Life, Uncategorized

Moms need friends, too.

I’ve always been a pretty open person, and don’t usually shy away from divulging about my personal life with friends. I mean, chances are what I’m going through at any given moment is something that you too have faced, so why not share and at least get some comfort, if not a solution? The human experience is such a fascinating one because literally billions of other people have gone through or are going through the same thing as you, yet our days are punctuated by moments of isolation and our circumstances sometimes really make us feel like nobody else would get it. Throughout the years and the stages – high school, college, whatever the hell comes after that – our circles change, and we start to see the herd of friends thinning out, yet, with the more time that passes, we start to realize that’s actually not a bad thing.

The funny thing about becoming a mom is that you’re thrust into this community of other mommies and – whether it seems like it or not – you suddenly have so much in common with women all over the world. It’s also such a weird time because you’re typically physically isolated with a tiny human staring at you 24/7 waiting for you to do something interesting or give him the boobs, which can really take a toll on your emotional state and ability to string coherent sentences together. By the time the baby is old enough to take out and you have the chance to reunite with your friends, you may find that you don’t have much in common with them anymore, especially if they don’t have kids, and sometimes even if they do. Our families take over our lives and the small differences in philosophies now become more pronounced as you’re juggling the new role of motherhood as you see fit.

So when you do find a mom friend that you share the same philosophy with, it’s really a special moment. But, just like your growing bump opened you up to unsolicited advice from complete strangers, the way you raise your kid will, strangely, always bring out peoples’ very strong reactions. Having mom friends doesn’t always mean having a support system during the times when we need it most; I’ve found that it can often mean judgmental, harsh criticism and advice during the times when we need it the least.

Look, I get that you’re doing the best you can based on what you know and that your way really is the right way. For you. But for me? Well, maybe it is, but it probably isn’t, and that doesn’t make me wrong. I find my self-doubt crippling enough most days without having to hear whether or not I’m turning my son into a spoiled brat by staying home and co-sleeping. If I were going back to work and leaving him with (gasp!) a stranger, I’m sure I would hear how awful that is from other mamas, so it just seems like a lose-lose situation in which everyone wants to flaunt how great they are at motherhood, when I’m sure that we all waver in our confidence (if you have any, to begin with).

I guess I just wish making mom friends was a little less stressful and a bit more inclusive; I breastfeed and co-sleep, so I probably won’t be able to give you advice on formula or sleep training, but that doesn’t mean we can’t grab a cup of coffee and commiserate together about all the extra laundry we have now that our babies want to feed themselves or come up with theories as to why causing us excruciating pain (especially by biting the nipples at 4 am) is the funniest thing in the world to our littles.

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Thursday Thoughts

In this week’s edition of the highly-irregular and too-infrequent-to-be-called-a-segment segment of Thursday’s thoughts:

  • I’m 30, Y’all. Well, not yet, not technically, but almost. I can see the date on my calendar whenever I look at the month of October, and I guess more than anything I’m just hyper aware of where I want to be in the next 5 years and wonder if there’s anything I could have done to be there now. I know the answer is no – mainly because the birth of my son was the catalyst for this journey I’ve found myself on – but I still can’t help but feel like everyone else has it a bit more put together than I do. But then when I talk to everyone else they’re like, “no way, I feel the same way you do, I don’t have my shit together at all,” and that doesn’t make me feel any better it just makes me then wonder who is responsible for an entire generation of people pretending like they know what they’re doing when they have no idea.

