Saturday, March 30, 2013

Flavour of the Day with Noora

When you smoke, you are a teacher

As a mama, nothing bothers me more than the sight of people smoking around children. On my way into a supermarket, I saw a girl and boy, about 5 and 6 years old, standing by a trash can and smiling. The closer I got, I realised that the boy was holding a cigarette bud that was half lit (thrown by some stranger) and trying to take a few puffs himself, the girl waiting her turn. My initial reaction (wrong or right) was to yell:" NO! smoking is very bad for you and it will make you get really really sick," I made sure he put it down.

A few months ago, I saw workers unloading a truck. Among them was a boy about 13-years old all dirty from the day's work sit in the back seat. It was freezing cold that day so all doors and windows were closed and the driver lit a cigarette, filling the unventilated car and the boy's lungs with smoke.

Across from my house is a supermarket that teens often gather at, snack and stay for hours at a time. I am not exaggerating when I say each and every one of them smokes. Boys and girls alike, younger and older teens.

A paediatrician once told a friend of mine who smoked around her daughter, "you might as well put your hand on her mouth and nose and suffocate her, because that is exactly what you are doing when you smoke next to her, and if you think going to the next room is safe, think again, smoke travels."

On my yearly check-up, a doctor once told me that it takes a body 10 years of completely not smoking to fully get rid of its poisonous chemicals . TEN YEARS!  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Flavour of the Day with Noora

Pretend Play Crucial for Development

In the March 2013 issue of Family Flavours, my article "Starting Off Right", talks about the importance of the early years (0-3) to a child's development. Early Child Development Expert, Kathleen Guy lists a number of factors that are crucial in those early years, one of which is pretend play. As she explains, pretend play teaches a child discipline as he engages himself with conversations and roles and nourishes his imagination.

Granted, in many times, what they are pretending might not make much sense to us adults, but it turns out that this game which can literally cost nothing but patience and time, will turn them into more productive individuals.

So, the next time your child is bored, fussy, or is looking for something to do, grab a bunch of his/her favourite toy animals, cars, dolls, etc. and pretend they are in school, going to a doctor's office or travelling on vacation. Also, what I found my two-year-old loves doing is taking empty tissue boxes, water bottles or any other recyclable material and turning them into music instruments, a farm for his animals,  or even pretending that we are baking a pizza for baba! Try pretending with your child, I guarantee you will hear him/her say some of the cutest things you've heard. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Flavour of the Day with Noora

When the mama is sick

I sometimes feel like the whole house is dependent on my mere existence! I have come down with a terrible flu and since my kids are still very young and would be infected badly by it, I attempted to isolate myself. Boy did that plan fail! Every time I got in bed, Yousef (2) would cry that he wants to sleep next to me, I turn to the other side, he jumps on top of me. When Mona (9 months) saw me, she too cried, crawled and grabbed my pants until I carried her.

I remember a while back there was  TV commercial for a pain killer that showed how much the house collapses when the mama is sick; before becoming a mama I remember saying that that commercial was over exaggerating. Now, I think the marketers really did their job in understanding the market.

It is like my kids forgot how to play on their own, Yousef forgot how to feed himself, TV was suddenly not so desirable, even a lollipop did not do a good job in distracting him.

I am sure every mama knows exactly what I am talking about when I say I hate getting sick because life with kids cannot wait for me to get better :) 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Flavour of the Day with Noora

Feeling the Love

As a mama, there is nothing more comforting than the thought of my children being so close to each other when they grow up. I come from a family of 8 brothers and sisters, each has a sibling he is closest to but we are all a group, we watch out for each other, and no matter how scattered around the world we are, we are always there for one another.

When I think of it, this bond was created by my dad. When we were younger he taught us that family is the most important thing. "When one of you starts to lean over, the other should lend a shoulder and be the wall that holds him/her high." As a child and later a teen, I never got what he meant, I hated the fact the the first day of the weekend was ONLY a family day, no exceptions. I hated how when one of us had a problem, we had to all sit down and discuss it together. However, now that we are all grown up and leading separate lives, the connection we have could not have been achieved any other way.

As a parent, I want that for my kids; I want them to be close, I want them to be best friends, I want them to depend on each other. More than anything, I think the best gift we can give our children, is someone to lean on. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Flavour of the Day with Noora

Mother's Day has had a whole new meaning ever since I became a mama. As unmarried, career-driven  women, most of us have no idea the effort it took for our mamas to raise us, spoil us, shower us with love and finally let us go. However, the moment you, yourself become a mama, you ask yourself one question: "was it really this difficult for my own mama to raise me? How did she do it? How did she manage all of us siblings together?" Then of course, some of us justify it to ourselves by saying: "it was a different time." The truth is, yes, it took this much effort, exhaustion, sleepless nights, and sacrifice for our own mamas to raise us. Just as we are now doing for our kids.

