My little guy and me

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It was a hectic day today. I did feel a little too off all through the day due to my health which is downright adamant on not coming back to its usual chirpy state.
By the by, for all those who might not be familiar with this rather significant piece of news, yours truly just gave birth to a baby boy this April, who has been keeping her quite busy of late 🙂

[Now being busy or not- for that matter- does have a most complicated relationship with the heart. For if your heart desires to accomplish something; it will find a way and no amount of lack of time will matter. For there is no such thing as a lack of time as far as my (amateur) study of the matter is concerned. There is however a severe lack of discipline in my life though, the presence of which might very well be the eventual demise of all my dreams. If the demise hasn’t already happened that is. Which could be the case since I am usually not aware of most of the happenings related to my being. And most of the things come to my attention after the damage has already been done; by me or by someone else. Sigh.
BUT BUT BUT I wont go into the details of why this happens here because this has been happening for quite some time now and well; reasons are for the foolish (or the lazy in may case)]

Crux of the story is, the little guy just doesn’t let me brood over the vanity of my life anymore (that I was bent upon doing for the last couple of years or so), which was something I gravely needed but didn’t quite realize before.

He keeps me busy yes, but in a way, this little person has (sort of) renewed my sense of existence in life. My discipline situation has vastly improved (it hasn’t completely gone away I assure you, but yes, it has become better). I care about the sanctity of time now. Or perhaps I’ve started caring about it much more than I ever cared about it before. The joy and love this little being brings to my life is something I can’t even begin to describe here since there are no appropriate words to portray the many emotions he has brought out in me.

Perhaps it is true what they say about babies that are born later in life; that you do appreciate them more. I’ll also add another thing here however. I think when you have these kids, you actually are in need of them— in order to take you back to the self that you’ve somehow lost somewhere. You need them to regain some confidence in the prospect of hope, of that much-touted ray of light at the end of the tunnel, again.

By Maasi Wajo

Spending time with kids

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Family Having Picnic In Countryside

I spend a lot of time with my daughters, which is an added perk of working from home. That said, most of these days what I don’t realize is that time is just passing by, I am there with them, but I am really not there. I am either watching TV (I’m a sucker for good TV shows.. sigh), or reading a book or (the worst) on my phone. Since they both are now more or less independent (one is 12 and the other one is 8) and don’t really need my company as such, I have also stepped aside and have started doing my thing. In a nutshell, I am usually only acting as their supervisor (telling them when to eat, do their homework, brush their teeth, etc.) and not really “in” the moment with them. Though when I really start thinking about it, what’s absolutely baffling is how fast time is passing me by!!

How these girls who don’t need their mommy to do most of their stuff now, were completely dependent on me at one point in their life! Don’t get me wrong, I do feel happy for this, and wish them all the happiness and success in the world… but at times, I also miss all those little moments when they were small. Cute times which are now a part of the past and well, no matter how much I want everything to freeze, time will go on and it should too! 🙂

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It’s just that we being the forgetful human beings that we are usually don’t realize the speed of time when it’s silently going by us. And often suddenly get aware of the fact that we have wasted most of it caught up in a mind numbing daily routine. We get a glimpse of it each year at the New Year’s Eve when we realize how fast the year flies by us—and so we make new resolutions all over again which are then generally packed off for the next year, after a month or so. We don’t realize this most of the times, but we spend our lives exactly in the way that we spend most of our individual days. If there is something we cannot do today, chances are we won’t find the will to do it the next day as well. And sooner than we know, we are fifty and we don’t know where all our life went.

So keeping this in view, one of my New Year resolutions for this year was to spend some quality time with my girls on a daily basis— be it going on shopping with them or going to out to eat together. Things that we have just stopped doing together for reasons I don’t remember now. Perhaps we got a little too busy with life. I haven’t been doing as much as I would like to and a month has already passed, but hey, we still have the whole year ahead of us, don’t we! Keeping my fingers crossed.

I’ll definitely give you all a lowdown on how to spend some quality time with your kids once I figure out some sort of formula myself, but for the most part I’m sure it needs to come from the heart and it needs to be worked on. Keep watching this space for more!

by Maasi Wajo

What if we say ‘yes’?

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As parents and especially as the mighty mothers, each one of us must have found many a moment in our lives when it is much more inevitable to say no to our children than the often scary, yes. Though it often does come to that after a couple of heart wrenching screams and some inevitable drama.

