I am lucky to know a number of strong women and Shaki (as I call her) is definitely one of them. Having known her for a couple of years now, and having babies around the same window – I think it’s safe to call her my sister. I like to call her my reference book as I am always referring to her in relation to several aspects of life.

Here’s a conversation with Shakirah, hope you enjoy it;

BEYOND BEING A MOM, GIVE US A LITTLE INSIGHT ABOUT SHAKI.

Shakie is a muslim working mom. She is a lecturer at MUBS, Manager of the MUBS eLearning Centre as well as a PhD student. She is married with one beautiful 18months baby girl.

IF YOU WERE TO DESCRIBE MOTHERHOOD IN A SENTENCE, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY.

Challenging and yet so worth it, i couldn’t have it any other way!

AAYAH IS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL NAME. WHAT IS THE STORY AND MEANING OF THE NAME?

Aah, its a long story.Aayah came to us after a long while of TTC. When she finally came, she was a miracle hence the name. In the quran, we have Aayahs (verses). These mean signs, miracles, evidences of Allah’s love. She is our miracle and sign from Allah. She is evidence that with prayer there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER THE MOST CHALLENGING TIME IN YOUR LIFE AS A MOTHER AND WOMAN IN GENERAL?

The first three months postpartum. My goodness! I call that period “team no sleep” Aayah would cry yet i was sure she was warm, diaper is changed, she is full, burped but still would cry. The not knowing what the problem was with her made it so sad. But like i said, all this was all worth it.

POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION IS SOMETHING OUR SOCIETY IGNORES AND ACTS LIKE IT DOESN’T EXIST. WHAT ARE YOUR GENERAL THOUGHTS ABOUT POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION AND WAS THIS SOMETHING YOU SUFFERED FROM AFTER YOU HAD AAYAH?

Postpartum depression is real. This is not a white man’s disease. I suffered from it and wouldn’t wish it on anyone else. In my experience, i feel its brought up by the withdrawal of pregnancy hormones. You feel random pains, you feel something horrible is going to happen to you or your baby, sometimes you fail to sleep thinking your baby is going to die in her sleep. The overwhelming hormones increase your anxiety. The key in beating this, is having help. Always ask for help with the baby from family or close friends.

DO YOU THINK THERAPY IS A PRACTICE WE SHOULD ADAPT AS A SOCIETY?

Definitely yes. I still wonder why it is not a thing in our societies. We all have those moments where you want to talk to someone who will listen and not judge you at the end of the day.

MY SONSHINE RECENTLY TURNED TWO AND I STILL SUFFER FROM MOM GUILT VERY OFTEN? HOW DO YOU HANDLE MOM GUILT AND SEPARATION ANXIETY?

Well, i do not think we are about to get over this until they are big and totally independent. I try as much as possible to leave her at the daycare playing with other kids rather than crying. If i leave her crying, my mom guilt will be off the roof and i wont be able to settle at work.

I UNDERSTAND YOU ENROLLED AAYAH INTO A DAYCARE , WHAT HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH DAYCARES BEEN AND WHAT WOULD YOU ADVISE A PARENT TO LOOK OUT FOR WHILE SEARCHING FOR A DAYCARE OR SCHOOL?

Daycare is the best thing that happened to me. With all the maid horror stories, my heart is at peace when she is at daycare. I feel like with daycare someone is liable in case something happens, unlike the case of the maid who you will find has escaped and left your little girl alone in the house.

You know back in our old days, we would all go out to the neighbours and play. We would socialize early on but now, our kids grow up enclosed in a fence knowing only a handful of people. This kills their social life. Daycares have now come in to bridge this gap. Aayah loves her school as she gets to play with her agemates, her social skills have improved which is what i was looking for. The downside of daycare is she has been getting sick. From a runny nose, to cough, to diarrhoea to throat infections etc. But her doctor assured me, this is something inevitable. She will still find the germs in kindergarten besides its helping build her immunity.

However, this can be minimized. Try looking for a daycare that is super vigilant in cleanliness, one that is keen on separating kids or asking kids with infectious diseases to stay home, a great nap room where each child has his or her own bed without sharing with others, great communication with parents, great outdoor activity among others. Aayah’s daycare will give you a report via an app on how she was the whole day you were away, will keep track of her diaper changes among others.

DO YOU THINK THE CORPORATE WORLD LAWS AND REGULATIONS FAVOR MOTHERS AND WOMEN IN GENERAL?WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THE 3 MONTHS PERIOD OF MATERNITY LEAVE?

Yes definitely. The 3 months leave are definitely needed. On the employer’s side, 3months maybe alot but once you have such a little baby who exclusively breast feeds, these months are few. If only the government could review this.

I would however propose that if institutions would want to get the best from their female staff, they should provide some sort of daycare facilities at work places. They will see improvement in productivity in these mothers.

ANY ADVISE TO A WORKING WOMAN WHO IS YET TO HAVE A CHILD?

If you have maid issues, daycare is the way to go. Do not hesitate.

YOU RECENTLY ADDED PURSUING YOUR PHD TO THE VERY MANY ROLES YOU ALREADY HAVE. HOW HAVE YOU MANAGED BALANCE FAMILY, WORK, SCHOOL AND LIFE IN GENERAL.

Its definitely hard juggling those three things but i always tell myself that a happy family leads to a productive day at work and great school grades. Basically meaning, if you are happy at home, the rest of things will fall in place.

BEING AS BUSY AS YOU ARE, I ASSUME SELF CARE IS SOMETHING THAT CAN’T BE IGNORED. WHAT ARE YOUR GO TO SELF CARE OR ME TIME ACTIVITIES?

Aah oh yes. I try to juice every now and then but since i am still breast feeding, it kind of limits me. I also drink about 4-5 litres a day, have some me-time especially late in the night after putting Aayah to bed.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THE YOUNGER SHAKI?

Do not despair. Everything happens for a reason. Have sabr (patience) and trust God.

HOW WOULD YOU WANT YOUR CHILD TO REMEMBER YOU?

As a mother who was always available for her. One who would do anything for her without compromising our cultural and religious values.

Thank you for your time😊

CONNECT WITH SHAKI

Instagram : @shakieali

Facebook : Shakirah N Kalyango

Catch up with other MOM TALKS SERIES:

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Stay Fab

XOXO

Maya.

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