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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Torn



I'm breaking a rule here. I'm posting just for the heck of it, and I'm putting down an unedited rant.


Why is motherhood so scary? I am scared so often... almost all the time, in fact. Sometimes explicitly so, sometimes latently. There are so many moments when I wonder why the heck I got into this. What possessed me to court this fear, to open my arms and welcome this perpetual terror onto my doorstep? Why the heck didn't I see even a little bit of what was coming? It was such a massive decision - to have a child. How could we have made it on the basis of factors like tradition and my biological clock? I remember a conversation with Azfar in which I asked him what he thought I may bring to his family by way of contribution to the home life (in other words, how I may play a role in making his parents' lives richer and happier). He replied, "Give them a grandchild?" It was only a half serious answer (yes, equal emphasis on 'serious' as on 'half') but that was a factor too, in our decision to have a child. How could I think that it was a good idea to give birth so that other people would be happy? Sometimes you gotta wonder at yourself.

I cannot enumerate the number of times that I want to run. Growing up is beautiful but this part right here? The part where I'm somehow wholly responsible for another human being's success and well-being? This is not beautiful. Not for me, at least. I'm just too worn down by the constant fear.

I'm afraid that my sons will lose a parent early. This is an entirely real fear, if not a rational one. I'm worried all the time that Suleiman will turn out badly and it'll obviously be because of me. I'm worried that I don't want to spend as much time with my child as I should, as his mother. I'm worried that I don't do enough... that I will never do enough for him. I'm terrified of myself and of my propensity for anger at him. The very thought that he might be bullied by others makes me sick to my stomach. I wish I'd given birth to a less opaque child. Instead there is this fragile creature sitting in that playpen - an unfathomable personality: painfully shy and yet wonderfully social, very bright but unfocused, sensitive as hell but intent on doing whatever the hell he wants. This is a child who responds to praise by immediately and deliberately turning whatever he's doing on its head: by turning right into wrong. He'll seem not to understand the simplest thing until I'm shouting it out to him - whatever rotten, ridiculous principle it is - and he'll just smile at me, his eyes growing larger with each harsh word, and he still won't get it. And then two, three days later he'll bring up the same thing, which I don't even remember anymore, and he'll tell me the right answer. He knew it all along, see? He understood all along, but for some strange, unknown reason he didn't want me to see that.

I am afraid of never being able to understand my child; never being able to pin down his personality and say, "That's him, and therefore this is what I must do to be a successful parent." There are too many contradictions in him and in me. And if his own mother can't understand him, how the heck will anyone else? He will be bullied, I'm sure of it, and I will not be there to protect him. I'm afraid of loss of control. I wish I could run. Every day, these days, I wish I could run.

Why is motherhood supposed to be natural? If we are inherently selfish beings, then how can it be natural to live for someone else? How is it natural to be scared all the time? My friend told me that our bodies are biologically geared towards reproduction, and that nature has not catered for what will happen to the woman's body after it has given birth. In a way, we start dying the day we produce a child. And I can feel that - that closing in of the walls, the panic of having signed up for something that cannot be backed out of, the sinking feeling of knowing that actually I don't really matter anymore. He's the future. And the future is in my hands. Most days I just don't feel up to being a hero. So, what am I, then? What am I? What is the price that must be paid for seeing this through? What is the cost if I don't?

18 comments:

  1. Oh Afia, I couldn't hav said it all better myself. I am turning I to a bully of a mother and can see my son thinking he doesn't like hanging out with me. I vet impatient and tsk and tut and yell at things that I want him to get right. I have inside all those chafing fears you have described. I can't comprehend that I'm not going to be let out of this till I'm too old to enjoy anything else. I don't know why we didn't see all this coming and why no one told us a out this. What I do know is that most of this bad behaviour on my part as a mother is bc I need a break. I don't even use the time off I have from him everyday to do what I please. And I notice that I yell more and am more testy when I am tense about other things. But I recently expresse this to my sister (mother of 3, worst treated,arguably, by my mom when she was a child) and she said to me: cut it out. Take your tension Nd ghussa out on the people it belongs to. She told me I was bullying my son simply bc he's smaller than me and I can - basically illustrating to him that might is right. I've done a few searches on anger and found this is a normal phase. We do need to and we can conquer this. We need more support from our spouses and we need to protect our children from ourselves. We cannot teach them to rage. They are here not only bc we decided to bring them into this world; they are here bc they were Willed to be here by an Entity far more powerful than us. They will be our friends when we grow older. And this too will look beautiful then. You said growing up is beautiful, but not this part that's happening right now. Well, the thing is, it's only ever beautiful in retrospect - we like having endured difficulty and survived, won. I want to send you this with a huge hug of total comprehension. You need a break. But a break will not be enough. You need to reach inside for more strength and rely on Allah to take care of the fears. He will have to. He does for everyone. This is all typed on my phone - pls excuse typos.

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    1. With all apologies and commiserations for poor Yaseen, MAN am I glad to know that I'm not alone in this. You're right: a break is needed, even if it's impossible to actually take one.

