Balancing Career and Family: The story of a working mom

By Yasmin Darsot- Cassim

 

Balancing Career and FamilyThe bedside alarm bell goes off and with one eye open I hit the snooze button. I yawn and stretch, turning to my side to make sure I haven’t woken up my husband.

I‘ve now got a five minute window period to make the daily mental checklist of things-to-do.

  1. Remember to take out chicken from  freezer for defrosting in time for supper
  2. Make lunch for hubby…hmm; are there any leftovers in the fridge that I can use to put together a yummy sandwich?
  3. Don’t forget to stop at the chemist on my way home from work- Mahdiya’s cough is very unsettling
  4.  Prepare for tomorrow’s office meeting tonight

Rrriiinnnggg!- The bedside alarm goes off again and my five minutes are up.   I have a crazy day ahead of me! Brushing away an oncoming panic attack, I make a dua that I get through the day unscathed and in time to spend a little quality time with my little girl who is just 6 months old. I spend the next 20 minutes of my morning breastfeeding her. When I’m done I whisper in her ear “Asalaamualaykum angel, mummy loves you very much”.  I then proceed to wake up my sleepy husband who gladly takes over the morning shift for me until the helper arrives. He rocks Mahdiya slowly back to sleep and I am grateful for that short respite.

Soon, I am on my way to work. This has been my routine for the past two months and I ask myself the question that is probably lurking at the back of most working mom’s minds, am I a bad mother for leaving my child in the care of another to go to work and will I ever be able to establish the balance between work and family?

Our Muslim community, in particular the older generation of stay-at-home moms and breadwinner dads, may consider the modern woman of today as too independent because of her choice to build a career rather than intensely focusing on family duties. This negative association with a working woman often exposes her to a lot of misunderstanding and criticism, not forgetting a lack of appreciation.

From an Islamic standpoint “Muslim women have the right to earn money, own property, to enter into legal contracts and to manage all of her assets in any way she pleases. She can run her own business and no one has any claim on her earnings including her husband. The Quran states:

“and in no wise covet those things in which Allah hath bestowed his gifts more freely on some of you than on others: to men is allotted what they earn and to woman what they earn: but ask Allah of his bounty for Allah hath full knowledge of all things.” (4:32) (http://www.alsiraj.net/English/misc/women/html/page14.html, accessed 29 March 2013).

An explicit example of a woman thus described is Hazrat Khatijah (R.A) who was a successful trades- woman in her time.

Despite the fact that a woman is allowed to earn her own money according to Islamic law, it is still the duty of a man to be the maintainer and supporter of his family. As expressed in the Holy Quran,

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women because of what Allah has preferred one with over the other and because of what they spend to support them from their wealth.”[Sûrah an-Nisâ’: 34]

Realistically however, the recession and high inflation rates year on year has made it near impossible to run a household with just one income¹. I am of the personal opinion that Medical Aid, vehicle insurance, bond repayments or rent, school and Madressah fees as well as all transport-related costs (common expenses to most households), is a hefty responsibility for just one person. If a woman is given the opportunity to work and contribute to household expenses then surely this will lessen the burden so heavily weighing on her husband’s shoulders.

As the earth rotates on its axis, we are constantly trying to keep up with the demands of society. We can no longer deny that money creates opportunity and is the driving force for obtaining basic needs and achieving some life goal. Even becoming an Islamic scholar and having the opportunity to study at some of the world’s best Islamic institutions, requires funding.

So the piercing question remains: How do working Muslim women reaffirm their necessary and vital role in society and respective families? How do we convince those “non-believers”, critics and traditional thinkers that we are great at multitasking and that we are constantly attempting to create the perfect balance between Deen, family and work?

Personally, I firmly believe that it shouldn’t matter what the “other” thinks. As long as we are fulfilling our duties to Allah (SWT), our husbands and families, nothing else matters. After all, Allah knows best!

Footnotes:

  1.  http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/can-a-family-of-four-survive-on-a-middle-class-income-in-america-today

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