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Five Foot Mummy

Parenting with strength from above

Happy Birthday Gorgeous Man

Its my husband Marcs’ birthday today so this post is dedicated to him. A heads up on spelling, missing words and grammar mistakes because he usually edits my blogs but I can’t let him do it for this one. We all believe our husbands are special, because they really are, but I want to share with you why mine is extra special to me.

I met my husband at university but we only got to know one another when I left for my masters. From the moment we connected he called or texted me every single day to ask me about my day, if I’ve had any dreams and all the rest of it. Even to this day when my husband goes to work or even just out he will message me somehow, even if it’s a funny video on Facebook. I love this so much because it makes me truly believe I’m always on his mind and I’m the first person he wants to contact.

He proposed to me when everything around me was falling apart. I didn’t have a home anymore and just graduated. Then he came along and gave me hope when I felt like my world was crumbling. He is the bravest human being I know because he married me even against all odds. He believed I was worth all the hardship and abuse and for that I am truly grateful.

My husband is a romantic gentleman. When we get into disagreements his sincere vocal apology is always accompanied by pink flowers (tulips or roses) or a peanut butter kit kat. He is always the first to apologise and always knows when I’m not happy with something. Even through my giant teeth smile he can see through what I’m feeling.

IMG_2804.jpgThese are only a few of the countless reasons why my husband it amazing. I really appreciate everything he does for Alina and I. So I wish the love of my life, the apple of my eye, the salt to my pepper a very happy birthday. I’m so honoured and privileged to be your wife and mother to your child. We thank God that your in our lives.

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The truth behind comparison

Why do we compare? We all do it, some maliciously, some unintended but we all compare and it comes from so many places in our minds. We all also register the comparison in different ways, some of us are hurt by it and it dampens our self esteem. Some of us are challenged by it and channel it in a positive way. Comparison for me personally is a horrible thing and I do fall into the category of people that are hurt by it. When I was a little girl my parents would harmlessly compare me to my cousins or other more “smarter’ kids in my class in an attempt to get me to perform better at school in subjects they considered to be of great value. They would tell me in front of family gatherings they wish I would be better at science like my uncle’s daughters. I don’t believe they wanted to upset me but it really embarrassed me and made me feel inadequate.

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I knew from a young age that I was never going to be into those typical Bengali “success subjects” like Maths, Science and English. I only did well in English because I like fiction and enjoyed babbling about my opinions in essays. This comparison that I experienced as a child has left a scar that I am choosing to use in a positive way in which I will raise my own daughter. As I got older and met more people in different stages of my life, I realised that everyone is comparing themselves to others. We have the media that so many of us worship comparing celebrities, politicians, religious leaders and so much more. I even found myself doing it as second nature especially when social media began to boom and the availability to get too much information on peoples personal lives. I found myself one day comparing myself to a stranger on Instagram and I felt that same inadequacy I felt as a child when my parents did it in front of all those people.

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It was so strange that a mere projection of an idealistic life was making me feel in a such a way. That is when I realised this comparison thing is pretty self destructive. I made a decision that I would actively avoid comparing and people who want to compare me, my daughter, my husband or my loved ones. I never want my daughter to feel like she is inadequate. The same goes for my husband. Comparison robs us of the reassurance that we are indeed amazing. There is only one of each of us created uniquely and comparison steals away creativity when our focus is diverted to another person. So fellow parents, don’t compare your children, your spouse or your loved ones. Don’t even compare yourself to anyone else.

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Please believe that you all are truly the best versions of yourselves. If you really want to help your household, cheer them on and the gifts and talents that are present. For instance my daughter is 16 months, loves to have conversations, sings and is left handed. I praise her for all her efforts and make a conscious decision not to compare her to other children. If I find myself doing it, I do tell myself off because when she is old enough to register those words I never want to feel what I felt as a child. As for your own morale, start with all the good things about yourself, write it down if you have to and it will slowly spread across to the things you never thought about that are incredible about you too.

