Thursday, October 31, 2013

Flavour Of The Day With Noora

Are We Our Parents?

We have all said it when we were younger:" I'm never going to do to my children what my parents did to me! I will never be like my mother!"

Well, other day, when Yousef was driving me crazy, I could swear that it was my mother's ghost that took over me and made me say to him the exact same words she used to say to me. While it got him up on his feet and ready to get dressed, it left me in awe! I used the same tone of voice and I used the same look and I got the results she always got, obedience.

Why are we always so afraid of turning into our parents? Judging from my own experiences as a mother, parenting is the most difficult job of all. They too gave up dreams just for us, they too had nights and nights of sleep-deprivation just like us. It is true what they say: you never appreciate your parents until you become one yourself! That said, I think I will need about another 25-27 years until my kids learn this lesson. Lucky me...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Flavour Of The Day With Noora

A Mama's Strength, Like No Other

At a children's play area while I was watching my kids have fun, out of nowhere, two women beside me included me in their conversation.

One of them was talking about her fatal cancer diagnosis where the doctor told her she had three months to live, five years ago!

What stuck to me most was not the sadness of her diagnosis, not her fear of the unknown, and not her remarkable story of being cured. It was a sentence she said so innocently despite the power of it: "when I got in the car after hearing my diagnosis, I wasn't scared for me, I had three months to make the arrangements I needed, I was scared for my four children, how will their life be without my support and protection?"

Right then and there, I realised the one thing that unites all us mamas, our never-ending worry for our children, even at times of great danger to ourselves. It truly is amazing to feel so much dedication and strength towards your child. And what is even more amazing is that it is innate. No one teaches us how to worry, protect, fight for, and worry about our children. It happens, just like that.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Flavour Of The Day With Noora

How Work Brought Me Back

Whether or not to go back to work is by far, one of the hardest decisions you will have to face after having kids. Whatever I say now I say based on my own experience, but I found that if you loved work before having kids, you will love it even more after having them.

As amazing as children might be, sleep deprivation, lack of alone time, the need for continuous sacrifice on your behalf and the non-stop demands of life as a mama can really drain you to a point where it can surely become dangerous to you and your marriage. I never fought with my husband as much as we fought after having our first baby. We were both so pressured and exhausted, we couldn't cope with being new parents.

After leaving work, a decision I made willingly, I suddenly found myself stuck at home for 13 hours with a baby, and could not identify with my new role. I loved my child dearly, but I was not familiar with the new Noora that was supposed to "come naturally" with him.

The reason I am bringing all this up is that after I started working again about two months ago, everything has changed. I have moments of extreme exhaustion, fear of how my decision may be affecting my children, and my days are feeling longer than ever. Yet when I walk into  the office, I have a feeling of satisfaction. For a few hours, I am not: "mama, mama, mama", no one is clinging onto me in tears, and I am free to explore parts of my mind that have been switched off for so long. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Flavour Of The Day With Noora

Pretend Play

In a previous article I wrote"Starting Off Right," published in the March 2013 issue of Family Flavours, experts stress the importance of pretend play. 

In my interview with Early Childhood Development Expert Kathleen Guy, she clarified that pretend play helps children develop self-control and complete tasks. Let's say your child is pretending to be a teacher, she is internally developing her own scenario and engaging in private speech, this according to Guy is creating self-control. 

As much as I tried at a younger age, Yousef only got the hang of it now, when he is turning 3 years old, and I have to say, it has wonderfully made its way into every aspect of our lives. he can play for hours with toys he never used to touch and increased his attention span to things he later imitated. 

What I did not expect was how big his imagination has grown and now, we are entering the phase of imagining "a scary mask running after me!" I have never faced this before and have NO IDEA of how I should handle it. How do you handle fears of non-exhistant things?I know that I should not minimise his fears, call them silly or unreal, or say that they don't make sense, but then, I get stuck!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Flavour Of The Day With Noora

When it is only about being STUBBORN!

Dealing with a toddler who has discovered the power of resistance can take you to new levels of frustration.

Some mamas say it is the age, others say the child might be imitating a friend or sibling, and some not very encouraging comments, say it is due to the constant bickering between mama and child. Whatever the reason, it is surely something that will rock the boat.

I have tried everything: distracting him, ignoring him, playing with him, talking to him, you name it. But when his answer is no or simply does the opposite of what I asked, I feel like I have crashed into a wall.

