At the end of last year, I discovered podcasts and I decided that my 2020 will be about experimenting with different podcasts in many languages. Therefore, I discovered a podcast named Sowt and it was the best podcast I have heard so far. I am still new but I can definitely tell when the podcast is good or not.

My favorite was named عيب which means ‘shame’ and they have discussed many topics around this theme, such as abortion, sexual orientations, love after death, young mothers, etc. One of my favorites was the one discussed the happy women mold created by societies and it caught my attention with all the details they discussed and the stories of mothers in the Arab world.

That made me come up with so many questions and I thought of motherhood and mothers in Libya. The typical picture created for mothers that they have to fit in a certain criterion where they can’t leave or be something beyond this role. It is as if a woman doesn’t exist before becoming a mother.

I knew I couldn’t answer all of the questions I had as I am not married and I am not a mother and I don’t know what it feels like to be one. It would be unfair to assume answers to the questions I had. Therefore, I decided to choose mothers I know and ask them the questions I had. I picked 5 mothers from different backgrounds and stories and they were all open to answer my questions, including my own mother. 
I learned so much from each one of them and it made me personally realize many things and get to know new things about motherhood and how mothers are beyond this role and social pressure related to it. In this piece, I am sharing the conversations I had with these amazing women who agreed to take part in this article and to make it happen. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to write this piece.  I interviewed my own mother, a mom of four.

Nadia a mother of three kids. Nina, a mother of two, Thuraya a mother of three and Mona a mother of two. As I mentioned, I am not a mother and I don’t know what it feels like and maybe one day I will get to experience it but I wanted to know how they felt when they first became mothers and if it could be described in words and how their experience was and I am sure it was surely different. In this article, I will share with you the story of Nina Buisier as the first part of this series and I will share the other stories in my upcoming articles.  

A workaholic mother who decided to focus on her girls and family:

I first had the interview with Lamaan Mohamed Buisier or as called Nina,  Libyan American and a mother of two girls, Dania 2 years old and Zaina 5 months old. She moved to the US when she was a teenager and it was a major step in her life. It exposed her to all ideas, arguments and diverse cultures and traditions.

”Knowledge was an open sky that did not have any barriers” as Nina explained that exposure. She comes from a political family that taught her what it meant to love your own country although she never lived in Libya until 2011 for about three years. She worked as a TV producer for 13 years and worked with many TV stations in different countries. When she got married, she decided to take a break to focus on building a family and raising her kids.  

When you first became a mother, how did it feel and how did you deal with it? Was it natural or you had a clash with motherhood in the beginning?

Nina told me that she was actually very eager to become a mother. She felt that she was ready to raise a child and use all the experiences and knowledge that she has accumulated over the years and invest them in raising a child. After one year of marriage, she had Dania. She described the feeling she felt when Dania started moving in her stomach as a special feeling. The process of a human in the making inside of her felt great. The delivery was an utter hell of an experience.

I am sure many have watched or heard of natural birth and the process of a child coming out of a woman is something that we cannot properly describe. All I know that it is powerful. She had her 100% natural, no epidural no spine blocks, nothing to ease the delivery. Nina said and I quote ”I remember when I heard her voice, I was in so much pain but I was like oh my god, is that her? I was waiting to feel what everyone says in the movies but I didn’t feel it exactly the same.

It felt emotional but weird. I was confused and didn’t know what to feel exactly”. When her baby was delivered, she instantly had a sense of responsibility for this helpless human being. She didn’t want her to cry or feel any sort of pain.  However, Nina didn’t comprehend motherhood right away. She was confused and couldn’t grasp the meaning around it.

Days passed and she spent more time taking care of Dania, playing with her and once she began interacting with her, their relationship got way stronger. Every day with every new milestone you feel something new and with their first cold, first shots, and ear-piercing, first solid food feed, etc. By the time she realized what motherhood was about, it made Nina love her so much. It is what made her wake up whenever she heard her make a noise. It is what makes her proud when she learns something new. 

As a woman, did your definition of motherhood change or stay the same after becoming a mom? 

Motherhood for Nina was her relationship with her mother and what she saw on television. Nina told me that she didn’t see the part where her mom suffered from her and her siblings while raising them. She was too young to realize it or even understand the work her mother has done for them. ”Sometimes, we take things for granted and we don’t get to pay attention to details but when I became a mother I understood things better” Nina said. She thinks it’s hard to understand motherhood unless you experience it. Of course by having a baby or even raising a child that is not yours.

