Tag Archives: Kurdish mother

A reflection on celebrating Newroz while away from my beloved Kurdistan

Piremerd

 

Newroz is a new year celebration which welcomes spring and new life. It is celebrated across faiths and borders in the middle east. As a Kurd growing up in the UK, Newroz was always a very special time in our family. In preparation for this special day we would spring clean, decorate our home, we had new clothes and special food prepared. The smell of kulicha would fill our home the night before Newroz! We would call all our family and friends around the world and wish each other Newroz Piroz. Music and good food were always a vital part of our celebrations, followed by lots of family visits and attending a Newroz party within the Kurdish community!

But, these celebrations are nothing compared to how we celebrate in Kurdistan. I miss the smell of nergis flowers in the air, I miss seeing everyone in colourful Kurdish attire on Newroz day. Even strangers wish you a happy Newroz as they walk past. I miss kissing my grandparents hands and wishing them a happy Newroz.

It is now more important than ever to emphasise the importance of Newroz within our families and especially for our children. Living in diaspora, we are exposed to festivities from various cultures and religion. However, Newroz isn’t celebrated by the general public as it is in Kurdistan, so this celebration should have a big presence in our lives and our children’s memories. I have learnt Newroz traditions from my parents which I must carry forward even though I live away from my beloved Kurdistan.  My children are from a mixed heritage, and this makes it even more important that they recognise Newroz and feel excited as it approaches every year. I want them to practice, understand and share the celebration of Newroz proudly!

This year we started to speak about Newroz a few weeks in advance and the children started to ask questions and asked for a bunch of nergis flowers. Just that request made me feel emotional; they already associate nergis flowers with Newroz!

This year; the week before Newroz, the bedtime stories for them were about the history of Newroz and my memories of Newroz in Kurdistan. When the special day finally arrived; unfortunately, it is not a public holiday for us, so before school and work, we all woke to a decorated home, presents and a special breakfast! I made a ‘Newroz Piroz’ cake for my eldest daughter to share with her classmates, and her class spent the day learning about Newroz! As a Kurdish Mother, the recognition her teachers gave to this festivity was a relief and important. In the evening, we all enjoyed our family favourite cake, some dancing and music and sharing of presents.

As I watched my children’s joy when saying newroz piroz on the phone to family members, I felt deeply nostalgic. I missed my childhood when I didn’t have to plan and worry about how to celebrate this festivity. I wished my children could be amongst the mountains in Kurdistan dancing hand in hand with their friends and dressed in beautiful sparkly Krasi Kurdi. But I was also relieved and comforted from seeing them so happy and excited! They told me to keep up the decorations, and we are due to attend a Newroz party on Mother’s day, so what better way for me as a Kurdish mother to celebrate mother’s day, than to go and enjoy myself surrounded by other Kurds!

The 5 things we do every Newroz, which begin to excite our children for the arrival of Newroz:

1)            Decorate our home, wear new clothes and share presents

2)            Bake special sweet treats with my children

3)            Henna designs and face paint for myself and daughters

4)            Kurdish food and Kurdish music within our home

5)            Retell the history and meaning of Newroz

Regardless of the distance from Kurdistan and from Kurdish family and friends, I will always carry forward our Newroz traditions and customs. It tells the story of our ancient rooted history; it enables my children to know where they come from and how we got here, and to embed these roots into their lives and hearts. I hope they will continue to appreciate, celebrate and share the celebration of Newroz in their lives and future homes.

I hope you enjoyed celebrating Newroz this year. I wish for you a prosperous, joyful and beautiful new year surrounded by your loved ones to take you into next Newroz!

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The culture of sons vs daughters

sons vs daughters

Kurds are hailed for supporting women’s liberation and their rights to have leading roles in different aspects of society. There is a common Kurdish saying:

“Şêr şêre çi jine, çi mêre”

(A lion is a lion; whether female or male)

Common perceptions

It’s common knowledge that for one reason or another; some parents, regardless of culture or religion, favour sons over daughters. This practice has been prevailing since forever! I have heard my friends without any children say I want a son first so he can look after my daughters. Others say that a father carrying a gene which makes a son, makes him a real MAN! There’s also the view that a son is needed to carry forward the family name as daughters grow up, get married and may take on another family’s name, sentencing the father’s family name to inevitable extinction.

Another common reason is that having a girl usually means that she will incur many expenses as she grows up and will also need large dowries or wedding bills from her parents. In certain parts of the world; even till today, generation after generation, there has been a practice of female infanticide where daughters have been smothered to death as soon as they were born. On the other hand, sons are preferred because of their larger earning potential -the gender pay gap debate already feels like such a great injustice for my daughters who are far from even thinking about the career ladder.

