Shereen Khaled, a member of QF’s Communication Directorate, writes about how becoming a mother changed her, and how that status quo was further challenged in the pandemic
It all began eight years ago, when I looked at the tiny human lying beside my hospital bed. I couldn’t comprehend what it meant to actually have a new human being coming to life, a stranger to my eyes but a part of me. At this very moment, life was divided into two chapters – before and after becoming a parent.
Since that moment, like so many other mothers, my life as an independent individual took a backseat for good. Every basic action that I had taken for granted for so long became hard enough that I needed to set a plan for things like taking a nap, talking on the phone, eating my lunch, and not to mention how it got even tougher during the pandemic for a working mother, who needed to juggle her work and family tasks to maintain everything in perfect balance.
And despite all this, it always surprises me how a parent keeps on going – giving all their time and energy willingly and selflessly, driven by an immense feeling of love, care and responsibility towards their children.
I realized that I’m in-charge of raising another human being, and all the choices I make on a daily basis will shape the person my daughter will become
Becoming a mother meant choosing comfortable and practical over elegant and trendy, and healthy over quick-fix meals. I noticed how my perspectives began to dramatically shift after becoming a parent. Suddenly, every single thing mattered. The ingredients in a food item; the language being spoken around my child; disposable or reusable items. This list was endless. I realized that I’m in-charge of raising another human being, and all the choices I make on a daily basis will shape the person my daughter will become. My choices will influence her world. And bearing this in mind, I embarked on a journey of unlearning and relearning while raising my child.
Like all mothers, this global crisis doubled the responsibility and care for children on many levels
Besides all those changes, I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams to live through a pandemic. Like all mothers, this global crisis doubled the responsibility and care for children on many levels, and my life was no different. Whether it is the remote setting of working and learning; maintaining the mental and physical health of my children in the lockdown; educating them on what the world is facing and how to protect themselves.
Yet, looking at the bright side, I have managed fairly well as a working mother since I joined Qatar Foundation’s (QF’s) Communications Directorate. Coincidentally, my very first day at QF was also the first day of the lockdown in Qatar, back in March 2020. The remote working set-up came as a blessing in disguise as it offered me the opportunity to balance my work and family life – something that wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the flexible work policies being executed at QF.
As for the lessons learned, nothing could have taught me better about myself more than becoming a mother. It taught me how to be more compassionate, and to never judge people who choose differently or don’t necessarily agree with my beliefs. I also learned that I’m not in control of everything. When my children got sick or had to go through a surgery, I knew I had to accept the situation and let go of what’s beyond me.
Motherhood is not a phase or a fleeting mood; it is for life
In this pandemic, most of us have had the privilege of staying indoors, safe in the comfort of our homes, and have had the chance to reflect inwards. What I learned during this time will be what I pass on to my children. To extend compassion and being mindful towards everything, whether nature, animals, or people; to evolve in the harmony of give-and-take – that there is great joy in giving but it is equally important to take care of oneself.
Such values are critical in raising the next generation who can make the world a better place.
Motherhood is not a phase or a fleeting mood; it is for life. With becoming a parent, peace of mind can be kissed goodbye. I can’t recall a time, in the recent past, where I fell into a deep sleep. Now, even in my deepest sleeps, I can hear a pin drop, through two closed doors, two rooms away. My mind is always in motion. Did I hear a cough? Did they sanitize their hands at school? Have they eaten well? Was I too harsh on them today? All these questions leading to – am I a good mother? The whirlwind in my head never stops.
International Women’s Day marks a very special time of our lives – a day that celebrates the contributions, power and influence of women
When a mother feels worn out or unable to face the world for one day, she doesn’t take the day off, instead she washes her face, puts on her magical motherhood cloak, buries her tiredness into the deepest crevices of her being, and carries on, trying her best every single day, with a smile on her face.
A quote by the English author Rudyard Kipling says: “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.” A mother’s thousand sleepless nights, her sacrifices, and the tireless service that is born from the bottom of her heart never goes in vain.
International Women’s Day marks a very special time of our lives – a day that celebrates the contributions, power and influence of women. This year is especially remarkable, because it is when women not only continued to give birth to life, but also gave love, hope and care; battled the unknown and protected their families, keeping them healthy and productive, and their homes safe.