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Dear Society of Working Mothers

“I’ve yet to be on a campus where most women weren’t worrying about some aspect of combining marriage, children and a career. I’ve yet to find one where many men were worrying about the same thing.” Gloria Steinem

My husband and I make quite a good team, however like any other couple we have our share of conflicting propositions. In a recent episode of the same, I asked my husband what he has on his plate that kept him so mentally occupied? And he very honestly answered; ‘Well, I have to deal with work pressures to provide for the family, tell me what you have on your plate?!’. I’m positive he instantly regretted having asked me that question.

I began my career one week after finishing my undergrad exams. I was lucky enough to be hired by one of the top tier firms of the Legal 500, also a Lex Mundi member law firm. When I started working there, despite my enthusiasm, I often thought why I opted to get stuck in such a difficult spot – with full time working hours/6 days a week, a one hour commute every day in Karachi’s ridiculous traffic coupled with all the expectations, pressures and deadlines that now add to my valued assets. I was hired along with 8 other fresh graduates and because of my result-oriented approach, my probation period had been waived off, I was given a raise only 3 months after joining and I was made to lead a team of 4 of my colleagues who joined the firm with me.

Soon after, I made my first career move and joined the legal department of one of biggest group of companies in Pakistan. For an in-house legal job, the exposure was great because of the huge variety of clientele the company had.

In 2013, I decided to pursue my Masters in Law and went to the UK for a year. Despite my minimal savings and my family’s support, I knew I was going to be tight on budget. I went to a good school and lived in a great accommodation but that was about it when it came to my foreign luxuries. I interned at a law firm on my off days from school and was paid the minimum wage on a weekly basis. I also tutored for math and English at a local church and made a few pounds there. And for every opportunity I got, I baby sat for families to make some extra money. All in all, I managed to generate my running cost during my stay. Unlike other students who live abroad and party hard, I was almost always on duty with or without my books. But like they say, hard work and determination always pays off, I managed to graduate with a distinction in my LLM.

As soon as I was back, I got married and shifted to Islamabad. Change of place, culture, family, environment and interests. I was trying to develop an understanding of a lot of things including my new relationship. My husband, who works in the telecom industry as well, has always been very supportive of my ambitions and dreams. Soon, I got an opportunity to work for one of the oldest law firms of Pakistan which currently operates in 13 countries across the world.

It was not easy to manage career and a joint family system. I had to wake up 3 hours before it was time to leave for work, make breakfast and do my fair share of the house chores. The commute once again was a killer and I was straight in the kitchen as soon as I reached back home. I remember spending a lot of days at work when I would be thinking about how to manage a situation back home. There were times when I would have to forcefully shut down the home front to be able to perform at work. It was extremely hectic but it all worked out.

I took a career gap when I was blessed with a baby boy two years ago. With all the madness I had willingly been enduring ever since I finished my undergrad, my life suddenly was nothing short of pure bliss. Yes, house chores and looking after a baby with no help is a quite a job in itself but at least you’re your own boss. I thoroughly enjoyed being a full time mom for a year and a half and then I made one of the toughest decisions of my life – to resume my career.

You see, a lot of things change once a fresh undergrad encompasses the role of a wife/daughter-in-law – but then it’s an entirely different universe when a woman becomes a mother. Despite of culture or religion or any other factor that there may be, a mother remains a mother and she is seldom satisfied with her performance as a mother based on the bars that she has set for herself. It’s always ‘I wish I could somehow also do that for my baby!’.

Women have been part of the workforce for the last several decades, in fact, about half of all mothers around the globe work for pay. However, despite their growing prominence, having to juggle their family and work hasn’t gotten easier for the average working lady belonging to a middle class family.

When I decided to resume work, I gave endless interviews in local and multinational companies. Regardless of my achievements and capabilities, I was more than often judged or ruled out by the mere fact that I was a mother to 1.5-year-old. “Achaaa… so how will you manage working hours with your baby?”, “We usually have realllllyyyyy late sittings at office you know”, “Why do you even want to work?!” – are only some of the very “supportive” statements that I have faced while giving interviews. Almost every workplace these days sells the fact that they believe in “gender diversity” and “facilitating working mothers”, but to add on to the irony I faced, I was mostly discouraged and doubted by the female employers as opposed to the men who interviewed me. I remember, after one such interview, I came back home to my extremely excited toddler and husband and my husband asked me how the interview went and I just broke down. I cried so much because I was made to feel like it was my fault that I was married and that it was my fault that I was a mother. The feeling was horrible and I pity those people who make you feel this way. I had almost lost all hope but my family needed a financial supporter which is why I kept trying my luck.

My interview with my present employer was not a smooth ride either. I faced the same drill regarding my long career gap? How I will manage home and why was I even bothered about resuming work? When I walked out of the interview, a part of me was sure that I will not make it. But fortunately, I was called in during the same week to finalize an acceptable package and begin work. Perhaps, for once someone was ready to place the risk on a woman who was also a mother.

As stated by the president of a New York-based organization, women in the ascent phase of their careers often cite “the challenges of managing work in the workplace and work at home” as an obstacle. It’s unfortunate how we only “talk more and do less” when it comes to truly facilitating and encouraging females to become part of the working society. Despite of having its set of challenges, I feel grateful to my current employer for giving me the opportunity to show case my skills and test my true mettle as a working mother.

Undoubtedly, I have frequent bouts of working mom’s guilt and I often wonder why I am paying someone else to raise my son. But lately I have realized that it’s worth it to trade some toddler tantrums for office hours in order to maintain my sanity. I am enjoying my job for all the things that I get to learn but also because it forces me to brush my hair every morning and have proper adult, intellectual conversations.

Despite the time off that I get from being a mom and a wife, my favorite time of the day is when I go to pick my baby from his daycare. The way his face lights up to see me followed by the melodies squeal of ‘mama aaagaaiiii’ just takes away all my tiredness from work. It is the one moment, every single day of my week, that I look forward to.

The younger, more carefree version of me, had a clear idyllic vision of where I wanted to be in my career. Wearing a funky blazer with hip glasses, being surrounded by collaborative millennials brainstorming on a high profile case while I sipped on my black coffee in my favorite mug. Just the thought of it gives me the thrills and makes me feel all smart and productive. But if I were to run after that dream today, it would mean to ruthlessly wake up my 2-year-old at 6 in the morning, jam some quick breakfast down his throat, brush his teeth in the car and drop him off at day care before he could make sense of anything from the day. It would mean, hiring someone to cook for my family, clean my house and attend to the daily needs of my husband and child as I fancy my dream of making a career.

Being a working mother, it is very important for us to constantly evaluate our priorities. It’s a constant juggle, an everlasting balancing act. While, we do our part of being a professional and a mother at the same time, it is imperative that our workforces and our society truly appreciate the daily struggle and actually facilitate women who are always pushing boundaries to explore their capabilities and strengths. The human mind is said to thrive only in the presence of challenging situations – raising your child and financially supporting your family, definitely suffices as one. I still have a long way to go in my career but for now, I cherish a happy family picture of my husband, my son and I that’s plugged onto my fridge, while I brew some evening tea after work – after all, family and home is what we all work for.

Uncategorized

My two year old “Son-shine”

My dearest Z,

It seems as if today has come after a long wait … a wait full of hopes and dreams and nothing but endless love. May such ‘waits’ continue to bloom into your birthday for a million years ahead.

Two years is a long time but then it probably isn’t. It’s almost impossible to think about how my life was before you were born – that phase is like a happily forgotten era. At the same time, I can’t believe it’s been ‘two years’ already since you came into my life! Where did time go?!

I am not writing today to talk about all the milestones that you have so gracefully achieved – but rather, let this be a way of celebrating the past two very beautiful years of our life.

I’ve mentioned in my posts before and I proudly repeat that you are not only my strength but you, at your tender age, are my biggest inspiration. Never have I wanted to improve myself for someone as much as I want to be perfect just for you – in every possible way. It’s unbelievably amazing how someone who’s only 2 can create so much eagerness in you to become an ideal – a role model – a mere better version of your own self.

Every single day of the past two years, every moment is so so precious with you. And every passing moment is fragile and dear to me. I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am for today, the past two years and an entire lifetime of watching you bloom into a beautiful person – my little baby, my son.

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My happy place ❤

They say a child giggles with purity in his heart, without any care of the world. I am so ever thankful to Allah for filling my heart and home with those giggles…

They say a child has never ending curiosity, a constant thirst to master every new skill they get their hands on. This determination coupled with your heart-melting innocence makes every single day of my life very challenging but extremely blissful at the same time. So very thankful ya Allah.

And finally, they say with every child, a mother is born. What you have given me baita, no one can ever replace it and no one can ever give me anything better than the gift of being a mother. For this blessing, thank you ya Allah and thank YOU my son…

Although you surprise us every day with how kind, caring and intelligent you are but still – there are a few things I want you to remember. As you grow, you will gradually cross the threshold of home for school and then school for work and so on. You will now realize that this world is an ever changing place. Till today, your amma and baba have been everything that surrounds you but as you grow, make new friends and learn new things because dear son, there awaits for you, a world beyond us. However, just remember, in the middle of all the excitement of exploring new ventures, don’t forget that this world is also temporary. There is a greater cause for why we are all here. Always be kind – be thoughtful – be generous and loving like you already are Z.. and you will see how beautiful your life will become. Work very hard to please Allah and try not to ever hurt anyone, in any way.

The mere thought of all the years unfolding before you gets me very excited and also a bit scared. But for now, I will just be thankful for all the moments that we have enjoyed together. Come what may, I have never taken our times of togetherness for granted – I have always valued this time that we have together – I know these years are precious and they will never come back. I hope you learn to appreciate ‘today‘ as well.