My story

In the Kurdish community, this idea of favouring sons over daughters is prevalent. I have two daughters and I am expecting my third daughter soon, I have been told endlessly “I will pray for you to have a son, so you can stop trying”, or “I hope this time you finally have a son” and even “I’m sorry you are having another girl, you can always try again”. Each and every time, I politely replied we are happy, and blessed that we can even have children, gender doesn’t matter and thanks to God, baby girl and I are healthy and that’s our only wish – Alhamdulillah.

However, I wish I could turn around and say to them I pity them all. Any neighbour, friend or family, who feels like giving birth to a son is more important than a daughter; I am sorry for you, I am sorry you do not view your daughters, sisters, mothers, nieces, future daughters and granddaughters as you view the male members of your family. I am sorry you think that anyone who tries for a child automatically wants a son. I am sorry your daughters may not receive an equal amount of love or encouragement from you throughout her life, all because of the limitations you apply to her due to your own narrow mindedness and preconceptions.

Open your mind

No fully functioning parent favours a child over another. Treating our children equally; regardless of their gender, is essential. We hand them emotional stability and support to see them face life with confidence once they know we love and believe in them. Please do not carry out the injustice of feeling disappointed towards your baby from the moment you find out that it is a girl.

If the mother of your child or whoever you know is pregnant with a baby girl, fill her with confidence and love. They will undoubtedly pass on all that positivity to their baby. They are nurturing and raising strong young ladies, women and mothers. Our daughters are not commodities to be owned, labelled, belittled and limited in life.

Do not instill in your daughter that she needs a brother to take care of her and protect her, that she has to become a stereotypical housewife, that a man has more to give than a woman, that being a woman is somewhat a support role for the man, that men are the superheroes, that a woman needs a man to save her, that all a woman is limited to is her outer physical appearance and that her only/main goal is marriage and becoming a baby making machine.

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My approach

I will advocate social change so that my daughters will not face the injustice of one day entering a workplace where they are rewarded less than their male colleagues. I will raise them to challenge and question such discrimination. I will raise them to pursue and treasure education/ career and not limit themselves to just falling in love and ‘settling down’. In my experience, a man who respects and treasures your career aspirations and achievements, is the one worthy of your love and I hope our daughters see this reflected in how their fathers and mothers met and treat each other. We must readdress the balance of everything we provide to our daughters. Who knows, if we educate ourselves firstly, then our family members and their thought processes may change and they may treat equally daughters and sons. We praise female figures such as Malala Yousafzai, so let’s try to raise the next generation of awesome and strong women starting with our own daughters who are yet to be born.

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My kids are driving me CRAZY!

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I have two kids who are amazing, little adorable cutie pies. I constantly use all the greatest words in the world to describe and speak about them. But, and that is a big BUT, they have the ability to drive me coo-coo! I spend a lot of my time with my children, and eventually the day to day drama and ups and downs can get exhausting.

I am sure this is a feeling many mums, if not all, can relate to. At first, we are in denial that little kids can drive us mad. We feel really bad when admitting to ourselves that we are exhausted. Then, we feel as though we are bad parents for even thinking that! But when we have a grueling schedule of being on mummy duty every single day of the year, it really can get overwhelming and some moments are horrendous! We are only human and I have now accepted this is NORMAL!

The day to day chores never end like; constant laundry, sweeping up after every meal, making sure the majority of what they consume is healthy, checking and helping each child to stay happy, healthy and progressing on their own steady level, making sure they get fresh air daily and keeping up to their routine which they love and are used to (this is just 1% of what we do for our children). By 6.30pm they are ready and asking for their bedtime routine. By now, my body is calling out to me to sit down and relax for a few hours. But it’s not really the chores that tires me out; it’s the commotion these two daughters of mine can cook up. Usually, it’s over NOTHING! They get along beautifully, take good care of each other, support and protect each other instinctively and when one is mad or upset they run to the other for comfort and TLC. This always brings so much joy to my heart and gives me a little break while they do activities together and spend time together being all cute. BUT, when they argue, they really go for it! I love fiery and strong willed little girls, but I mean they argue over the amount of water each one has in their bottle. Or they argue over who’s singing songs. If my older daughter (3 years old) sings along to a song, which is her all-time favourite hobby, and my 18 month old joins in, that’s when I hold my breathe because I know how much it frustrates her when we join in and she’s no longer in the spotlight! Then comes the hollering and screaming. From them both! And they shout out to me for help, as if it’s the most serious, traumatic experience of their lives!

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Another major conflicting event is toilet time. My older daughter always asks for privacy when she uses the toilet and I respect and encourage that.  After all, it is her body and she should learn how to speak up for her modesty and privacy. She always asks if we can turn away or close the door. However, the little bugger; her little sister,  who loves to follow her around everywhere, maintains that she has to be in the toilet with her. This kicks off a great big hoo-ha, there are muffled arguments, the door is opening and closing, and it’s all very tense for about 5 minutes! They both call out to me, the older one can argue her case very well, but the younger one can do even better although most of it is babbling, hand actions, pouting and sad puppy eyes.

