Family Food for thought

This Mother’s Day 2019

Hi, Everyone! Yesterday was mother’s day, and yesterday, I completed a milestone in my Instagram account – yes, the coveted 10 k followers! It happened so rapidly and suddenly. But what was more momentous was something that I shared in my stories, it was a message on mothers’ day for all mothers. Surprisingly, it had very good responses.

My message on mother’s day:

“Take care of your child yourself – do not leave this mothering to your mother, or mother-in-law and definitely not to your maid.”

This picture, taken with Nataliya was in Austria, when my husband and I traveled through Europe, seeing ten countries in twenty days, with my one year old daughter. We went by train, ferry, and buses all over the places. It was so much fun. So, I do walk my talk. my dear!

I’d like to add here…

Do not have children, if you do not have time for them. Don’t. Do not fall into that trap of people telling you to have children. As a principal and teacher, I’ve known a few mothers, who really didn’t like their kids; and constantly found them bothersome.

So, do yourself and them a favor!

Only have a child if you really want one.


Full time home makers:

It is not about leaving a job. I’ve seen full time home makers, who leave their children to the maids while they cook and clean and watch Indian films. They go shopping, leaving the children behind with maids.  I’ve even known some who left their small daughters with batmen to carry while they were busy.

I’m telling you mothering is no joke. So, if you are giving up a job to take care of your children, then please do take care of your children.

So, when you are home, you can’t afford much help. So you do almost all the housework yourself. This gives less time for mothering. Specially, you cook the food yourself, as my mother did. My father loved his food, and my mother made sure he got everything exactly as he wanted it.

In my husband’s case, I found out, he only wanted food within two minutes of his entering the home. He wasn’t interested in food. That was something that was hard for me to understand. He wanted it quick so he could change and go off to his squash courts or tennis courts. So, I learnt that very early in my married life. In the beginning  I cooked all the food myself – at least for first ten years or so – but then I started freelancing and working. My  mother-in-law instilled in me that you have to train your staff to take care of the kitchen too. Then I got a proper cook, whenever I could. That is how Abdul Rahim started working at my place, part time. He was the Head cook at the PAF officer’s mess. He literally moonlighted to work at my home in his spare time. He was a brilliant cook, so we had the best kind of food at our home. He became like a family member. Even then, I also cooked special dishes for my husband and children.

Whatever the case, while I swept the floors when my maid didn’t come, or did other household chores, my main focus was my children. As soon as they grew up, they had to help me take care of household chores too.

So, actually, I started teaching because of them, and because I got those teaching offers way too often! I realized, that my love for my own children took me to love my students as well. It was a job that I truly loved. I’d be working with other’s children while my children went to school. – Most of the time I’d end up in the same school!

So you are a career woman:

Then try to go for jobs where they have the day care in the premises. That is better as they have qualified people there, you can watch your children on your phone, and you can peep in and be with them in between. That is also good. Perhaps I would have gone for it, if it was there in those days. But I have my doubts also. I cannot bear anyone else touching my child with their unclean (nose-picking, and foot massaging) hands.

So, I didn’t take a job after my marriage for eight years. Even later on,  I gave up my jobs several times for the sake of my children, even teenagers.

I truly enjoyed being my with children. Believe me, after marriage with my MSc degree in Home Economics, I had job offers in college nearby. But even then, I preferred to be at home to get my bearings as a fresh homemaker.

If you already have a career and want to pursue it:

Then stop reading this blog post. Or, as I’d say, ‘take a break!’ It is too frustrating taking care of both a career and a baby. It can only succeed if one of them is not too pressurizing.

Keep things in perspective – this is your life:

Somehow, in your twenties and thirties, you seem to believe that ‘this is all there is!’ I don’t blame you – media is responsible for it. Even I felt so.  Actually, that is all nonsense! You have your whole life to do all that you want to do.

There is a time to do certain things at certain times of your life. So it is important to know, ‘what is the most important thing for me to do at this time of my life.’

Only you can answer this one.

Look at your life span:

I mean, just look at it. My father passed away at 92 years old recently, my mother is 85 years. Even now she is mothering, and giving me support and is company to me. So a mother’s job is never done. Look here at the full length of your life:


_____10_________20________30________40_________50________60_________70________80________90_________100 years.

This is your life expectancy,  (- or it will be, by the time you reach there!) So, the years you take care of your baby are so few, compared to the rest of your life. Can you see? I mean you take a break of about six to seven years to complete your family and then go back to your career. Take this time as a break. Just enjoy your children, and bring them up the way you want. All I’m saying is that you keep your child with you for the first four to five years.

Remember, a job is a job:

You are ready to put your child in peril for a job where you can be ‘downsized’ in a second. Where the moment you mention leaving, your replacement will be there in a minute! You are leaving the main part of your day with your child,  jeopardizing your role as a mother – a role which will be there – even after your death. All this for a role in a job which can be taken away at any time!

We both are aware of the job situation these days.