There’s so much that I want to say and there’s no way my words will ever articulate how I feel. I am just so thankful for having you as my son and I pray to Allah that I can remember all the finer nuances that fill our daily lives – all the little jokes, all the fun we have and the countless adorable things you come up with everyday! I hope my heart can always hold the beauty of every breath that I take with you and I hope that when it comes to you, my memory outlasts every moment captured by a photograph or a video of yours.

May you have the best of both worlds ya Rab!

Happy birthday my “Son-shine” !

Love,

Amma

 

BabyZ, childhood, happiness, life

A letter to my boy from his working mother

Dear Z,

I really hope that when you are reading this you’re a healthy, happy young man. Amma is going to try to explain something to you today but it might take a while because I need to understand it better myself first. Before we begin, let me tell you that ‘writing’ about things can sometimes help you figure out what’s going on in your mind. It’s a way to clean up the mess that’s in there and by the end of it, more than often, you feel better than how you started. I hope you also appreciate writing one day and learn to use it for your benefit.

Your mommy has always been an ambitious person. She has always dreamt big and took challenges to be somewhere in life. In the words of a famous author, ‘I’m not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard.’ I hope that by the time you’re old enough to read this, I have succeeded to become a ‘somebody’ in this very competitive world. My point being Z, I’ve always gone the extra mile to do well in my career. I never took the easy way out or comforted myself with an excuse to take a backseat – even if that meant painfully long drives when I was pregnant with you – I worked. I was asked to go to your nana nani’s house for your delivery which is the only reason that I quit work – I was 7 months pregnant then. In my mind I had it all planned out – a 6-month maternity leave and then back on the field. But things hardly ever go the way you plan them.

11th of July, 2015 my life changed forever. I had the most beautiful blessing of God that a person could ask for. I had you. The days flew by in a flash. I was completely indulged in raising you in the best possible way that I could. From being just a corporate lawyer, I had suddenly become your full time consultant, caretaker, chef, nurse, friend, teacher, everything – I was your everything. And with every passing day you made me realize what an important job I was doing. You appreciated me with your cozy hugs and a smile so warm that it would take away my worries and melt my heart.

But I will be honest with you Z, there were days when I just wanted to get out of the house and do something – be something. That bug which was deeply inculcated inside of me kept itching for some kind of self-achievement. I have always loved you more than life itself but there were days when I wanted to be more than just a mother. I wish I knew better.

You have always been an above average baby Z. You were an early crawler, an early walker, talker and what not – you just didn’t want to slow down! And I’ve completely enjoyed watching you achieve your milestones with so much confidence and grace at such a tender age. Before you turned 2 you knew your numbers from 1-10, you could point out and name 5 continents, you knew almost every ‘first word’ from your surroundings (be it food items, vehicles, toys, animals (you would call a porcupine – ponka ponka ponka!)). You knew who Allah is… you would sit with me when I recited the Quraan and point your bubbly little fingers at the words and say ‘Alif, baa, jeeem, haaa’. I can just go on for days boasting about how smart my baby has always been.

It’s a common belief that children generally are very adaptive to changes. Mold them whichever way you want and the little ones just follow. You were always very cooperative with your mama Z. Ever since you were just a couple of months old, you have been very patient with me – especially when we were passing through difficult times as a family. You have always been my pivot – the center of my balance and I cannot tell you how thankful and proud I am of you for being my strength.

It’s been a little over a month since I resumed my job. After many failed attempts to secure a job I was finally hired by a company which has one of the most intimidating and challenging auras that I have ever faced. It’s a daily struggle so far. More so, because I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I have gone from having a multi-tasked 24/7 routine with you to just being a lawyer and that to for someone else.

1st of April 2017, your baba and I dropped you to the daycare for the first time. I was composed for the first hour – thanks to you because you were such a confident and happy baby – but then I just broke down. I sat in our car outside your daycare and I cried. Leaving you there was one of the toughest decisions of my life. To know that you will be fed by someone else and taken care of by someone else and rocked to sleep by someone else. It just ripped my heart. Despite of being an emotionally strong person, parting away from you even for a few hours was one the weakest moments for me. I had to repeatedly console myself that it was ok, that you were ok and happy with your new friends and that sooner or later, you needed this exposure to grow as a strong individual.

During your first week at the daycare, there were noticeable changes in your behavior that worried me all night. You were suddenly becoming cranky and throwing tantrums at every little thing. Your appetite had gone down and it seemed like you were no longer as happy as you used to be with me. I just didn’t understand why. I was making sure that every single hour that I got with you, we were making the most out of it. I would finish all the house chores before it was time for me to pick you from the daycare just so I could spend all my time with you. But something was wrong. I kept having anxiety attacks – I kept getting paranoid that all of this was going to make me fall down on my face.

