Episode 45 Why it’s important to take time for yourself as a mom with Sabah Chaudhry
Joining us from Houston, Texas is Sabah Chaudhry co-founder of the organization Moms Matter. A support group that caters moms and helps them in various aspects of motherhood. Sabah grew up in northern New Jersey and got her BS in Engineering from Rutgers University has. She has been an educator and a stay at home mom and talks to us in detail of the support Moms Matter offers and touches on various daily issues moms can have and how to get through them with support groups like MomsMatter.
In this episode.
Finding the way to talk about deep things that are considered taboo.
Women’s reactions and feedback to groups like Moms Matter
Moms Matter groups growth and help towards community
Moms Matter activities
Tips on starting a group like Moms Matter or Motherly. How to start and
Help yourself be a great mom by taking time, self care and overcoming the guilt of feeling like your not doing enough as a mom
Going from mom life to working mom life
Untie yourself and also do things you like and love
Email : momsmatterHTX@gmail.com
Episode 45 transcription
Fousia: Hey guys. On today's episode I have with me Sabah Chaudhry who is one of the founders of Moms Matter which started up in Houston back in December 2017. Moms Matter is an organization that caters to helping any and all moms regardless of cultural backgrounds religious affiliations or where they're located in the city. They have a meet ups once a month and Sabah really came up with this idea after having children and learning to cope with the new role of motherhood. And on this episode we talk a lot about that kind of stuff and what Moms Matters is all about and hopefully you guys get some tips and advice on how to start moms groups in your city as well. Some of you guys know that I have moms group that I facilitate here in Dallas Texas through Rootsdfw. You guys know I love Roots and I share their stuff whenever they have events going on in Dallas and I'm so excited to be able to have a group like that so I don't know there is something that is just so comforting about moms groups and having discussions and chatting and maybe even just... you know relaxing and having a cup of tea with moms and knowing that they understand how you feel. So if you guys are interested in starting moms groups in your cities Inshallah I hope this episode is beneficial if you guys have any questions feel free to reach out to myself as well as Sabah and we'll share all of her information in the show notes. Let's get right into today's episode. Sabah welcome to the show.
Sabah: Thank you for having me.
Fousia: So tell us a little bit about yourself before we get into what you're working on.
Sabah: Thanks for having me again. My name is Subodh Chaudhary. I am the founder of Moms Matter which is like a support group here in Houston Texas. We've been running since December 2017. So a little over a year now. A little bit more about me. I grew up in northern New Jersey. My parents are from Pakistan. I studied there I got my bachelors there. Then since I got married I moved out between back and forth between Boston and Houston.. now we're in Houston. alhamdullah I've settled here. I have three girls. I have also been an educator back and forth between being a stay at home mom and teaching in Islamic schools. I consider myself like a mental health social justice advocate. Through my experiences and my time as a mom so it's a passion of mine and that also is one of the reasons why I decided or really pushed for this initiative called MomsMatter.
Fousia: Tell us a little bit about what MomsMatter is and how you came up with the idea.
Sabah: OK. So a friend had a similar group like us. You know what I mean not completely unique from similar group in New Jersey. And you know she just gave me the idea I was kind of hesitant like oh you know what if people don't come what if.. you know like.. its like weird like let's talk about stuff but then the more like I was going through my own struggles of postpartum depression after my third daughter and the extreme burden of just not being able to speak or pain I realized what a need this is in our communities. So basically I decided to start off shoot this in like I said a year and a half ago and we have once a month meetings support group meetings I guess you can call it and we would oftentimes meet at either a cafe or someone's home. Our first meeting was at a cafe. We only had about a handful of sisters but word got out. People kind of sort of telling others through social media and other outlets and ahamdullah We have a large group of whats appers. Like you know whats app group on Facebook as well. Now our meetings are usually about like 10 to 15 ladies. And even if it's less it's not like you know it's not the numbers that matter to us. It's the connection and that moms are being heard and have the safe space. It really is just a safe judgment free space for moms to speak their struggles their hardships stories of success even then feel validated uplifted in that. A lot of times moms are just lonely they don't have anyone to connect with they don't have friends even so this can be like an outlet to make long term friendships even or possibly even like you know they have mental health issues they can this can be a stepping stone to go to individual therapy. There's a lot of projects that we want to do alongside the meetings as well. For example next week we're collaborating with American Muslim women circles and doing we're working with wenches of love and packing lunches for children who are a lot of times go to school hungry for weekends and holidays. We're trying to do a lot of different things with various organizations in the area.