Remote working with a baby

I have been hunting for remote design work for a month now because I didn’t want to be away from my baby. Working remotely is the best option for me until Alina can join her local nursery. I recently landed myself back in the world of employment and assumed it was going to be easy. I really need to stop making assumptions. I was so wrong about it being easy. It’s definitely a juggling act that requires a lot of planning. I work from home and I know this may sound like a dream because it has lots of perks but it can get tough if I’m not organised. With a wriggly toddler who tries to chuck stuff at my MacBook and screams if I’m not talking to her it can get pretty ugly. I get some help from my parents with her but because I’m at home they assume I should be able to do both. After all to them it looks like I just press buttons on a screen all day.
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So I have figured out how to make my new job work for me. I’m a graphics designer and I create all my content from scratch. I practice my craft a lot so I can keep up with the other designers. I keep a scrapbook file of graphics I like in my laptop for inspiration. Because I’m a mother there is more of a need for me to work faster because I don’t have enough time in a day. I don’t work conventional hours, I work however many hours it takes to create beautiful artwork. My primary focus is my child and I plan my work around her schedule. Alina doesn’t actually cry anymore unless she’s tired. She sleeps very well after her lunch for about two hours. During that time I usually take Skype calls and finish off urgent tasks. When she’s awake we usually just try to hang out together. She likes to think she’s doing the same thing as me so I give her the iPad and open up the drawing app. She loves it and usually can be entertained for hours. She also loves watching nursery rhymes on my phone. I think she likes the size of the phone because it fits perfectly into her little hands. The nursery rhymes are made up of about 20 songs that run for an hour. It’s very educational too and she’s learnt a lot of her English vocabulary from it.
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So fellow parents I hope you are encouraged to fight for the work arrangement that suits you. I believe that unless you have a job that requires actual physical interaction with another person, a job can be done remotely. A decent computer, good broadband and a mobile phone is all most people need to get going. There are some great recruiters and websites that specialise in finding the best suited role for you. Nothing is impossible. Somedays are harder than others for me as a remote worker but it’s all worth it. I believe God gives us all enough grace to handle our given portion of life.

Where did all my friends go?

 

Each new season I enter in life I find myself wondering where did my friends go. I question myself am I not a good friend that I keep loosing people? What exactly am I doing wrong? I am the type of person that will try fixing the problem just so I can have my friends in my life. But a lot of the relationships were just not meant to be. It doesn’t mean either of us are bad human beings. I did find it a hard reality to grasp though.
When I became a Christian in 2010 a lot of my friends disappeared. They didn’t want to be associated with someone who left Islam. That really hurt my feelings, but I was fortunate enough to meet new people who supported my new way of life. I do however have two precious friends who are still in my life today and I’m convinced if I shaved my head and called myself Zaza they would still love me. For the next 6 years I had a whirlwind of new friendships. Some are still thriving relationships today, some have become a passing hello and some have disappeared.
Getting married and having a baby caused more of my friends to disappear. I guess new responsibilities made me super busy and I couldn’t be a present friend like I use to be. I think I only realised my friends were disappearing when I tried to reach out and they were busy with their lives. I didn’t know their schedules anymore or their new relationships. At first it hurt but then I understood that I can’t have it all. I needed to be a present friend. Some people just need that and it doesn’t make them bad people.
Spending a lot of time at home I had to actively try to get to know new people. I love meeting new people but I am pretty shy. I don’t always know where to start the conversation but I love encountering a new person. I love how different people sound and how much purpose a person carries. I decided to reach out to people who are in my age group, who aren’t just parents but just great people. I’m so glad that I was brave enough to reach out because for the last 18 months I’ve met some lovely women. And I hope to carry them into each new season of my life. All relationships need both parties to participate and be willing to be part of all the seasons that come along in life. It’s ok to let some people go if they don’t want to follow through into every stage. I’m grateful that I understand it now.
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I need help

Asking for help is a very hard thing for me to do. Its so silly because from a young age we are taught to ask for help if we want to better ourselves. I don’t know when it became a bad thing in my mind. Before entering motherhood I was able to do everything by myself, the housework, wife stuff and working a full time job. I would feel run down but, then I’d get over it. I’m also very blessed to have an attentive husband who helps without me having to ask. But its not a bad thing if I ask my husband for help. So why the mental struggle? I have been actively trying to fight the urge to do everything by my self and actually ask for help. I’m so much happier for actively getting help with my motherhood journey. After becoming a mother I was under the impression that I could do everything by myself and if not then people would help me without asking. The truth is people are not mind readers. I knew they all had good intentions but unless I asked they wouldn’t know what kind of help I needed.

