A week before International Women’s Day, @Motherly asked their followers on Instagram to nominate an amazing mama they should spotlight. I nominated my best friend Gaby. I was delightfully surprised to find out our story was showcased and wanted to share in a little more detail why I nominated Gaby.
Gaby is one of my oldest friend – we have been friends for over 15 years and the majority of it has been long distance. We sometimes go months without talking but when we do it’s like no time has passed. After Gaby and her family moved when we were in secondary school, we reunited for the first time almost 10 years later for her wedding in Canada. We later met in Chicago for a weekend when she was visiting for work and then most recently when she came all the way to Bradford to see us when Ayaan was only two and a half weeks old.
I was so overwhelmed by everything when Gaby arrived. There wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t cry about something. Physically I felt like I was never going to be able to breastfeed without nipple shields and I was still recovering from the birth and mastitis and adjusting to the lack of sleep. Emotionally I felt like no one had faith in my abilities and no one respected my choices and that made me feel less confident. My husband was a great source of support, but this was also new for him and sometimes he didn’t know what to do or say, and I didn’t know how to help him help me.
The cultural and traditional expectations of me and how I am ‘supposed’ to raise Ayaan often did not align with my parenting choices. I was constantly trying to justify why I wanted to do things differently – it was exhausting, wearing me down, and made me feel alone and less responsive to help. Having someone removed from all of this was really helpful.
Gaby has two children of her own and her parenting ideologies align with mines so I found her advice very helpful. Her positive energy filled our apartment and her encouragement and support made me feel heard. Why was I more receptive to Gaby’s advice over everyone else? It was the way she offered it – without criticism and any expectations. As I struggled with all the unsolicited advice I was getting, having Gaby around was a perfect example of what positive support is.
Gaby supported us by sharing her experiences as a mother and what she found helpful. More importantly though, she justified my feelings and was my sounding board when I was feeling unsure about my choices. She made me feel more confident in myself through her constant encouragement and reassurance. I was overall, a much happier and self-assured person during those 6 days and it was very noticeable to those around me.
Ayaan is now 4 months old and how far we have come. I am confident in my abilities, trust my instincts more and I am more assertive. I still message Gaby when I need advice and though we are miles apart again our friendship is stronger. I am so grateful to have her through my journey as a mother and I hope, maybe, I can be someone else’s Gaby if they need it.