I remember when I was at university, my friends and I would talk about settling down one day, working the job we love, reading a good book every weekend, making sure we take care of our skin and above all, we had to make time to see each other at least once a week. You see, this was entirely possible because we never factored marriage or kids, especially kids, in the equation. It’s been a good few years since then. Alright, almost two decades but who’s counting? I try to complete one book every six months and my friends and I see each other all the time…on Facebook! My skin is telling me it’s all too late and I only go to the gym to keep up with my two adorable minions!
I vowed to travel the world and getting married and having kids was just not conducive to my lifestyle or my long term plans! I was, however, eighteen years old and everybody knows that an Asian is never actually an adult until they get married and move out of their parents’ home. I did travel the world in my twenties and eventually broke my own promise to myself and got married at 28. I had my baby girl two years later. I had everything, Alhamdulillah. A supportive and wonderful husband, a beautiful first home in the most idyllic place. A new-born that never cried and slept through the night (I know you hate me now but wait for it!) My daughter was always a textbook baby and even the ’terrible twos’ bypassed her! Yes, I got lulled into a false sense of security and five years of bliss later, I decided that we could totally have another baby. No problem! Along came my boy and I am only now realising what parenting is all about!
The only aim is to keep everyone breathing
Nobody tells you about the second child. Well, they don’t have time to tell you because once you’re on your second child you’re busy just trying to keep everybody alive, especially yourself! My son is the most wonderful gift from Allah, don’t get me wrong. I am incredibly grateful. I wouldn’t change a thing about him. I would change lots of things around him however! It would be great to have him eat from the plate instead of the (once cream coloured) carpet, for instance. It would also be very helpful to go to the bathroom without him shadowing me. We have stacks of paper everywhere. Coloured paper, thick card, huge sheets and small sheets, recycled paper and fancy paper yet my son likes to draw on the wallpaper. His creativity literally knows no bounds. Doors, upholstery, furniture, windows…all have his signature ‘art.’ He likes to take a nap at 5pm and no matter how many threads I read on Muslim Mamas Facebook page about getting your child to nap at sensible times, he will always win.
The reality of being away from family
I think my biggest mistake raising my children is not asking for help when I need it. I think we women can often go into, ‘supermum’ mode and be the jack of all trades. Master of none, in my case! When my daughter was born, she was the first grandchild of my parents and the first great grandchild of my grandparents. On her father’s side of our family, she was the youngest cousin by several years and everyone doted on her. I didn’t need to ask for help because I had a whole village around me ready, able and willing to take her out for the day, change nappies and do the feeds. I was very fortunate to have family close by. When she turned three, however, my husband and I decided to move to a rural county in a land far far away. Wales, to be precise but a good four-hour car journey from my comfort zone and support network. It was absolutely the best decision we ever made, and I love where we are now. It was very tough, though, when two years later I had my son and swiftly realised I was on my own! I have made some amazing friends, but I didn’t know them very well at that stage and just prayed for someone to take my new-born for a few hours while I tended to my poorly daughter.
My mind and my babies
My husband was at work and I had to fend for myself and the two kids that relied on me solely during those few hours. At times I felt like I was losing my mind and other times I felt like I had achieved more than any mother in the universe could (universe because sometimes I feel planet Jupiter mothers all the other planets a bit. Now you see, the point about losing my mind is valid!) The highs and lows of motherhood don’t ever just plateau, but you do learn to swim through them better. As I’ve made it very obvious, my son hasn’t been easy, but I have stopped stressing about the stains on the carpet or the tenth broken television set! The dishes will get done later but for now, breathe in that baby smell (yes, even that one) and be present in the moment because, before you know it, they’re all grown up and you start to feel a little redundant as a parent each day.
Soak it all up!
Today, I definitely feel as though I took a short nap with my new-born and five year-old and when I woke up, he’s almost four years old and is in school and she is nine going on nineteen! I look around at the empty walls (well, not completely empty, his scribbles are still there) and I thank Allah for His enormous Blessings. I stare at them bickering and throwing things and the old Persian adage, ‘this, too, shall pass,’ rings so very true. I can do this! In fact, do you think I can probably have another one? No problem, right? No. I will re-read my own words and just be grateful for my two and pray that Allah blesses them with great health and even more joy than they bring to our families. Ameen
What keeps you sane when parenting feels like an endless task? Let us know! x
Sajida graduated from the University of Birmingham with degrees in English and Theology, after which she completed a PGCE in Education. Sajida moved to Pembrokeshire in Wales in 2013 and lives with her husband and two children.
I agree, my second child was such a hurricane in comparison to my first!
I have three wee ones and each is entirely different in temperament and personality! Hamdulillah rural Wales! We are hoping to move to rural Scotland eventually, but happily in limbo in Madina for now
It was the opposite for me, I had to have a second quick otherwise I would have changed my mind! But alhamdulliah my second was a textbook perfect baby that I found it easier with two than I did with just one baby (not so much now he is in his terrible twos though!). I’m waiting to see what my three week old twins will eventually be like!