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My problem of asking for help comes from the false notion that if I can’t do it by myself I’ve failed. To me it didn’t make sense how I could be at home all day with a baby but get nothing done. I thought while being at home I’d be able to do lots of creative projects, designs, start a business and all that good stuff. But I couldn’t do any of it. I started to think that I was inefficient with my time, disorganised or maybe even lazy. But the truth is that being a mother is hard work. Emphasis on work because it requires physical labour. I was lucky if I could brush my hair some days. Feeds, cuddles, nappy changes and laundry was on repeat for a good 6 months after my baby was born. I was absolutely knackered. I was so stubborn in my mind I didn’t want to ask for help but I yearned for someone to offer it. Just for a quiet baby free shower or to enjoy my coffee warm.

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The mental exhaustion had finally caught up. I was getting upset over little things and it was affecting my mood. I began to ask my family and friends to help. They were so happy to do so. They started off just watching her for a couple of hours so I could sort myself out or do some housework. I started to feel rested so I could function better as a wife and mother. I ask all new mothers to not be stubborn or afraid to ask for help. Nobody on the planet is prepared for motherhood no matter how many fancy qualifications or books they may have read. Be kind to yourself and for the sake of your wellbeing ask for help.

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Alina’s curly crown

 

I sometimes think I should really be offended when people act surprised that I can look after my baby’s hair. I think the extreme exhaustion and the fact that I don’t really care about options really helps. It really is a reminder that human beings are so ignorant sometimes. When I was pregnant I knew my baby would have different hair to me. I was so excited because I have admired African hair since I was little. I still remember the first time I met a black girl called Clara in year one that had these lovely long braids with colourful beads in it. I lived in a predominately Bengali community so meeting her was very refreshing.I went home and begged my mum for the beads so I can go into school and do the hairstyle. She bought the wrong beads! She bought beads that can be sewn in like embellishments.
Oh mother! So I asked my friend if she wanted my beads in exchange for hers. She was so kind, without a second thought she started pulling out the colourful treasure out of her pocket and tried to plait my hair. We both were in for a shock when we discovered the beads wouldn’t stay in my hair like it did in hers. She untied one of her plaits and showed me how she does her hair and it was magical. The plaits were easily woven into each other like freshly made cotton candy. It was so soft and thick. Our six year old minds just didn’t understand why my hair couldn’t hold the style. I did understand that I totally loved her hair.
So fast forward to the present day. I began my research and asked other parents with mixed hair how they take care of their children’s curly crown. My baby was born with straight hair and it’s custom for Bengali’s to shave it off. We didn’t shave her hair which caused a mini fight with my parents but we stuck to our instincts. They believe the hair to be unclean as the child has been in the womb for 9 months and that it will not grow properly. Just to clarify this is not true. The womb is probably a more sterile environment than the outside world. Secondly hair grows from inside out, so I dismissed their traditions.
After a few weeks of bringing Alina home her hair gradually started to change from light waves to full coiled curls. It was breathtakingly beautiful. I stroke it everyday till now. I took a few tips from my fellow curly hair mammas but I also discovered that her hair felt like mine but it was curly. So I had to incorporate Bengali hair care routine. Bengali people use oils and massage their head a lot. So I massage my baby’s head in the pattern of her curls to simulate circulation and induce natural hair oils. I use a gentle earth friendly baby shampoo and wash her hair once a week. My own hair I wash twice a week but because she has curls that I don’t want to dry out I limit the washing. In damp hair I apply a pea size amount of Shea butter into her hair. I did originally try virgin olive like I do for myself but the moisture didn’t seem to seal properly. Her hair is transforming again so I’m excited to see the new texture and learn more ways to take care of it.
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The Union of two worlds

I love being married, especially to my lovely French-Ivorian man. Our union was not the easiest. In fact it may have been harder than child birth! The mental stamina from both parties was needed. I can boldly say with confidence that my husband is the bravest man I know. Even after marriage the cultural differences try to create collisions but we have learnt to overcome it. Bengali people don’t usually mix. It’s common for my people to marry within the village or even a cousin so the bloodline can continue to be ‘pure’. I however don’t believe in the false concept of keeping blood pure. I very much encourage interracial marriage. Love is not limited by countries, colour or culture.

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We had our first child last year and will be married for 5 years in April. I’m so proud of how far we’ve come. We didn’t allow our cultural differences to create strife but instead we learned everyday and respect each other. We understood early in our relationship that marriage came with sacrifices. Sacrifice has a negative connotation but within marriage it’s a beautiful selfless act. We sacrificed the point scoring and judgemental behaviour of customs that one another were not used to. Some might find it hard to identity with these kind of behaviours because they are so accustomed to doing it all the time. I had a tendency of bottling my feelings and then exploding with all the things that my husband did to annoy me. My record keeping of his wrongs was one of the behaviours I needed to get rid of. It was so hard because it made me feel superior to have scores. But once I learnt that we are on the same team and his happiness actually makes me happy, I was able to stop.