I asked the daycare in charge what was the matter and she wisely pointed out that the problem was not with you, it was with me. You see Z, a mother and child share a very unique bond. From the time when a baby is in the womb and then perhaps forever, a mother and child are always connected. They reflect in each other’s being. My panic reflected in your behavior. When a mother panics, the child inevitably gets scared because then they don’t understand what’s happening to them and why mommy is going so crazy! The cause of my panic was my guilt. My constant guilt. I was just living with the fact that I was doing something wrong. That instead of being with my baby and playing with him at home and looking after him, I was going out and working. And the feeling multiplied itself by infinity on days when you were even slightly ill. I can’t tell you how much it killed me inside to wake you up in the morning and drop you at the daycare to be able to go to work. In the past one month I have contemplated resigning at least 10 times.

But then I ran into other working mothers. Mothers of more than just one baby, mothers of babies who were just a few weeks old, mothers of children with special needs, single mothers and the list goes on. The world is made up of so many stories Z, so many stories which you and I are not even aware of. Every household has its set of challenges. Every child, every woman, every man wakes up with a dream and then the many hurdles that he or she needs to make way through. I gained support from such many examples around me and more so ever, I had the support of your amazing father, your Aaji and your nana & nani who always stood by me and calmed me down on my crazy days. They were the ones who trusted me and told me that I was capable of fulfilling both roles. That I could be a kick-ass lawyer and an even better mother, both at the same time.

There is another aspect to our situation – the importance of ‘separation’. Like I said above Z, you and I are already connected in a very magical way. It’s plain nature and nothing can ever change it. You have always been and will always be a part of me – literally. And that’s amazing – watching you is like watching a piece of my heart run around and sing adorable nursery rhymes. But you see, despite of being attached naturally, our attachment needs nurturing. That is where separation comes into play. I kind of understood this phenomenon when I moved away from your nana nani after marriage. But the importance of this sensation sunk in when I was separated from you – even for just a couple of hours.

Separation is so important in relationships because due to that separation you realize that you will be reunited. You need to know that the person comes back. That feeling you get when you walk back into the house or for me when I would park the car outside your daycare – my eagerness to see you and to be able to hug you and kiss you after hours, which seem like years, cannot be contained. The excitement just overflows. And I long to hear you scream in your adorable squeaky voice every time I come to pick you at the day care, ‘Mama aaaagaaiiiiii!!’ – those are the most eager few minutes I spend before I can actually hold you and hug you again. This is the importance of separation – it enables you to eagerly look forward to meeting the one you love so much.

I know my job has a new presence in your life. It’s a huge unknown block in our fun-filled bubble of mommy and Z. But I need you to understand that right now it’s a big confusing thing for your mama as well. Even I’m trying very hard to figure it all out and have my life back in control. My job has not only changed your life, it has impacted my own. And most importantly Z, I need you to know that I am working not because I would ever…. EVER choose work over you – I cannot choose ANYTHING over you – but simply because work is also important.

Work is what will allow your mom to support our family. Work is what will allow us to do the things that we want to do as a family. Work is what will encourage mommy to grow as an individual – to be stronger and more confident in her thoughts and decisions. Work is what will urge mommy to learn and be at par with the world. Work is what will perhaps make mommy the kind of woman that she wants you to see and admire. Amongst everything that you have so beautifully learnt my little Z, amma wants you to learn and know and respect women for their individuality, for their opinions and for their emotions – and I pray that by the time you read this, you can proudly say that your mother is an example of women who are strong and respected for who they have struggled to become.

Love & hugs & a million kisses,

Amma

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my happy place ❤
Uncategorized

A forever guilt

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Neither age nor time can get you ‘used to of it’.

I remember as a child once my father had to do a day trip to another city for official work. My uncle used to live with us back then. Abbu was going to be home late that night and till then, for the entire day, my uncle kept coming up with ideas to cheer me up. A long drive… some ice cream… whatever the poor soul could think of. But nothing seemed to matter. I just wanted Abbu to come back home.

The first time I felt the same kind of knot in my stomach for my mom was when I was much older. It was when I went to the UK for my masters. It didn’t hurt that bad when I was leaving – perhaps because I had so much to look forward to. But 4 months later when I planned to give my family a surprise visit – that’s when it hit me. My mom was at the airport because my dad told her that one of his friends was coming. Ammi had no idea I was going to be there. She waited patiently in the airport lobby and with every step I took towards her I realized how much I’ve wanted to be with her. She hugged me and cried and kept saying ‘mera bacha’ (‘my child’). That moment – that was when I felt that I just needed to come back home.

There is no age. There are no circumstances. There will never be a ‘time’ when it will not hurt so deep that you feel like someone just took your heart and crushed it between their fist. To settle away from your parents, especially once you get married, creates a permanent void. You visit them and they visit you but only being with each other fills this void in your heart.

