“I am an entrepreneur. I am a mom.” – Nadia Samadani shares her passion for global justice and love for nutella with her two boys in greenwich village
Our third Mitera Mama (after Belinda and Gemma) in our blog series on motherhood journey is Nadia. In this post, she shares her passion for global justice and human rights as well as her love for Nutella (and all things Italy) and some hilarious stories about raising two free-spirited boys in the heart of Greenwich Village, NY.
Here is her beautiful story...
1. Who is in your family?
Omar, my husband who is an entrepreneur and two boys Zavier and Kolhai.
Zavier is 3 and half and Kolhai is 2. We chose names that subtly represented our cultural roots, but are universal and hopefully will allow our children to create their own identities. Zavier’s name is derived from “brilliant” or “splendid” in Arabic and Urdu. Kolhai’s name illustrates how seemingly disparate cultures can discover poetic common ground through shared etymology. In his childhood, Omar hiked to the Kolahoi Glacier in the Kashmir Valley, which is a source of water in the region. Water creates livelihood, so we were moved when we heard that the Hebrew prayer “Nishmat Kol Chai” means “soul of all life”. Humanity is one in nature and we have so much more that unites us than we often realize.
2. More about yourself
- How old are you?
In my 30’s
- What is Your profession?
- What are Your passions in life?
Global passions: Justice, human rights, equal access to education and the right of all children to play.
Personal passions: Travel, skiing, hiking to see a view, dark chocolate with sea salt, Italia, qawwali, design, reading historical fiction
- What are your other Interests and Hobbies in life?
I enjoy painting fashion illustrations for friends and dabbling in paper design.
4. Tell us about your background
I hail from a big family in a small, small town in the Midwest, where everybody knows your mom’s name and if you made honor roll last semester. I grew up in a house where ducks, bunnies and squirrels flitted freely across the backyard. I biked to school and everywhere in-between, sold colored rocks door to door and learned to drive on a frozen lake. I grew up believing that everybody’s personal triumphs were chronicled in their local newspaper. I caught the travel bug early, studying abroad in high school, college, and graduate school. Although I lived in several countries and in major cities on both east and west coasts of the US, I always assumed my imaginary children would enjoy a childhood similar to my own. I never dreamed of raising a family in a concrete metropolis that could house my entire hometown in one or two city blocks, but I fell in love with a New Yorker and now I can’t imagine living anywhere else with my boys.
Nadia comes from a tight-knit family
5. Tell me about your pregnancy experience in New York as a busy working city woman.
It is easy to get tired of being pregnant. With my second pregnancy — seemingly ten minutes after my first! — I remember feeling starved for energy and sorry for myself. This is horribly cheesy, but whenever I start to feel down, I make lists of what brings me joy and gives me purpose. Appreciating life’s blessings (like the first time your child smiled or the beautiful marriage of nutella with peanut butter) is an immediate jolt to the heart and reminder, that ultimately, we have so many reasons to do a happy dance. About fifteen years ago, I started collecting lists from my friends, of their 50 things they love about life. For my birthday one year, my incredibly thoughtful sister collected them all in a book and bound it for me. Best gift ever.
One night, when I was particularly exhausted from running after my 17 month old toddler and delirious with pregnancy (I think I had passed my due date) I decided it was a good idea to share my bliss-arising list of “bump benefits” on Facebook. Here’s my list:
Bump Benefits in NYC
1. When you order a macaroon/cupcake/cookie at your favorite little bakery, you'll get a freebie for the "baby".
2. Never wait in line at Whole Foods. Without asking, you and your bump will be directed to the customer service line to check out, which in fact is not a line. As you waddle on by with your flax seed, cheese and tubs of ice cream, I don't recommend making eye contact with the 97 hungry NY'ers waiting in the cattle queues. Unlike the sweet employees, they won't ask you when you are due or whether you are having a girl or a boy. They don't care and they hate you.
3. VVIP treatment at all the special museum exhibits. Remember that excruciating long line that wound inside and wrapped around the Met for the Alexander McQueen exhibit? I don't!
