Parenting through the Eyes of a Woman
If you follow Brothers Nader and Raz on their YouTube accounts, you’ll know they both recently uploaded 2 raw, real and truthful videos about what it’s like to have kids. While I laughed and nodded my head in agreement to almost everything they had to say, I couldn’t help but think a woman’s perspective was needed in this ongoing series of “the realties of having children”. I’m not quite that ambitious to put myself out there on YouTube, so I figured a blog post would suffice instead. This is what I feel about having kids:
Don’t. The End. Thanks for reading.
I’m kidding!!! I’m kidding!!! Come back- don’t close the page.
Seriously though, having a child was the hardest, yet most rewarding thing that has ever happened to me. You’ve seen me talk about my kid before in previous posts and I must admit- I have a pretty good one, MashaAllah. She genuinely has a good heart, and as a toddler, she didn’t give me much trouble. But the past 8 years as a mother has taught me some pretty solid points about life, parenting and myself as a person. If you’re still reading, here they are.
1) You can read all the books you want, but you’ll never be fully prepared.
When I was pregnant, I researched every little thing about pregnancy, raising children, vaccinations, breast feeding- you name it, I was reading about it. I had a very high risk pregnancy and every time I wound up in the labor and delivery part of the hospital, the nurses always asked me if I was a nursing student. I apparently knew what was going on with my body so well, I sounded like a professional. But once Kay was born, I felt like I forgot everything. I remember one afternoon I couldn’t get her to burp after feeding her. I sat there, what felt like forever, doing everything the book said to do, what the nurses recommended and she would just not burp. I called up my husband, who was at work, crying thinking I was a horrible mother. Eventually my mother had to come and help me, and of course she got Kay to burp right away! You’re going to have to experience each stage in the child’s life to figure out how to make it work. No parenting advice, no books, nothing will really show you how it is, until you jump in and tackle it hands on.
2) You will always be paranoid
No matter how old your child(ren) will be, you will ALWAYS be paranoid. No matter where they are, what they’re doing or who they’re with, it’s just a natural feeling. My kid spends a lot of time with my sister who watches her during the summer and after school during the school year, and my sister is amazing. She has 2 kids of her own and she is a great Aunt. Yet when I’m at work, I worry about Kay. Has she has eaten, if she is missing me (99.9% of the time she isn’t) and it’s just something I can’t shake. There’s a saying that says “Having a child is like having your heart walk around outside your chest”. Pretty much sums up the paranoia, no? I mean, my mom still worries about me when I’m sick and I’m 28.
3) Every decision you make is about them
I’ve never been a selfish person (I think), but if you tend to have selfish qualities, trust me when I say all that goes out the window when you have a child. Every decision you make, every calculated event in life, every dollar you earn, becomes about what is best for your child and less about what you want. When I decided to go back to college when Kay was 2 and a half years old, some of the decision making behind it was because I wanted to study again, but also because it was for my daughter’s future. I knew that I was going to have to work once she got older, but it wouldn’t have been possible for me to have a good job if I didn’t have a degree to my name. So when I graduated college, I gave her the biggest hug first. I knew it meant she would have a solid future and a goal to achieve; because if her Mommy could graduate college, it pretty much means she has no excuse not to as well.
4) Your relationship with your spouse will change
There’s no avoiding it. Having a child changes everything in your life and yes, your relationship sees the effects of it. Date nights become less frequent, fights about money happen, romance tends to fizzle. It’s inevitable, but not completely unavoidable. You will see that having extra members of your family does mean you will have to work EXTRA hard in your marriage. And sometimes that isn’t a bad thing. My husband and I only have one child, but we rarely go out alone. When I was working near home, he used to meet me for lunch on his day off and we would sit in the car and spend one hour together just eating and talking. It may not sound fancy, but when schedules are so packed and time is so scarce, I have learned to appreciate the small, intimate moments we have together. We now work hard to make sure we somehow get a few moments alone together, even if it’s just asking our daughter to leave us alone for a little bit.
5) Each year of the child’s life gets better and harder at the same time (for yourself and the child’s)
Now that my daughter is 8, I have just loved being a parent even more. Sometimes, I can’t really remember what it was like to have a little baby or a toddler who could barely make sentences. I’m so used to a “big girl” who I have conversations with about life, religion and books. But what I do remember was loving each year, but also noting how hard it got as she got older. For instance an 8 year old Kay means she can give herself a shower, she can choose what she wants to wear and can keep herself entertained. But an 8 year old Kay also means she understands everything; she has questions about things I don’t know how to answer. Her emotions are more prominent and she has experienced her feelings getting hurt by other people. And as her mom, I have to help her through these times without hovering. I have to let her experience pain or sadness and it is so difficult to do so. My instinct is to hug her, hold her and protect her from every bad, evil thing that will come up in this world but I can’t. She needs to experience some negative things in order for her to learn from them. It’s like when a baby is learning how to walk, and you have to let them fall. Otherwise, how will they know they need to get back up?
So while the toddler years were hard because Kay was teething, going through her terrible twos, it got better because she learned how to walk and I didn’t need to carry her anymore. Just like when she turns 9 *gulp* it will be hard because a part of her might not need me as much and she may experience bullying, but it will get better because her personality will flourish even more and she will be able to defend herself if needed.
My husband and I never decided to have a child, it kind of just happened. We thought it would be fun and trust me, we know how naive that is. We currently don’t have any plans to expand our family because having one daughter (who was born premature too by the way, but that’s another blog post) has been a fun challenge. Allah doesn’t bless a soul with more than they can bear and I always keep that in mind. Our situation in having Kay was a unique one and He knows better what is best for us.
Don’t let anyone or anything scare you from having a kid because the reality is- you will never be 100% ready. You can travel the world, make $500,000 a year and consciously decide to have a child, but the moment you hear the doctor tell you and your spouse “Congratulations you’re pregnant” up until “It’s a boy/girl” everything changes. It’s a beautiful change. You feel like your life, your marriage has purpose.
I know some aren’t blessed with the opportunity to become parents, too. It’s just not in some people’s Qadr. Know that if there isn’t something for you in this life, pray He grants it to you in the next, and always know there is wisdom behind everything.
Whatever you and your spouse decide, be confident in your decision. Yes, the sleepless night happen, you will feel emotional all the time, you will fight over the dumbest things and diapers are expensive. You will question every decision you make regarding schools to religion to whether or not you should go organic. But when your child grows up and they grow up to be a pretty decent person… well I think we will all fully understand why it was all worth it. I’m slowly starting to fully understand this myself.
May Allah grant us all good, pious children and may He reward us for everything we do. Ameen.
By: @mir_mah2 (MW Contributor)