Fousia: That's really great Mashallah. So I know you said it's not a unique idea. We've seen it in our own cities where you know moms are getting together whether it's coffee shops or playgrounds or someone's house. But tell me a little bit about I know you said that you struggled with postpartum depression. So did I. After each kid and you know the reception from our community is kind of like insane sometimes like they don't know how to let you talk about it and it's like if you talk about it then you know everyone's going to know your business or if you talk about it you know your kid's school is going to be worried about how you're treating them or if you talk about it like if you tell your doctor then you're going to have to go on medication or see a therapist or things that like our parents generation and our grandparents generation is like really taboo for them. So how did you become comfortable being able to talk about it and get groups of mom together so that inshallah like they have a safe place to come together discuss like whether it's postpartum depression feeling the mom guilt being tired like just having a place where they can vent and talk but also have fun and give back to the community at times.
Sabah: So it's a really great question and a really important one to address. And yeah that was actually one of the reasons why I was hesitant myself but now I've I've just come to the point where I become more confident and braver to kind of come forward with my story so that others can also be brave to share their perspective. A person who has been very inspirational for me has been Dr. Bonnie Brown. She actually has an amazing quote on this topic. She says that when we deny the story it defines us. But when we own the story we can write a brave new ending. So for me this had to do with owning my story and not sitting in silence in secrecy or in judgment as she often speaks about because when we don't speak about it when everything is a secret when everything is taboo or stigmatize especially mental health it really consumes us at the end of the day and the shame because she calls them shame gremlins. They just like eat us all the time. Yeah I know you mentioned mommy guilt. I feel like it's more like Mommy shame where you feel like not like guilt is actually not such a bad thing. It's just like my guilt is where it like I did something bad. Shame is where I am bad for being as bad. I think a lot of times after birthing after nursing like we just feel miserable about our bodies about our identity like we feel like we've lost our ourselves like you know and that's the aspect we don't speak about but when we kind of own this story and realize like hey like I'm not alone in this other people go through it too and I'm still beautiful I'm still enough then I feel like it's nothing to be ashamed of anymore and it's nothing to feel afraid of. And I think the more we speak about it the more we speak about the more that is out there. The more like we can uplift other moms to do greater better things with whatever their life goals or their dreams are. Even like some some women just forget how to dream like you know like you ask them like you know what did you want to be when you were a little girl. They're like Oh I forgot some of them even though they like because they're so caught up in their lives of like motherhood and children that they forget that that little girl is still living inside of them and that her dreams are important and need to be fulfilled still and can still be fulfilled. That's one of our goals. Who's Moms Matter is to give our moms identity to give them purpose to help them find their common humanity that oftentimes is so lost in the struggle of things in the world. Another issue is also that like you know in other cultures other countries even women have villages they say it takes a village to raise a child they have people to support them. Here unfortunately like you know that village is kind of like disappearing because of this connected lifestyle. You know social media the digital era. We are just simply lonely like enclosed in walls. And this is a way for us to kind of come out and embrace the social animals that we are as human beings. We need to connect with one another to survive as well to be healthy mentally spiritually just like we take care of physical health when we go to doctor. Your mental health is just as important. So this is like an outlet for that.
Fousia: Yeah I think for like our generation it's really weird because when our moms had kids especially for kids like me who like I spent a little bit of time back home when I was little before we immigrated here like it was just never the mom and the dad at home like is the mom the dad a cousin maybe grandma grandpa like you know like there was a whole house full of people. And here you go home and it's just you your husband and a new baby and you're like what what's going on here. Think it can be really lonely so I'm glad that there are things like moms matter and motherly and so many more out there. So tell us how did the moms I guess kind of receive this program like were they enthusiastic about it tell us a little bit about some of the feedback that you got from moms who come to your group.