      I don't know if it's so much about me being angry with other people and taking it out on the kids. My mistake is that I keep expecting adult-like behaviour of them. I'm shouting because they didn't listen to what I told them three times today and have been telling them for the past seven months... you know what I'm saying? I'm shouting because even as I'm shouting, they're doing exactly what I'm shouting at them not to do. And because I refuse to think of them as not yet fully formed (ergo fundamentally impaired) I lose it. Maybe that's where the fuse lies, which needs to be put out before it reaches the TNT. Maybe I just need to tell myself right at that moment: "He is repeatedly risking electrocution because he thinks the switch is JUST. TOO. EXCITING. Put yourself in his shoes!"

      Poor Azfar helps out a lot in the house but the real issue is, of course, that there is never any distance between me and the kids. Ergo, as you said, a break is what is needed.

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  2. There's so much to discuss in this blog that I wish we were face to face. We must talk about this one day.

    But for now...your point about not being able to pin down his personality...thank goodness. He is evolving, just like you. There's no one personality to pin down and understand. And as much as we would like to believe...their future is NOT entirely in our hands...barely is actually. In nature vs nurture...nature wins.

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    1. For now, I'm taking the creative route out. Incorporating this into my writing.

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    2. Yes Nature Wins. Tum ne Awara nahi dekhi kiya?

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    3. Main ne to kuch bhi nahin dekha, dude. I am a loser at films.

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  3. Does not wanting a child make me a bad person ? I'm 30 and i don't have any kids. I might have one in a future but I dont think i want one. I love kids, i really do and everyone keeps telling me how good i am with them. But i've seen too many children turn out badly and thats my greatest fear - of failing as a mother, of not being good enough.I understand this "fear" you speak about. And i feel that fear too and so I do not want a child. Will my decision make people feel i'm a bad person. But i'm not. Honestly. I'm just too scared. It seems like a very big risk to take.
    And for a chronic worrier like me, it's just does not seem like a good idea to have kids.

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    1. I know someone else who opted not to have kids for similar reasons. She said she was too scared to get into it. Personally, I think you lot are way smarter than me! One should go into it with eyes open, not with dreamy notions of completing one's family and so on.

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  4. Hi

    I am a regular follower of your blog.And got married 6 months ago.When i asked my husband the question of what would make him happy.He too replied with the same answer.Giving his parents grandchildren.Well i was not ready initially and had a miscarriage 2 months in to my marriage.But now we are planning a child again.I some where deep down after a loss of the fist pregnancy treasure having children more.But can also relate to the fear.I am split between the idea of having or not having children.The thought of becoming a mother is extremely scary.But i think it all come down to faith.Having faith in whats happening is for the better.And trust me children are a blessing.There are plenty of people out there who wish they could have children but cant seem to.count your blessing each time things get to overwhelming.Best of luck.And trust me.Your children will turn out just fine. Keep smiling cheers.

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    1. You're right... to want children and not be able to have them would be a curse. I felt much more confident after reading your comment. Sometimes it takes as simple a sentence as "Your children will turn out just fine" to make one feel better! On your situation, though, please enjoy your husband as long as possible. This time that you're living right now will never come back - in which there's romance galore and time and eyes only for each other. Enjoy it, I say! Enjoy it! Best of luck to you too.

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  5. Having personally spent time with both the little guys, I can confidently say that they will turn out just fine. You're going off on limbs here because of your own fears. Suleiman is going off on his limbs because maybe right now he doesn't even know the meaning of the word "fear". You can look at it as a curse or as a gift. Lacking fear, means being able to achieve more, to do more. It also means lacking insight and being instinctive.
    I was reading this blog post about a native American story. Gave me a lot of perspective.. perhaps it would do the same for you.

    An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

    "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

    The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

    The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

    So stop worrying about things you can not change. Believe that you spend enough time with them, if you spend any more, maybe you'd suffocate them. They need their own room to grow as well.
    Lastly... give it time.. they're called kids for a reason .. learn to zone out once in a while.

    Cheers.

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    1. The one you feed. Nice one, Fahad. CHAMP!

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  6. I think this sums up what all us mothers are thinking..all of the time. Our biggest fears revolve around how our children will turn out - will they be ethical kids but have fun, be polite yet assertive, carefree but at the same time responsible - the list goes on and on. I completely agree with your point about understanding your child's personality - it's such pressure, isn't it?
    A good friend once told me that love is all the remedy children need and I have firmly started believing (wishfully thinking maybe?) it - as long as my kids know they are loved unconditionally, they'll 'turn out fine'. It's really the only thought that gets me through. That and we're entitled to a rant because we are juggling just way too freaking much to be sane all the time ;-) Much love xx

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    1. It really is a huge pressure. I also feel like our egos are so intertwined with this whole parenting 'project'. We internalise our children's 'failures' and 'shortcomings' - they reflect on us: on our parenting skills, on the genes we passed on to them. Maybe unconditional love really is the only answer.

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  7. I think they'll be fine inshallah. You don't give yourself enough credit. You're such a good mother. Just being there matters and you DO spend enough time with them.

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    1. We've found a common ground of interest with the iPad recently. Now we play bowling and Angry Birds together.

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  8. where have you and solom vanished?
    been dying to read something new :)

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    1. Sorry! Have managed to injure neck due to unergonomical computer usage so am trying to give it a rest whenever possible. Twitter doesn't count.

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