Jun 25, 2014

Our Compassion Makes Us Strong

By Hend Hegazi


Working moms and stay-at-home moms, alike, have very busy schedules. Just like the working mom, the stay-at-home mom gets up early to wake everyone up. As her husband gets dressed, she prepares breakfast and lunches. She calls out every so often to check on the progress her kids have made. Her husband grabs a piece of toast and heads out the door, leaving her searching for the missing sneakers underneath the couch. Grabbing the sneakers (and a couple of stray socks, a slice of stale bread, and a sticky hard candy while she is at it), she thinks she finally has everyone set. 

A sense of relief begins to come over her as she sees the school bus turn the corner up the street. Just then she hears, “Mom!! I forgot my report upstairs in my desk!” She becomes super woman as she flies up the stairs, rescues the report from underneath the bed (she already knew it would not be in his desk!), and flies back down the stairs. Three seconds later, the report is safely in the bag, the kids have all been kissed, and she waves goodbye as they board the bus.

At the same time, the working mom double checks that she is wearing matching shoes, that there are no remnants from breakfast stuck to her, and that the kids have not removed her keys from her purse. She takes off for work, where she will undoubtedly be greeted with problems and new deadlines to meet. The stay-at-home mom rushes to tidy the house before she takes off to run errands, where she will deal with crowds, and maybe some not-so-friendly customer service representatives.

At around 5 o’clock, everyone returns home.  As the husband takes a shower, she starts dinner, not yet having taken off her shoes. An hour later, she is washing dishes as he takes a nap in front of the television. She puts in a load of laundry, and just as she is about to jump in the shower, her oldest son asks her a question about his math homework while her youngest throws up all over himself. She attempts to clean up the mess and simultaneously answer the question, but to her relief, the stench is motivation enough to send the inquirer fleeing to his room where he can try to figure it out on his own. An hour later, the kids have finished their homework, the puke is all taken care of, and she is finally showered. Just as her butt is about to land on the couch, she hears, “Could you get me something to drink before you sit down?” (It’s not really a question, of course, but we would not get into that now.)

Despite all she goes through on a daily basis, we rarely acknowledge her strength unless she is forced to deal with crisis. All parents who lose their children mourn. Some collapse and seclude themselves. No one can blame them; the loss of a child is considered, universally, to be the most difficult tragedy a person can face. The most astonishing part of it is that moms tend to push through quicker than dads. The fact that the woman—who after carrying her child for 9 months in her womb,was the first to hear his laugh, taught him to read and count, sat up nights nursing him when he was ill—can actually stand back up is remarkable. In many families where this tragedy occurs, it is usually the woman who supports the others. She continues to cry, but she forces herself back to work. Her heart continues to bleed, but she tells her husband that their kids need them both to be strong. She hates that she is alive while her child has died, but she cooks dinner and does the laundry.

The point is obvious, but the question remains…How is it that she is the rock? How does she endure?

The short answer: She is stronger because God endowed her with more compassion. She can hate it when her newborn keeps her up all night, but it is her innate compassion that gives her strength enough to hold onto that wailing baby instead of throwing him out the window. She can hate when her pre-teen talks back to her, but it is her compassion that flexes its muscles, keeping her from beating him over the head. She can roll her eyes when her “exhausted” husband cannot take out the trash, but she knows that if she dumps the garbage can over his head, that will just make more work for her.

She gives, almost endlessly, because she knows she has to. The miraculous thing is that most of the time it is not a chore; she enjoys doing it all because it is for the people she loves. She does it all, and smiles, and can keep going, because if these same people needed it, she would sacrifice her life for them for the sake of Allah. Because that is the strength God blessed her with simply for being a woman.

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