4. Take a seat on the subway during rush hour. Actually, this all depends on the demographic of your fellow passengers. Men and women of family-centric cultures are the most likely to give up their seats and beckon you to sit down. Entitled white-collared individuals will pretend they can’t see you. Grandmothers will pinch your cheek and ask you a series of very personal questions. And then, there are always the few obnoxious people who will elbow you in the stomach.
5. Enjoy the game or a concert in a stadium like a man would. You won't miss any exciting points/plays/fav songs because you won't be standing in any ridiculous bathroom lines. Instead, a super considerate janitor will escort you to a spotless private restroom where you can pass pregnancy gas without worrying if anyone can hear you. Thank you, sweet lady at the Mumford & Sons concert!
6. The bigger your bump, the less wait-time for a cab. Your bump inspires curbside chivalry -- pedestrians, even other busy NY'ers who are late for work and looking for rides, will chase down cabs for you and force whoever is in to get the frick out. And when you raise your hand to hail, don't be shy to show off that bump too, because off-duty cabbies will pull over for you. Even during the impossible shift change at four in the afternoon. You won't believe it, but I promise, it's true. You'll love your bump on a rainy day, freezing cold day, blistery hot day, or any other miserable weather day in NYC. (Do not get accustomed to this treatment, however, because this benefit will diminish greatly after the baby arrives. In fact, the second an available cabbie spots your stroller or any baby gear, they will speed on by, likely spraying you and your little one on the curb with dirty city juice. In that case, use Lyft or Uber!)
My list grew after the baby was born when, one night, after hearing us check in with our sitter on the phone, a couple gave us their reservation at a popular restaurant so we wouldn’t have to wait 2 hours for a table. Post-bump baby benefits!
6. Can you share your birth story/stories?
I was naturally induced into labor with my first son. All three of my sisters, my parents, my in-laws, and my husband were in the hospital room when my contractions started. My sister had curated a beautiful Dean & Deluca basket of all my favorite foods, soft cheeses and bresaola. The whole family would stare in silence at the monitor while I experienced a contraction for about 30 seconds and then fall back into conversation and munching on their crackers while I prepared for the next one. Looking back I can’t believe that my family was having a picnic while I was laboring, but they probably thought I wanted them there, since everyone knows I suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Eventually, they all left, except for my mom, one of my sisters and my husband, but everyone else was waiting to greet Zavier when he was born 20 hours later. I’m pretty lucky to have that level of support and love in my life.
Nadia's sisters took her and 4-week old Zavier for their first sushi
7. Did you breastfeed?
I was fortunate to nurse both of my boys until they were 10 months. They both weaned themselves and I couldn’t have nursed them longer had I tried.
With Zavier, I was terribly awkward at nursing in public, so in the beginning when the feedings were frequent, I felt isolated and banished to our apt. I bought a nursing cover so I could rejoin life outside my building, but I never found any nursing clothing that reflected my style, so I wore button downs for easy access. The monotony of my “style” wound up driving me a little nuts and I wanted to burn those tops after I was done nursing!
As Zavier grew older, he started swatting at the nursing cover, so I had my own Zagat directory of all the best places to nurse around the city. I knew which public restrooms had a women’s lounge, which restaurants had a supportive chair in the ladies’ room, and which stores would let me use their dressing rooms to nurse. I once nursed Z in a Club Monaco, after he projectile pooped in the store, narrowly missing a pile of perfectly pressed white shirts. I was sitting in the dressing room nursing him and he used to make this very loud and bizarre “ohhh-heee!” slurpy sound when he ate and I was desperately trying to hush him. The patrons in the surrounding dressing rooms had no idea there was a baby next door and someone asked, “Is everything okay in there?” “Ohhhh-heeee! Ohhhh-heee!” Z continued. I didn’t respond and pretended I wasn’t there.
