I was desperate to become a mother, partly because I wanted to know if my womanly body was all in working order but most importantly to be able to call the father of my child by his kunya rather than ‘ai, oi, aije’ (all used within our cultural circle as it wasn’t the norm to call husbands by their name! Also known as ‘Hey!’).
I remember feeling overwhelmed at the enormous importance of becoming a mother. I continuously questioned my own ability to have and take care of this child. Thinking about the pain in labour and the looming sleepless nights made me wonder about my own strength and resilience. I also wondered about the changes it may bring to my relationship with my husband. What kind of a wife would I be once I was a mother? How would he react to the changes in my body? Will I have post-natal blues? What if I don’t bond with my baby? Where could I go to talk about the grief of letting my old life go and the joys of bringing in my new one? Were there other women who felt like I did?
Excitingly, our parenting journey has now lead us to our next phase of life – we are due to become grandparents anytime in the next few days insha-Allah. As I observe my beloved daughter-in-law go through similar moments of excitement and worry as she juggles these multitude of questions that occupy her thoughts and conversations, I also know there are probably many questions she will not share out aloud, which are embedded deep within her – some causing anxiety and others bringing a smile to her beautiful face. And I know she also probably wonders are there other women who feel like she does?
As I ride this wave with her and my son, I feel blessed that they have honoured me and their father this shared opportunity Alhamdulillah. Since the day they broke the news to us, I have begun to reflect on another journey – my relationship with this amazing woman who will insha-Allah enable me to wear the crown of grand-motherhood. But, can I or her own mother support her in all that she needs? We would love to give her the world, but we are limited in what we can do and offer. Few events in life are as unforgettable as having a baby. But there are plenty of other days after the Big Day that aren’t going to be rosebuds and rainbows.
This is where I know Muslim Mamas fills a void for the mothering journey among so many others as we become fit mamas, healthier mamas, classified mamas, rescuing mamas and ardent travellers, among a host of other mama roles we enjoy and embrace – Alhamdulillah. As the old African adage says ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ – Muslim Mamas has managed to recreate that all important village in a world that has become increasingly more isolated for many mothers.
I remember one journey of motherhood with one of the lovely Admins (you know who you are!) of Muslim Mamas. A conversation we had of how she could contribute to wider society from being somewhat housebound with the duties of motherhood and supporting her husband in caring for her in-laws – I have always looked up to this young lady and knew she would do amazing things in life – Masha-Allah. Our conversation turned to the recent Facebook page she had started based on sharing a status about her little one. The response was unexpected, and it grew rapidly. I remember us sharing how this could be a way and a much-needed service to the mamas who are craving a space to share, learn from and support. To see where this journey of MUSLIM MAMAS has come to and the potential for where it can go is truly humbling – Subhan- Allah.
Although I do not take part on many posts, I follow the main page with awe, wonder and hope. I am particularly taken by the anonymous posts as they are a window into the many issues faced by mamas across the globe about how the structures of families are threatened as is the concept of contemporary womanhood. Becoming a mother can open unresolved or buried grief. Birthing, loving and raising another human being means that we must relinquish some freedom of our own, and loss in the process is inevitable. We can become clearer about our path by digging a little deeper into our psyches to ask ourselves, in a kind and compassionate way how these losses might impact us, and if they are apt to excavate any buried wounds from the past. It is important for us to remember that our children have not suffered the same hurts and life disappointments that we have. Our husbands have also been through a journey. When we become more aware of our own process, we stand a better chance of mothering from a place of presence.
I started this year with a new motto – ‘Just Show up’ after a watching a video by David Flood, sharing his journey of supporting his son. I see the hundreds and thousands of women who ‘just show up’ by supporting each other on the many threads that appear daily on Muslim Mamas. However, I believe, moving forward, for Muslim Mamas and the many arms that have evolved from it, to be a safe space for mamas, ‘just showing up’ needs to be founded on the following four S’s I recently came across from Dr Dan Siegal:
Mamas who take the courage to share a post need to be SEEN by the community with empathy in our responses
Mamas need to feel SOOTHED through the language and tone used in the words we respond with
Mamas need to feel SAFE and protected by our responses. We need to protect each other from harm and not become the source of another mama’s terror.
Mamas need to feel SECURE in all of the above– by being able to rely and believe in the last three S’s.
All of the above can only work if we together to make meaning of the reality we each face and work together to help each other realise how we come to know what we know – then to know where we want to go. This then can be the fifth S – SENSEMAKING. These S’s are the basis of building real and meaningful relationships – even online.
May Allah enable MUSLIM MAMAS to be a platform for us to strengthen our mothering roles and raise children who will make the following dua for us in life and in death:
My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small (17:24)
I would love for my daughter in law to join Muslim Mamas as she starts to make sense of this new journey ahead of her and the journey through the ages and stages of motherhood. However, I would love for her to feel and experience all the 5 S’s mentioned in order to relish and embrace her journey insha-Allah.
Admins – please accept her request!
By Dr. Mahera Ruby
Mahera is a certified Personal Growth and Parenting coach. She set up Blooming Parenting in 2012 with a vision to reshape and strengthen families and communities.
Mahera has been in academia for over 15 years. She has held teaching and research roles at various London Universities including Goldsmiths’s and UCL IoE. She completed her PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London, in 2015. Mahera has authored many publications. She has co-authored her first book ‘Interconnecting Worlds: Teacher partnerships for bilingual learning’. and her latest book ‘Family Jigsaws: Grandmothers as the missing piece shaping bilingual children’s learner identities’.
Mahera is a community organiser. She is involved at grassroots and is a trustee at various institutions. Mahera has been involved in interfaith projects and activities and has recently joined Citizens UK as a trustee.
All guest writer articles come from our Muslim Mamas community or from our network of supporters. Some contribute one-off stories; some contribute as anonymous mamas. All experiences and opinions are those of the writers.