As many mothers with young children will tell you, it’s very hard to put yourself first when you have little ones. Finding time to take part in spiritual activities during Ramadan is no different. Throughout pregnancy, childbirth, nursing and caring for a baby, many new mothers cannot (and for health reasons which I won’t go into, simply should not) be fasting until they are able. Unfortunately for me, it doesn’t feel like Ramadan unless I am fasting.
Ramadan for 2013 has come and gone, as has the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr. Both have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and it is very different to observe Ramadan and celebrate Eid when you have a family of your own. Growing up, my mom (Ammi, or Nani to the kids) would always wake me up for the pre-dawn meal of Suhoor. Now it’s the alarm on my iPhone. Ammi would prepare my favourite dishes for the sunset meal to break fast with (like shrimp curry for one). Now I cook my own meals and sometimes take them over to her place saying: “Look what I made!”
Last summer was my first time trying to fast after having the twins. In fact, I delayed my return to work until after Ramadan ended thinking it would be easier to fast while at home. Little did I realize just how physically demanding looking after 2 toddlers would be! Surprisingly, I found this year’s Ramadan fasts easier to handle even though the days were longer and I worked fulltime through it.
The hardest part of having Ramadan in the summer months, at least in North America is there’s no time to sleep! If you wake up at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. to eat, it’s hard to go back to sleep on a full stomach so you might as well stay up. After returning from work, it’s a busy time with feeding, bathing and changing the kids so no time to rest. Once Mister and Missy were in bed, it was time for iftar at 8:30 p.m. or 8:45 p.m.
On the flipside, I had a few “aha” moments this Ramadan. Things that made me realize the wisdom behind some of the traditions of this month. First, there is freedom from having to figure out what to take for lunches. I also found I ate way less which showed some good results on the weighing scale. Next, the physical movements you do when praying at fajr (dawn) and maghrib (sunset) is a good way to digest all your food since they are done right after eating. Lastly, I now understand the saying “early bird gets the worm”. If you have been up since dawn, it’s amazing how much you can get accomplished by 1:00 p.m.! In other words, you can put in a full day’s worth of work between fajr and zhuhr prayer times… which is great if you live in a hot country (or are having a hot summer!)
All of these are lessons I will keep until Ramadan visits again.