Catch Up with Real Mom Asia Esanwa
Updated: Sep 3
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Asia Esanwa. I am Muslim, a wife, mum of 3 beautiful kids, accountant, coach, podcast host, book nerd, travel lover, a bit of an obsessive learner, recovering chocoholic… there must be more but I don’t remember!
How has your parenting journey evolved over the years?
There’ve only been a little over 5 years so far but I like to think I am a lot more present these days. I became a parent at a time in my life when I was a workaholic with an excessively demanding job, and so I would be at work till very late and always feeling sad that if there were anything like “mom or wife of the year” awards and my son could vote, I wouldn’t even make the list. AlhamduliLLAAH, I get to spend a lot more time with my kids now and be more intentional about it.
Do you often get mum guilt? How do you react when you do?
All the time! I try to be at least 1% better every day and I definitely don’t always hit the mark. I have good days and not so good days so after wallowing in the guilt for a while, I remind myself that the following day is another day to be better. I also constantly ask Allah to help me raise my kids in the way that pleases Him the most because I know for sure that there’s no way, we can do it on our own.
What steps are you taking to nurture your children's’ Muslim identity?
I try with the little things like the books we read, some of the programs they watch and attend, their school. My older son also attends Arabic classes now. I also make them say things like “I am Muslim and proud” whenever we do our affirmations and teach them about amazing muslims (past and present). I never hesitate to point out amazing muslims doing great things. They also pray with us with their new little mats and notice how I dress, even my 3-year-old knows I don’t go out without my scarf.
Are there certain experiences from your childhood that you think have had a significant impact on your Muslim identity that you would want to pass on to your children?
Yes. I attended a secular primary school and so that meant there was zero Islamic knowledge gained there. I also didn’t like the main Arabic school we went to. There was however a time in our lives when my sisters and I attended the Arabic classes during the weekends at my sisters’ school and that environment
was everything! The atmosphere was very conducive, learning was made fun, we sang all kinds of songs and learned without really knowing we were learning. Lots of the dua and basic knowledge of Islam I know till this day, some of which I teach my kids, I learned during that period. It was an incredibly formative experience and I pray Allah rewards the owner abundantly. Also, whenever we prayed with my mum, she’d make us gather around her and recite adhkaar and whenever you went to her with a “big” problem, she’d always say “tell it to Allah!” Lots of times, I would and that problem would get “miraculously” solved. She also would always play a tape with some surahs on end when we were young and I know Surah Yasin today because of that tape. One of her favorite sayings was “Allah is in Control”, I still have that on a stickie in my house as an adult. My Dad’s style was a tad more highhanded as he got us up to pray and recite the Quran in the mornings and “forced” us to give lectures. There were many instances where I revolted but I know that the knowledge was everything in reinforcing my identity as a muslim when I left home at a young age. I also ended up reading lots of his Islamic books during my gap years before Uni which changed my life. I realise now, looking back at these experiences, how intentional I have to be about imparting Islamic knowledge to my kids.
What are your favourite bedtime books for your kids (doesn’t have to be an Islamic book)?
Cars (*sigh* theirs! ), some of the Noor kids’ books, Mr. Gamal’s gratitude glasses, The most magnificent thing, I’ll always love you, The little engine that could, If I built a car.
Asia hosts an amazing podcast series called 'Project Startover' which spotlights women who have started over in different areas of their lives and gone ahead to achieve great things. You can read more and listen to some podcast episodes at https://projectstartover.com/ we particularly recommend episode 16 featuring Naima B Roberts which can be found here https://projectstartover.com/podcast/episode16/
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