Most of the time they cry out to me and they have perfected their screams and ‘fake’ cries that are almost believable. I sometimes start to think oh dear how can I get through this, day in, day out?! Then I stop and think to myself, they are just children! We were once all children and we must relate to this. In their world, this is the most chaotic event of the day!

When they can’t decide on their outfit of the day after they have got out and tried on 7 outfits already. When they want to lie down together but not be in each other’s personal space (IMPOSSIBLE!). When they want to cuddle or kiss each other, but one of them isn’t in a cuddly mood. The list is endless! But now so is my patience. I am growing more and more patience with them as I learn how to deal with their disagreements and tantrums.

Everyone gets frustrated, and if they are turning to me for support and comfort, I will drop any chore and kiss their forehead or little hand that got stuck somewhere. I will lean down and explain to them the joys of sharing and sisterhood. I will count to 100 in my head as my 3 year old eventually decides on an outfit. After all, she is developing her own taste in clothes and life, and I should encourage that not hinder it. The chores will always be there, so they can wait another 10 minutes while I spend some quality time helping my children flourish in life. If I don’t do this, how can I show them that mama will always be there for you to support, encourage and push you a little further in your relationships and in life?

flowers

And now I feel bad again for complaining, because as I am writing this, my little one is standing next to her big sister as if they are attached at the hips, and the older one is busy but she bends down, pats her head and kisses her all over her face, and all the while I am melting and smiling to myself.

Suddenly, little one picks up a pull along puppy and the older one, flips out and starts pulling the toy away from her, insisting that she had wanted this toy all day long. In fact, it was in front of their faces all day and they just walked past it. I do not like to be a helicopter parent, always running and assisting them, sometimes they should learn to deal with conflict between themselves. So I have learnt to take a back seat and see how things pan out, and the little one just said “Heeeeree!” and shared the puppy. My 3 year old says, “Ok I will teach you how to pull it along”. Pheeeeeew! Mama is one relieved woman right now!

Sometimes, the constant commotion and undesired noise, can really make you feel like a slave in your own home as you feel like there is no ‘Me’ time.  But when they are asleep and I sit down, and the memories of the day play around in my mind, when I fill my husband, friends and family in on their bond, funny stories and progress, when I comfort and cuddle my babies who pretend they had a nightmare so they can get extra cuddles. This is when the noisy disturbance is worth it, this is when I let everything go and again recount my daily blessings and this is when I sip on a mug of tea and commend myself for another successful day. If they didn’t argue or get sad and angry, how can they learn to deal with their emotions and how can they ever feel the joy of cuddles and comforting words?! It all works out in the end, and it all comes together. Before I know it, this will all be stories and distant memories that I will tell them about.

Although my role as their mother and best friend is extremely rewarding, it can still be energy-draining. It saddens me to point out that in Kurdish culture (among many others) I have heard countless times, once you have children your life is over. It’s just your children that matter now and all you do is for them! This mindset and theory gets a big thumbs down from me.

I understand that we sacrifice and give so much time and attention to our children throughout life, but we deserve and need to enjoy ourselves and our own lives too! So remember, always, always give yourself a regular break and treat yourself to activities, therapeutic classes and pick up your hobbies again or find new ones! I used to think that a mum who is always there 24/7 is the best mum. But we also need to re-energize and have our own lives too! It doesn’t make us terrible mothers to have a day a week to ourselves. I used to adore arts and crafts during school, so I have picked this up again and regularly attend an amazing arts class now. I catch up with friends over coffee or go on adventures with them, I organise days out and get involved in my community a lot. This is the break I need on a regular basis to stay sane and to remember that I am entitled to enjoy my own life too no matter how many children and responsibilities I have.

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So remember awesome mums (and dads too), you are not alone, we all need some air and space sometimes, and it is well deserved! In the words of a great man (my father) children are like white pieces of paper and they learn and record behaviours and feelings they receive from their surroundings. They are emotional sponges who soak up their environment and will definitely feel angry or upset if we are showing and feeling those emotions. A happy mummy equals happy children! When you have to be there and face the chaos; sometimes, just block it out and think of happy things in your mind, because before you know it, your child has either solved their own problem or somehow magically turned their tears into laughter. Arguments and rivalry between siblings is completely normal and no matter how often or intensely they argue, they will always be the best of friends.

Instead, let’s all turn our attention onto the great joys and laughter our children bring us. Sing through the sad moments, and turn tooth brushing time into a little wiggly dancing time. Even the tense times can be made fun through laughter and song. See my previous blog on how to make learning fun – Read my previous post “Make Learning Fun”

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A Greeting to all Kurdish mothers

kurdish mother, Kurdistan, motherhood, parenting, blog Hello everyone! Pexosh halm!

My name is Tara, I am very excited to be a part of this group and to share my parenting experiences, tips and stories with you all. Continue reading

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