Mothergood Feature: Hafsa Mason
Tell us about your background and who you are.
My name is Hafsa Mason and I am a 34 year old wife and mother of 5. I have been married for 11 years. My husband and I met when we were both working for the Department of Education as textbook readers for public school students with learning disabilities. I am now a stay at home mom of 8 year old fraternal twins, one of whom is low functioning autistic, a 7 year old daughter, a 5 year old son, and a 2 year old daughter. I am currently homeschooling three of my kiddos, so that takes up a good portion of my days. My hobbies include baking, reading, and I’m about halfway into my preparation for running a half marathon.
What do you find the most fulfilling about motherhood? The most challenging?
Gosh, there are so many little things that fulfill me. But, probably the most fulfilling part of motherhood has been just being a mother period. When my husband and I were first married, I discovered that I had PCOS. We struggled with infertility for three years. I never thought I would be able to have biological children, and at one point considered foster to adopt. We now have five children, including twins! It’s not easy raising five children so close in age (my first three are what I like to call Irish triplets as they are twins one minute apart, and our third came along 14 months later). But, little things like receiving decorated rocks or crayon drawings makes it all worth it. Also, getting to see their compassionate natures, such as helping a sibling put their shoes on or saving the last bite of a cupcake for another sibling makes me think I’m doing ok with this motherhood thing.
The most challenging thing about motherhood for me is letting go of a self-imposed ideal. We are raising a child with special needs. Annie was diagnosed with regressive autism spectrum disorder at 2 1/2 years old and it has been a cross to bear since then. Don’t misunderstand me, it has been a true blessing having her as my daughter. But, there have been many sleepless nights worrying if I’m doing all that I can, wondering if her development will increase or decrease. I wonder if she’ll ever talk or ever be semi-independent and what the future will look like for her and for us. It has been difficult trusting that it will all work out somehow.
It might not end up exactly how I had pictured it in my head, but some form of it will unfold and work out. Letting go of this ideal of the futures I had planned for my kids and facing an uncertain future has been a struggle. Learning how to take life one day at a time and trying not to overthink it when my personality is screaming at me to do the opposite has been an incredible challenge. It’s like telling my brain to do the opposite of what it’s been trained to do for so many years. Honestly, it’s probably the exact challenge in motherhood that I needed. There are obviously great and humbling lessons to be learned from mothering a special needs child.
What does motherhood look like for you right now? What do you love about where you are? What would you change?
Motherhood is so different from how I thought it would be at this point. When the kids were much younger, I couldn’t see past the diapers and breastfeeding. And, now I am seeing my babies turn into great conversationalists and forming their own opinions. It’s funny because as the kids get older and more independent in certain areas, I can see how mothering has changed from what it looked like even 3 years ago.
I’m a homeschooler, so we spend a lot of time together. And, because of that, I am able to see them becoming individuals separate from me and how different their personalities all are. It still comes with its challenges, parenting older children, but they are different. Now I can leave the room and shower for a few minutes without worrying that the house will burn down, ha. I can leave the house without a bulky diaper bag. All those things are awesome, yes, but I think the best thing about parenting older children are the conversations I get to have with my 7 and 8 year old.
I love that as the kids get older I am feeling less guilty about doing things that I love for myself. Leaving the house to go for a run or even to grab lunch and eat in the car while reading a book on my kindle. I also feel that five kids in, I have a bit more confidence in my mothering than I did as a first time mother. It hasn’t gotten easier, just different if that makes sense. I know I’m not going to ruin the toddler if she stays up an extra hour past her bedtime.
I don’t think there’s anything I would change. For me that opens up a door of should haves and could haves. And, the reality is, life has thrown us a few curveballs. Having babies back to back, dealing with autism spectrum disorder and the chaos that comes with that, having gone through all of it has made me into the person today. Exhausted, overwhelmed, but also it has led me to grow in my faith, to grow in humility and compassion. Ok, maybe one thing I would change is that I would have liked to have embraced the challenges in early motherhood a lot better than I did.
How have you incorporated motherhood into your identity without losing your own individuality?
That’s an interesting question because I don’t really feel like I had a sense of myself before I was a mother. To be honest, I wasn’t much of an individual before motherhood. I was always following someone else’s idea of what I should be doing or not doing and rarely had the self-esteem to make my own decisions or think for myself. All that changed when I became a mother. Here were these little lives that needed me for everything. In raising these babies, I found my passion and that led to gaining the confidence to find other passions. I never really felt that motherhood took away my individuality. If anything, it has shown me that I am capable of so much more than I thought.
What advice would you give women who are considering/desiring motherhood?
I’m not a big advice giver because I’m definitely still navigating the mothering waters and haven’t even come close to figuring it all out for myself. But, if I give one piece of advice (one that I wish I had taken myself), it would be to know that you can do it. And by that I mean, you’re going to come across every single parenting philosophy there is, but trust yourself. Do what works for you because what worked for your mom, mother in-law, or even your BFF may not work for you and that’s okay. Don’t force what doesn’t feel right to you. In the world of social media, moms tend to get wrapped up in what they see as the perfect idea of motherhood, but there is no one perfect way. Spend more time enjoying the now and not worrying so much about the future.