I always look forward to Ramadan each year: the family gatherings, the amazing and irresistible traditional Middle Eastern desserts, the spirit of it all around Cairo, and the downtime you get to spend with loved ones and yourself. I like to use the month to cleanse, both physically and mentally.
It’s motivating to see everyone else around you dedicating a month to achieving something — whether it’s reconnecting spiritually, losing weight, or any other type of personal goal. Personally, one of my biggest aims each Ramadan is to reassess my diet, cut things out, work out and really try to lose weight. Before I had kids, I would do a great job of working out before iftar. I would try to squeeze in any sort of exercise I could, even if it was just a short walk. Trying to do this now with kids is virtually impossible. On top of the tiredness you feel from not eating and drinking all day, you have the tiredness of, you know, children. Diet-wise, I break my fast with soup, stick to light dinners, and never have suhour. But don’t get me started on the nighttime sweets that basically cancel out all the work you did for the day. As much as I try to resist, it’s impossible to resist the drawing calls of katayef, kunafa, and basboosa.
Spiritually speaking, I’ve always valued the importance of connecting with myself through different ways, whether it be yoga, reading, meditating or even cooking. The emphasis on making time for yourself in Ramadan inspires me to reorganize my life a bit to allocate parts of my day to me and family. Ever since Zane and Nina were born it’s been difficult to catch even 30 seconds to breathe, so imagine catching 30 minutes to just relax, think, and unwind. Having this time to reflect on myself and my priorities will make me happier and help me become a better mother in the long term. As for family, while I see them almost everyday every other month of the year, something about gathering around the dinner table together to eat our favorite foods and then devour desserts late into the night is just different. And while I do have my ups and downs with my village (re: this blog), I use this time to appreciate what I have and better my relationships.
In the end, the most important thing about Ramadan is to enjoy. Enjoy the food, your family, yourself, and the spirit. Yes, I’m going to push myself to continue on my weight loss journey, but if I don’t hit all my milestones I won’t fuss about it too much — after all, that defeats the purpose of cleansing. And if I catch myself too stressed about work or the kids, I’ll take a moment to breathe and restart. I think all mothers need to hit that restart button every once in a while, so join me in using this month to do just that.