People move on in life. Things change, responsibilities grow. But certain relationships are your roots – constantly keeping a check that you remain intact even though you are growing. From a daughter to a wife to a mother – the journey is one that is beautiful but somewhere deep within you realize that there was someone who you once took for granted and now you yearn to be with them.

Despite of being a mother myself now, I get stern reminders from my Abbu to let him know that I have reached work safely. I get constant loving reminders from Ammi to offer my prayers on time and eat well. Sometimes I just miss being their little girl.

I remember, before getting married, every time I came back from work I would walk into Ammi’s room and most of the times she would be praying. Regardless of what part of her prayer she was in, I would quickly place my head on her lap as soon as she sat down. There were times when she had to finish her prayer sitting with my head on her lap because I wouldn’t get up. And the most beautiful part of this memory is that she let me lay there for as long as I wanted.

My relationship with Abbu is very unique. I have feared his temper all my life yet he is my biggest confidant. There is nothing – absolutely nothing – that my father doesn’t know about me. And this one feeling puts my heart and mind at ease. I know that somebody has my back – somebody is always on the watch. He has been my teacher – from math to economics to law to life in general. He has been my mentor and life support till date. He has taught me through love and anger but mostly through example. And regardless of whether he is around, he makes sure that I know that I am being taken care of.

Over time, I’ve learnt to be strong, I’ve learnt to laugh even when I have no reason to, I’ve learnt to run my errands and fulfill my responsibilities even when I can barely feel the strength to stand and I’ve learnt to reprioritize my relationships time and again. Despite the fact that I miss these two people every second of every day – I have learnt to keep on going. In the many ways that I have changed with changing times, this is one too – I will never be the same person that I was before I settled away from my parents. It’s like I left a part of me there and only when I am with them do I feel complete.

It’s a constant and painful struggle to have to let go of people who mean everything to you especially when you know they need you. Other responsibilities and roles take over something which has always been on the top of your priority list. There are times when I wish I could go to my Ammi and help her with the house chores. Just a few days ago she had to go out for getting some taxation related paperwork done. She ran around to meet a number of people and visited a number of offices in scorching daylight. Drove back home and was exhausted. How I wish I could tell her to sit at home while I got the work done. But I can’t because of my present commitments. Because I am now a wife and a mother and a professional.

It’s true that life operates through paradoxes and it throws them at you just when they hurt too much. You make your parents second and begin to build your own life and even then… even then they support you. They pray for you to succeed. They guide you.

Today I feel the same ache in the void of my heart. I once again had to bid my Abbu farewell so that I could carry on with being a wife, a mother and a professional – despite of how much I wished for him to be with me and more so over, how much I needed to be with him, we said our goodbyes. And every time I whine in front of him complaining about how unfair this is … he gracefully tilts his head a bit, closes his eyes, gently nods and says ‘this is life beta, this is life.

So this one is to all those people who part from their parents to build a life of their own. Not just women but also men who have the courage to step out of their comfort zones, put their act together and grow with growing relationships and responsibilities. To all the parents like my ammi abbu who let their children fly off to explore the new wonders of life and continue to offer their continuous support. I wish I get the opportunity to spend the kind of time that I want to with you both and I pray to have a heart as strong as yours to be so supportive for my child. And finally, this one is for my child and for all those who are still living with their parents – talk to them a little more, listen to them with patience, sit with them and ask them about their day, make more memories, resolve your mistakes together and lie down on your mother’s lap a little longer – because one day, for whatever reason, you may have to wait for a really long time to be able to do all that.

BabyZ, belief, childhood, dreams, happiness

A new journey with Z

My upbringing was done in quite a unique manner perhaps – it has always been a perfect blend of everything – and when I say everything I mean all the rights and wrongs, all the Easts and Wests – never was it one straight road to simply walk on. Obey the rules but dare to go against the fray; don’t harm anyone in any manner but be crazy sometimes. You know, very oxymoronic (not sure if that’s a word). Thanks to a job well done by my parents, that’s quite the way I’ve lived so far – spontaneous decisions and mostly madness – no regrets. Surprisingly, some major decisions of my life were taken in the spur of the moment – for instance, let’s study law! eeermm why?…. Well, because everyone else seems to be doing BBA! You see, the simplest answers are usually the right ones.

So that’s how it’s been – just jump into a random idea and then explore. Some of my mental rantings have actually either shaped into my professional career or a successful hobby (such as blogging…. ‘let’s just start a blog!’) while some ideas took a backseat midway. But one thing I know for sure today – staying within the given limits or going by the book is not at all conducive to one’s growth and learning. You must dare to take up spontaneous ideas and make them your own. Sometimes you will fall right down on your face and sometimes you will feel an adrenaline rush. Rest assured, you will look back at the madness and be happy about it.

