Growing up I thought about commitment in terms of committing to someone or something, like a marriage or a business partnership. But life has taught me that commitment to oneself is the most important form (act) of commitment. I believe my successes and my growth are rooted in my commitment to honouring the woman I am, the woman I want to be, the woman I deserve to be.
I witnessed and learned about different forms of commitment from my parents. They modelled it through their 55 years marriage, their life choices and the way they are always all-in to finding solutions when faced with challenges as parents, as spouses or even their own personal lives.
Commitment to myself gave me permission to be kind to myself and to learn to pivot to make things work for me. I want to share a moment in my life when that commitment along with blood, sweat and tears got me through to fulfil my new found purpose.
After graduating from university I worked in Human Resources and at that time I thought I found my career path but life or GOD I should say, had a different plan for me. I was lucky enough to find and marry my soul mate earlier on in my life. In fact we have just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary(Ma Sha Allah). Neither of us can believe it because we still joke about the day my husband came to my parents to ask for my hand in marriage. I still remember how nervous he was and the conversation about whether or not we were sure as we were both so young.
Moving on, we had our first child after three years and then quickly fell pregnant again with our second child. I call them my twins although they are 13 months apart. I blame the literature and the health visitor who told me that breastfeeding is a form of contraception. But then again, I believe GOD had a different plan for me and I believe he is the best of planners.
Anyway, due to a number of factors such as high childcare costs and living further away from my family, I chose to take a five years career break to look after my babies. This was an easy decision in some respects but challenging in other ways because I’ve had a job since the age of 15. Thinking back now, I really didn’t give myself much time to process that transition until a lot later because I had two beautiful babies who were dependent on me so I quickly submerged myself into my role as a new mum and I loved it.
Motherhood felt like I was always on a rollercoaster, filled with periods of highs and lows and moments of complete bliss followed by moments of sheer apprehension. Not to mention, the pressures of society’s contradictory expectations of what it means to be a good mother. As well as the constant unsolicited advice, comments and judgements about our parenting decisions.
Nevertheless I found my groove, my confidence and what worked for me and my family. And although, I grew in confidence as a mother, I was left at a career crossroad. I was questioning whether or not I can go back to my old career. This period of my life was filled with reflection, contemplation and a sense of loss. I know I was not the same person but I didn’t know how to use the new sense purpose motherhood gave me to reinvigorate and advance my career.
It took a few years of volunteering, working as a TA (teaching assistant) and helping out the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) to identify my new purpose and passion for education.
I have always known the power of education and the thought of contributing to the growth and successes of young people enthused me. I was hooked on the idea of becoming a teacher. I did all the research and found that a GTP (Graduate Training Programme) was the best path into teaching as it offered me the consistency and income I needed as a parent. By the time I got on the course I had my third child, who was under two years old. I know how this decision might sound crazy to some but my kids fuelled my need to succeed. Having a career and doing well had always been important to me but now I was committed to being a role model and providing for my kids.
Starting this journey, I really thought I had an idea of the challenges and obstacles I was going to face during my teacher training but it was far more demanding, testing and taxing than I imagined. No amount of reading, planning or scheduling could have prepared me for the working mother’s guilt, my raging hormones, the sleepless nights and the sheer exhaustion of balancing teacher training with being a mum of three young children under the age of six.
But I refuse to give up and you would understand why if you knew my mum and dad’s story.
So what did I do?
I learnt to adapt, to prioritise, to ask for help and leaned more on my husband and my other support systems. Also, I requested to complete my teacher training on a part time basis which helped dramatically. Then I built a network and a sisterhood with other working mums and sought out allies, including SLT (Senior leadership team) at work who saw my passion and knew I was an asset to the school. I am grateful to say that I met lots of guardian angels who helped me along the way. .
Make no mistake, this was the most challenging time in my life, there were moments I was barely functional and wanted to quit. Then a parent would say a prayer for me because I helped them and their child. And this kept happening again and again. This gave me the encouragement and conviction to continue because I can see the impact I was making. So I tuned out my negative inner chatter and channeled the prayers, the positive energy and my inner voice telling me to persevere until I secure my QTS (Qualified Teacher Status).My final observations were outstanding, my mentor (and now friend) was so proud of me that she told the observer that I accomplished this with three young children in tow.
I didn’t do this on my own but I did accomplish this because I committed to myself, to the woman I want to be, to the woman I deserve to be. Becoming a mum has been great for my career path because motherhood awakened innate gifts that I had and sparked my new purpose as an educator which I love and I am very good at.
But this started with commitment to myself.