Upgrade yourself during this break:

I’ve always been member of a library when my children were small, also I’d indulge in books more than clothes. So, I’d keep myself abreast of the latest information in my field. You are so lucky, you can do it so easily now. Just use the YouTube and Google to stay well informed about your field of interest. Insha Allah when you return to your job, you will be far ahead of your friends there! (During the drudgery of work-life, you seldom get the time to upgrade yourself.)

Do, take mini-courses whenever you can along with attending workshops. You can easily do online courses too.

How to deal with your finances:

Yes, I was thinking of writing this in another blog post. – But why not here?

Okay, here are some ways:

  1. Know that your Child doesn’t need expensive things: Know that it isn’t for your child that you need to spend the money. It is just to please the ‘others’. Your child is very happy being with you. All those branded items are to impress the ‘others’.
  2. Staff: So, you do not need so much staff. You do the work better and quicker by yourself.
  3. Gifts: You can do crafts at home, like take up painting to give gifts to friends etc. (You can imagine how many paintings I did for my kids to take for their friends’ birthdays!) Even as wedding gifts.) Having more time on your hands you can make use of bargains.
  4. Clothes: You don’t need as many clothes, as most of these are for work place.
  5. Saving on Petrol: You save on commuting cost, all those daily trips to and from the office cost a lot.
  6. Grow your own vegetables: If you have green fingers, this is a good way to grow salads and vegetables in flower pots inside and outside your home.
  7. Do savings and better planning: Invariably, at a job you spend far more, for your colleagues, their birthdays, and the parties in the offices, for which you pool up. You do all that even when you don’t want to.
  8. Let your husband support you: As he was designed to do.  There is a strong belief that a man must not get too used to being supported by your income. It invariably has a negative effect on his natural psyche. So, it is good that way too.  Just avoid being too demanding, please.

Best book to help you through:

Another good way is to start your own business at home. The book Barefoot Executive by Carrie Wilkerson, tells you how. So, you can keep an eye on your children, and run your own business too. This is one of the best options. You can find her interview on YouTube here:

Many examples in our own set up:

Happily, I found several young mothers who reached out, telling me about their experiences. It is important to be proud of yourself. You are doing the greatest thing on earth. Getting paid is never an issue.

Tamania of Urdu Mom is one. Here has her YouTube Channel.  She is a great example of what I’ve done all my life. To enjoy what you are doing while being there for your children in their most vulnerable years of life. She has many different videos one of them is here also.

Going back to your career, as your children start their schooling:

This is an interesting one, as you need to find a job where the timings suit your children. Yes, that is how I got into the teaching business. See if you can find a job other than teaching which has timings to suit your children’s school timings! Well, a good one could be that you go to offices, and collect work and then work at home later on when your children are asleep. That was my freelance work with Dawn and other magazines and dailies. Then I painted, and held exhibitions when possible. That too could be done taking my children with me.

Being there for your child:

Honestly, what could be a better time than now for all that you dreamt of? You can text, have skype chats with your children, keep cameras in your home and what not. But it is dangerous to leave your child at home alone with a maid. It is not safe. Your maid is also born in these times, she knows exactly where to do her dirty work, away from the camera. So, don’t be too confident.

I’ve known of maids who wouldn’t let the child touch her toys, so she won’t have to put them back! So she would make the child sit with her and watch all those awful movies and programs on television which you wouldn’t let your child watch!

So, from that point of view a day care is better, but one in which you can step in and take a look always.

Best is a work which is welcoming to children. As an administrator I’d always encourage people to bring their children in, if needed.

I’m so happy to see at the CSS school, that the maid and chawkidar have their small children with them in school. They take care of them while they work. You see, they will work better if they are not worried about their children. You should do the same. We, as administrators in such institutions need to be more caring too.

Phew!!! What with everyone asking me how I brought up my children, so I wrote that one here. Now, they want to know more, so that is why I’ve written this one.

Let me put it in this way, keep your children with you, as much as possible.

You will be blessed my Reader, knowing you did your best. Then leave it all to Allah.

Note: Some photographs from my personal albums, and the rest taken from my Nataliya’s photography page on Facebook.




You may also like...

Popular Articles...


  1. Inam Ellahi says:

    Hello Ma’am

    Hope you are doing well. I just want to say that nowadays this mother day is just a social media trend. Like most of our present generation, they greet their mother on social media rather than in person. I think it’s better to say in person to your mother. It’s far better than posting on social media than bringing the cake to home and celebrate with mother or take your mother out on dinner or something like that.
    Thank You

    1. Shireen Gheba Najib says:

      Inam Ellahi, You have raised a very important point. Also, in our parts, the whole year is dedicated to our mothers anyway. However, what you are saying is very true. Whatever we do, we have to be sincere. It also must be replicated in our real lives too. Thank you for your comment.

  2. Nataliya says:

    Love you Mama. This is how you raised us and instilled in us since the beginning through your own example! So glad you penned these thoughts!

    1. Shireen Gheba Najib says:

      Love you too my Nat, our bonding would never have been the same, had you been raised in the arms of a maid. I know I’ve fumbled and fallen short many times, but overall, one does one’s best. I hope it is of use to other mothers, and removes any doubts, in todays’ world. I’m so glad you appreciate it. Most of all, you are an amazing mum and going by the same rules.
      Love and hugs. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *