Author and chef Naqiyah Mayat answers our mom questions
She's a creative entrepreneur, author, mum and just debuted her cookbook 'The Beginning: Indian Recipes From My Home'
Being a mom is …. the truest statement about being a mother is how your whole word changes when you have your first child. As cliched as it might sound, it is a connection that is unmatched in any other relationship. There is so much value in motherhood and it is an incredibly important part of the fabric of our society.
The last time I gagged because of my kid was when he/she ...was likely between the ages of 2/3 and pooed. Other than that, I never gag over things.
The last time I cried as a mom my child…told me that she is so proud of me.Publishing a cookbook and announcing it to the public was a hugely emotional moment for me. As I cried, she came over, hugged me tight and said that she was proud. I think, that in itself is a proud moment for any parent – when a child shows empathy.
My advice to other moms would be…to limit expectations. We live by hypocritically high standards. Even though I aim to have a close relationship with my children, I also need to prepare them for life. I never want them to feel unsupported or to live in isolated pockets.
My favourite part about being a mom is…when you kids do something as part of their routine that they didn’t require a reminder for. We have been practicing meditation and reciting verses from the Quran. I overheard them doing both the other evening without me having to ask. I felt proud and accomplished that I had began to instill discipline for religion and self-care into them.
The biggest challenge is… guilt. Being present when I’m already committed to or involved in other things us the most guilt-ridden of all the scenarios. This could be something as simple as ensuring they have a costume for dress-up day, being able to attend parent-accompanied parties or even as simple as helping them through life experiences. Even though what I do is flexible and parent-friendly, being physically present and ACTUALLY being present is often difficult. I suppose one can add guilt for being tired too. When you’ve spent a day working and still have to switch mom-on.
My success as a parent is measured by……I don’t believe that success can be defined by your child receiving an A-Grade. I like to identify success by manners and good behavior. The trappings of success are so apparent amongst parents but when a child lacks the requisite authority to live a life with positive intent, it’s impossible to redefine that success. I look beyond the title and I want to encourage other parents to stop defining success by external means. Look at your child, and by this, I mean really look at their behavior with their siblings and peers and how they respond to a situation. To be able to be successful in life, as they grow older, they must be able to have a combination of being able to adjust, thrive and exercise their minds to the greatest potential. If they foster healthy relationships, they will have the ability to redefine the legacy of their success.
The most important affirmation I say to my children is…always positive. Having four children, with ages so close to each other meant that there was always anxiety in my home. It’s something that has the ability to sneak into a family, unexpectedly. Mornings, much like afternoons are chaotic in our family. Our children lead busy lives and it’s difficult to tame any uneasy feelings because we are often grappling with time to do this in. I always try to shift towards something positive when I notice a change in their energy and make this the strongest though that they have. My eldest kids are 10 and 9 respectively and it takes me longer to reinforce positive feelings in them. My son loves to fly his drone, and for him a way to cultivate this interest and always keep him proud of himself was an avenue for me to help him develop his skill. I allowed him the creativity to practice this craft and I praise him when he learns a new skill. For him the ‘you are getting better and better’ affirmation has been a tool for him to succeed. As they grow older, I’d like their subconscious to hold the thought of ‘calm’ – it is the most powerful tool that a human can possess.
The most important behaviour/attitude I mirror for my children is…perseverance. This teaches you about the attitude that you will have towards success. It will teach them the value of working hard towards a goal and the ability to recover if you fail. Later on, in life this will contribute towards them making decisions.
My work-life balance as a working mum is… about them seeing the value of a women in the workplace and as a caregiver. Being a mother, a wife and a creative entrepreneur, the complexities of running a home and raising children is a high-pressured lifestyle that requires balancing skills. As both, or all three (or four or five!), pursuing a career and raising a family requires resilience and immense strength. I don’t believe that there is a perfect balance between and work and life that we should strive towards. This is unrealistic and ultimately with no reward. We take everyday as we should – with fluidity.
I hate when other moms.…turn their kids into fussy eaters. I am often asked on my social media platforms about why I don’t have fussy kids! I’ve made sure to foster a healthy, respectful relationship towards food from the beginning. My children love grocery shopping with me, and in this way, it encourages them to feel inspired towards food.
I have groomed them from a young age to try every food and learn to have an appreciation for it – I’ve never followed a “prescribed” children’s diet. I’ve also introduced foods to my kids that were not typically child-friendly – so, they’ve eaten salmon and shellfish from a young age. At restaurants, I never asked for the kid’s menu. I ordered form the adult menu in order not to limit them. Now, they even eat oysters (which I wouldn’t typically order for myself!). I always advise for parents to share what they’re eating and let the kids decide for themselves. If they love it or not, they’ll find an appreciation for food that way.