The Mom Next Door Series: Sania M

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I am happy to introduce you to Mom Sania; someone with whom I've become web friends over the past two years thanks to our common interests in blogging, raising energetic boys, and our dedication to kindness as a family goal. So much of her interview answers remind me of myself and I am grateful to have her voice included in the series.

Just last Wednesday, Sania gave birth to her second son (she answered my interview questions a few weeks prior).  Here in this interview,  she shares her life with her first boy, Ali, who fills her days with more superheroes, mess, and laughter than she ever imagined.  A New Jersey native transplanted to Florida, she is learning to make her family at home among DisneyWorld and beaches while still maintaining the traditions and connections to her family up north.

Please grab a cup of coffee and learn more about Sania's life that just now is taking another inescapable but wonderful change with the addition of her newborn; Adam.  I know if interviewed today, Sania's answers would vary and hold new perspective - but that's the story of all moms, isn't it? Constantly evolving and changing. (Please also send her a little well wish out into the universe for patience and energy for those first few weeks of a new baby)!

Who are you?  Sania,  27 years old Pakistani-Muslim mom from Tampa, Florida (moved down south 9 months ago, originally a Jersey Girl born and raised!)  I blog at 

Who is in your family?  My husband Wajih and 3 year old son Ali. We are also looking forward to the arrival of Ali's little brother coming up in the middle of June!

Family Disneyworld visits since moving to FL
What do you do for work?  Up until we moved to Florida in September 2013, I was a full time working mom as a CPA accountant. So my journey through SAHMhood is relatively new and mostly all of it has been while I was pregnant! Needless to say, its been amazing and also exhausting at times!
first big international vacation with a toddler!  Istanbul, Turkey
What has become (at least for now) you're parenting mantra or guiding principle? Listen to all the advice people dish out, read all the books you need to read to feel more confident. But in the end do what works best for you/your child and what works best will evolve over time. The only constant with kids is change, learn to accept this! You might finally have a great bed time routine down and then out of left field suddenly he starts waking up at night for no reason (could be teething, viral infection, nightmares, boredom, really at 4am does it matter WHY he's up). Be ready that this will be rough, but you will get through it; you both will. 

I feel like after 3.5 years of parenting my mantra has become that children work best on a routine, but the routine needs to be flexible. So go easy on yourself, you might make mistakes along the way but the best part is your kids are usually oblivious to them. Essentially, all children really want or need is your love and attention. So what if you make mistakes at first or if things don't go as planned all the time. They will eventually, and most importantly, he may not show it now, but I know he will grow up and cherish these memories we've made. 

Halloween festival in FL
What would your pre-mom self be surprised to know about motherhood?  There was so much lack of reality that my pre-mom self had about motherhood. I loved kids, I thought I wanted 4 maybe 5! I thought the moms who complained about how 'hard' everything is were lazy or unprepared. I had this naive impression that I would fall in love with motherhood immediately. And I totally assumed that hyper kids were a result of bad mothering, 'Puh, my kids would be way more disciplined!' 

In reality, I had a pretty tough time recovering from an unexpected C section and then my son was an awful sleeper for the first 2 years! I breastfed for 6 months before I went back to work and I struggled a lot with milk supply or wondering if he's getting enough. My first experience with a newborn was like a slap in the face. While I did love him, there was a lot of experiences I had never imagined and loving motherhood came to me gradually over time which is not how I pictured it happening. Being a perfectionist, a list maker and an organization freak, for me motherhood really was one of the toughest tasks I took on, mostly because at first I was full of self doubt, trying too hard to do everything perfectly and to raise a perfect kid. 

I think pre-mom Me would be surprised to learn that motherhood is a lot about accepting yourself, improving yourself, and loving yourself so that you can be the best mother possible for your child. As he grows older I still struggle, now more with the type of morals and values I want to instill, but I realize that the best way to teach him anything is leading by example. Our actions as parents speak volumes compared to our words. 

Mother's day breakfast in bed tradition
What would your pre-mom self be proud to know about you in motherhood? I was able to learn a lot about 'boy things' like superheros (DC Comics is totally different from Marvel). And I (mostly) got over my fear of dogs and lizards because of my animal obsessed child. I passed along some of my clean freak qualities to my child like running for a towel every time there is a spill, or having all his toys line up perfectly in height order. 

Also, it took some time but I was able to channel my organizational skills to successfully set up a weekly routine where we're able to do all the activities I had imagined doing with my kids. Things like story time and arts/crafts at the library, swimming classes, trips to every single park and playground in our area, ABC flashcards, counting games and bath time painting occupy most of our days. These activities may be Mom energy draining too but worth it when I see him learning, exploring and growing. (They also make me feel better about the days he watches 3,489,320 hours of cartoons!)