In my father’s words, there are certain “ground realities”. Lord knows how much I love this term! He uses it often and I really like it when he does. It reminds you of your core – it reminds you of where you are anchored. As life goes by, no matter how rebellious you may be, certain rules become set. A basic foundation is laid inevitably and deep within you also become content with it. You have a profession – you have a few set hobbies – you have a certain bunch of friends – you have a favorite color – you have a life which has some ‘ground realities’.  And it’s all going good. But then one day, you have a baby.

You see, having a baby is not just ‘you having a little funny thing to take care of and love endlessly’. No sir. Having a baby also means that now you are someone who that baby is constantly looking up to – more like awkwardly staring up to. So all of a sudden – you become super self-conscious –going from a carefree dare-doer to a role model; an ideal; a mother. Obviously, no one wants their baby to get hurt or go all crazy with life right?! But at the same time we want our children to experience everything that the world has to offer. There are certain facts about the world that you, during the course of your life, have learnt the hard way and would want your baby to trail away from. So what do you do? You aim to become what you want them to become.

Unknowingly you become conscious of your own self and your surroundings. You watch your words, your actions, the way you dress, the people you meet, the way you eat – basically the way you do, think or say everything. You reassess and recalculate each of your decisions because every single thing is being imprinted onto your baby’s fresh canvas. You make sure that your baby sees you as a sorted, strong, civil and composed individual – one that is heard and respected. Someone who knows who they are and what they believe in.

Often, after Z, I have questioned my capabilities and even my values and beliefs. I found myself doubting my thoughts, my feelings and my decisions. I want nothing less than the best out of my Z. I want him to be kind and thoughtful, strong and determined, successful yet well rooted and for him to be all this – I have to be an example who he can look up to. Inevitably you start to hide all your negative or weak traits because in the form of your baby – life has actually given you one more chance to be who you idealize.

There are many things that I have always liked but I never really dwelt into enough. With Z I have had the opportunity to dive into a few things and explore its wonders. I’ve always loved to read and so I try to read to Z almost every day even though I barely get to read on my own any more. He has always been fond of his books and flash cards and I hope he will become an avid reader one day.

I was never too good at geography but I remember when I was back in third grade I really enjoyed learning about continents and oceans and islands etc. So my husband and I decided to cut out the continents and oceans using our amateur drawing skills and some colorful chart paper and turn one of the walls in Z’s room into his world map. He now recognizes almost 5 of the continents and its super cute the way he calls Australia – Austray-lalalalallalala! This way I also get to brush up on some geography myself!

I absolutely love travelling and so did my mum and dad which is why I’ve had the chance to visit quite a few countries. Z has been a traveler too – he had his first road trip when he was only 5 months old! There’s still a whole lot more that I wish to show Z – we still have to travel a lot more – so that he can explore and experience the wonders of different places and learn to appreciate different cultures.

Music is another favorite of mine. But as I mentioned in my earlier post, so far Z and I have been doing all sorts of nursery rhymes. In fact, he knows a few jingles by heart now. Just yesterday when we were on our way home Z started humming a tune and I asked him, are you singing for mama? He nodded. And I requested, can you please sing for me again? And there it was – his adorable little hum again… Hopefully, he will love singing as much as I do.

Art. Alright, I must admit, I can appreciate art but when it came to painting, coloring or drawing myself, I have always dilly-dallied with it. I did do a pencil sketching course once and completely enjoyed it but then never really built up on it. But since I want Z to have a feel of everything and be able to explore all the adventures of life – for the first time, I decided to buy a few paints and a paint brush – not for myself but for my little Picasso.

I really want Z to know the importance of art for I believe it gives you a perspective which is not commonly known to all. He needs to see beyond what appears to everyone and what better medium than art. I still don’t know if painting will be one of the things that Z will excel in but I hope, I really hope that he grows up to appreciate the relevance that art offers for the heart and mind. Hence, it was time to finally embark on a creative journey with Z and do something which I had always loved only from a distance.

So my husband and I planned an activity for Z to do day before yesterday. We got some old newspaper and pasted it all over the floor. Then we cut out an apron from a grocery bag (just Z’s size!), set out three bowls each with a different color of paint and got a few cardboards to act as Z’s canvas for the day! Ta-daa!

Z was absolutely ecstatic for his painting endeavor. He loved his apron and very gracefully wore it throughout the activity. He placed himself right in the centre of the newspaper sheet we had laid down for him, picked up his paint brush and off he went on his colorful journey. At first he carefully marked a few strong strokes of red and green on the cardboard sheets but eventually he realized; ‘what’s the harm if I paint my arm?!’!

My husband and I sat back and enjoyed watching Z explore the colors and the magic they could create. Neither of us can paint but we surely felt therapeutic just watching our little Picasso enjoying himself so much. All three of us wrapped up that activity feeling very accomplished. You see sometimes, even though you have spent all your life in a certain manner, it takes an adorable two-year-old to teach you that it’s ok to color outside the lines.

