Ustadha Raidah, now a mother of two, looks back at her Eid al-Adha, spent reconnecting with her estranged father.
Last Eid, my eldest daughter turned two. This year, she is three, and is now a proud big sister. My youngest daughter just turned 7 months. Alhamdulilah, this Eid, I am now a mother of two. I am elated. I am exhausted. I am grumpy. I am grateful.
I live with my mother-in-law, husband, and our two little girls in a green, leafy suburb in Malaysia. A few weeks ago, my mother-in-law, may Allah preserve her, reminded me to invite my father over for Eid. My initial response, as always, was mild panic. My parents divorced ten years ago after a tumultuous marriage. I didn’t want him to spend another Eid alone, but I still felt a little nervous.
Trying to Reconcile
So, I procrastinated for as long as I could, then casually asked him to spend Eid with us. And then he caught the overnight bus from Singapore to meet us in time. My eldest daughter was so excited to see her only grandfather, and my youngest gave him coy smiles from the safety of my arms. I am embarrassed I took so long to ask him, and I am so grateful for my mother-in-law’s commitment to family ties.
There was a time where I could not imagine ever reconciling with my father, but anything is possible through Allah’s Help. Falling pregnant changed everything. My husband’s father had passed away even before we got married, and so the only grandfather my unborn child would have would be my father. I wanted him to be part of my baby’s life. I decided then, with my husband’s encouragement, to give reconciliation another try. Our last attempt did not end well, but I knew we had to give it another shot.
Sharing the Joy
When I called him to share the good news, he was overjoyed. He posted me what must be the first edition of “Every Woman”, enthusiastically instructed me to consume green smoothies and walk like a duck towards the end of my pregnancy. It wasn’t all peachy, though. In my first trimester, I described to him how exhausted I felt. His WhatsApp responses were in excitable capital letters describing how my tiredness was nothing in comparison to the next two decades of child-rearing! I cried, told my husband what happened, took a break, and then resumed WhatsApp checks in with my father with only positive pregnancy updates.
Now that I am a mother, I understand how difficult it is to know that your child is hurting. Not all parents know how to self-regulate, keep calm, and validate your child’s pain – especially from the generation that came before the trend of self-care. I take the lesson from this – even though I cannot protect my daughters from pain, I can try to be there for them, as calmly and as compassionately as I can. My father did his best too, with what he knew. And so, one step forward, many steps back, rinse, repeat, and back again – this has been our dance of reconciliation since my first daughter was born over three years ago.
When he came yesterday to visit both my daughters, our Eid felt complete. My eldest daughter excitedly gave him a tour of our garden, showed him her books, and delighted him by eagerly eating durian while she sat next to him. He laughed as she licked the durian seed clean. My youngest daughter grinned at him from the playmat while she made tentative back-and-forth attempts at crawling towards him. “She is another extrovert! An alert baby,” he declared proudly.
I was putting my youngest baby to sleep, and my husband sent me a photo of my eldest daughter praying behind my father. In this shot, she is wearing a mini prayer garment and looking up at him with the adoration only a grandchild can have for a grandfather. This is a balm for all of our weary hearts. It took me the birth of my daughter to find my way back to my father. Allahu Akbar.
Please make dua for my family, especially my father. Please pray that if it is khayr, that Allah reunites him with all of his estranged children, and their children, before the day he leaves this earth. And if that is not khayr, please pray that he will reunite with them in the Garden, where there is no more pain. May Allah grant us contentment with His Decree.
This Eid, may you also be blessed with beautiful reunions.
Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.