There are times however, where parents should say yes, even if we don’t want to, or if we have no time for anything at all.

I’m pretty sure that if we did something like that the sky wouldn’t fall down. Our children wouldn’t automatically become the worst behaved children in the world and wouldn’t start taking us for granted only because we had said ‘yes’ instead of the usually expected ‘no’.

You see, as mothers we have been conditioned to say ‘no’ to our children, often unintentionally when we find ourselves in the middle of something important, when there is a looming deadline over our head or the popular ‘I’m tired’ excuse (which is not an excuse ladies, I know but let’s just pretend for a moment only for the sake of this discussion!) I, for one, often find myself saying,

I’m really busy right now” or,

“Can we do this later? Mommy is a bit busy?”

“I’m making dinner, cant you see? We can do it some time else”.

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But more often than not, that “later” doesn’t ever come. And time flies by and we keep turning down our kids demands and wishes and before we know it they’re all grown up and we don’t understand what happened to their childhood. Problem is that we don’t really enjoy their childhood when it’s actually happening. We get so busy living our everyday life that we forget that time never stands still— that our children will not remain children forever. So what if we say yes instead of no, next time our kids want us to do something for them, or take them somewhere or just be with them for a while. The little time that we give them brings so much light to their life; we can’t even begin to imagine that sort of happiness.

So I have decided that the next time my kids want me to do something for them, I will try not to listen to the ‘no’ in me and instead will just say ‘yes’. Because I know, in the heart of my hearts that I will never regret it.

The little hugs, the giggles, all those cartoon discussions, those hour late bed times, all those special moments with my kids. These are the things that life is all about. This is when life happens.

I’m sure I’ll not regret saying ‘yes’. I’m sure of that! 🙂

By Maasi Wajo

 

A Stay at Home Mom’s Dilemma

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Time is a rare commodity these days since it’s exam time and trust me, all I want right now is a few hours to myself, with myself, ALONE!! I am getting the feels a wee bit more though, since it’s my 12-year-old daughter’s first go at exams. Normally schools in Lahore begin taking exams right from grade 1, but a few (very considerate) schools including the one my daughters go to, start end of term exams from 7th grade and above. I do like their approach better since it’s given me way more time to relax and chill compared to my friends who’d just go on quarantine as soon as exams would start.

No, I wouldn’t like to change anything about it. I also feel that this approach gives our daughters much more time to grow up, understand, evolve as an individual rather than get into the exam rut when they can hardly tie their shoelaces properly. When you’re taking children as young as 5 into an examination hall, asking them to sit still for an hour or so and concentrate, how do you expect them to perform? They are not supposed to, its time for them to play and be merry. Let them grow up first. Exam can wait. So yes, I’ve always maintained that my preference for this school is firmly rooted in their lenient exam policy above all.

That said, the fact remains; my whole day is spent being a driver for my girls who have very different schedules these days because of the elder one’s exams. Most of the time I’m on the roads and the fact that the school is at a 30-minute ride from my place adds much to the misery. There are days when I can hardly stop and catch my breath for a little while. But I don’t mind much. Hey, I do enjoy the driving (to some extent!)

But that also gives rise to this question that has always been lurking somewhere at the back of my mind. You see, I am an Accountant, I worked for some time but then eventually decided to quit work because I wanted to stay at home to raise my girls. It does unfortunately have a very negative connotation these days but I did not regret my decision once, back then. Now however, I feel that I am constantly being judged for this decision of mine. People don’t say it to my face, but I know they feel it’s odd for me not to be pursuing a career of some sort. They’ve somehow convinced themselves that just because I’ve decided to stay at home, I am “doing nothing” or am a loser of some sort who didn’t get the chance to get up the corporate ladder. I feel that this “doing nothing” phenomenon is what’s the most devastating of all. Only because I’m not adding much to the overall financial figure of my household, does not mean that I am “doing nothing”.

I read. A lot. I’ve taken it upon myself to further educate myself (trust me, there is life beyond organised education). In my commuting hours I usually listen to philosophy podcasts and am reading Camus these days. I also write; I contribute to a couple of literary journals on a freelance basis. So just because I don’t go out, sit in a cubicle nine hours a day to achieve someone else’s goals, doesn’t mean I am “doing nothing” and “wasting myself”. What is the exact definition of wasting yourself anyway? I am sorry if this sounded too harsh but trust me; I have been subjected to harsher verdicts only because I’ve decided not to join the rat race.

