Mama of two

white black and red person carrying heart illustration in brown envelope

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One of my brothers asked me today what it’s like having two kids. My first response was “Someone is always crying.” Then I added, “But it’s really cute when they play together.”

And that is a summary of my life, as a mama of two. Mama guilt doesn’t leave. It just multiplies, and grows extra heads. And then even the mama-guilt-extra-heads start fighting with each other. And please don’t say – “But your mum had six kids, you only have two!” because that, my friends, is a WHOLE OTHER STORY. #don’tgothere #twoisplenty

Cute moments in the car: My baby in her car seat, trying to lean forward to take a peek at her big sis. Big sis making funny faces and voices, making baby sis laugh and smile.

Not so-cute moments in the car: Trying really, really hard to do breathing exercises and stay calm in KL traffic while either Baby 1 or 2 is crying, or when both are.

I love, love, love Dr Laura Markham’s Peaceful Parenting approach. Deep thanks to Fareena Alam for sharing the Aha! Parenting website with me, all those tiring years ago ❤ If you enjoy Janet Lansbury’s Respectful Parenting, then you’ll like Dr Laura Markham’s approach too.  I just find Aha! Parenting’s three principles a lot easier to apply on a day-to-day basis. This is a nice cheat sheet to stick on the wall or – even better – memorise. The test is remembering to apply it all in the heat of the moment, when there are tears and screaming. But hey, the joy of kids is that every day, they give you LOTS of opportunities to practice lol.

I’ve definitely noticed that it’s easier for Taskeen to cooperate with me when she feels connected to me. Getting her to giggle helps her let go of tension and then she’ll say “O-kay, Mama.” Because she’s so spirited, trying to strong-arm or yell at her doesn’t work anyway. She’s compelled us to up our game, since she was very little. So we’ve been asking her “What’s the solution?” since she could understand and respond. But the hilarious downside of that is her sometimes saying, with whole-body scorn, “That is not a good idea!” lol. Irfan and I want her to be a trouble-shooter and a problem-solver, so one of the mantras I repeat to her is, “We’re a problem-solving family!” I read somewhere that the opposite of blame is problem-solving. I like that.

Little Husna is almost 7 months and has found her voice!!! She recently discovered coughing, now that she’s trying out solids. And she proudly showed me how she could cough, then she grinned. And then Taskeen started coughing too, just to show that she’s still the boss. Haha. OH MY BABIES.

 

Lunch Ticket will publish my writing!

Alhamdulilah, I’m thrilled to share that Lunch Ticket will be publishing three of my flash prose creative non-fiction writing pieces ❤ I’ll share the link once it’s up.

My acceptance letter looked like this:

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I don’t have an MFA, and am likely to be many years away from that, given the intensity of the early years of mothering small children….so aaaah I am so excited they loved my writing! Lunch Ticket is a literary and art journal from the MFA community at Antioch University Los Angeles. Aaaah!!

I edited and submitted those pieces at around 2 am in the morning a few days ago, after writing them up in the precious snippets of free time that I do have. And yes, I paid for it the next day by being so groggy while my 3 year old was jumping around, and while my 6 month old needed to be fed and changed. But ah, the joy of that acceptance letter really does make it feel worthwhile. Buuuut I do have a life goal of sleeping before 11 pm every night so that I don’t end up having adrenal fatigue and/or cranky mama syndrome. #goodluckraidah #nightowl #writingwhenIshouldbesleeping

Thank you, Sharon Bakar, for believing my creative non-fiction writing!

If you’re an exhausted mama writer, know that your words matter! Even if it takes a billion attempts, with a million interruptions….don’t give up. You and your stories are worth it.

Creative Rainbow Mama

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[Note: I wrote this 2 months ago]

Husna turned 3 months! Alhamdulilah, can’t believe it’s already been 12 weeks. I’m writing this while Taskeen is in the garden and Husna is napping. Let’s see how far I get.

I took this picture a few Wednesdays ago. That was one blissful morning of reading, journalling and sipping on tea – alone. And of course, eating a gigantic meal because breastfeeding hunger is real.

If your’e a creative mama who wonders if she’ll ever write/paint/craft/sculpt again – READ THIS BOOK. I can’t stress that enough. You’ll probably be interrupted and it’ll take you a while to get through it, but it’s so worthwhile.

Thank you, Lucy Pearce, for writing such a wonderful, paradigm-shifting and nourishing book. It made me realise the most commonly known mother archetype, Earth Mother, is not better or worse than the lesser known archetype – Creative Rainbow Mother. I still love to nurture my daughters, bake, cook and so on….I just also really crave and need that quiet time and space to nurture my own creativity. I’m a lot less cranky afterwards.

I remember wondering if I would ever write again, when Taskeen was first born. I did get to journal, and still do, but I guess I was really shocked at how little time I had left over for writing. I’ve realised now the key to writing while in the trenches of newborn life (and now, newborn and toddler life) is flexibility. And lots of self-compassion. Take what you can get! 10 minutes of writing is better than nothing at all. But on those super bad days when it’s meltdown after meltdown…it’s OK to just rest, recover, and prepare of the next day.

