Motherhood stories : Saadia on raising kind kids, grief and art

Motherhood Stories is a new series on the blog with heart-to-heart chats with some of the beautiful, inspiring women I have the honor to have infront of my camera… I hope these will always leave you encouraged in your journey in life & mothering – And help us all feel seen in one way or another!

Q. Asalamalaikum my friend, can you tell my readers about yourself and your little ones? 🙂

Hey there, I’m Saadia; just an average immigrant from Pakistan trying to make a life here in Seattle (US); working mom of two little ones Ezan (8) & Auj (4) and juggling many roles around the clock.

Q. What has been your favorite thing about being a mom?

Oh, it’s been quite a ride with all kinds of highs and lows. It changed me for the better, at least that’s what I’d like to believe. Now I am more empathetic towards parents, their struggles, women specifically, and the numerous mental and physical battles they must choose. I learn a lot from my children every single day. They spark joy when I am down and bring back the lost child within me who gets excited about the littlest things. The cherry on top is free cuddles and hugs 😊

Q. What have you struggled with the most?

I find the constant pressure of being at my best extremely onerous. It brings on a huge responsibility knowing that there are tiny human beings watching, absorbing, and learning from each word you utter and  every move you make. The other thing is the constant guilt. While I was a stay-at-home-mom, I felt terrible for wasting my education, but it turned into a different type of self-blaming when I started working. 

Q. What excites you about raising a girl? AND a boy?

Raising a boy OR a girl is equally hard, let’s get that out first. My parenting style is very gender neutral though. They are both very different individuals but not because of their gender entirely and sometimes it does get hard not to apply pre-conceived notions about gender; but I try to stay impartial. There’s no such thing as what boys can do or what girls can do. They can just choose to do what “they” like. That’s how fair works. It is perfectly okay if Ezan wants to play in the pretend kitchen or Auj is making superhero action figures fight. I’m hoping and praying that both of them contribute towards the well-being of this world in whatever they can.

Q. What was your upbringing like?

My parents always believed in a subtle way of teaching lessons, more with setting examples and being role models; even the words they used were always relevant and not from an alien fictional world. They gave us all the freedom and independence with clear margins. My mother showed us how to stand like a rock amidst everything falling apart and my father demonstrated the strength of vulnerability, kindness, and love. Growing up as a middle child with siblings of special needs, I learnt how to be inclusive while being considerate and respectful to the others around. 

Q. Is there anything you’re trying to incorporate from your upbringing into your kids’?

I wish I could be as patient, resilient and loving as my parents but my kids will learn to compromise with what I have to offer:). I would love to transfer my parents’ love for our language and the pride they took in their identity that just seeped through my being as well. Another goal of mine is to simply inculcate empathy, compassion and tolerance for others; Growing up I learnt that It’s not always natural to feel that way and it’s a continuous, on-going effort but with each conversation and each small step, it can be built into the way we see this world. We just need to be considerate, careful, and understanding towards those not looking like us or having thoughts that don’t align with ours.

Q. Tell us about your career and how it’s changed after becoming a mom?

I’m a LUMS graduate with an MS degree in Computer Science. I have worked in the software development industry as well as in academia but couldn’t work in the US due to visa restrictions earlier after moving here in 2011. I did some volunteer work to stay somewhat relevant and became a mom while I was waiting for my green card. It was hard to find my way back after the gap and new family’s responsibilities but fortunately, I found a temporary data analyst role at T-Mobile that became permanent in 2015.

My work has been more like a feel-good outlet for me, it’s a space where I get recognition on merit and I like that acknowledgement. It also disrupts the house-husband-kids cycle (not that there is anything bad about it). So far, I have been able to keep my work hours flexible which gives me my due break while maintaining a moderate balance between work and family. However, it’s a constant debate within where I find myself killing over not prioritizing my career and vice versa. 

Q. What keeps you sane through those challenging motherhood moments, especially more so these past few years through the pandemic? Any tips for other working moms who might be struggling?

How I wish I had a magic wand to end the sufferings of this world!!! Since I don’t have that nor any potion sadly, so I have been just trying to hang in here, taking one day at a time, holding on to loved ones, counting our blessings and cherishing all the extra time I got with my children. I love cooking, it brings joy to me. Family bike rides and nature walks have been helpful. Evenings without any commitments spent playing board games are definitely a life savior. 

Nonetheless, there have been plain dark days when nothing really works but you must keep finding your way to your inner peace. I guess my advice is to remember putting your own wellbeing first and foremost of all (easier said than done). 

Q. You lost your dad a little before the pandemic & that’s such a difficult time to go through especially from so far. How has it been navigating through grief while also mothering little kids?

I would like to start with something I read somewhere that stayed with me:

 “Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” 

I can’t even begin to describe how tough that is. Dealing with the harshest reality of losing my first love while making myself available for my children without showing the emotional damage is probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. This heartache is lifelong but I’m learning to maneuver slowly. I make sure to keep him alive in our daily lives especially while talking to kids. It helps me process the grief and connect with them emotionally at the same time. I consciously love to do things that trigger his presence e.g. cooking our family’s  favorites, listening to the music he liked, looking through the books he enjoyed and just remembering his light humor in everyday life; this acute nostalgia is therapeutic for me, it takes me back to my happy carefree days when my mom’s food’s aroma surrounded us while we snuggled with our dad, reading books, talking about music, poetry, politics, and things in general. 

Q. What is something you love to do just for yourself? 

I have always been interested in arts as a hobby, so doing one form or the other calms me down. I picked up ink art lately and am enjoying it for now. Other than that I make sure to go out with my girlfriends for dinner or movie every now & then. I write, sometimes, either on IG through my posts or just dumping my thoughts in a diary.

Saadia, that was so so therapeutic to read, just like a warm hug. Thank you so so much for being part of this series sahaili & sharing a little of your heart with us. HUGS

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did & some of it in there stays with you! That’s my favorite part about motherhood and how little things we take in from all of the mothers around us stay with us.

Taking Motherhood photos has been one of the most meaningful parts of my job as a photographer & documenting moms with their kids is one of my favorite most things.