It’s just that my priorities right now are just different; or maybe my personality is, I don’t know. But I’m happy doing what I am; it’s as plain and as simple as that. I don’t understand why people have to underestimate or berate people who are doing something different from them. One of the things I shall never be able to understand I guess.

Anyway, bottom line is, just live and let live. You do your own thing and I’ll do mine. Why judge people when you don’t know their story? Be happy and contented with whatever you do/ whoever you are/ wherever you are in life and that’s what should matter the most. Even if that means playing with your cats or driving your kids to and from school; it’s the little things after all!

Maasi Wajo

My Beloved

By Maasi Saba

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After six years, my dua was finally answered when I became pregnant with my fourth child.  I was so happy because I had always wanted four kids. It’s just a nice round number.  I prayed all through out my pregnancy for the baby to be a girl.  I wanted 2 and 2. And alhumdulilah again, my dua was answered.  When I actually had my baby girl, I  was sort of in a daze. I remember the ward being overly crowded because many women were there for several reasons, and there were renovations being done at the hospital.  My kids were having their midterms, and i remember dropping them off and then driving to the hospital.  It was December, and the weather was bringing me down.  It was the first time I felt any sort of depression after giving birth.  My siblings were arriving for our youngest brother’s wedding.  All of our kids were having a ball chasing each other around the house, which I think helped me to not sink further into a depressing mood. I even went out of the way and called up my brother saying, I am overwhelmed with the baby, the weather, and getting the kids ready for their exams to come to your wedding.  I wanted to relax during those days since the exams would be done. Lol!  He thought i was insane.  I did manage to get to his wedding which was here Lahore.  I got their late. Made  a sloppy entrance and was dazed meeting everyone and handing my child over to relatives who wanted to see her. Since I was the groom’s sister, I was supposed to be needed elsewhere.  I showed my face, and then I left early with my kids because I still had to pack our suitcases because I was supposed to be following the Barat out of the city.  Well, my dear Chachu (Uncle), came to my house in his empty car and had to wait a little while longer because my little one had leaked, and my other kids were running around excited to be going to Nana’s house for a few days.  I think the rest of the wedding is a blur. I was there physically.  I wish I was in better health and state of mind, but oh well. It wasn’t my wedding, so it’s okay.  Whenever my brother says anything to me I always remind him that I was there!!!!! It should be enough.  

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Fast forward and it is three years later and my little darling is learning a lot of english, (courtesy of her cousin from Pennsylvania).  She has responses for everything! And sometimes I’m just amazed because my other three kids weren’t this vocal and confident.  I guess, daayr ayee daroost ayee. Or something like that.  She is one of those kids who knows everything about our cell phones and ipads.  I seriously didn’t know about a few things but this one likes to press everything and open everything and voila, she has discovered something else.  She is also one of those selfie addicts as well.  Or, hmm, I’m not sure if it qualifies as selfies.  I have put a lock on my phone because a few times in the past, she had called some of my friends and siblings overseas at odd times and finished my balance.  Then she also likes to delete apps and pictures I don’t want her to do.  And who can forget the many times she has disabled my phone.  Sometimes she makes me frustrated. But then she tells me that she was just trying to see something or she was trying to do something to help me, and then I can’t stay mad long.  She is my baby after all.

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One of her favorite past times other than going through her siblings’ drawers for some treasure, is to take pictures.  Sometimes when I finally get my hands on my phone, I have about 40 pictures.  Some are bursts of 14, or even 30 pictures of absolutely nothing.  Sometimes its half of her head, or the fan above her head,  or its her feet, or the walls or the floor.  There are just so many pictures that she is amazed at her talent.  My little doll knows how to change the tone and the style of her pictures so usually they aren’t so boring.  These days, when she sees that the camera app is open, she asks if we need to smile quickly.  I wanted to share some pictures she took the other day.  In one, she cut my head off, which was very considerate of her since she should know I hate having my pictures taken.  She did ask me to smile, which I did, but hey, she is too smart to bother me with cropping my head off.  The next is the classic pic of her socks and shoes.  She loves taking pictures of her bed, my bed and the walls.  She’s an amateur photographer.  It made me smile at how amazing life is when you have a toddler to share it with.  

