiss boo-boos, make meals, feed the kids, work, keep the house from looking like a jungle and, of course, get the kids to bed. I manage all of this and keep some sanity. My husband and I end each evening snacking together after 9 p.m. with little energy but a renewed sense of appreciation for what we have. We are grateful for friends and parents who help with the kids during the day because our bodies can’t handle it.
For all the pity parties I want to throw myself during this month, I am reminded of the people in the world who go to sleep hungry. I am humbled by the people who may not sleep hungry, but do not sleep with filled tummies. I think of the children around the world who do not have enough to eat. I pray for their mothers whose broken hearts can’t give them the food they need. I pause my personal pity party and give thanks for all I have.
The upside of this month is the charity. We are reminded to give to others and so I find myself handing money to the lady standing on highway 26 (her look of thanks was priceless). I am more mindful of giving, saving, and being kind. I practice patience with my kids; I encourage them to finish their plates because I know what hunger feels like. I never want them, or anyone to feel that sort of hunger.
The hardest part of the days are usually the last ten minutes before the sun sets. Generally, we are sitting at the table, watching the time and waiting for the moment. Somehow, food looks and smells so good at that moment. Just a few days ago, my husband and I sat at Olive Garden (yes, I get weird fasting cravings) watching our cell phones for the time to hit 9:04 so we could feast on the breadsticks, pasta and juices in front of us.
This month is special to me. It reminds me to be mindful of the big things AND the little things. It pushes me to reflect on what we have, be thankful for it, and be compassionate by giving to others. I can’t wait till they are old enough to understand what we do as adults. I hope they see the importance of being thankful and appreciating what we are so lucky to have.
What makes you want to give thanks? Is it during a different holiday or time of year? How do you celebrate and give back?