Meet Sulthana, otherwise known as the @marvellous.medic. I really enjoyed interviewing and reading through the answers she gave us.
She has a really considered perspective on her own motherhood and has really understood the psychology of early Childhood. This is reflected on her Instagram page, a place where other mothers can go to discuss the questions Sulthana sets out for us.
"Anyone else feeling this? 💁🏽♀️ I like watching/ reading about productivity/ efficiency hacks. But sometimes - as a working mum - I can find them lacking.
Let me tell you why.
👩👧👦 I wanted to highlight the cartoon below. Now this is obviously not a universal truth, however I’m sure many females will relate to this. It strikes a cord."
We got in touch with Sulthana to know more about her story and practices...
Could you please introduce yourself - your name, current profession and what your hobbies and interests are?
Salaam everyone! My name is Sulthana and I have been a doctor for 10 years, alhamdulilah. My time is split between working in a regular GP practice and a Forensic Psychiatric Hospital. I love my work and learn from it on a daily basis.
My interests include being in nature whether its walking in a local park to a more strenuous hike. I love reading, travelling to countries that have a rich history (reading about them some more), and sharing these experiences with my family and friends.
What inspired you to study medicine? Tell us about your journey to become a doctor.
I have my wonderful mother to thank for this. She planted the seed when I was very young and luckily I enjoyed science so it all worked out. Having said that, the road was not without its obstacles. Being a second generation immigrant with no family who had attended higher education, I relied heavily on my teachers for guidance and I was fortunate that they gave me their free time.
Academia did not come automatically either, I do not consider myself to be naturally clever. I studied hard and long hours, often resitting exams whilst in high school and 6th form to ensure I obtained the grades for medical school. Finally I secured a place at Manchester Medical school and loved every minute of it!
Looking back, I feel like for that little girl to succeed in becoming a doctor was nothing short of a miracle and I am thankful to Allah (SWT) everyday for blessing me with this role.
The whole world has been going through a very tough year, but it has been especially tough on front line essential workers and their families. Can you tell us about how you are dealing with these hard times with your children?
The following belief is fundamental to ALL of my interactions with my children.
Research indicates that the relationship a child has with their primary care giver is the template for all of their future relationships. They learn how to behave, how to view the world and how to handle hardships from watching us. So my answer to handling most tricky situations is to strengthen your bond with your child and demonstrate the skills that you wish for them to develop.
How do I this in the practical sense with really young children? PLAY.
It seems simple but many parents do not do this enough, myself included. Playing with their toys, games, painting, role play, playing in the park etc on a daily basis. Structured and unstructured. Play enhances emotional, social, cognitive and physical skills in children which includes building resilience to cope with times like this. It gives them inherent sense of security and belief that they are safe, loved, capable and thus they become confident.
Hardship and tough times in life will come and its our role to equip our children with skills to cope.
Research indicates that the relationship a child has with their primary care giver is the template for all of their future relationships. They learn how to behave, how to view the world and how to handle hardships from watching us.
How have you found motherhood? Can you tell us what your experience has been like.
Let me tell you, motherhood is hands down THE hardest thing I have ever done. It’s more demanding than medical school, GP exams or any other piece of academic work. It is relentless and sometimes you may feel undervalued.
However it has equally brought me my deepest joys and moments of pure happiness. This sounds cliche but it’s true. When you become a mother, your heart suddenly becomes elastic and has the ability to just grown exponentially. As a result of motherhood I feel I am a better daughter, sister, wife, doctor and overall a better person.
When did you start promoting well-ness advice on your Instagram? Is this something which felt natural to do?
I only started my page in 2020 (pre-pandemic) and had spent 2 years thinking about it before that. Looking back, I was afraid because the general advice I had been given all my life was to remain under the radar, remain unseen, away from the public eye and to not be noticed. That remaining private and quiet was honourable.
Overtime I realised that this also meant that my views were not part of the narrative, the experiences of people like me where not being discussed or explored or even appreciated. Furthermore there are many things that are not explicitly taught in medical text books, that I only realised once I started working. I wanted to share my thoughts with colleagues and so I trusted my gut and took the plunge to start my page!
It has probably been one of the highlights for 2020 for me. I have formed so many wonderful friendships and inspiring connections with people.
What is one piece of advice you would give to other mothers? Perhaps new mothers?
I can’t give just one so here are a few nuggets I tell my friends.
Ladies, motherhood is hard work. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. So please, be kind to yourself! There is magic in your everyday mundane moments with your children, look for it and relish it. The time real does fly by.
Sleep when you can! Delegate what you can. Things always seem better after you have rested.
One thing my elderly female patients always tell me is to keep my own identity, to not lose yourself to motherhood. When the kids are grown, you will be independent once more. It is easier to cope with this if you have been cultivating your interests, hobbies and career that give you a sense of purpose, in addition to your children.
Can you tell us about your day? How does it go? What is your favorite part of your day?
My work day routine generally is the same as any working mum! It’s work-home-dinner-bedtime routine with the kids-evening with the husband.
Mondays I am mainly at home and I like to call these “mummondays.”
I spend quality time with my daughter and I also use this time to prepare for the week ahead by bulk cooking, mopping up any leftover chores/tasks.
A consistent “favourite part of the day” does not really exist. I may love bedtime routine one day and dread it the next! I try to actively schedule things in the day that nourish different parts of me.
How has your experiencing been trying to balance motherhood and your career? What difficulties did you face?
Being a working mum is stressful. There is actually not enough time in the day for one person to get all tasks done, its simply not impossible. The initial difficulty for me was letting go of incredibly high standards and this image that “I could do it all.”
Since letting go of the ‘superwoman’ persona, my experience in balancing motherhood and career has been more pleasant!
We are now in a place where my husband and I shoulder the responsibility of running our home and family equally, our families help with childcare whilst we are at work and also for any social or work events. Scheduling is crucial to ensure that I stay on top of all the demands.
Mostly importantly, if I don’t manage to complete something as I had hoped, I am kind to myself and don’t get worked up about it.
What advice do you have for other mums who are teaching their children to pray?
I would say I discovered true Islam when I was at University, unfortunately prior to that my experience had been old-school mosque teachers, who may have meant well but mainly taught us by rote without fully explaining what things meant.
Alhamdulilah the local and online community has come a long way since then and we have so many tools at our disposal to help ourselves and our children. My own personal resolution is always to improve my prayers and I think its important for my children to watch me pray. We were kindly gifted the Salah Mat by sister-in-law and it is a refreshing, fun interactive way to introduce salah to a 4year old! He has it in his room and gets it out whenever he sees us praying, I love that at such a young age we are already creating habits and behaviour that will make prayer easy later in adult life.
With our children, we are trying to focus on the love that Allah(swt) has for us, that He is the Most-Merciful and the All-Wise. We are hoping that our children’s worship will stem not from a place of fear, but rather a place of love.