My adorable baby girl, is no longer a baby, but she is my youngest, kissable, and huggable being.  I have those off days when she tires me out, but alhumdulillah, the good outweigh the bad.  And even now, when I stop occasionally to think about what to write next, she insists I type the ABC’S quickly as possible.  For those who have kids, we have all been told to sit back and enjoy them.  To take each moment with them and cherish them because soon they will be too old to sit with us.  It’s amazing how some people do exactly that.  But I am not one of those people.  Well not yet.  I’m not sure if I ever will be. I would love to be one of those people. But I am not sure I’m built that way.  But I am trying. So I must end this because she wants to watch her mickey mouse show right now. Even though she should be asleep at this moment, she is resting her head on my arm and waiting impatiently for me to stop my work and put her show on.  

So enjoy her pictures. I hope they put a smile on your face like they did on mine.  Kids are kids!  May Allah SWT guide them to be good muslims, and protect them from all harm.  

R.E.S.P.E.C.T

Teaching-respect

The other day I was waiting for my turn at the books shop in Gulberg when something disturbing happened. It didn’t happen to me personally, but it has an affect on me. Thinking about it now, I am disappointed with myself for not voicing my opinion on the matter when the incident occurred. Rudeness and arrogance is very common in our society. Our beloved Prophet (S) had stated to remain humble in our dealings and in our behavior, and that arrogance would just lead to life in misery in the here after.

As a mother, I felt humiliated because this is something we have to teach our children daily. It was a slap in the face that maybe we aren’t doing a good job as we had thought. My sons go to an esteemed school and they have picked up some bad  habits. When they show this arrogance, I reprimand them on the spot. I also make it a point to remind them what they did was wrong a few more times, hopefully it will sit in their heads for future reference. 

This girl must have been 16 years old, give or take a year. She was waiting at the counter for the salesman to attend to her. It is true that I wasn’t there when the girl arrived. And I have no clue how long she had been waiting for someone to assist her.  It was chaos at the bookshop as many adults and children were trying to get their school supplies. These last few weeks are crazy everywhere, if not in bookshops or uniform shops, it’s on the roads in front and around these places. Usually we are in a bad mood, or short tempered because of the chaos. Yes it is annoying to have to wait for someone to help you. But everyone else there is in the same boat as you. So give some leeway. So as I was saying, this girl was waiting at the counter, and I was standing behind the woman who was being helped by the salesman. When he finally gave the lady her bill and freed himself from serving her, he turned to the girl. He knew who was to be served next. I moved up to the counter with my slip. She spoke very rudely to this man who must have been her father’s age. She said that she had been waiting for a long time and he wasn’t helping her. He kindly stated that he had to finish with the other customer and give her the bill before he could help someone else. She looked at him and rudely said, “Whatever!” I just looked at her gaping. The salesman looked at her and was hurt and after a little while his mood turned bitter. But yet, he still was kind and helped her.

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My mind started to wonder at thoughts that really shook me up. I will tell you honestly, that if it that was my child and he/she responded in that manner, I’d just smack them upside the head, and scold them repeatedly. “You can’t be rude to him. Who told you you could be rude to anyone let alone your elder?!” These are the things that would have come out of my mouth at the given time. I realize the lifestyle in Pakistan is different than what I was accustomed to growing up with. In the U.S., you don’t have servants waiting on you at all times, unless you are rich. If one can, a cleaner comes in once or twice a week and does your cleaning. The rest is up to you. Here, we have help for every chore, and for everyday of the week. People come in to clean our houses, do our laundry, cook for us, and help watch our children. We can hire gardeners, drivers and guards. Someone is always there to clean whatever dishes we just dirtied, or pick up the clothes we have thrown on the floor. Most people take advantage of these people. They are after all people. I feel some of us have taught our children to talk down to the help. That includes salesmen and women. I have heard children talk rudely to their drivers and maids, and when they are in the shops, they are quite rude there too. I personally don’t like this behavior. We are all equal, and we all should treat each other with respect. I don’t allow my children to talk disrespectfully to any of our servants. They always get a scolding from me if I hear them doing so. But how do I stop this from happening again and again, inside or outside the home.

As a nation, we need to correct this problem because it happens everywhere and all the time, I am sad to admit. Yes, there are times when I am angry or very upset with my domestic help. But most of the time, I speak to them nicely but firmly. I can actually say that I have yelled 5 times in the past 15 years to my help. That is also not good of me.

