Tag Archives: well being

The day my little daughter left me

The build up to my four year old daughter; Ashti, starting school was immensely difficult for me! We did our research and chose the school which suited her best. We attended the summer fayre and open evening and had the home visit, which all went smoothly. I hope parents in Kurdistan benefit from similar stepping stones provided by schools to make families more comfortable and welcomed during these transitions.

Whilst buying her uniform, I showed how proud and happy I was, she looked so smart and perfect in her uniform. But the side of me which was breaking down, I kept that hidden for most of the summer holidays. I left purchasing her school shoes until the last few weeks before she started school. It felt like once the shoes were bought, it confirmed that she will finally be leaving me. I used the summer holidays to do many activities and days out with her. I just wanted to get the most quality time and memories with her. 

The start date approached, and the night before she started school; as we put her to bed, I couldn’t stop hugging and kissing her. I found myself staring at her while she slept. I found my voice shaky as my husband was having a normal conversation with me. He asked me “What’s wrong? Are you OK?” The more I was adamant that I was alright, the shakier my voice got. As he hugged me, I burst out crying uncontrollably in his arms and couldn’t get my words out. All I wanted was to have my Ashti small forever. For she was perfect, fun, kind, cheeky, considerate, sensitive, strong, inquisitive, sharp, wise and loving. She had the deepest conversations with me and always wanted to do everything with me.

I ironed her clothes to perfection, triple checked everything and went to bed. I woke up countless times worrying and praying to God to keep Ashti as lovely as she is, to protect her, keep her safe and happy. In the night, I heard little footsteps running down the corridor and into my bed. Ashti’s little sister; Arianne, had woken up. She wanted to lay in my arms, she planted a kiss on my face and a little hand on my cheek as she fell back asleep. This was just what I needed. It felt like a gift from God to help me relax. I then had the most comforting dream that she was so happy at school and my heart was at ease.

I wonder if you all felt this too: although Ashti had gone to nursery for a year before and to countless toddler groups; when it came to the morning of attending reception, I just wanted the ground to swallow me up. I wanted to cry like a baby. But I showed a happy, excited and positive mummy. As I got her ready, watched her eat breakfast and fixed her hairstyle; I could see and hear the excitement in her voice, eyes and smile. Just once she got emotional and hugged me tight, saying she will miss me too much. I reassured her she will be just fine and I will be there to pick her up soon.

As we walked to school, I took countless photos of her, I held back tears but had that lump in my throat. I watched her embrace this change so smoothly and beautifully that I became ashamed of myself for not coping. I wondered if this was normal. Why weren’t the other parents showing their sadness? Was everyone trying to be brave too? I saw her best friend and her mum hugged me, then I burst out crying. I couldn’t hold it in any longer. She cried along and we both comforted each other. All the while, our daughters were chatting and playing away. It was time to leave, but I delayed my exit. Subconsciously, I was trying to just hold onto my baby girl a bit longer. Finally, I kissed her and told her to have an amazing time. I told Arianne we have to leave now, she ran away and said “No, no, me play Ashti! Me stay!”

I convinced her to come with me, we were going to music class to keep busy. I couldn’t go back home without Ashti around. There would be too many memories of her surrounding me. Arianne came to me, but as we left I held her so tight and cried. She hugged me and said “Mummy, you ok? Ashti come on, come on! Or Ashti big girl?” All I could say was “Yes, Arianne, Ashti is a big girl now.”

As we walked away, with mixed emotions, I felt proud of her for settling in so well, for looking so smart, for being so positive and awesome on her first day at big girl’s school. I also felt like I have never missed her so much. I wondered if her perfection, innocence, curious mind, kindness and wisdom will be preserved whilst at school. I wondered if she will miss me. At the same time I didn’t want her to as it would make her sad. I was basically still a wreck, but I showed Arianne my happy side so she doesn’t catch onto my sadness. 