The scary thing is, I do not remember being on very good terms with my mom until after I married, all the years before that were filled with arguments, setting and breaking rules, and fighting just about anything. Those thoughts scare me! Are things with my own kids going to be the same? Will my kids never know how much I loved them and spent time raising them until they have their own kids? I guess that is part of how it goes however, today when I was tucking Yousef into bed and I carried him, I thought to myself: "is this tiny boy who is super excited over wearing his monster pyjamas really going to turn into a man with a body bigger than mine, a grip stronger than mine, a house away from mine and a life separate from mine? Will I be lucky enough to see him get married and have his own kids and hear him complain about not sleeping enough?" It really is something this circle of life!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Flavour of the Day with Noora

Accepting Change

One of the hardest things to accept is that we, or the people we love, change. I have been a mama for two and a half years now: I have struggled, cried, felt frustrated, and felt lost more than I have ever done so throughout my life.

As many mamas, I decided to quit my job and stay at home with my kids;  I had two babies back-to-back. Then one day, I realised, I cannot recognise a single thing about the person that was looking back at me in the mirror. My priorities had changed (and not always willingly), I lost touch of most of my friends, I missed my job more than anything, my relationship with my husband changed, and the way people looked at me changed.

All of a sudden, I was not Noora who was doing great at work, I was not Noora who loved to travel and meet friends, I was not spontaneous Noora,  I was not Noora who loved to splurge on expensive items. I was just mama Noora who was now reading parenting books rather than romance novels, who was always tired, sleep deprived and complaining about not having a social life. And so, I planned. I planned my kids growing up in 6 years, I planned going back to work, I planned having a social life again, I planned and planned, but again, all my plans were for when my mama duties subside. As if I am telling myself, now I'm serving a mama-sentence and when it is done, I can go back to being the person I was three years ago. However, the wait was long and hard.

Until, in a casual conversation, my friend simply said, most people need to change, or else, they will break. Being a mama changed me in ways I never thought possible, it made me give up things I thought were so vital and that is ok, because life changes and so must we. Truth is, accepting change is harder than change itself but the relief that comes with it  is worth the struggle.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Flavour Of The Day With Noora

It's Time for Our Marriage

In his book" Don't Sweat The Small Stuff in Love," Richard Carlson advises couples to attend to their marriages not only for the sake of raising the children happily in a home with both parents, but to also teach children to expect the most out of their own marriages. He explains that if children see their parents care about their relationship, dedicate time for date-nights and alone-times, they too will want that in their marriage and expect the same attention from their partners. they will set high standards for their marriages.

I agree with that 100%, yet when I look at my life and the lives of married couples with kids, it seems like we are racing with time! Work is increasingly demanding (especially when it is a one income family), babas run around trying to be the best providers for their families: school tuitions, after school activities, grocery, clothing, medical check-ups etc. while mamas run around raising the kids, doing homework, planning activities, social outings, and attending to their every need. And if the mama works, it's ten times worse. Because mamas and babas are devoted to providing everything they can for their children, life becomes tiring and exhausting; marriage becomes a bit more difficult to maintain and couples may drift apart.

It might be that my kids are still too young but I cannot imagine a time when the responsibilities are a bit less and my husband and I can breathe a little, pay more attention to our marriage, travel for a few days without being constantly worried about our kids, not collapsing by 10pm every night, or having a social life with other married couples where we can go out and come back anytime we want without worrying about bedtimes and midnight wake-up calls. It feels like it will take forever!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Flavour Of The Day With Noora

My Kid is Way too Young for This!

What would you do if your child came up to you and said: "my friend at school told me so and so." So and so being a major bit of information of a very private, physical, against culture, against religion and quite frankly gross in nature. A bit of information you yourself did not hear of until you were well in your teens.

This is what happened today when my friend's daughter came and told me what her friends (9-years-old) were talking about in school. I was in complete and utter shock, unable to react in any way.

Nowadays, you always hear mamas say: our kids are so exposed, the information is everywhere, we cannot shelter them, they know about things a lot earlier than they should, etc. And now that I am a mama myself, I have to ask this question: "so then, do we just sit there and accept this reality even though it is destroying their innocence, robbing them from the safety of not knowing, and pushing them in a direction that is nothing but terrible?" I ask this question without any sarcasm, I really need an answer. An answer that gives me a bit more confidence that the world I am raising my children in is not as bad as what I heard this 9-year-old say.

Seven years from now when my own child is 9, how should I deal with this kind of situation? 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Flavour Of The Day With Noora

Jealousy has taken over my toddler. He has become aggressive, annoying and miserable. It's killing me and making me sad as well.

Whatever his baby sister (8 months) does, he imitates. If she yells and cries, so does he. If she bites on her hand so does he. If she does something dangerous that can easily harm her, her runs and does exactly the same thing, and ends up hurting himself.

"Tell me no like you tell Mona", "tell me to stop screaming like her," "I also want to wake you in the middle of the night like Mona," anything that is related to her has to relate to him.

If it ends there, it wouldn't be such a problem. He is hitting her, pushing her, snatching EVERYTHING out of her hand, waking her, and anything else that annoys her!

Ignoring him isn't working and ignoring her is not fair. How long will we all stay stuck like this?!