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Respect is earned, it is given, it is supposed to be an automatic response when dealing with anyone. If we as adults, and as mothers, show respect to others even when it is hard because they have messed something up, or spoken rudely to us, we show this response to our children and it will make a difference. Slowly, but surely, we can make Pakistan a country people will want to live in. Everyone is usually in a bad mood here.  Heat, blackouts, water shortages, and unruly traffic are some things that add to our daily hardships. So when we go out to run errands, our dyer, or the traffic police, the salesman or vendor, or just a random person on the road does something to us which makes us angry, we respond. We respond with gestures, we respond with name calling.  We sometimes respond but cutting them off, or beeping our horns repeatedly.  We can do the worst bit by demeaning them, and that makes us feel better. Well, it shouldn’t. We should feel horrible at even thinking about this stuff. Living in this world is not easy. Being a constant role model is even harder I think. But, we need to change ourselves, can’t we?

Show some respect to one another and our children will do the same. Show some leniency and our children will follow our lead. We are human, we will mess up, and we will continue to do this. Inshallah, we will not repeat our same mistakes.  But respect is key. 

By Maasi Saba

The Homework Dilemma!

By Maasi Wajo

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So now that Ramzaan is officially over and Eid has come and gone, life has or is supposed to come back to normal. It is a little hard thinking that most of us only have around a month of vacations left to enjoy, not to mention, get done with kids’ homework— which in this case hasn’t even taken off as of yet. I am struggling with time and motivation and what not. How do I manage kids’ holiday homework, start preparing for the school year ahead and keep myself sane along the process? That is the million-dollar question that incessantly presents itself to me every year. Since procrastination has been a personal predicament since time unknown, I have managed to come up with a couple of time management tips to make the most of the little time that I’m often left with… especially in this case.

  • After I finish this write up and post it on the blog, the first thing that I am going to do is to prepare a (realistic) plan for the kids’ homework…. keeping our regular activities in view. I don’t know about you but I am a very paper and pen kind of a person. Planning is imperative for me. In a way, all I do is plan but that is a story best left for some other time. Lol. A good way would be to divide all the homework according to the days left and do two/three pages per day (in case of younger kids) and in case of the older ones, ask them how much time they need for each assignment. Write that down and hold them to it. Make sure they achieve their day’s target before they indulge in anything else.

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    My planner.
  • For doing holiday homework my tried and tested segment of the day is Morning time, hands down. Kids are at their freshest, mommies are at their happiest and well, there’s a joyful aura to mornings, which is simply unmatched. My strategy is to just get done with the day’s homework right after breakfast so that I have rest of the day to myself. I work from home and seriously need a little chunk of time to myself to concentrate on my own assignments. I’ve also realised that once I am done with the hardest task first thing in the morning, I can spend the rest of the day anyway I want.

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    Books, books, books!
  • A SEPARATE PLACE for the kids to work. My kids know that when mommy gets serious about holiday homework she moves that big coffee table (the one we don’t use much) to their room. There is a designated corner in their room for that table. I set all their homework stuff on it. And the day I do this, my kids know mommy’s serious about their homework. We’ve been doing this for the last two years. It is science at work here you guys, nothing less. Hah! So yeah, make sure you can get them to study somewhere they can easily concentrate and a place they can associate with homework.

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    Kids at work!
  • I will also try and prepare a few meals ahead in the next two/three days; refrigerate them in small portions so I do not have to worry about khana— especially when I’m helping my younger daughter with her Urdu homework. Lol. Trust me, this can be very handy at times.

Last but not the least,I try to reassure myself that this too shall pass—that I have managed this before and I will be able to manage it again; and that I will survive. I try to stick to this little régime of mine, I do. This year we aren’t travelling. Last year we were and we left after Ramzaan, hence I couldn’t really do all this fancy stuff. I literally had less than a couple of weeks to get done with all the kids’ homework and don’t ask how I managed it all without going absolutely crazy. Seriously, the earlier you get done with it the better it is, but this write-up is mainly for those of you lazy mommies out there(like myself) who wait till after Ramzaan and Eid to get started with the terrors of holiday homework. We still have a month left if we start from today (presuming you guys aren’t travelling) and well all we need is a little bit of time management, thing that I have literally been struggling with all my life. But. We’ll get there, we will!

Let me know how you guys are handling the pressures of homework. I can definitely use a tip or two!