Shentonista Mothers — A Path To Pave

While some women gradually learn and grow into motherhood, there are others who know from a young age that they’d like to be a mother—and Lisa’s one such person. The Shentonista team first met her last year, just a few weeks after the end of her maternity leave, and we hear the same joy and wonder in her voice today, as we did eight months ago, when she speaks of the little changes that Dhuha, her son, has brought into her life. Lisa’s bond with Dhuha reminds us that as much as the kids learn from their parents, children also give their parents a new perspective to look at life.

We’re sure it’s been a hectic time of change for you and your loved ones—how have you and your family been coping?

The term ‘big changes’ is so different for us, especially because Dhuha grows and learns everyday, so every single day is a series of changes for us. It’s been really hectic in some ways, but in many other ways we think it’s been a good change for us.

Here’s a fun fact: Dhuha’s vocabulary has gone through the roof, actually. It’s either because everyone’s at home or it’s just the right timing—who knows? I’m just happy to have the chance to spend time with him and really watch him grow, because it’s hard when you’re working full time, you know? You wouldn’t get to see these little moments otherwise.

Working from home can be tough, especially when your kid is so young—how are you managing it so far?

It’s tough for us, just because we are people who usually spend most of our time outdoors. But I have to say I’m lucky because we’re able to watch Dhuha in turns while we both try to finish our work. I do think it’s a blessing to be able to spend so much time at home, and Dhuha is enjoying this a lot too. We’re not sure what it’s going be like in the future, when we have to go back to the office full-time, but we’ll cross that bridge when it’s time (laughs).

With older kids, there’s a structure that comes from having schoolwork, but with Dhuha, you can’t just keep him in front of a computer the entire day. You have to keep him engaged somehow, and let him explore. He has so much energy, so you need to always find new ways to help him grow. So whether it’s experimenting with PlayDoh, or the swimming pool we came up with outside, it’s something fun for all of us to do. We have to have many activities to make sure he doesn’t get too bored, and of course it’s tiring, but it’s exciting for us too.

Tell us a little more about Dhuha—what’s something unique him?

Dhuha’s a funny little one, but I think something you’ll notice immediately is how obsessed he is with rubbish trucks. Because of him, I’m starting to learn how to see vehicles in a different light. He’s really been teaching us the joy of the simple things around us, and that’s so great. From the moment he wakes up, he’ll go, “Oh, a lorry. That’s a bus!” He’s also very attached to me, and I think I’ve heard Mama more times than my own name (laughs). I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We know you’re in the middle of Ramadan right now—how different has it been this year?

You know what, I actually like it a lot this year (laughs). Usually we don’t get to do all the things we’re supposed to do, like the prayers and breaking fast together, because even though it’s Ramadan, we’re still busy with office work. When you’re at home, it’s a little easier to make time for all these things. We’ve never had this opportunity before, so spending family time during Ramadan has been really lovely.

The only challenge is being away from our extended family. We miss them a lot. We talk to our nephews and nieces every day, but that’s still not the same as face-to-face communication. It’s a small sacrifice, and we know that, but when you usually see each other every week, it can be tough.

You and your husband both lean towards the creative side—how do you think you’d like to encourage Dhuha to explore his own creative side?

Nowadays as a parent, you have a lot of external options that you can enrol your kids into. But I think the struggle for us is whether we want to push Dhuha onto the creative path, or let him explore what he himself is comfortable with. Adlan, my husband, and I prefer to do things our way, especially because we’re trying to save up, so as far as creative activities go, it’s about what we can do at home. We go along with whatever he shows interest in too.

Have you faced any moments of realisation (whether in joy or horror) that you had turned into one of your own parents as well?

Oh, I’m very similar to my mom, and I’m extremely aware of it (laughs). It’s hard to explain, but I think the most obvious similarity is how we both speak to children. My mom speaks in a singsong voice, and I’ve realised I also end up singing when speaking to Dhuha. There are so many other things, but they can be minor or intangible. As a parent, a lot of my mannerisms come from her.

What’s a big life lesson you’ve learnt from watching your mother?

The importance of making sacrifices. She still does it now, for my niece who stays with her. I think as parents and grandparents, your job really never ends, and we don’t want it to end either.

As your son grows, what’s something you hope he’ll learn from watching you?

Be super energetic and always full of life (laughs). I think he already does that perfectly; he’s always asking us for things and always ready to ready to try out new activities. I’d love for him to learn to laugh a lot, and to always know how to look on the happier side of things.

Do you remember some of the fears you had when you first became a parent?

I think at the beginning of the journey, you really don’t know anything. And then you realise that even when other people give you advice, ultimately, you have to do things your way. The unknown itself is so daunting at that point, you know? We didn’t have any specific fears we could point out, but it’s more about wanting to do things our way to the best of our abilities.

Have the fears changed now?

I think rather than fear, it’s more of an ambition now. This situation really puts things into perspective, and makes you realise how precious these little moments can be. So now, we’re trying to see how we can stay home as much as possible, even when the circuit breaker ends, because it’s so important to be at home.

What do you think has been one of the biggest challenges in your parenthood journey?

Not having your own space can be difficult. We’re living with family right now, which brings a new set of challenges and joys on its own. So having to manoeuvre our way without being influenced by too many people, in our little combined space, is tricky but doable.

Your happy place, now that you’re unable to leave home:

Our happy place is being in our room, and blasting our music as loud as we can and just dancing the night away. We used to do that outdoors, but now that we can’t, we bring it into our room, and just have fun listening to our favourite 80’s tracks. My son’s been growing up on that music, so let’s see how his music taste turns out when he’s older (laughs).

Advice you’d like to share to new parents:

I think it’s about doing things in the most natural way possible, and whatever seems true to your instincts. The mama intuition is real! You’ve got to believe it, and it kicks in the moment you’re pregnant. You’ve just got to listen to it.

Keep a look out for our finale feature on Sunday, where we hear more about Lisa from a different perspective—from her one and half year old son Dhuha, and her husband Adlan.

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