Sabah: Well I really wanted support or just kind of sign of like a positive sign from some friends so there was actually one friend in particular who was like Kelly we just need to like get together and do things. I mean she's that first Halo Gov. Then I was like it has to be something deeper than a hollow go because when people to talk about our lives as well. So she actually started it up with me. She's like yeah let's do it let's just start doing these group meetings and then you know like I told you my friend how that group in New Jersey so it was kind of like a similar idea. And then we just kind of went off with it. And yeah I was we were actually surprised a lot of moms appreciated it and we're just like amazed that like. And the fact that now we're doing it in a masjid.... Well part of the reception part is that like people found out you were doing it in cafes and houses and then the head of the Ice Geege. It's called some excited group. His two sisters could be,, approached me personally and directly in person and she said I want you to do this in the masjid like... I want you guys to know that the masjid is here to support you. So that was huge for me and for us that we were so welcoming and she's even saying talking now about like getting us funding or you know to have more events. So the meschid community... and we also have Islam in Spanish in Houston here. They are very welcoming. We have a weekend group there and we have a weekday group because like sometimes we like working moms the weekend is better for them so we're just trying to kind of expand and be available and kind of accessible to all moms no matter what their priorities or commitments are. Yeah. So far it's been a very very positive. We have a new fellow. Oftentimes it is a lot of new faces. We also have a consistent basis. So it's definitely a work in progress and we're trying to expand to more location I mean location is Houston it itself is very large. We're in the southwestern portion of Houston but we want to expand to other places as well and and do more service projects kind of workshops lecture series even possibly even a support group for divorced moms.
Fousia: That would be amazing. I know that you're co-founder of Moms Matter couldn't join us today so I'll give her a little shout out. Were you talking about. I'm sorry that she wasn't able to join us.
Sabah: Yeah yeah. Yeah I'm sorry about that. Yes she kind of was busy she really actually was very excited to be here. So she gave her apologies about that but yeah. So helpful I have a wonderful team over and Lena Horne is the other person she's the one who originally called gave me that extra push to go ahead. So right now it's like the three of us that we're trying to inshallah make it possibly a non profit as well so yeah.
Fousia: May Allah rewards you guys. I know you told us a little bit about the kind of places that you had and you talked to us about kind of I guess charity work that you guys do. Tell us some of the best received events that you guys have done that you've gotten really good feedback from because I know there's a lot of moms out there who want to start something like this and it's all about sharing the hair and tying them like you know this is how you can do it. These are the type of things that we do so tell us a little bit about some of your most received activities.
Sabah: Recently about a few weeks ago we had a workshop or we called it like kind of like a self-help lecture by a licensed marriage and family therapist. She was kind of known here in Houston and the topic was self care a New Year's resolution for moms. So she spoke about ways that moms can actually practice self care and really like kind of make that commitment because it was January at that time. So it's kind of like start of a new year. And she went into topics that were really profound a lot of moms that they don't think about all fan like... Just to take out a little bit of time here and there to kind of. Make themselves take a break from that exhaustion and that mental strain. So she even said how like it looks different for every person self care. We don't realize that and yet we had a lot of people come out for that. And I think when we have a topic it allows people to kind of feel like there's like some type of way that we're engaging and at the end we kind of had like reflections as well so mom is were because our whole point is also about the moms share their thoughts. That one went really well. I mean recently we well we didn't have it. Yeah. I don't know if this counts but we're about to have an oil therapy workshop on Monday March 18 that at the Islamic center and she's actually non-Muslim of it very kind woman. She's had a wellness advocate with Tara and she just kind of wants to teach Mom because she's like You know I get it she has four kids. It's like moms are drained they're exhausted. So she found a lot of remedies for health issues through oil therapies and using various types of soaps and scrubs and she's going to have those available for sampling and even do like a DIY activity with the mom. So some people are getting really excited about that. The mosque is very enthusiastic to have this up you know in their youth hall inshallah. So we're still obviously trying to do more. This is the first time we're stepping away from just the standard meetings are trying to make things a little different but the meetings will still be there because those are the focal point of our group.
Fousia: It's what people expect.