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My little painter at work
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Z’s artwork
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Thank you baby

People rightfully say that when a woman gives birth, two lives come into being; firstly, the baby and secondly that of a mother. I’ve read so many articles and blogs where women have expressed their journey of walking into motherhood and yet I sit here completely clueless about how to pen down mine.

I may not remember what I did or felt on my birthday or my anniversary two years ago. Two years is quite some time for us to recall and relive. But I seem to remember every single minute from the 11th of July 2015. Right from walking into the delivery room holding my husband’s hand, feeling extremely scared and then after hours which seemed like years… to that priceless moment when I nervously held little ‘Z’ for the first time.

Having a baby is a rare, blessed event in your life that forever changes you. Although motherhood is not for the faint of heart for the first few months but nevertheless it is a unique experience where you get to discover a new you amidst tiny toes and giggles that will fill your heart with a kind of love that you’ve never felt before. Safe to say, a baby is a gift that simply keeps on giving.

There are countless memories that I would like to jot down about my Z. Perhaps I will never have sufficient time or even words to express the kind of life we have had together so far. Not to forget, the way I have already planned the coming years with him – full of exploration and adventure and lots of laughs (In sha Allah ya Rab). Hence, what will be easier to translate into words is what Z has made me and taught me ever since he came into my life.

He defined patience for me.

When Z was born I struggled very hard to find a balance in life. There were days when I actually broke down in tears because I forgot to brush my teeth and it was nearly noon. Yup actually happened. With Z having nearly no patience and his mom having very little herself, we needed this relationship to work. Z brought me face-to-face with the fact that compromises are mandatory in order to meet with your baby’s needs. He taught me that some days it was ok to look like a wreck because that is you trying to be a mother for your baby. Z taught me how to just hang in there, he showed me a new perspective to what patience can look like.

Z taught me not to be judgmental – for real.

Have you ever noticed little babies just blankly stare at anyone and everyone and then suddenly break into a heart-melting smile? When my Z would do that to complete strangers, in the restaurant or in a mall, at first I used to feel embarrassed about it, but eventually I realized how he had no ego or any preconceived notions about who he saw – unlike us adults. Z met every stranger with plain curiosity and cuteness – and every stranger welcomed his smile with one of their own – it was always just beautiful.

I have always loved music but Z introduced me to my love for Disney songs and nursery rhymes. Yes sir, that happens when you have a baby!

Sometimes I try to sing one of my personal favorites to him and more than often he finds it weird or boring. It’s interesting to see someone’s reaction when they listen to your all-time favorite track for the very first time. But it’s so much cuter to see them nod their tiny head sideways when you start singing ‘Old mcdonald had a farm eeee-ya eeee-yay o!’. I have mastered nursery rhymes like a pro!

He taught me how to live in today – by the hour.

I have always liked my errands well planned out – everything arranged and sorted before time. But all of that was before Z. Now I have a peripheral vision which is heavily clouded because of sleep deprivation along with white noise. I am constantly reaching out to capture each of Z’s moments. His first laugh – his first roll over – his first step – his first word! Picture – Video – Picture – Check!! With Z, every second seems to matter – making sure I haven’t missed out on any of his developments. Z taught me that every single second is precious and that it must be captured and cherished for life. He has taught me that we really have no time to waste. If I missed recording the first time he stood on his own – well then I just missed it. Every moment must be savored. Life really is too short to be spent miserably.

Z taught me to plan.

Yes as contrary as it may seem to my previous paragraphs, with Z and because of him I have learnt that one must foresee situations and plan before time. You ought to plan for an untimed poop. Must be prepared for a casual burp to turn into a spit up. Prepare for hunger pants – for naptime tantrum and the list goes on. Before if I wanted to go anywhere my prep time would be 20-30 min … shower, makeup, pick up the bag and keys and out the door! But ever since Z.. it’s something like this…

Attempts to shower can take upto 2 hours – end up only washing your face, hands and feet so that you look clean.

Pack up baby bag – should take 8 min – actually takes an hour because the baby wants to be carried or fed or changed or simply needs someone to come and play with him for a bit.

Prepare baby food – should take 10 min – actually takes 30 because of not being able to decide what to make first and then how to pack it and then change your mind because you might not be able to warm it where you’re headed or you may not have a place to sit down and feed it to your baby.

Finally have things sorted and drop them to the car. Come back inside because you forgot to keep the water. Go back to the car. Come back inside because you forgot to keep the warm water which you need for the milk. Go back to the car. Come back inside, get the baby, take one step out and you realize that it’s his feed time. Come back in, feed, baby poops, change his clothes, lift him up for a burp, but instead he decides to throw back half the milk he took – change him again – change your clothes again! Tie your hair up in a bun, pray that your baby will now get some sleep and head out. Understand what I mean?!

Finally, Z taught me that I will never be the perfect mom; but I’m just enough for him.