We went to a toddler music group, and as soon as we entered, the teacher, assistant and a few other parents all asked where was Ashti. And so it began again, the tears filled my eyes and fell uncontrollably down my cheeks. All the women who I thought were tough started crying too. It was such a scene! It was reassuring that they had all felt this too, and they still do, even though some of their children are my age now! A few new parents came into the room, and when they saw us all teary and hugging, they wondered if they had walked into the wrong group, ha!! It was hilarious!

As we sang, I watched little Arianne being so happy, clever, funny and full of life. She sat close to me, and reminded me of the days when I used to bring Ashti to this group, we always sat in the same spot back then too. I reminded myself this is Arianne, this is my time with her now. Soon, the group was over, usually we would leave last as Arianne loves saying bye to everyone. But as soon as the clock hit 11am, we were out of that door like lightning, making our way to pick up Ashti. We arrived early. The 15 minute wait felt like forever. But as I spoke to other parents, I heard myself in their voices. We all felt the same. 

As the classroom door opened, my Ashti was the first one out. She gave me a beautiful piece of artwork she had made! She looked ever so beautiful, still so clean and smart but just a bit grown up now. She then said to me “Why are you here mummy? I want to stay!” I knew from that, she had a fantastic time. She showed us her favourite spots of the day. So far, she had wanted to be a princess dentist when she grows up, but today she decided she was going to be a vet from now on. She told me she had known the date and day of the week and had stood up and recognised it on the board in front of her whole class. She told me she had made new friends and that she even loved her new head teacher.

We spoke all the way home about her day. She hugged Arianne and said she missed her soft cheeks. And me, well I was so happy to have her next to me again, we held hands all the way home. Daddy came home with a present; her first big girl book, The BFG by Roald Dahl. When I saw it, guess what? I did it again, I started crying. It hit me again, our little girl is not so little anymore.

A few days into her going to school, I have accepted it gradually, the best gift I can give her right now, is the gift of letting her be independent. As my first born, it was never going to be easy to let her go, but it’s for everyone’s benefit. The gift of education, a good school and a child who is curious; are all priceless. I was told that only a good mum cares so much and crying is my way of showing my strong bond with Ashti. This is definitely true, and I am also pregnant with our third child, so I guess hormones are playing a part in this too.

I want to wish every parent, carer, guardian, and every little child who is now just a teeny weeny bit bigger, all the very best in their new stages in life. If your child has started nursery, reception, college or university, let it all out, all the emotions and tears. But please don’t feel helpless. Use this free time productively. Whether we work, volunteer or your work is raising a family, we need to maintain a healthy mind and body so we are ready for every day and for our children and husbands to enjoy life with us.

My 5 tips to help cope with our children starting nursery or school: 

  1. Confide in family and friends. They may have faced this transition before and can listen and comfort you. 
  2. Spend the less one to one time you have with your child productively. Suddenly, this daily limited time feels very special! 
  3. Participate and engage in conversations, online groups and days out with parents of other children in your child’s class. This helps you to feel more involved and you can share your feelings and ideas regarding this new phase in your lives. 
  4. Try to keep yourself busy whilst they are at school. Spend more one to one time with your other children, go to work, start voluntary positions, study or get involved in your community. It will contribute to your own growth and social life which is essential. 
  5. Plan and organise great weekend days out (or in) that you can spend with your child. These create lifelong memories for you all and strengthen parent to child, and sibling relationships.

I am still learning to embrace this change. When I kiss her in the mornings and wish her the best day ever, I see an independent child who is ready to face her day with excitement and happiness. For me, that is all I need to feel comforted. I hope such changes are smooth and easy going for you and your children. Don’t hesitate to speak to the teacher if your child is struggling with this transition, and share your techniques and ideas of how to make them more comfortable whilst at school. At the end of the day, the best feeling for us as parents is knowing that our babies are comfortable, happy, safe and thriving at school. And let’s be honest, a few more hours to ourselves each day is not too bad anyway!


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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?

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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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My top recommendations for keeping kids cool in summer

Little girl running in summer, Kurdish Mother, Tara Miran

In the summer heat (especially in the humid weather in Kurdistan), it can be quite tricky trying to keep our children comfortable, cool and safe. Continue reading

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