Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Better than Charity Followed by Harm

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There is a verse in the Quran whose meaning comes to me a lot as a parent. Parenting story first, then Quranic verse to put it in context.

Lately (and to be honest, often, not just recently) as a parent, I overextend myself, make sacrifices, for my child, and then exhaust myself to the point of being frazzled, depleted, so that when I am with her, I have very little patience left, and I snap at her… sometimes not tolerating her whining or complaints or nagging .. and I yell at her something along the lines of “I’ve been doing x, y, z for you ALL week, and …” some kind of facepalm moment of letting her know she is ungrateful or something. Poor her. She never asked for that. She doesn’t even understand the impact on me of all I do for her. She should not bear the responsibility for what it does to me. And in the end, she is seeing frazzled, depleted, exhausted, impatient, snappy me. Oh no.

So this reminds me of a Quranic verse that says, roughly, that a kind or good word, and forgiveness are better than charity followed by harm. Here is the link to the Quranic corpus for different interpretations of it in English. For me, the meaning is this. It might be better to just say a kind word and forgive someone, than to exert oneself in sacrifice or charity towards someone and then speak to them badly or harm them afterwards. Perhaps my kid would be better off if I didn’t overexert myself and just relaxed and was nice to her instead!!!

Latest example: I decided to make her a small birthday celebration with her closest friends right after school. And we are doing it on MY actual birthday, which is a few days before her actual birthday because it works out better logistically.

Now, I am cranky on my birthday in ANY CASE. Now imagine giving up my bday to celebrate hers and if she just complains about ONE THING I will be so mad!!! I already know it.

But she did the cleverest and sweetest thing today. We went to pick a bday cake for her to order. She wanted to choose one of two designs. She likes her cake to always be half vanilla half chocolate (her version of inclusion so all friends could enjoy it! She doesn’t like chocolate but knows many of her friends do)… and her fave design didn’t come in half/half design. So she decided to go w her second fave design… and she said, “mamy let’s get the other vanilla-only design for your birthday!”. It was soooo thoughtful and smart and we now both get to have both cakes. And actually we will end up celebrating my birthday closer to her birthday… so it ends up being our cake. I love it.

I love it when my kid surprises me like that with kindness and thoughtfulness. And I am so looking forward to the cake!!

But I also want to remind myself not to get too frazzled that I can’t be kind to her.

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