In the early morning hours of September 30th, 2016 Kamilah came into this world. Hearing the first cry of my own child was by far one of the greatest sounds I’ve ever heard. I couldn’t help but cry tears of joy along with her, after all I was meeting my heart in human form. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. But following all the feelings of immense happiness was fear. Fear that I wouldn’t be the best parent to this tiny human God blessed me with. I was really aware of the importance of early childhood development, so I was terrified of messing up Kamilah’s early years. Parenthood doesn’t come with a manual and that’s what makes it so scary. Most of us can even identify issues with our own upbringing. Parents don’t always make the right decisions and that’s what scared me most.
Fast forward 2 years, and now she is a happy, healthy child. Alhamdulillah. It’s truly amazing how much babies learn & change in the first 2 years of their life. At two, they are walking, talking, and coming into their personality. This stage has been my favorite as my daughter is able to express herself, so I’m constantly learning about her preferences. Although I’m the parent and ultimately I make the decisions, I think it’s important to allow my daughter to be able to express herself by allowing her to make choices for herself. While she is a toddler and in the dreaded terrible twos, I always try to encourage Kamilah to express her needs & wants. I think it’s vital to teach your child to express themselves. Often people overlook children’s autonomy as they may think children shouldn’t make decisions or that they may not know their own wants and needs. This may be true in some instances, and of course parental guidance is necessary, but children are human beings with their own complex feelings and desires and they should be treated as such. People may think that it’s pointless to expect a toddler to make decisions for herself, but when I allow Kamilah to make decisions for herself I know I’m allowing her to develop her autonomy and ultimately learn and grow in a healthy way.
This may sound basic, but expressing your feelings was not something I was raised to do. In most Somali households sharing your feelings is not the norm, so in overcoming that with the next generation, I was determined to teach my daughter to always express herself. Honestly, being vulnerable and expressing my feelings is something I’m still working on myself, but that’s motivated me to teach my daughter early on that this is a strength and not a weakness. Whenever my daughter articulates her emotions to me, I feel a great sense of pride knowing that she feels comfortable & confident enough to express herself so honestly. Some of my friends have commented on the way I communicate with my daughter as I don’t “baby talk” her. For example, when Kamilah misbehaves I clarify why her behavior was unacceptable. I like explaining the error of her ways to ensure she completely comprehends and hopefully does not repeat the bad behavior. I think it’s always important to explain your reasoning to children so they fully understand the whys and why nots. Kids are often smarter than we give them credit for.
In all honesty Kamilah has taught me a lot and continues to teach about life & love every day. I’m truly amazed by the sweet, kind, beautiful soul that God has blessed me with. I’m in admiration of the great kid and wonderful human she is growing to be. Alhamdulillah.