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My husband encourages me to cook my traditional food and wear saris for any occasion. I also try to imbed his culture, food and language in our family. For example I play French cartoons for my baby that my husband used to watch as a child. I cook plantain and buy Supermalt, that I was only introduced to once I met him. It’s absolutely delicious, everyone really needs to try it once in their lives.

Perhaps some may feel that it’s too much effort for a relationship. Maybe even what’s the point of going through all the differences and hardships of an interracial marriage? Life is so colourful and spending it in a dry dead relationship is torture. Anything worth having is hard work. But marriage is a special union that needs all your strength to work. It’s one of the sweetest relationships that if nurtured properly everyone wins. I challenge all the people who are married or in a relationship to step out and sacrifice one thing and watch your relationship thrive. It’s time to take a paint brush and splash new colours into your relationship.

Please sleep baby!

Does anyone else negotiate with their infant to just sleep? I have tried all my negotiation skills and bribes to get my baby to sleep. Alina fights sleep like its a plague. But the funny thing is she clearly wants to sleep because she’s crying, rubbing her eyes and stalking me more than usual. I’m pretty sure she has fomo (fear of missing out). Once she’s slept she’s much better. She’s happy to wander around the house and mind her own business instead of stalking me.
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I have not slept properly in nearly two years. During my pregnancy I couldn’t sleep because I was either throwing up, super hungry or needing the toilet constantly. People who come to visit us often remind me of how knackered I look. The thick layer of concealer didn’t seem to work very well. I may have to ask for a refund.
The first time I slept through the night was in South Africa after Alina’s first birthday. It was amazing! I forgot what it was like to have uninterrupted sleep. No little human clinging onto my body or waking up every 3 hours for milk. I went from a permanent state of hungover to a fully functioning human. I even started applying my eyeliner daily! My lovely parents in-love really helped to get her into a bedtime routine. Mummys please don’t be afraid to ask for help, you’re still wonder-woman.
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When we returned to London she knew she wasn’t on holiday anymore. Her grandparents weren’t there to take her away and distract her with their French songs. She started fighting sleep but we continued with her routine. The latest fight is getting her to remain in her cot all night. In the still of the night our precious baby decides she doesn’t want to sleep in a princess kitted out cot but instead she wants to sprawl herself across her dad and I. Some nights she wriggles around in our bed like a combat ninja with her eyes shut and nobody gets sleep that night.
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So what do I do? I tell myself she won’t be like this forever and she will eventually grow out of it. My husband and I as a team affirm our daughter and comfort her but we try to consistently get her to stay in her bed. She has no understanding of our time yet and we have to always remind her that we will see her in the morning. So do I like this part of motherhood? Not so much, but loving and making her into a decent human is all that matters in the end.

Moving home with a baby

We recently moved out of our flat and it was pretty tough. Moving in general is a stressful event but with a baby it’s even harder. Here are a few tips on how to survive a move without having a meltdown.

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1
List all the things you want to take with you and start packing early. Packing with a baby is hard work. Little babies are like little whirlwinds of messing up everything especially when they can crawl. Alina unpacked our books and ripped up paper.
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Round up friends and family to help you. This will make life easier as there will be someone to entertain your baby. Alina loves her aunties and uncles and forgets about stalking me when they are around. This allowed me to pack items.
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For the move hire a professional removal company if you can afford it. I really wish we did this because a one day move took 3 days. This is because we were trying to wrap fragile things and transport it ourselves. The van we hired just wasn’t appropriate for fragile items. Removal companies are experienced in moving all items and if any damage occurs the company will compensate.
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 On the moving day leave your baby with a nanny or family. The process of packing seemed to upset Alina so we took her favourite toys to my parent’s house and let her stay there as we moved our belongings.
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 Pack snacks and even some sandwiches. Moving can make you super hungry and getting access to the kitchen is impossible on the moving day. My husband and I were so hungry and just found it so hard to get time to grab some food. I had some cereal bars on me but I did wish I had made some sandwiches.
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Try not to stress out. I know it’s easier said than done but children can sense stress. I was feeling a little anxious about the move and that was upsetting Alina so she did cry the few days coming up to the moving day.

There you have it, my moving tips on surviving a move with a baby. It’s hard but never impossible.

 

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