MOM STORIES : Shehwar Fatima

So excited to have a good friend and a super-inspiring mom in the first post in this series. (Read about the series here.) I have always admired this lady’s positivity and the way her voice brims with almost-excitement as she talks about motherhood and its challenges. She makes the perfect mom to begin this with! Enjoy:)

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I am Shehwar Fatima, residing in Redmond, Washington. But my first home will always be Karachi, Pakistan where I was born and raised.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF/YOUR FAMILY

I am a stay-at-home-mom. We are a family of five. My husband and I have three kids. Tahira is 12, Nabeeha is 8 and Ali is 5 years old.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT BEING A MOM/WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGING PARTS FOR YOU?

There’s this quote which is one of my favorites, it says “The moment a child is born, a mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is absolutely new.” Isn’t this beautiful? So with that said, the experience of being a mother also grows as your child grows. The very first favorite thing that I discovered was the amount of love that comes with the child. It is unparalleled  to any other types of love. We love a lot of people in our life, but a mother’s love is something totally different. The second favorite thing about being a mother is the amount of learning that is involved in the process of teaching/disciplining and dealing with difficult situations with your kids. It is not a smooth sail so of course I have my moments of meltdown too but I think I have learned so much about myself and I am constantly re-evaluating my parental skills because I have three kids and  each one brings new challenges to the table.  My one child is strong willed, and the other is very emotional so I have to cater to both of their needs. The third one is a kindergartener who wants to go his way ALL THE TIME! 🙂 I have learned that one technique doesn’t apply to all kids equally. There are some core values that remain constant but some things have to be dealt with differently according to that child’s personality. As they are growing, their conversations and opinions are getting matured too. I have so much fun talking to my girls. I want to hear what they have to say and it also helps me understand their unique personalities. I find so much happiness when I see my two girls at play because I never had a sister, so when I see them I just feel so happy that they have each other.

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ANYTHING THAT YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM YOUR PARENTS THAT YOU WANT TO PASS ON TO YOUR KIDS?

When I think about my parents, there are many traits that stand out… My father, may he rest in peace, was a very gentle soul, lover of nature and had belief in humanity in general. One of the best things about him was that, he was not prejudiced at all!  Not a speck of it! It was remarkable. He had total respect for diversity in people and respected all races and all religions. He believed that everyone should have full freedom to practice whatever one wants. I try my best to practice this myself and incarnate this in my children because in today’s world we all need a whole lot of tolerance and acceptance for each other. My mom, on the other hand, is such a great role model for me. She effortlessly deals with difficult situations and comes out stronger every time. It is hard to narrow down on one single thing, but if there is one thing that I would take from my mom and teach it to my kids then it would definitely be self sufficiency. She is so good at making the most of what she has without looking up to anyone. She is so confident about her choices and I think it is a great thing for a woman to have.

HOW DO YOU FIND TIME FOR YOURSELF? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE ‘ME-TIME’ ACTIVITIES?

I feel that its imperative to make some time for yourself if you are a mother. It keeps you sane and you feel happy when you indulge in activities that you like. It makes you a more calmer mother. I know it is not always easy to make this time, but once in a while, it is a MUST thing to do. My favorite me-time is reading a good book with chai OR a long bath! I also love spending time with my girlfriends. They are big part of my life and act as major de-stresser 🙂 They are lifesavers literally!

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WHAT ROLE DOES YOUR FAITH PLAY IN YOUR PARENTING?

Faith plays a very important part in our household. I will be honest here, it wasn’t always like this, especially on my part because my husband was always good at performing his daily prayers but I wasn’t that regular. The key thing in this issue is how both spouses demonstrate faith in daily life. Even if one spouse has more inclination towards religion, the other will eventually follow. It is very easy to talk about religion and having a complete faith in your religion, but physically practicing it is another story and that’s where I was weak, particularly with daily prayers. So I still have this thing in mind that I want my kids to do better than me in this area of life. If you believe in God than why leave the necessary duties? Of course we fall short on many things and cannot be perfect but I totally believe in trying the best that you can and leaving the rest to God. He knows our strengths and weaknesses and sees our struggles too. Every now and then I bring up different topics about religion because I want my kids to exchange ideas and thoughts without any fear, to ask questions if any. I also like to promote God’s kindness more than God’s wrath. I cannot stress enough on this because if you see, a lot of people mention more of God’s wrath and Hell than His kindness and mercy. The current topic of discussion in our house these days is how to balance religion and this world. So the idea is how important it is to be a good human being AND do your daily duties. Both go hand-in-hand. It is not enough to do, for example, just prayers and fast and not be a good person. Both are very important. Last but not the least is to teach religion to kids without bringing down other faiths. I detest the idea when some people try to prove every other religion wrong to make yours look good. How are we going to teach tolerance that way? Showing respect and accepting diversity is huge part of religion too. And it largely contributes to becoming a good person in God’s eye.

AS AN IMMIGRANT DO YOU SOMETIMES WISH TO MOVE BACK? HOW DO YOU COMPARE LIFE IN YOUR BIRTH COUNTRY TO THE ONE YOU HAVE HERE?

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I think I used to wish to move back, but not anymore. I know its a sad thing to say about your country but its the truth for me. It certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t love Pakistan. It’s just that life there is different than what I remember growing up. It’s not the same, and the situation keeps deteriorating. I think our generation has seen one of the good days. Me and my family are Shia-Muslims, so security is a major cause of concern. I think any minority in Pakistan is not safe today. I constantly worry about my family members in Pakistan, as month of Moharram gets closer, anxiety levels increase with every day. When I was young, we didn’t have these insecurities, but today lives are literally in danger. My childhood memories of Pakistan are amazing! and too bad my kids cannot experience that. That’s the sad part. But you know what, we are going to Pakistan this December and my kids cannot wait!!! They long to go to Pakistan. They understand the good, the bad and the ugly but still they want to go. We always made regular trips to Pakistan when my kids were little, so they have this bond and love for the place. Their Urdu speaking skills get better which is a great thing. If I compare my life here in US from Pakistan, I think there are pros and cons. In America, you are free to do anything and as a woman its a huge plus. I like how people here are polite and not nosy. You really miss that in Pakistani social environment. But in Pakistan you have family, cousins to have fun with. Here I have to plan for kids activities, play dates etc. As they grow, it becomes challenging to find friends their age. You are lucky if you have a circle where the age group is similar. Cousin factor is a huge negative here. I have a very close knit family, and my time spent with my cousins is the most memorable time of my childhood. My kids don’t have this going in their lives. I feel lucky to have a great group of friends but still family is family, there is something very special about it. Last but not the least is the sense of security and everyday peace of mind that we experience here in US. You go to Pakistan and you feel lost in chaos. Still, I love my Pakistan so much! I accept it with both its ugliness and beauty.

WHAT ARE YOUR DREAMS FOR YOUR CHILDREN?

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Frankly, there are no dreams. As parents, me and my husband try to give them general right direction, core moral values and best education that we can give and hopefully they will take that and carve their own paths.

ANY ADVICE FOR OTHER MOMS OR ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE?

Wish there was a code for parenting that one could crack 🙂 but there isn’t any! Mothers have very strong instincts, so they should just follow what their hearts say. One cannot perfect this skill but it gets better and better with time. Like every child is different, parenting styles are different too. It is not necessary what we think as a parent is always right. So judging must stop.

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Thank you so much Shehwar for sharing your thoughts and beautiful photos.

Thanks for reading and lots of love.

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