Today's Star Mom is an Insta celebrity. Based in Nairobi, Akanksha Arora Sharma, familiarly known as the Mom behind Mummy And Rayaan is also a dental surgeon who puts up the most wonderful photos of her son and herself in exotic locales. As someone who loves her hands-on approach to gentle parenting despite being a medical professional, I thought it was high time that we all got an in-depth look at the Mom behind the feed.
Apart from your family, what would you define as your passion?
Apart from my family I would define singing and dancing as my passion. I am a certified kathakali dancer but never thought of taking it ahead because our mind conditioning is such that we didn’t think of dancing or singing as career options though things are changing now and they are definitely changing for good
Has Motherhood affected your career decisions?
I am a dental surgeon by profession .We moved from india to Nairobi in 2011 and I’ve have been working ever since. I gave birth in 2013. Initially i was very confused about how I’l be able to resume back to work as I had no option of leaving my 5 months old baby with anyone. I was very sure that i want to continue working not just for my baby but for myself too. As they say God looks after everyone and luckily we found an amazing Nanny for Rayaan who Loves him with her whole heart.So I would say motherhood has affected my career options in a good way as I want to work harder for myself and my child apart from some of those days when i just want to be home with my little boy.
How do you balance your career/passion with your parenting?
Finding the right balance between two is not easy but if I chose this to be my life it’s my responsibility to find ways to strike that balance. I’ve been leaving Rayaan with Nanny since he was 6 months old and it’s been almost 4 years now . it was very difficult initially as Rayaan was born premature & weighed 1.5 kgs when he was born. I was not sure if I’ll be able to resume back to work as he needed a lot of attention but things changed with time. R is a fighter ,he started coping up and his growth improved with time. That is when I decided of resuming back to work. In the start I used to live in the guilt of leaving my little piece of heart behind but with time I learnt and he also learnt. These little ones can be moulded easily and are much stronger than we think infact it was much more difficult for me as a parent to decide if I was ready to leave him for around 8 hours a day. As Rayaan adjusted very well with his Nanny and new environment it got easier for me to give my 100% at work. I have now stopped living in the guilt of being a working mom because one day i know he’ll be proud of my decision.
How has being an expat influenced your parenting?
-Being an Expat Mom has made me a very independent parent or you can say one is forced to become an independent parent as we have no option but to make our own decisions without depending on anyone . Unfortunately Most of the times we don’t have any elderly guidance around though Our parents are just a phone call away but as we live miles apart we know we have to make most of the decisions on our own.We leave our family behind and come to a new country. Being an expat I never have option of leaving my child with anyone ever, I have no option of having my time or date night with my partner.
Our world as an expat is always small and so is for our Child.We mostly have just us and our friends like family to take care of each other. Being an expat mom I miss those little pieces of advices which you receive back home but somewhere this has made me learn a lot about a lot of things. I’ve made lot of parenting mistakes but learnt from them and today I am a more confident and stronger Mother than before because i know I tried doing nothing but the best for my child like every other parent.
Do you think it is harder being an expat mother than an expat dad?
It’s hard being both an expat mom and expat dad but yes it’s a bit More harder being an expat mom as we not just have to take care of our little ones (who in initial years need their mothers more )but also take care of work and home as well. I am thankful because husbands these days help in household work as much as wives do and it’s no more like it’s only the women’s Job to cook and take care of the child. Dads contribute equally in raising kids with the same responsibility as moms. It’s not easy but we gradually learn to manage.
Do you think you would have been a different kind of mother if you were back in India, living close to family and friends?
Yes I think I would have been a different kind of mother if i was back in India. In the process of handling so many things altogether I didn’t realize how motherhood took a toll on me. Being an expat mom I have no option of leaving my child with anyone to have some time to myself .I was losing myself in this whole process of motherhood and I realized it two years after becoming one.This is also one of the reasons I started blogging in 2015. I was suggested to start something where I could connect to more people and come out of this shell of motherhood. I did it and today i am thankful to a lot of mothers who help me understand motherhood better . Back home you are surrounded by your family and parents who are there to guide you at every step of parenthood. Being away you have to do everything on your own and you sometimes feel lost . I also did but I gathered myself back and came out strong .I made a lot of mistakes but i learnt from them and Today i am a proud mother of my little boy .
What are the three things you love about being an expat mother?
-what I Love about being an expat mom is that i am raising an independent & strong child. Right or wrong he makes his own decisions when i am not around and learn from them .
Another thing I Love is that my child gets introduced to not just one but many other cultures which help him learn and understand people better. He is an indian , being taken care by an African Nanny and goes to a Multicultural school.
Do you find raising a third culture child challenging?
I would say initially every new thing is challenging and so was this but gradually We learnt how to manage and I think this became more positive for us.
Do you celebrate cultural occasions with your son? Yes/No and how/why not?
I celebrate every festivity with my son because being away from home makes you insecure that you child might not know about your culture and rituals if you don’t show him. Back home every festival is celebrated at a large scale and for the same reason it naturally gets inculcated in the child that these are our rituals and festivals but here we as a community are just a few in numbers so we have to make sure that we introduce our children to our festivals & religion . We make sure to do the best we can.
Most expat mothers have to multitask beyond most everyday multitaskers. What is the one time that you remember doing the most tasks at once?
Yes, being an expat mom we have to multitask most of the times and it’s worse when these munchkins fall sick. I find it most difficult to balance out things when Rayaan falls sick.
Any tips for new expat mothers?
-I would like to tell every Expat mom that it’s not easy initially but give it sometime as everything falls in place. Don’t be guilty of making mistakes that’s how we learn and that’s probably how our mothers learnt. Deep inside we know we are doing the best for our little piece of heart . Leave one thing if you are not able to manage it altogether because it’s not easy. Set your priorities straight. Stop caring about people judging you for leaving your work or leaving your child at the day care or your child not gaining weight ,they are not in your shoes so their judgements should not matter. Do this or that people will voice their opinions but do what is right for you and your child.
What is one piece of advice that you wish you had received as an expat mother?
Oone piece of advice I wish I had received as an expat mother was that if I was to continue working would it have been better to leave my Boy with the Nanny at home or in the Day care but I am glad to have trusted R’s Nanny who is now like a mother to him.
Akanksha, thank you for your honest take on being a Working Expat Mom. Your words are bound to inspire the Times of Amma Community.
We wish you and your family much joy and happiness.For more conversations with inspiring mothers like Akanksha, follow the Times of Amma on Facebook and Instagram.