"Pick your battles," they said, and so, I did; if he wants to wear the wrong shoe on the wrong foot, so be it. It has helped in the small things, but the big things are still a struggle. Getting dressed, taking a shower, getting into the car seat, holding my hand when crossing the street; in 99% of the cases, I get: "I don't want to," and the other day, "I am free to do as I please!" Occasionally, there is the public tantrum as a cherry on top.

To make things more fun, my younger daughter, now 17 months, is joining the rebellion.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Flavour of the Day with Noora

The Unknown Sacrifices 

How many times have you asked yourself, did my parents really sacrifice as much for me as I am sacrificing for my kids? 

For some reason, many of us find it hard to comprehend that our parents did in fact go through "all this parenting", and maybe even more. I think it puts some guilt on our shoulders knowing that we made their lives harder, and it raises our expectations from ourselves to pay them back with kindness, closeness, and obedience now that we are older. 

Throughout the day, 99% of the decisions I make revolve around my kids, whether I like it or not. When I wake up, when I go to sleep, what I do for entertainment, what I cook, what kind of job I can take and the list just goes on. 

At times, I feel it is too much, and in many cases, I childishly cry because I couldn't go after what I wanted. At other times, when my kids are having a good day, I feel very content and proud of every decision I have made. 

Whatever I am feeling, I just remind myself that mama-hood is a job at the end of the day, the more I invest the right kind of effort, the more it will pay off in the end. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Flavours of the Day with Noora

Eid Mubarak to everyone out there!

This Eid, I focused on teaching my 3 year-old son the importance of appreciating the things we have. As I listed the house, the car, and money to buy food, Yousef suddenly listed: our wooden door, the side door, his school, his friends, his clothes, the sky, the trees and went on for another 6 things at least.

At that moment, I wished and prayed that my child would never lose what all children have, clarity and simplicity in seeing the world around them and living in the moment. It was easy for him to list so many things in less than 30 seconds because he is in fact, fully living that moment.

In my meditation course, our instructor said that one of the most important things to do is learn to live in the moment and to REALLY experience it. Examples would be: not doing anything else when eating, carefully listening to the music and lyrics without just having it on in the background, and so on.

He also said that children should be our inspiration as they perfect this technique so greatly. When they are playing, they are doing just that, when they are sleepy, that's all they want, if they are hungry, all they think of is food, and the list goes on.

Today, I realised what he meant and I realised that one of the greatest things I can do for my child is to teach him never to grow up when it comes to this!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My Shocking Three-Year Old

Every parent I know went through a moment where he or she was shocked with their child's reaction. That moment when your once very sweet daughter or son, answers back with a comment that has the ability to both infuriate you and drive you to tears.

Today, for the first time ever, my 3-year-old told me that he is "free to do as he pleases" when I asked him to do something. It was like a slap on the face and I didn't know whether I should laugh or cry! he said it so defiantly and confidentially that I had to pause for a moment to rethink of what I asked, maybe I was the one who was wrong!

It was an awful feeling to know that my son now thinks it is ok to speak to me that way!! I now understand what mamas of teens feel like!!

They say that the age 2-3 gives mom a sneak peak into what her child will be like as a teen. I wonder what I will get then!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Flavour of the Day with Noora

Going back to Work

No matter how much you love your kids, if you once had or have a career that you love, leaving work to stay at home with your babies is a lot harder than people think it is.

After three years of being a stay at home mama, I finally made it back to the office. Yet in a single moment when one of my kids is ill, fussy, or asks me to stay at home for the day, I doubt my decision of leaving.

Today, I attended a meeting where two of the other women had just had their babies too. 

If you think of it, we are all there for the same two reasons: to help provide for our children, and to maintain our sanities by getting whatever alone time we can get.

However, looking back at the three years that have been the most challenging without a doubt, it is important to do what is right for you and your family at the moment you are inclined to make the decision.  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Flavour of the Day With Noora

Raising Children Who Feel Blessed

In business school, they taught us the difference between need and want. And while as adults, we think we know the difference, marketing, advertising and social pressures have us more confused than we think. If you look at the effect of that on children, you realize that they are just as confused. 

Nothing drives me more crazy than when my son cries saying: " but I don't have this and I need it!" He is only three and I put so much effort into not spoiling him with materialistic items that this is coming as a total shock!

I have friends who never worked a day in their lives and friends who put themselves through university; some appreciate their parents and the efforts they have done, while others think they are entitled to everything.

How can we teach our children to appreciate things? Is it by not offering much? By making them earn it? By constantly reminding them of the privileges they are receiving? How do you talk to children about feeling blessed?