Second-time around, with Husna, I’m a lot more accepting of the shocking newborn stage. Surprisingly, the hardest adjustment hasn’t been the sleep deprivation. It’s Taskeen’s very strong feelings about her sister. There are the heart-melting “Awwww!” moments, and there are the “Don’t do that!” moments. My spirited toddler has very, very strong feelings, and every day, I get a lot of opportunities to help her learn how to cope. (This is motherspeak for EVERY DAY FEELS SO LONG AND WHEN WILL IRFAN COME HOME?!) Sigh. Emotional regulation. So important.

Are you also a Creative Rainbow Mama? How do you carve out time to create? Drop me a line. I would love to hear your story.

It’s a girl!

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Alhamdulilah, I gave birth to my second baby girl, Husna Aminah Binti Mohamed Irfan at 12:56 am, Friday, 12th January 2018. She was 40 weeks and 10 days, a solid 3.53 kg, and 52 cm long ❤

For any mamas looking for a gentle birth-supportive hospital, I highly recommend Dr Bheena and her Columbia Asia PJ team of nurses and midwives. Dr Bheena was hands-off and supportive enough to respect my birth plan, trust my birthing instincts, leaving me and my amazing Pak Bidan/birth coach husband, Irfan, to birth my baby.

I really recommend Hafsa Hasan’s wonderful holistic care for any fear release exercises and homeopathic support. After weeks of having my baby’s head being engaged and in position, all it took was one session with Hafsa on Tuesday, and I gave birth to Husna early on Friday morning. Woo! She does Skype consultations for anyone outside KL.

Husna is almost one month old, and I’m trying to nap when I can during the day. I’m so grateful for the support of my mum and mum-in-law – they help keep my 2.5 year old daughter entertained so I can rest.

It’s still early days in this precious and exhausting fourth trimester, and after putting my feet up, getting my painful and healing postnatal massages, heat pack treatment, herbal washes, belly-binding etc I’m starting to feel a lot better.

Which brings me to my next point – HOW DOES ANYONE RECOVER WITHOUT CONFINEMENT CARE???? IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?

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My next question – HOW DOES ANYONE HAVE MORE THAN TWO CHILDREN??

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Sigh. Work in progress, work in progress. Learning to juggle life with a newborn and a toddler is truly a laboratory of patience-making. I guess the difference this time is that I know the painful stages will end…only to be replaced by something else lolol.  And then my toddler and newborn smile at me and I’m mush again. Haha. I live for them squishy smiles. Ahh smelling my newborn’s head makes all that sleep deprivation worth it.

If you’re pregnant, want to be pregnant, or just are curious about all things related to babies and birth, check out some of my favourite resources:

101 Tips For Having A Natural Childbirth

Spinning Babies

Gentle Beginnings Doula Services

 

On motherhood and writing

So….it’s been a while. Much has happened. In short, motherhood is decimating, on so many levels, especially with a spirited toddler.  Please don’t tell me, “Wait til she becomes a teenager!” I will strangle you with my mind.

My pre-motherhood writing practice: Daily, disciplined, at my desk, mug of tea, nature sounds playing in the background.

Current writing practice: WHAT PRACTICE!? WHAT DESK?

Haha. I kid you. I do have a desk. I’m just not there as much as I’d like to be. Right now, I take what I get. Much like a starving person and scraps of food. Motherhood has shown me how much of an introvert I really am, and how much writing helps me surface for much-needed air.

I loved these articles:

  1. Freelancing with a Family: How to Balance Your Work and Your Kids
  2. Yes, It Is Possible to Write a Novel With Small Children Hanging On You
  3. Making Time to Write When You Have Young Children: Mission Impossible?

This post really resonates with me: After Page One: Claiming Space. So beautiful and so real. There is no perfect writing room for me, either – but I make do what with I have.

My daughter spurs my creativity, as much as I need to work around her. I write this as my toddler woke up from sleep. My husband brought her down to have breakfast. She’s in a good mood this morning, so that buys me approximately 10-20 minutes, before she starts calling for me once my husband leaves for work. Go, Raidah, go!

If you’re a writing parent, especially a writing mum, I’d love to hear your thoughts. How do you find time and energy to write? What helps? What doesn’t help? How do you balance forgiving yourself for not writing as much as you’d like, alongside celebrating your small victories?

Some blog ideas I’m playing with, as I resurrect my blog from the abyss of mothering a toddler:

  • Book review on N.K. Jemisin’s incredible Broken Earth trilogy.
  • Book review on Zen Cho’s Sorcerer To the Crown.
  • Reflections on reading my poetry at my sister’s chapbook launch.
  • I finally submitted my poetry manuscript to the wonderful Ethos Books!

I’m open to suggestions. Leave a comment and share your thoughts 🙂

February 2017

….already? RIS is around the corner! My todder is almost 20 months. SubhanAllah. Time flies.

I love these reads:

  1. Surviving as an Introverted Mother
  2. 5 Strategies to Help Introvert Parents Maintain Their Sanit

One really amazing piece of advice by Anse Tamara Gray: recharge during the hour before Fajr, and the hour after. Now that is a goal worth aspiring to! That’s only really possible if I sleep early.

Pre-baby: Ah, how I love the long, uninterrupted hours of night! I can write lyrical prose and poetry and [insert whatever else that used to happen]

Post-baby: Must. Sleep. Zzzzz

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