What is your opinion about the image created by the society around moms?

Society says great things about mothers and they expect mothers to do so much. Nina pointed out on a very important thing when she said: ”I sometimes feel we are dehumanized, how? We are expected to do, give and care and ignore our own needs”. This statement is a reminder that we focus on mothers as just mothers and we sometimes take them for granted and never see them beyond this great role.

Whenever she expressed how tired she was, she was always faced by the usual statement ”You are a mother, you have to do it”. It is as if mothers are not allowed to be tired or express how fed up they are. You are a mother, people say great poems about you so you need to become a superwoman.

Do you think that motherhood limited the way you define yourself? 

A year after she had Dania, Nina suffered from postpartum depression. The shift of feelings or I would describe it as the rollercoaster of emotions mothers would go through from excitement to fear and anxiety. These overwhelming emotions can lead to postpartum depression.

Her life has changed so much, from an independent woman with so many ambitions that would keep her at work until she finished her project which could exceed to the morning of the day after and a woman that travels when she needs to, to someone who is so committed to raising a child.  Her time was not hers anymore.

Her time was controlled by her daughter’s daily routine. She found herself able to go run errands only when Dania is napping. ”I couldn’t do so much because of my commitment. I have a nanny, but I would never let her change, feed or teach my daughter”. I would have a daily Schedule to teach her through games, reading books for her and play music together” Nina further explained to me their daily routine. Her life was about her daughter and that affected her so much.

The transition was so quick and strong and it took her a while to get out of depression and learn how to detach herself and create her own life. She had to find a way to redefine herself away from being a full-time mom and that’s it.  Nina told me about the project she started back in Libya and how she wanted to get back to work gradually ” I couldn’t just be like that so I started a small project from home, a network of reports in Libya that would produce reports for international media.

I would send weekly emails with suggestions of stories with a storyboard and would sell stories to stations. I did well for a while and I sold stories to different outlets but then some of the guys on the ground needed so much follow up” and she lost track a little bit then she got pregnant again and she had to put the project on hold. Nina hopes that once Zaina is a bit older, she will resume working on the project

What is parenting in this age and what are the challenges you have been facing?

As I have mentioned, Nina is a Libyan American and her life ever since she moved to the United States when she was young had a great influence on her. Nina would love for her two girls to grow up becoming human beings first, believing in civil values and she would love for them to be exposed to different cultures and ideas just as she did growing up.

”The challenge of being independent at a young age isn’t present in our region” said Nina but she will do her best to teach them what independence is from a young age. Her daughter Dania now goes to nursery and Nina told me about her fear of bullying and all the stories she read and saw on bullying and the impact it has on children and it is her biggest fear.

What do you love the most about being a mother and did motherhood have a positive impact on you?

Nina is known amongst her family as a strong woman who doesn’t show emotions. However, motherhood gave her the chance to experience more feelings and every feeling is amplified whether it is good or bad. She became more sensitive, it is different as she explained it but she still likes it.

Did your upbringing have an impact on raising your children or you chose a different style?

I mentioned in the article that Nina comes from a political family. Their house was a parliament. They had arguments and discussions since they were young discussing many topics around the dining table. It used to bother her but as she grew older, she appreciated those discussions more and more and she realized she learned so much from them, more than she could actually imagine and it can remind us of how important of discussing politics within the family setting and how much kids can learn when having transparent political talk with family members.

Her father taught them that having an opinion matters and he encouraged them to always read so they can defend their ideas. Nina didn’t read much even when her father got her books to read as friends influence was greater especially in a certain age but she wanted to change that and she began to read for Dania since she was 6 months old and now, Dania wouldn’t sleep without a bedtime story and story time became an official activity in her house.

Her upbringing surely has an influence but she is still learning through this journey of parenting to know what else she can add or modify.

”It is indeed not an easy journey, it is tough and enjoyable at the same time and the amount of love involved is just great; it is what makes her patient and able to move forward.” — Nina

In the upcoming article of this series, you will know how I got to know my mother around motherhood and parenting and the changes she faced throughout raising my siblings and me in different timeframes in her life. My grandmother’s influence on her and what she learned from this great role but also her struggles beyond it. You will know about all of this and more in the next article. Stay tuned!