8. How was the experience for the second time?
Zavier never ever took a bottle, so I pumped for the first time with Kolhai and encouraged him to take a bottle at least once a day. His last feed before bedtime was always a bottle. I found it very satisfying knowing exactly how many ounces he was consuming. I built up a supply in the freezer, so I could have the freedom to be away for more than a few hours at a time. But if I was away and Kolhai was feeding from a bottle, I felt that I needed to pump at the exact same time, to ensure I didn’t disrupt my milk supply. When he was around six months, I attended an all day conference. I was pumping with a hand pump in a bathroom stall when the lock on the door broke and a young 20-something burst in on me. Despite my shock, I didn’t let the intrusion interrupt my pumping rhythm. I was mortified, she was horrified, and then I couldn’t stop laughing. I’m pretty sure that image of me was pure birth control for her.
9. On how motherhood has changed my workday
I work from a home office right now. I take my kids to all their morning activities and classes and I work around their schedule. When I have a project deadline, my sleep suffers, but my FOMO motivates me. I love being present for their first experiences. Those large, ever-curious eyes — curtained by full mops of hair — inspire me to renew my own perspective and be more mindful in my work and everyday activity. They say hello to everyone. A dog walker makes them giddy, they never miss a passing garbage truck or fire engine, and they love to greet the NYC M5 bus driver. Their interest in what all these people do to run our great big city reminds me that we all depend on one another in our community. We are all connected, and we all desire the same pursuit of happiness.
10. Tell me a little bit about family rituals/fun activities you enjoy as a family, memorable outings and travels.
One of my favorite places in the city is ABC Carpet & Home. It’s a magical space that I wish I could live in. The Santa who visits every holiday season is the real deal, straight from the North Pole. Every December, we brave the lines to snap a photo of our kids with Santa. It’s a fun experience and we have met other families who have been keeping the tradition for over a decade.
11. Do you believe in life/work balance?
I think there is a lot of noise out there, on the Internet, facebook, etc on how to be the perfect parent, the perfect working mother, how far to lean in, how to raise the perfect kids, the smartest kids, the happiest kids, etc. I think, as a generation, we are over-analyzing ourselves and our children. Our parents’ generation did not engage in this level of self-reflection and we all survived and turned out okay.
I think we all struggle with achieving our potential with our careers, spending quality time with our kids or with our partners, sleep deprivation, meeting work expectations, managing temper tantrums, squeezing in exercise, encouraging our kids to be healthy, kind, well-adjusted human beings. There are a few people in my life who appear to be having fun while doing (almost) all the above. The quality they share is their positive outlook on life and their ability to laugh during difficult moments.
12. What are some of your happiest moments of motherhood thus far?
When Zavier comes home from preschool, the reunion he has with Kolhai melts my heart every time. They act as if they have been separated for years, instead of a few hours. Their battles over toy cars are epic (and my most frustrating moments as a mother), but the minute they comfort each other, I’m convinced there is no greater joy than witnessing their love.
13. Do you have any advice/ two cents for other mothers, new moms, and mothers-to-be?
Pinterest, mommy blogs, and Instagram are wonderful tools that connect us all, inspire us to be more creative, and celebrate motherhood and life. But unfortunately, they have also complicated the way we parent. That perfectly designed, immaculate nursery, or 127-hour craft project, or any Pinterest board or Instagram pic for that matter, is not a challenge directed at you to meet or surpass. The minute these sites and resources stop being a space of celebration and start becoming a source of comparison, it’s time to close down all the apps and go on a tech-fast.
There’s a lot of parenting advice out there already, so I guess my two cents would be to not exhaust yourself taking it all in! The person dishing it out generally has good intentions with what worked well for them or what didn’t, but if you don’t like it, don’t take it. Trust your instincts and parent the way that makes sense to you and your family. We’re all in this parenting thing together and I don’t know if anyone has it all figured out!
14. What does a brand like Mitera (Mitera’s dresses) mean to you and to other women/mothers?
I never wore a dress while I was nursing. It was impossible. Mitera is giving women the freedom to dress the way they wish and still be able to nurse. Thank you, Mitera!
Thank you so much, Nadia and family for sharing your motherhood journey wit us!