I'm 42 years old this year. Syukur alhamdulillah.
I know some who didn't make it past 40.
And I also know some who have lived nearly twice the years I've been on this earth. My Abah is one of them. He turned 81 in March this year. Syukur Alhamdulillah. Having survived two episodes of cancer in his life, and on medication for hypertension for the last 10 years now, he looks good for a man his age. A bit frail, but still good, considering.
And my Mommy will be 71 come November this year, insya Allah. She's a diabetic, she has hypertension, she had a stroke a few years back and she also had triple angioplasty done on her. But, syukur alhamdulillah, she's doing okay.
I have passed the 40-year mark. And I don't know if I will ever pass the 70-year mark, let alone the 80-year mark.
But, I hope I can fill whatever time I have left on this earth, even if I don't meet the ripe age of 80, with things that will make my kids miss me.
It may sound selfish - wanting the kids to miss me when I'm gone. But, I mean this in a positive way.
I don't want my kids to mourn and grieve their Mommy forever. Of course not.
I just want them to remember me. I want them to remember how I look, how I smell, how I touch and hold their hands, how I hug and kiss them. How I stroke their heads, how I touch their cheeks, how I laugh with them. How I smile, how I talk, how I walk.
I want them to remember that I am always with them - physically, and if not - that they are always very much on my mind. Constantly - throughout my waking hours. And that sometimes I do dream of them when I sleep.
And for this to happen, I will need to spend as much time as possible with them as I don't know when I will breathe my last breath.
It's quite hard given the fact that I have to go to work, and they have to go to school (and also to the 1001 classes they have in between school and bedtime). And of course, they need their breathing space. I, too, need my breathing space.
It is hard, but it is not impossible.
It is impossible ONLY if you don't try. At all.
I know that I've been pretty hard to please and rather grumpy when I'm at home - having to attend to the house chores after a stressful day at work and all. And I also have to attend to so many other things/chores which are not home, or work-related, too.
Many a times, at night when the kids have all gone to sleep, I would just look at them and have this unexplainable sense of guilt and regret for yelling at them earlier in the day for what later seems to be such a simple and harmless act, and I realize that it was just the "pressure-cooker" in me doing the yelling...
I know some parents spend so much time at the office, and as if that is not enough, they would bring work home with them. And when they're at home, they are oblivious to what's happening around them - what the kids are doing, what the kids are (trying) to tell them. And some even snap at their kids for disturbing them. Some are always on the phone - talking or SMSing either with people from the office, or with their clients, or with friends. Some just come home and sleep, and go to work the next day. And the cycle goes on and on.
Of course we would expect our spouse and kids to understand just how hard we have to work for the family, and that we do need to rest and sleep when we're at home.
But, we also must not forget that our spouse and kids ALSO expect us to understand that they also want to spend time with us.
It is as easy as that.
The problem is, we tend to take our husbands or wives or kids for granted. We expect them to be there everyday waiting for us day in, day out. No matter what.
But, just because they never complain openly, that does not necessarily mean that they're fine with us not spending time with them.
I'm not saying that we should cut ourselves off from our friends, or that we should not get the rest and sleep that we badly need. But, what I'm trying to understand here is that IF we can MAKE time to attend to our bosses, to our clients, or to chat or SMS, or do whatever friends do with/between friends, why is it so hard for us to MAKE OR FIND TIME - however little, with whatever little time we have, for the family? Just THERE WITH the family. And I mean BE THERE TOTALLY, and not with our minds wandering elsewhere.
I DO TRY my best NOT to be that kind of a parent. I fail miserably sometimes, but, I do try my best to be there with the family, for the family.
Some may think that the time spent with the kids is just that - time with the kids.
But, I believe time spent bringing them to the doctors when they're sick, time spent bringing them to the shops to get the stuff for school, getting ice-creams on that hot and clammy day, sending and fetching them to and from their classes, bringing them to the barber/salon for a haircut, cleaning the hamsters' cage, listening to their favourite songs together, going shopping with them, getting to know what they like, what they don't like, performing solat with them and/or bringing them to the mosque to perform the solat, cooking for them and having a proper meal at the dinner table together, and through out all these, having meaningful conversations with them.
THOSE are the things that our children will remember us by.
NOT those fat cheques we bring home at the end of the month after slogging 18 hours a day, 7 days a week at work.
Well, the kids MAY appreciate the fact that we can afford to buy them stuffs and such. But, at the end of the day, they are just that. Things. And like all material things, these will never last.
If you can spare 18 hours a day at work, what is 12-18 hours over the weekend for your family? 6 to 9 exclusive hours per day of QUALITY time for just 2 days WITH and FOR the kids.
Just think about it. Why are you working so hard? Who are you doing it for?
Just be very careful - for one day you might end up long gone, and also long forgotten by your kids just because they don't have anything of you to remember by - those special moments you spend with them.
What they might have may just be images of you working, and working, and working...and you blowing your top with them because they are in between you, and your work.
Are these the images you want your kids to remember you by?
I hope not.
And with Ramadhan just around the corner, I hope we can all take advantage of the Holy month to start making more efforts at home to become better parents to our kids.
I hope to spend more time at home as a family and beribadah as a family, insya Allah...
I pray that Allah SWT will guide me so as not to take my loved ones for granted.
And I hope when I'm long gone, they will miss me...