I am not enough…and that’s ok

Practically everyday at some point, the thought will cross my mind that, “I am not enough…” that “I don’t know enough…” or that “I am not smart/knowledgable/wise/patient enough…” That I’m not doing enough outside of the children. That my ‘career’ is not progressing, that I’m not doing enough for the community, that I don’t maintain connections with my friends enough, that I’m not helpful enough for my parents, that I’m not showing my care and concern for my husband enough… ETCETERA.

I worry that I don’t do enough for the children. That I don’t spend enough quality time with them, or that I don’t organise enough activities for them, or teach them enough (I want to homeschool them, but haven’t really started doing anything homeschool-y yet).

I face up to the gaping holes in my knowledge and wonder how on earth I am even going to homeschool my kids.

And with a third on the way, I wonder how I’ll find the time to organise a homeschooling curriculum for them, or even lessons to do with them.

Beyond just the homeschooling though, I often find myself questioning whether I can even mother them properly. So many times a day I catch myself in ‘bad parenting’ moments/ACTIONS and I feel that guilt.

Oh yes.

That ‘mum guilt’. That creeping sense that I am totally traumatising my children with my horrible parenting, with the impatience, with the shouting, with the harsh discipline that I can mete out…

I also have major control issues. I totally overthink many aspects of how to parent them, and I struggle to let them go, to be carefree, to be easy with them…

For example, my eldest (she’s 4.5 years old), does not go to a childcare of any sorts, at all. She hasn’t since she was around 1.5 years old.

I struggle to take on help from people outside their grandparents. And even with the grandparents I’ve spent years trying to control how they are looked after by them, when in their care.

It’s exhausting, you know.

Knowing my controlling ways, I wonder if I’m constricting my children too much and possibly stunting their development, character-wise. Am I giving them enough opportunities to learn things on their own?

Another part of my strongly believes that although children should be tested, and allowed “out in the world”, that this also has its own time and place, and if it happens too early, the consequences on their development can actually be harmful. You have to know your child well enough to decide when they are ready to exposed to certain things.

So I vacillate between trying to control their surroundings and allowing them *limited freedom to experience different things, and be exposed to different people.

When J (my eldest) was around 10 months old, I decided to go back to work. Full time high school teaching. It was a difficult decision. I panicked for weeks before I started work. I drove my husband crazy by being concerned about minute details of how J would be cared for. I was an emotional wreck at the thought that someone else would be caring for her, feeding her, playing with her for long hours. My mind conjured up horrible scenarios where things would go wrong and she’d suffer short and long-term impacts of being separated from her mother, or from watching too many hours of tv, or eating foods that I had not “approved”.

At the time my husband took it all in his stride and his advice is one that I still try to remind myself of today.

He patiently told me that first of all, I needed to calm down lol. Then he told me that the reality is that I could not be everything, and teach everything to my daughter. That her being looked after by her grandparents, extended family, even childcare could teach her things that I had no capacity to, simply because I am just me, and not them. That every person who cares for her has their own unique qualities, knowledge, life experience etc. that J could benefit from. That they all make up the patchwork of life lessons for her.

And most important of all, my husband reminded me that she would be in the care of those who loved and cared for her dearly, completely and sincerely. And that therefore, she would not be at risk of any major harm. That in fact, she will grow to be a more rounded, fuller individual having been exposed to this love.

Armed with this advice, I threw myself back into teaching, and I do not regret it. Sure there were challenges, but all in all I could see J flourishing, I could see that she was happy, she had no major anxiety or stress, or problems adjusting to the fact that I was no longer around full time.

Ultimately I did make the decision to quit work at the end of that first year of going back. The reasons were myriad, and not all connected to my child, but one major consideration in relation to her was that I felt it was important for me to look after her full time at a time when she was approaching 2 years old, a time that would require an emphasis on disciplining her, on dealing appropriately with her tantrums, and in establishing a diet that was nutritious and quite frankly, low in sugar.

I did not want the grandparents to have to take on this burden, when they’d already raised children themselves and I knew that what they really wanted with their grandchildren was to simply love and enjoy them. Not to raise them.

As her parent, that was my responsibility.

So, I suppose what I’m trying to say here is that as parents, particularly as mothers, we need to find that balance between doing our part as being our children’s primary source of parenting, discipline, love and so on, especially in the first 7 years of their lives, but also of fully understanding the importance of reaching out to extended family and trusted community members for help.

To admit that no, we can’t be everything for our children by the very limitations of who we are. That no, we can’t do it all. We can’t juggle our households, our jobs, our children, ourselves, on our own.

We need help.

The very nature of our existence is hinged on dependence on others. We could not function in this world without other people. From the rubbish that gets taken out every week, to the roads that we drive on, to the shopping centres that we shop from, the maintenance of our suburbs…everything requires us to depend on others doing their bit.

Why do we try to function as mothers on our own?

We need to let go of the fallacy of perfection. Perfection lies only with One Being, and for us to strive for it is a form of arrogance.

