My dearest baby girl,
Today you turned 1. And as clichéd it sounds, but it’s true, time really does fly. Just seems like yesterday when I was in the hospital holding this small little thing in my arms. Even that day you were smiling, nestled in your blanket, being passed around by all loved ones who had been eagerly waiting for you. The next few days seem like a blur to me and I don’t remember too much, until the day we went home.
From the time I remember I have wanted to be a mother. As a kid I used to tell my grandmother I would have lots of children. And the day I got to know I was pregnant I cried, laughed, celebrated. I was overjoyed and overwhelmed – too many emotions to name. But if I can be honest, the whole pregnancy and the early days of motherhood did take a toll on me. Maybe I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would, often I felt depressed. Many days I felt disappointed by the whole experience. This was the moment I was waiting for, this was my moment of celebration, embracing my womanhood, creating something beyond my imagination; but all of it at times was too much for me to handle. And that’s when you gave me one of my first life lessons – on resilience, not giving up and striving on.
In my darkest hour you would kick me when you were still in my womb, or cry out in the middle of the night or just smile and gurgle at the sight of me. Even now on days when i get frustrated for reasons beyond your control, you hug me with all the strength you have in those tiny arms. And like that, you remind me of your presence, and the bigger picture, and how momentary all these struggles are and that you are the end result. You remind me that sometimes things do not go the way we plan for it to go, and the emotional experience can be not so rewarding or enjoyable, or people do not respond or react the way we want them to. But there is a higher purpose to everything. There is a reason, and my reason maybe is to be a stronger woman, to be a role model for you with enough inner strength and self-respect to be able to guide you and help you through your experiences.
And hence began my journey of self-care. In flights when they explain the emergency drill, they always say first help yourself before helping others. I think it applies to life as well. Happy mother, happy baby. Another cliché, but true. Sometimes we get so caught up in taking care of our little ones, we forget about ourselves, how we still need love, care and nurturing too. When we feel loved, we will be able to love. And that was your next life lesson to me – loving myself.
Even on tough days when I felt bloated, sick, tired or hormonal I made an effort to dress up, look nice, feel nice. There were many times people complimented me on the way I looked during my pregnancy. It felt good. I hated kitchen work, still do, but I embraced it, and if I can say now I love experimenting and do manage to cook decently well. For every birthday month milestone of yours I tried making something for you. Training for when you grow up, so I can cook you yummy treats, like my mother did for me. I started writing, oh and how I enjoy it, I think it is the best thing I did, and I hope I never stop. And I went back to work. And when I could not sustain it, at the so called peak of my career I gave up my stable happy job, to be with you. Though I did not give up on my professional dream, and continue to work still, from home. And now finally I am on a journey of self-healing.
You did all of this for me.
Many times motherhood is linked with personal sacrifices – sleep, food, work, love, friends and self. I hate that word – sacrifice. Does being a mother have to be about giving up things. I prefer redefine as a word. I still sleep, eat, socialize and work. And every time you greet me with a big smile and hug, I realize I am still a mother and for you the best. And that was another life lesson from you to me – take it easy. We do not need to sacrifice anything for anyone, but yes we might have to redefine, reprioritize some of these things. It is important to feel in control and not give up on things that are important to us in life – relationships, people, places, work, financial stability, hobbies, and much more. However in the list of important things, we can move the position of things around.
Oh my darling girl, as you grow up we will see and experience so much together. And as your mother I will have to teach you so many things. But who would have thought that you would teach me so much more. And this is why I write you this letter, because I know many times in life I will have self-doubt and so will you. Hopefully on those days we can sit together and read this again. And just like you inspire me every day to be better and happier, you too will achieve the same.
My little girl, you helped me become real. Sensitive, independent, resilient, an achiever, tolerant, flexible, social and nurturing. You have been the most important teacher of my life and I promise you one thing, no matter where life takes us, I will stand by your side (at times pulling you by your ear). But I shall be there, helping you to realize the person you are, and trying to keep all of your innocence, honesty and goodness intact.
True to your name, you are and will always be my Imaara, my strength.