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My Job Is a Full-time Mother

A Heart’s Discovery

British author, George Orwell, once said, “We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”

As true as this may have been during Orwell’s lifetime—he died in 1950—it seems even more so in our contemporary discussions about the importance of motherhood.

Why is it that our societies, western societies in particular, and many eastern ones as well, have failed in the last several decades to recognize the obvious importance of the role of mothers?  Why do so many mothers struggle with the need to feel “accomplished” in other areas of life as they raise their young children—an act which if done correctly, is undoubtedly one of the most significant accomplishments anyone could ever achieve?

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My Job Is a Full-time Mother - About Islam

Allah Almighty tells us in the Qur’an, “Truly it is not their eyes that are blind, but their hearts which are in their breasts.” (22:46)

How Do Mothers Feel?

I remember the countless times I sat up in bed after putting my first-born daughter to sleep and saying to my husband as tears fell down my cheeks, “I just hate feeling like I’m not doing anything.”

Not doing anything? He would look at me, somewhat puzzled, and say, “But you do so much, masha’Allah.”

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Yet I wasn’t referring to number of stories I had read or spoonfuls of baby food I had offered.

I was referring to the void I had inside because as a full-time mother, I felt unaccomplished in the areas of life that society had taught me truly mattered.

I had chosen to stay home  with my daughter—a choice I made because I truly felt it  was best for her and for me. In my mind, I knew I had made the right decision. However, in my heart I kept having these overwhelming feelings of sadness, shame, and guilt.

I wasn’t earning a professional degree, I wasn’t earning a paycheck, and I wasn’t in any sort of leadership position in my community, and so at the end of the day, what, exactly, could I feel proud of? Initially, I thought this was my own neurotic problem.

However, I was surprised to find other mothers, those who stayed home and even those who went back to work or school, sharing the same feelings

“Oh, I’m just a mom,” one young mother said, almost embarrassed, when someone asked her if she was working. Just a mom? That’s when I knew something really was wrong—and it wasn’t just with me.

Therefore, I began to step back and ask myself, “Where are all these feelings coming from? Why do so many mothers belittle their roles as mothers? How had society convinced me and so many others that our worth as women was only in our ability to work outside the sphere of raising our children?”

I searched my own troubled heart, listened to other moms and began to read what I could on the topic .Most importantly, though, I prayed to Allah for guidance, for I knew that only He could give my heart the comfort it needed.

Then, only slowly, was the proverbial wool lifted—from both my eyes and my heart.

What it seemed to boil down to was this: All human beings need the feeling of validation—the feeling that we are appreciated and are contributing somehow to those around us.

Allah has given us countless ways of filling this need—through contributions to family, community and work, just to name a few.

However, in the last one fifty years, somewhere along the way between industrialization and the women’s rights movement, the contributions made by a mother to her family took the back seat to those made in other areas of life.

The job of creating a home for a child and developing his or her capabilities became equated with “doing nothing” (Crittenden 2001).

I realized I had been trained by society to see the act of mothering, this noble act that has benefited humanity for centuries, as something trivial that I should be doing on the side, along the way, as an extra, and that my real importance was in how successful I was at other things—work, professional life, and community involvement.

My Job Is a Full-time Mother - About Islam
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About Marwa Abdalla
Marwa Abdalla received her B.A. in political science from Southwestern University, in Georgetown, Texas, and is currently working toward a degree in Islamic Studies with the American Open University. She is interested in writing about Islam, marriage and family. Her writing has been published in a book entitled Toward the Well Being of Humanity as well as on numerous websites. She lives with her husband and three daughters in San Diego, CA.