Knowing our own innate limitations as human beings, in comparison to the Absolute Perfection of our Creator should comfort us. Not cause us anxiety.

So yes, we should reach out to our family to play a significant role in raising our children. And we should do this with tact, with wisdom, and with trust. We shouldn’t be giving our husbands (yes, I totally went there) instructions on how to look after our children, or hold them, or feed them, or play with them… We shouldn’t reprimand him for doing things differently. We should trust him to do it in his own way because hey, he is also an intelligent, thinking human.

If we have extended support in grandparents, aunts and uncles, we should be grateful for this support system and also give them the opportunity to teach our children that which we cannot. For our children to experience and grow and be nurtured with their love as well.

And if we are fortunate enough to have a community beyond family, we should also reach out to them and be honest enough to admit that we may need help, and to be humble enough to ask for it.

Being a mother can be an incredibly constricting experience, because of the depth of our love for our children, because of the nature of our concern for them, and at times, this can make it difficult to sustain over years of parenting. It may manifest in controlling behaviours, it may prevent us from taking on the advice from other concerned and sincere people who should have a role in raising our children as well.

We, on our own, are not enough… ultimately, left to our own devices, we will do something wrong…but this is how it should be, and we should respond accordingly and reach out for help.

We should allow people around our children to contribute to the richness of their lives, and to help us nurture them.

Not only will it result in children who are better rounded in their characters, but it will also go a long way to help ourselves do this thing called parenting…

Best on the Net

Good morning everyone! Can you believe that we are in December? That 2016 is almost at a close and that we will be welcoming 2017 soon? 2017 sounds so… fantastical. Like an author 50 years ago would have set his/her future dystopian text in 2017 or something…

Also, and perhaps more importantly, it is currently the month of Rabi ul-Awwal, the month that our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) was born. So in today’s Best on the Net, I’ve included a few links on how to honour the Prophet Muhammad (saw) this month, how to share in the blessings of the month, and how to involve your children as well.

  1. Eight books to teach your kids about the Prophet Muhammad (saw)
  2. And here’s another beautiful book written/illustrated by Demi that my children love…
  3. I’m personally reading through this particular work by Tariq Ramadan this month.
  4. A comprehensive guide to the permissibility of Mawlid.
  5. A beautiful Salawat recitation by Al-Firdaus Ensemble to listen to with the children.
  6. We are also obsessed with these two versions of Tala’Al Badru Alayna- Yusuf Islam and the Canadian Children’s Choir.
  7. And lastly, a beautiful overview of the Prophet’s noble character, which you can use to share with your children as well.

Children are incredibly receptive to listening to stories about the Prophet Muhammad (saw). Sharing stories, and also sharing how the Prophet (saw) lived, discussing his noble character, how he was kind, generous, thoughtful, helpful and truthful, makes him real and present for children. And here is one last link, that gives some tips on how to make the Prophet (saw) come alive for your children. 

img_3965

What I’ve packed in my hospital bag

With two weeks to go till my due date, I finally put my hospital bag together, and guess what? It’s still missing some essentials. Here is what I’ve been able to throw in there for now…

For me…img_3954img_3955

Missing from bag…

For baby… 

img_3941-2img_3949

Missing from bag…

I am feeling that mix of emotions that is inevitable at this phase of pregnancy. I’m over being pregnant, constantly tired, scared of labour, but also excited to meet baby. One positive is that I do feel a lot more mobile and “normal” and I’m associating it to the fact that this is my third pregnancy and I have two other little kids at home to keep me busy and literally on my feet. Oh how luxurious a first pregnancy is! One can lounge around, and take naps whenever they want and simply wait in blissful ignorance of labour, revelling in the excitement of meeting their firstborn. Not so with latter pregnancies… It may be a good thing though, because it keeps one active which should help with the labour… “should” being the key word here lol.

How to style an entryway

Not only is your entryway a great place for necessary storage and organization, it’s also the first thing you see upon entering your home and therefore a great place to work on to make your home welcoming.

Even if it is a really small space, there are many ways you can introduce storage and design elements, with trendy wall hooks, a brightly coloured door, statement art or a sleek bench.

Here are some ideas on how to style an entryway…

*click images for sources.

Pink and feminine

ca6e8cf3333c3bac48fdbae26f299bfff9040236d2a83eabbedb94b698cb13d4b7d60d1502c13e4f931a57b18bfcec8b

Monochrome and minimalist

116d7eab8e1644f825e1bd6ab1903ade3a036fa02074b4db5abd94448bac1d4e

Modern ethnic touches

d0aae6d488a8519359466bd2b22899c617e522541281c118f0843f3ccfb4705afd3feeeb19581862e4f5bb1909bb0a98

Functional

1b5f7cae6bff43bdbac1e4cb9c26e151220587278c5f23aa5648182f2f103ce0e6a41c49127fda231438a5871e6bb0b7main-original-640x0c

Statement art

551468f7701be20c4eb46ef0-w1000_h1000

75a2dfb8d7555ff0346233372624256ccbc34f9c6bc236c3430311c24b7be2f8

Featured image via Domino.