I will never be perfect according to someone or the other. People will always find a label which suits them best, to place on me. I will either be an over protective mother or a careless one. A sensitive one or an indifferent one. A tiger mom or a lazy mom. Obsessive, negligent, smart, nerdy, too-much make up, no make-up, too fat, too thin, Type A or Type B and the list can go on. I had my share of such labels. There were times when I felt good about myself as a mother but mostly, thanks to the surrounding pressures, I was made to feel like a complete failure at my job. Unfortunately, this is what people do best in our society. And just so we are clear – it’s not only your neighbors or distant relatives who will pass such irresponsible comments – but people from work as well – oh she’s taken extra maternity leaves, why doesn’t she just put her baby on formula and get back to work, why doesn’t she just ask google instead of going to the doctor for everything. Been there, done that.

But you know, through all this – Z was with me. And he made me see the struggle which every other mother goes through. Everyone is doing their best to be a good parent. Everyone is trying not to mess up this little creature. So with Z, I eventually learnt to just laugh at all the judgmental remarks that I got. At the end of the day, if your little one is satisfied – the world is a beautiful place to be in. So dear moms, take a sneak peek at your little one – is he/she happy? That there is a job well done!

 

 

 

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Different times

It’s been a while since I last posted something here – for that matter, it’s been a while since I last wrote. There’s so much on my plate at the moment and even more on my mind but probably because of my piling urge to be somewhere on my mental checklist – I decided to sit down and write today.

I recently resumed work after a gap of nearly two years. Two complete years went by a flash because I have been busy raising my beautifully curious plus hyper toddler. Many things happen when you make the shift from being just you to a mom. From being a corporate go-getter to an attentive put-together mother. From having major emotional upheavals to constantly wanting to feel worthy of your set of skills. It’s an everyday struggle – but rest assured, a beautiful one.

This post is not about how wonderfully my life has transformed after my Z – I shall dedicate a separate write up just for that. This here today, as I mentioned earlier, is about having too much on my plate and more so on my mind.

I want to read more. I want to listen to more music. I want to watch more movies. I want to travel at least twice a year. I want to sing again. I want to make a mark at my new workplace. I also want to furnish my house more. Clean it more often too. I also want to spend more time with Z, oh and also get some laundry done.

More than often, I want someone to pat me on the back and tell me I’ve done well. I want to be able to sigh with relief after successfully crossing out every item on my mental checklist. I want to curl up into bed at night – comfortable and relaxed – without every inch of my body aching out of either exhaustion or stress. But seldom do I feel like I have it my all.

I want to paint with Z. I want to show him more places, more people, more cultures. I want to read more to him. I want to take him swimming. I want him to learn to play an instrument. I want him to see that his mom is trying to juggle with responsibilities and desires – I want him to know that his mom can be a person he can look up to.

I sometimes am forced to believe that perhaps I am living in a crisis – with multiple agendas and hurried thoughts. There are days when I feel like I have earned an Oscar for myself and there are days when I feel torn in multiple ways. More than often I feel like my day wasn’t as productive as it should have been.

As frustrating as it may seem the reason for having such emotions is quite simple – I just want to have it all. I want to do it all. I want to be it all. I want to think it all.

Every. Single. Thing.

From making meals for my baby from scratch to hitting the gym. From being able to finish one novel after the other to keeping the house clean. From being a good mom to a successful corporate woman. The daily struggle to be able to do it all can be very over whelming.

When I had Z and all those mixed emotions of ‘will I ever be a good mom?’ and ‘will I ever be a successful lawyer?’ were at their peak … I was advised time and again to remain positive. To tell my heart and mind that this is just a phase and that one day I will have my life back in control. But you know what … it’s all easier said than done.

The real problem is not that women like us are majorly all hormonal. No sir. (Although that plays its fair share). But the real battle is with the pressure that we suppress ourselves under. The peer pressure – the societal pressure – what will the entire universe think of me if my baby isn’t potty trained at 18 months?! I’m being very real here – thoughts like this can actually keep you awake the entire night making you sweat out of useless panic attacks – been there, done that.

What is important to realise and make peace with is that it is alright to feel torn sometimes. It is ok to worry about doing the best for your baby because probably that ‘worrying’ there …  well that’s what makes you a good mom. It’s normal to want to be healthy and in shape because perhaps that is what will motivate you to work out at home if hitting the gym isn’t possible. It is fine to feel like you’re wasting your set of skills because perhaps that is what will drag you back to your workplace. And finally it is allowed to feel the angst of not being able to get everything in place at a time. What we need to tell ourselves more often is that – we are trying to do our best and things will be in place, eventually.

Perfection is not necessary – contentment is. More than anything else, for first time mothers like me, I guess it’s most important that we find the courage to accept ourselves. It is important to peacefully let go of the passions that we cannot manage right now and resume them when we can. We must understand that life is all about having different phases – different times – and every phase is unique and brings with it some great experiences.

Just give it all some time.