 

  • I’m also really going through it. And by it, I mean everything. Adam is teething, which I’m pretty sure is just the state of any fresh human from the age of just-born to maybe around 2 years. I actually got really lucky with him as a newborn because he was pretty easy, as long as I followed my instinct of just popping out the boob whenever he wanted it (which I did!). There have been phases that have been more challenging than others, but it seems like now-me would go back in time not to tell then-me that it gets easier, but instead that it actually gets a LOT harder so to stop crying. (Kidding. Kind of.) The hardest part about having him as a newborn was just the fact that I had never done it before, and the PPD and PPA kicked me down a notch or twenty, too. So, here we are, sleepless nights, nursing strikes, days spent with a fussy baby attached to me, wishing I would take away his pain. Another part of that ‘it’ is personal, as I am definitely in the middle of a life lesson, and I know that because it’s uncomfortable as hell. Without unpacking the whole thing here (because I wouldn’t even know where to start at the moment, honestly) I will just say that the mantra, “everybody gets what’s meant for them,” has been on repeat, and not in a psychotic, hope-karma-kicks-your-ass way.

 

  • Part of what made today easier than the last two days, even though Adam has been the exact same totally un-chill kid is that I lowered my expectations and just enjoyed the moment, even when the moment was a screaming baby who wanted to be held without being touched. Today, I wasn’t shocked when he woke up at 7 am (after sleeping at 1), and I didn’t expect him to nap as easily as he did before teething pains took over his life, so I didn’t find myself as frustrated as I’ve been when he finally did nap (8 hours later…) I think part of what can be really challenging as a new mom (and maybe as an experienced one, too) is the ideas that we have in our head, particularly the one that we can maintain some kind of similar life to what we had before kids; we can’t expect to be able to cook, clean, self-maintain, and socialize the way we used to because that’s just not practical. I find myself getting the most upset at the 2-hour go-the-F-to-bed routine when I have something else I expected to do. Instead, I try to be present and understand that the needs of my baby will change so quickly and frequently – and that they are actual needs! – and postpone whatever else I had in mind until he’s settled. It’s not necessarily being patient (because I suck at that), but more so letting go and just going with the flow.
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Saudi is many things…

There aren’t many moments that I can look back on in life and say, “that was huge,” because most things build up over time. Sure I can map things out in a nice straight line – high school, my first job, college, my favorite classes, my first PR internship, the client that hated us (this actually needs its own blog post), converting to Islam, graduation – but the fact is that it wasn’t neat or linear. It was messy and chaotic and beautiful. 

Some moments, of course will stick out in mt mind no many how many years pass. Meeting my husband and falling in love – although it was pretty instantaneous – and building our life together was obviously one of the highs. The birth of my son was bittersweet, but let to something amazing, as did moving to Saudi. I can unequivocally say that making the choice to move to Saudi was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

There were a ton of things that went into it when I decided to come, but ultimately it was just about stepping out of my comfort zone and taking a chance; I got on the bus.  Living here has allowed me to experience sunsets under the Bosphorus, sway along with flamenco dancers in Barcelona, and savor dim sum in Hong Kong. I’ve found love as a wife, fulfillment as a mom, chased my passion into birth work and breastfeeding support, and still manage to make some killer banana bread sometimes. Above all else, I’ve grown up; I’m not the same 23-year-old girl who left home in search of something bigger.

Saudi is many things, but for now, it’s home. There are things I would change, sure, and the list is probably almost as long as the one I have for my home country. I wish people respected personal space, I wish the concept of a line was a bit more common, I wish customer service existed, and I wish our attire (and lifestyle in general) was a bit more colorful and free. But, it’s here that I learned how to take care of myself. It’s here that I learned how a strong and supportive a community of friends could turn into family. It’s here I learned that life is challenging anywhere you go, and it really is just what you make of it. I learned that if you put yourself out there openly and unapologetically, the universe will respond in kind and the right people will find their way to you; your vibe will attract your tribe. And that tribe may come and go, but the lessons they shared, the love they showed, the insight into who you are they reflected, these things will be a part of you forever.

I look forward to many more milestones reached, for me and my family, for Saudi and its people, and to all those who call a home-away-from-home home (say that 5 times fast), take a second to appreciate the life you’ve made, the chances you’ve been offered, and the adventure that awaits you.