Motherhood and the Quest for Peace

In some parts of the world, including the part of the world where my own mother lives, March 21st is Mother’s Day. On the eve of this celebration of mothers and all they impart upon this world – we would be nowhere without them – I sit awake, restless, desperately attempting to find peace in my heart with the mother I am today.

My own mother gave herself, fully and completely, to us. To her family, her children, to being our rock and the one constant in the constantly changing backdrop of our lives. I lived in more apartments and houses than I care to count, went to 11 schools (all before college), and can’t remember most of the people I was friends with for mere months at a time. But mama was always there, with a hot, home-cooked meal ready for me when I came home from school. She was always there, cloaking me with the invisible security blanket of knowing I never had to wonder where she was or what she was doing. She was there, she was mine, and nothing else in her life was more important or of higher priority.

I, on the other hand, leave my son and his father sleeping in their beds on 5 mornings a week, as I head out to spend the next 11 or so hours of my (and their) day enclosed in an office, unavailable, distant, away. They rise and spend the next hour and a half together before my husband drops off my beautiful boy at school. The hour and a half that used to be mine, that used to carry some of our best, sleepy-eyed, uninhibited memories together.

How can I be a good mother if I’m only there for 3 of his waking hours? How can he learn to trust that I will always be there, if, for the most part, I’m not?

And now look what I’ve done.
I’ve gone and made another one.
In a matter of months, another boy will be born to this family, and I will spend however many weeks of maternity leave I get agonizing over the day when I will have to leave yet another infant in the care of someone who, no matter how amazing she is, is not me.
What have I done?

Some days are positive, upbeat, fulfilling on all fronts, professional and personal.
Other days make me feel handcuffed, trapped, yet insufficient in any of the roles I have taken upon myself.
My need to prove that I can do anything any other woman can do – be an intelligent and high-achieving professional, be a nurturing and selfless mother, be an accomplished recreational athlete – leaves me pursuing everything all at once, yet mastering none of it.

 I am not as good of a professional as the woman who dedicates her life to her career, not as good of a mother as the woman who spends all her time ensuring she personally meets each and every one of her children’s needs, and not as athletic as the woman who knows exactly what she wants out of each workout.

I wonder whether trying to have “it all” is an attempt at keeping each part of “me” alive, or whether I am simply lost, not sure of which parts of me are the real me, trying to find myself in my work, my physical health, and my relationship with my family.
I wonder, more importantly, about whether that means my children will be lost as well, not having the security blanket of knowing that they never have to wonder where I am or what I’m doing, or whether they are my highest priority.

The answer is yes, they are and always will be my highest priority. I may not do everything perfectly, I may not always make the right choices or be the best, most selfless mother. But I love my son (and my yet-to-be-born son) with a fierce intensity that perhaps only I know. It will be my life’s mission to ensure that they know it just as surely, just as securely, as I always knew the love of my own mother.
In the meanwhile, I can only hope that my darling, beautiful, and perfect boy knows that his mama is always there, even when he can’t see her right in front of him.

And now I shall go hug his sleeping body with all my might, and breathe in the sweet smell of his youth, innocence, and clean hair.
 (Even darling, beautiful, and perfect boys smell better with shampoo, especially after a weekend of running and jumping on furniture).


5 Responses to Motherhood and the Quest for Peace

  1. Dina says:

    You have just hit something in me, I am living this on a daily basis and this is not easy, now with 2 kids…aaaahhh I need to think many things over….I reorganize myself constantly that I sometimes think I don’t have a stable life!!! and just like you said I feel taqseer overall in all my human rolls, as a mother, a researcher, as a wife, as an Arab who is trying to understand what’s happening, as a muslim who never seem to catch her prayers on the right time…….aaahhh you’ve just hit the point, but I can’t let myself think about this now…I have a conference tomorrow and I need to think professional…no one cares if my 16 month old baby girl sick is…has fever…and is going with me! wish me luck…really need it…

    BTW, I had my birthday in January. Thanks! but since my husband comes from Tunis, we were terribly in fear because of what was going on there, thank God it’s all in the past now…I love the smell of freadom my family there are describing…can’t wait to visit in July…

    oooh this was a long one….but I really miss you and IT IS GREAT TO HAVE YOU BACK:)

  2. wintersamar says:

    I might not know what it feels like to be a mother but I do know what it feels like to have a working mother. I don’t think it took away from her ability to be my security blanket. She was always there when I needed her and still is…to this day.

    I’m sure you are an amazing mother and will continue to be an amazing mother to two boys!

    Congrats on finding out the sex, btw! MashAllah..exciting times.

    • halasaleh1 says:

      Dina – comments are welcome no matter how long or short! I totally feel your angst about making the right choices and still making sure to be professional and logical – when we think about our children, logic seems to fly out the window! However, as so many people have generously expressed to me, be sure that you are an amazing mother, and that by doing something good for yourself you are also doing good for your children.
      I am happy for your husband’s family that everyone is safe and well! Thank you for the encouragement, I will try to write more!!

      Samar – you are too kind with your words. Thanks for expressing how you feel and sharing your experience with your own mother! It really helps to hear from people who have experienced having a working mother

  3. Dina says:

    watch Dr. Amjad Qoursheh was also there!! amazing

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