Overcoming stage fright

It was hard picturing Fatima Zahra stand up on the stage at her school program. For one, I was worried she would forget the verses of the Surah (Qur’anic chapter) she was reading. But not because of me. FZ is a perfectionist. And if she stumbled over her words, she would be in a bad mood and dwell on it the rest of the day. And maybe even the next day.

But my heart was full of pride as I saw my first born chatting excitedly with her school friends when we arrived at the school. It was a Quran program at school and FZ had been chosen to recite a surah at the program. She would be reciting Surah Ghashiya, a 26-verse surah she had memorized. I couldn’t be prouder of her. She even practiced the lines before time, and the day of the program, when I asked her if she wanted to go over the lines again, just in case, she was adamant that she knew all the words. Alright, alright, I said.

I had been surprised that the fact she would be reciting a surah from memory in front of people didn’t bother her. That was, until, a day before the program. She came up to me and was nervous.

“Mama, I’m going to be scared reading in front of all those people.”

“I know it seems difficult, but just relax and try your hardest. Inshallah you’ll do great.”

When we got to the school, FZ was cool and calm. I was happy that maybe her jitters had disappeared. Soon the girls were called by the teacher to line up and get ready for the program.

Now I could see worry on FZ’s face. She wouldn’t even look at me. One by one girls came up to recite and they did really well. The parents clapped loudly after every recitation. Then the teacher called up FZ and I beamed as I saw her get up and go on the stage.

She grabbed the mic and quietly started reading. In fact she was so quiet, the teacher had to turn up the volume on the microphone. But she kept on reciting. I noticed her right foot tapping the stage, and I couldn’t help but smile. But she kept on reciting. I was recording her reading and as soon as she was done I went back to my seat. FZ climbed off the stage and ran to me, giving me a great big hug. I fought back tears as I held my now big girl and told her how proud I was. She read the whole thing and didn’t forget a word.

Parents are wired with this innate desire to see their kids succeed at everything. That’s why some parents are guilty of actually doing everything for their kids so they don’t have to fail. Ironically this behavior is just setting them up for failure. When kids struggle at certain tasks, they value the outcome more. They learn the value of perseverance. They get a huge boost in their self-confidence and self-esteem.

I would’ve been proud of my daughter no matter how she performed at the program. The fact that she got up on stage, faced total strangers and recited something from memory, is success for me. It means she has confidence and guts. It means I did something right, and that is humbling.

I am so grateful to God for these milestones that are slowly uncovering the young girl with so much potential. To my beautiful, charming, intelligent Fatima Zahra – I love you and am very proud of the strength you have. I pray God gives you success in your life, every step of the way. And when He does, I’ll be right here cheering you along from the sidelines.


Failure is not an option

Imagine a hamster on his wheel. But with no option to stop. This is a life of a mom. Unless it’s nap time, of course. Then if your stars are aligned correctly, you get a few moments of rest.

I’m not complaining. But this is how it is.

I find it hilarious when some new parents talk about how they won’t let their kids “change their lives.”

“They have to know that I am the boss. They can’t change me.”

Yeah. Right. Come 3 a.m. when Junior wakes up screaming and you have NO IDEA what’s wrong, let me know how that works out for you. Kids are supposed to change you. Now wait, before you start the hate mail, let me explain. Kids aren’t supposed to change who you are, but they do change how you are.

I won’t lie, I have a short temper. When FZ was born, I let simple situations get the best of me. Blame it on the “new parent” syndrome. The one where you read everything, believe everything and yet nothing works. But we waded through the waters and ended up (so far) with a well-adjusted, bright and sweet girl. But fortunately for me FZ, by her nature, was a relatively calm and easy child. She listened and was a good follower. If I told her she was in trouble, she would quietly obey.

When my M came along, the world shifted. I’m not kidding. Here was a girl who made me rethink my whole parenting philosophy. She was sweet and good, but aggressive. We had a short hitting/biting phase when she was 1.5. She had horrible tantrums – screaming, fighting, kicking, with no end in sight. All in all, she threw us a curveball. At times I felt like just giving in and giving up. But I knew with my kids, failure is not an option. The moment they would see that I am not on my game, they would make a break and run for it. Because of M’s sensitive nature, I couldn’t be sarcastic. I couldn’t be mean. I had to be “nice” all the time. Even when disciplining. If she even notices a tinge of sarcasm in my voice, she crosses her arms and tells me not to be mean. “I’m really, really angy. Don’t yell at me,” she says. Hmph. OK, OK, I am sorry. I think this is God’s way of telling me to change my temper and ease up. Duly noted, God.

In my opinion, kids are like those tall towers made of blocks. They go up, and often come back down, and go back up, etc. But the best towers are built with the best blocks. You are going to go up and down with your kids. You are going to sound like a broken record. You are going to sound like a broken record. You are going to…. ahh, you get it. But that’s not the problem. The problem is letting go completely. The problem is thinking that you don’t have to care about sleeping, discipline, feeding, etc. Sure I have learned to let go of a lot of things – but I still have control. You have got to be the best for your kids. My kids know that Mama is the boss and in return, I offer my services completely to them. They are not devoid of my attention, love and care. Even when I lived close to my mother, I never abused her availability to care for them. They knew Mama and Baba were their official caretakers and Nano was an awesome distraction from my evil ways. FZ often begged to go to Nano’s house; heck if she could she would live there. Heck if I could I would leave her there. But I had to teach her that we are first, and that was the order.

Kids are a gift from God, and we can’t play with them or treat them as decoration pieces. They require, and rightfully deserve, our full attention and the best of us. Does that mean we pretend? No. We are human after all. But that does mean that we need to make ourselves the best we can so our kids have good role models. It’s not easy task – but then again having kids isn’t easy. And once you’ve jumped in this ocean of parenthood, would you consider drowning an option?

Here, grab a floatie and hold on. It’s going to be one hell of a ride.