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Aqdus Aslam: Spreading positivity and hope


Aqdus, please tell us a bit about yourself. Tell us about your life, your experiences, about what has shaped you as a person. You can also tell us about your education and other CV details 😀 But for us, experiences and events that have helped you become who you are today mean a lot more than CV details.

Sigh, this is always the most difficult question. I think I will hide behind the CV details while I muster the courage to talk about myself. I am a LUMS graduate and have an MPhil in Educational Leadership and Management from Beaconhouse National University. I am currently running my own organization, TEACH – Educational HRD, which specializes in teacher training and educational consultancy. I am also a student (university/college placement and career) counselor. (The illusion of) my success is built on a series of failed business ventures and job hoppings, which only made me realize just how much my own sanity and identity mattered to me. It’s also based on an ambition and drive that I owe to my parents, for they pushed me to do and explore and not just dream.

I have a 20 month old daughter, K, who has shaped me in ways I never imagined. She has strengthened my faith, just by being and has fascinated and awed me with how quickly she is growing. She keeps me up even when she is asleep (like right now!!!) And adds new challenges to my life several times each day. She tests my patience and makes me laugh and almost makes me cry on a daily basis. I have a new appreciation for my mom, and I keep thinking OMG, K is just so little abhi, what will I do when she is a teenager!

There is a difference between reading a blog and having real people who share real experience to solve a person’s problems. It makes it so much more comfortable. Your contribution to the mommy groups is positive, it is practical, and very realistic. Please tell us how contributing to the group helps you and your own sense of peace.

It’s strange how much comfort and education strangers on the internet can give you. I think the MHS group has been very therapeutic for me personally, as it has helped me feel that I am not alone in the struggles of mommyhood or wifehood; in fact, despite many challenges, my life is much simpler than that of many people. Consequently I have developed a sense of gratefulness and calm that I lacked before (my husband might disagree, though).
My contributions to MHS are instinctive. They are often responses to issues I feel very strongly about. And thus, help me process a lot of what is going on in my own head too.
There is also humility. We can never all agree with each other, whether we are in an online group, in our family, our circle of friends… but we can all keep aside our egos enough to listen to other people without jumping in with a conclusion or a comment. We can also listen to people disagree with each other, for if nothing, we might just learn a new perspective on the issue. It is very hard and very important to listen. I think I have learnt to do it a little bit through my interactions on the group.

There are all kinds of women on the group, have you, in your experience with them, been able to reach a general consensus about them? Are women inherently ungrateful? Are they stressed out and overworked? Are they positive and upbeat about life? We want to hear your thoughts on this

There is nothing to generalize. Everyone has different experiences. Even when people seem to be living similar lives they understand and perceive their experiences differently and will process, react and respond differently. Most women are stressed and overworked, but many really need to find better, more productive things to do, so they can stop being a source of stress and anxiety for others. But what needs to be done is more constructive talking and venting out and more problem solving (not just problem pointing). If our focus is on judgement without coming up with helpful solutions, then there is a no way we can improve our quality of life.

As a mom, personally, what do you think has helped you the most in making sure that you don’t lose your own center of gravity. Of course, all of us lose it sometimes. We scream, we give in temptations, but the art is not to not lose it, the art is to find a way to bounce back. So what has helped you do that?

Reminding myself how old my child is has helped me everyday! I need to breathe and recall that she is not 2 years old yet, that she can scream and throw things and yet not be rude! Or that she is too young to understand the concept of time (well… even I am not old enough for that, yet! :P).

Having a solid friend I can vent out to is most helpful. One who will understand where I am coming from, but tell me I am wrong. Yes, that is you Lala! And a group of similar minded mothers (yes, that is you Burqa Bunch), who will share ideas on parenting and put heads together to come up with solutions to daily conundrums.

Having a husband, who listens (or just pretends to, while actually having tuned out). But it is helpful that he is mostly patient with me and always patient with K. It’s a reminder to myself to be patient, even though I am very strong headed and quickly emotional (read: borderline aggressive).

In your multifaceted role in the groups, where would you place husbands in the lives of modern mothers? Are they following the dictionary definition of a husband or are they evolving? What role are our traditional values playing the husband wife relationships in the world of today? And also how are the values impacting parenting? Is there any post that struck a chord with you and which you remember?

I still remember one of the first anonymous posts in the group about a couple having difficulties with getting their intimate life back on track after a baby. The post resonated with me on multiple levels, but what struck me most was how quickly the women suggested that the man must be having an affair. Bhayee kuch khuda ka khouf karo! It was sad, pathetic and disturbing for me.

But you know what!? It is quite a happy contrast to see and read the comments on such posts now. The group has become open and less judgemental about conversation around sex and intimacy and there have been such helpful and considerate threads. It is remarkable what well intentioned sisterhood can achieve. 🙂

Are there any books or activities that you would like to recommend to mothers which you think can make them awesom-ER? Since they are all already very awesome 🙂

Well. Not a particular book, but read up or watch something about “Mindsets”. The “growth mindset” is the perspective/approach to have. It will make you less judgy and preachy, but more humble, insightful and progressive. It will help you personally, in parenting, business and relationships.

What role would you like to play in the psychosocial well-being of women? Do you have any ideas for ways in which this aspect of a woman’s life can be given more prominence?Why do you people ask such difficult questions? Hain? 😛

But on a serious note, can we just remember that women are human too? I we can make it a good to listen to one person vent out every day, and give constructive feedback or support, I think it would be it’s quite an accomplishment. We could have better relationships with our mothers, sisters, in laws, colleagues, domestic help and so on. We would all do with an shoulder to cry on and a person to hand us a tissue once we are all teary.

Personally, I wish I could help women talk about under-discussed topics like those about sex and intimacy. I am not a psychologist. Some days I wish I was trained, so I would be better equipped to understand, talk about and advise on such issues.

I am no longer young and don’t think I can change the world. Now I believe in the power of many. And I know that together, we can build supportive communities, that can change the world for the better.