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 ❤
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