Sabah: Yeah exactly. So that's what basically we're aiming for and hoping to keep consistent inshallah
Fousia: Inshallah. So from your experience and part of the podcast is to give each other tips and advice on how other women can do what you're doing if they're interested or how they can kind of you know work... I guess a little bit differently on some things that they're working on personally as well. So what kind of tips do you have for someone who is thinking of starting a moms group and they really just don't know how to go about doing that or they've never even actually been to one. So they find it a little bit difficult to take that step and start because I know in the beginning even for me it was kind of like oh gosh like how do I get this going. And roots has always been really supportive and this was kind of like something that they wanted to do and were kind of like you know can you do it but for me I was a mom behind a podcast right. So I don't like doing things where people are like actually there. So it was a little bit hard. So what are some of your tips for someone who wants to start something like this.
Sabah: You know that's wonderful. By the way I did you guys have started Motherly but I think that's an awesome initiative and if I'm ever in Dallas I'd love to.
Fousia: Yes for sure. It's usually like the last or second last weekend of every month.
Sabah: I have friends in Dallas. I'll let them know for sure. Inshallah. So yes so basically I mean I would say get maybe like if you're afraid to do it alone like I was like just get the support of like one or two friends like that's all you really need. And just just do it like just choose like a restaurant or a cafe type place like white ones we did that like Panera Bread or something and we just kind of met there. I mean sometimes moms are a little like we feel like they might be afraid to really open up about the feelings but you know we always have the confidentiality clause like there are a few rules that we mentioned at the beginning and if they ever want like I can share a set of rules that I kind of stay or whoever is running the meeting states at the beginning because it's very hard for us but we we emphasize that it's a safe space and we expect everyone to respect everyone's confidentiality and the fact that they get personal. So yeah I mean I think they should just go for it and just have them and you know I'm here. I know you're in Dallas. Like I think moms are willing to uplift and aid each other through these wonderful initiatives so like you know being mentorship or advice like you know they can get them from us or even senior women I guess you can say yeah like I mean that's the main thing I think just doing it was like huge firm you like I didn't realize the reception I would get. And moms really are craving this. I feel they need it emotional.
Fousia: Mashallah. That's so exciting. I'm glad the moms are loving it and you love doing it. I think one thing that we also kind of usually discount is like just getting a couple of moms together at home and just starting that way if that works for you like even playdates tuning that into a little bit of like have kids zone and then a moms zone where you guys can sit and talk and just start small. Because when my kids were really young. Hamdullah Now most of them are a little bit older. But when my kids were young like the only time that I could get time to talk to an adult was at a playdate and those group of moms are still like the closest group ever that we have and our kids are really close to tell me like you know on moms matter like do the moms bring their kids. Is there a good activity for them or is it just strictly for moms.
Sabah: I wasn't so strict about I said you know if you could leave them at home leave them but if they can't. No it's fine. Let's try to be respectful if they get a little loud to kind of like yeah because we really have to make sure that the moms whatever they're speaking about there you know that they're heard and validated but we are pretty we're pretty open about kids once we even had our mom talk at a restaurant that had a playroom kind of like or brought into the restaurant and you could see the kids like through the glass so it was kind of nice.
Fousia: That's really awesome because like every mom's life is not the same you know you might not be able to leave them and that might be her only chance to actually get in the house and talk to people. So that's really great Mashallah now that we've talked about moms matter. Let's talk a little bit more about you. Tell us some of the things that you love to do as a mom to kind of reset and relax and kind of... I know you said like you know work on ourselves and have something for ourselves outside of our family life and not just always be giving giving giving.
Sabah: Yes. After my third child I learned it the hard way. I was a huge advocate for self care and just taking time out. I used to get burned out all the time I was mainly just me like with the kids. My husband worked a lot and he was doing his PHD for some time but so basically like I learned that it's OK to take a break for a child and just take a drive even like that's all that was enough. I'll take a walk or a drive and not feel guilty about it because I would constantly or like shame myself or be like oh my God horrible mom or like how could you put her in daycare like. I work part time now as well. I learned to let go of that guilt and that feeling of not being enough for my kids because in the end of the day like I mean a lot of wise women have told me this that if you're not well emotionally mentally like if you're not taking care of yourself yourself time out then how can you be the best mom for them as well. So it's important that we kind of give ourselves that like that emotional break. And it's only for the well-being of both you and the children. I mean at the end of the day you are the best for your children. We think that we have to be some like perfect like you know like make up a flawless mother so that we can post pictures of ourselves on social media. But in fact they just want us they just want this mom whether She's disheveled whether you know she's in her raw form they just want you and that's more than enough. They don't want someone else. I think we think that like we have to like compare to the.. Mrs. Jacob we're like you know this is someone down the street. And really it's just you that that they love it and we should value that and indulge ourselves that that is really like rich and golden for them. So I think that's just something that helped me as a mom to keep taking those timeouts on not letting it like kind of disrupt my inner being or my inner ability to be a better mom.
