I’m a Director of Operations. I think it’s an awesome way to sum up what I really do. I love my adjusted job title; it feels prestigious. But why is it that the job I do doesn’t attract the recognition that the title demands?
How many times a day do mothers feel unappreciated, overworked, taken advantage of and even ignored? This is how children of all ages treat their mothers on most days. Or as I call them, my Associates. But do these feelings stop mothers from performing their greatest role? No, they push aside that fleeting moment of pain from a word or action that sometimes pierces their heart and get back on their feet to continue performing. And so The Associates will never know the hurt they caused; only the joy they bring.
I decided to internally embrace my job title after watching a short video. It was of a man listing the qualities that mothers have. I felt emotional watching it – touched that a man was acknowledging the requirements for the job of being a mother.
“Excellent negotiation and interpersonal skills” he listed amongst others – “Yes!” I confirmed out loud. “Yes! I do do these things.” Things that I never acknowledged before, because no one else acknowledged them either. It was just expected of me, ‘came with the territory,’ so to speak.
And with this affirmation there was a slight tinge of bitterness coming through as well.
At first, I couldn’t understand where that emotion was coming from. I realised that it was because I have selflessly given the best years of my life to The Associates (my children and my husband comes under that category..). And just then, the man in the video went on to describe the job role of the mother as being “rewarding” and that the immense job satisfaction accounts as payment itself. And it’s true, most mothers – if not all – will agree that parenting is the most rewarding job. For me, especially, once the little angels are peacefully sleeping! Isn’t that when we literally stand back and admire the fruits of our labour?
Of course it’s rewarding; we have been entrusted with these children as gifts. These treasures, an amanah (trust) from the Almighty to look after. It feels like the greatest honour anyone can have. But I suppose that’s where the constant self-questioning comes from: “Did I do right by them”?, “Could I have done more?”, “Should I have done it differently?” And then even more questions like, “would I have signed up to this ‘cruel, sick twisted joke’” (to use the words in the video), if I had known what I was signing up for?
I’m pretty sure on a tough day the answer to that question would be a resounding “no!” But despite the gruelling hours, the zero pay and the other unyielding terms of an “all-encompassing contract”, I could not be without my little Associates.
So here is my message to myself and to all my fellow Directors of Operations:
Step back, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you did the best you could and are doing the best you can!
May Allah give us all the tawfiq (ability or opportunity) to continue doing so. May all our children be the coolness of our eyes. May we as children to our parents be the coolness of their eyes, Ameen.
I’d like to leave you with two very important Duas. The first one is for us as The Associates to recite when we pray for our Directors of Operations:
Qur’an 17:24: Lower the wing of humility to them, out of mercy, and say, ‘My Lord! Have mercy on them, just as they reared me when I was [a] small [child]!’
وَاخفِض لَهُما جَناحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحمَةِ وَقُل رَبِّ ارحَمهُما كَما رَبَّياني صَغيرًا
wa-khfiḍ lahumā janāḥa dh-dhulli mina r-raḥmati wa-qul rabbi rḥamhumā ka-mā rabbayānī ṣaghīran
The second one is for us as Director of Operations to recite when we pray for our Associates.
And those who say, ‘Our Lord! Grant us comfort in our spouses and descendants, and make us imams of the Godwary.’
وَالَّذينَ يَقولونَ رَبَّنا هَب لَنا مِن أَزواجِنا وَذُرِّيّاتِنا قُرَّةَ أَعيُنٍ وَاجعَلنا لِلمُتَّقينَ إِمامًا
wa-lladhīna yaqūlūna rabbanā hab lanā min ʾazwājinā wa-dhurriyyātinā qurrata ʾaʿyunin wa-jʿalnā li-l-muttaqīna ʾimāman
Time to time let’s try and appreciate that we have one of the best jobs in the world.
By Muslim Mama, Asma Islam (45). Asma is a teacher as well as a student, mother of three young adults and a dabbler in writing.
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