The many faces of Ali
What keeps you up at night? I'm 38 weeks pregnant, what doesn't keep me up at night? I've come to terms with the fact that sleep and I will not be buddies for a few years.

What big projects, worries, or events have you busy right now? Besides the fact that I have a baby due in three weeks and have yet to get the crib ready, Ramadan is coming up at the end of June. It's the month for Muslims where we fast from dawn til dusk for 30 days. It's like an intense detox of the body/spirit, and personally, I love it. This year since I will be recovering from childbirth I won't be fasting (women do not fast while menstruating or breastfeeding if it's putting a strain on them) and I'm kind of bummed out about missing the experience. 

Also, every year my husband and I like to prepare baskets full of dates (it's tradition to break your fast with a date as it's packed with vitamins) to gift to all our family and friends. This year we have no family nearby but I still want to get the baskets done for the few friends we've made. I also want to do some charity projects where Ali can get involved too. Just hoping I'll find the time for it all!

last family trip before baby#2 arrives!  NYC
How do you unwind or re-charge? Blog reading, putting items in my online shopping cart to feel the rush of impulse shopping but then never checking out, warm tea and a good book.

What do you feel like you wish you were better at being a mom? Worrying less. I think its an innate mom thing, because I haven't met a mother yet who hasn't shown concern about something her kid is doing/not doing. We measure our children against other kids or ourselves against other moms. I try to focus on channeling the worrying toward positive improvement instead of letting it spiral into 'Mom Guilt'.

face painting and balloon figures at the local mall
Who are the moms you look up to? My own mom. She raised 5 kids while working full time. My grandparents lived with us so they helped watch us, but she did all the cooking, cleaning, diaper changing, waking up for night feeding and somehow didn't lose her sanity. I'm constantly searching for her level of patience and superpowers (my sisters and I refer to her as a Spartan Warrior, because none of us can figure out how she does it). 

Sania and her Mom
The main thing I always admire about my mom is how she does not let life get her overwhelmed. She is constantly making herself available to others no matter how hectic her own schedule is. She would always tell us not to hesitate when given the opportunity to help someone no matter how big or small the gesture, that the blessings in opening your heart and doors to someone else are worth all the effort. She strongly believes being a kind friend isn't confined to just those within your community or culture. I saw her pull up a chair and share tea with our Jewish neighbor or babysit for someone at work who was going through a rough time. 

Another trait I admire is how she made time for herself despite all the craziness at home (for many years we were 9 people living under one roof and she took care of us all!). She loves gardening, sewing and painting and with everything on her plate I am honestly baffled at how good she was about keeping up with her talents and hobbies! 

Sania's entire family
Also, other blogger moms definitely encourage me. Tabitha with her 12 months of kindness project has inspired me to implement it in our own family along with a (failed) attempt at Screen Free Week. I love being inspired by all moms around me, I feel like there are opportunities to improve yourself and learn from others everywhere - its just a matter of seeking them out! (Editors Note:  Thank you, Sania!  You inspire me as well, I am so glad the internet brought us together!)

What are the small joys of being a Mom that you treasure most right now? I really am so happy to have the opportunity as a SAHM to teach my son things he would've otherwise learned from someone else. Over the past month I've been working on teaching Ali new prayers in Arabic. Getting a kid who loves to run around to sit and recite words in a language neither of us speaks or understand isn't easy. Sometimes it takes bribing (so wrong I know, I like to call it 'negotiating') or turning it into a game/song. And nearly always when I ask him to recite in front of someone else he doesn't want to. Yesterday when he saw his dad and me praying he sat down without being asked to and recited the two prayers I taught him. It was a really proud moment for me because I could say I taught my son that myself. I know he would've learned them anyway once he goes to Sunday school or from anyone else and I would've still been proud, but it was something special that he and I worked on and I was so happy to see my efforts become reality! Its moments like these I hold close and remind myself of when I'm having a case of 'whyyy did I leave a well paying career to chase after this monster?!'

FL beach days
What do you miss most from Mom days already gone by? Honestly everything! I think as moms we get so future focused at times, anticipating when our little one will reach the next milestone, we sometimes forget to enjoy the now. I remember when he was a few months old he wanted to be held all the time and I was desperately trying to get him to sleep in his crib not my arms, but now I miss how I could cuddle him up close to smell that newborn scent hiding in those adorable neck rolls! Every moment is fleeting, even the ones that drive you nuts. I've learned the hard way to enjoy the crazy moments, because just like the sweet ones those too are short lived.

Sania, Wajih, and Ali snuggled up like most evenings

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