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,