Fousia: That's awesome Mashallah. So tell us a little bit and you said you went back to work and your teacher to tell us a little bit about that experience going from mom life to working mom life.
Fousia: So yeah I had been actually quite a while just last two months ago... I started working after like five six years. So that was like a big change for me. I mean I was really wanting to work from the advice of a good friend and she's just like do it like you'll be amazing for you will be a good positive change and was true like I did it slowly those on mean I was substituting at a school now I have kind of a different job I'm kind of like a tour guide kind of at the museum but education has been a passion for me so like I'm kind of able to use those skills those abilities all in a positive way and yeah you know I get tired sometimes but the thing is that when I do go to work I feel some more fulfillment in a different way like not that I don't at home I don't feel guilty about it like maybe I would have like ten years earlier like my daughter my kids of their crime with the scream but I kind of calm that anxieties. Yeah it is really important. We make anxiety so much of a lifestyle I think as moms that we forget that if we just practice calm and kind of just like you know let things go that that also is contagious and other people see that they they get calm as well. So really it's just like a matter of juggling and picking your battles like finally like being able to say that you know I work part time and I still try to make time for my kids has been a blessing so far and I pray he just goes uphill from here. You know there's always the down days but there's positives to it as well and I plan to continue working as well Insha'Allah.
Fousia: Insha'Allah I totally get it. Because I've recently went back. I guess it's almost going to be a year now in this past summer I started and before that I haven't worked since before I got married and it was I guess like you said exhausting in the beginning because you're kind of you're doing double duty right. You're like at home then you're at work and you're back and forth and you're kind of shifting the way your brain is working. But it's been really really great and I stopped trying to tell other moms like if there's something you want to do I'm not saying you have to go get a job. I'm not saying you have to work full time but find something that you love to do that outside of the family and do it for yourself and like have something that you feel like OK this is just for me it doesn't matter if it's a mom group. If you join a book club if you start like selling things on Etsy or eBay or you know you start a business whatever it is you know just do something for yourself and I think as a young mom it's something that I had always planned and I know a lot of sisters just need that push. So me and Sabah are telling you guys out there if there's something that you want to do go ahead and do it you'll figure it out along the way. But Insha'Allah. Just take that step. You'll be happier for whatever it is. So Insha'Allah take that step. So tell us a little bit more about where moms in Houston or in the Houston area especially those of us in Dallas who kind of drive back and forth sometimes. Where can we find more information about Moms Matter and your meetings.
Fousia: Ok. Yes. We are on Facebook. We have a Facebook page. If you're just follow Moms Matter a hashtag Moms Matter HTX . We're also on Instagram. Moms Matter HTX. We have our events up there and we constantly put up flyers for our upcoming meetings. We plan to you know make it even bigger as time progresses. Most of our advertising is through WhatsApp forums and social media and that's been effective. It might be a good idea to possibly put up flyers I never thought of that before because our local mosque does have like the bulletin board. So if anyone is ever interested yeah they can always go to that page. They can email us at momsmatterHTX@gmail.com as well and someone will respond and we're here to help and offer advice if you want to start a support group meeting in your location.
Fousia: That is so great. I hope you guys take the time Insh'Allah if you're in Houston or if you're in the Houston area and we'd like to check that out one weekend. Feel free to e-mail them. Check out the social media for posters and things like that. So thank you so much for coming on today's episode I'm so glad that you were able to share your story and tell us more about moms matter. I really appreciate it.
Sabah: It's such a blessing to be here and to share with you all. Good luck to you as well in all your endeavors and the wonderful work you do.
Fousia: Thank you so much.