Zeena Moola

In the previous blog post, I introduced you to my amazing Dad.  Now I’m introducing myself.  I’m Zeena Moolla, author of Everything I’ve Learned about Motherhood (From My Single-Parent Dad). I’m a mother of two, and when I first became a mum to my now eight-year-old boy, Zain, I truly believed I’d made a terrible mistake thinking I could be a mother. (Awful, isn’t it, saying it out loud? But it’s the truth and I believe this is something that should be embraced entirely here.)

My husband, Pete, and I had counted down the nine months prior with so much excitement. But when our baby arrived, and acid reflux drove us to dejectedly set up camp at my wonderful in-laws with Zain just three weeks old, I remember me and Pete admitting to each other (as we retired for another night of virtually no sleep) that we hadn’t enjoyed a single minute of this parenting malarkey. It was a horribly sad moment.

If you’re experiencing anything remotely like this, I want this book to reassure you throughout that you’re not alone. I want to offer you friendship in book form, waiting at your bedside, breast- feeding station or on top of the loo roll, ready with a comforting and therapeutic laugh whenever you need it most. I also want this book to reassure you that life, as it did for Pete and me, won’t just get better, it will be incredible.

Before we take our leave for Chapter One, I think it’s worth clarifying a couple of points that could otherwise crop up in a disgruntled Amazon review (and while I’m fully braced for those anyway, I’d only have myself to blame if I didn’t see off now the things I know might be cause for concern or offence).

First, I don’t reference throughout exactly how my dad came to be the parent solely raising us, for the simple fact some things just aren’t up for public consumption. I know in this age of living life online, lots of very personal matters are frequently divulged, and plenty with great intention, but that’s just not who I am. Second, while I love being a mum and adore my children so much they spend most of their days being smothered in needy, noisy kisses, I also enjoy a cynical, frequently sweary laugh about motherhood (and while my dad is partial to a piss-take, my profanity is definitely not my father’s influence – sorry, Pop). If this offends you, now is probably the time to inform you that this book might not be for you. Honestly, no hard feelings; we’ll part amicably…

I take this hard line because I believe this: motherhood is not sacred. It’s not a shrine a woman enters on giving birth and is expected to encounter like a maternal martyr in a vow of silence. A mother is a human being, with human reactions, and she is allowed to both love and loathe motherhood. She is allowed to laugh about it, and inappropriately if she so chooses. She is allowed to swear about it. And those who say otherwise can fuck right off.

I know I’m acting like a ‘big lady’, as my dad might say, using the F word and everything, but I want to be as frank as I can at this point so the tone and message throughout is abundantly clear from the outset. It is, after all, one of the reasons I wrote this book.

I also wrote this book to illustrate that loving, healthy families come in a multitude of types, which I believe my father exemplifies perfectly. And frankly, I was a bit fed up with seeing representations of any sort of diversity in the parenting sector sitting largely amid the serious ‘specialised’ titles, slightly ghettoised away from the mainstream. My dad’s kind, wholehearted and hilarious parenting deserves far more than dry academic words and footnotes. He’s not a set text! He’s a real person whose existence, like many other woefully underrepresented lives, should be featured front and centre, taking up the space he so rightfully warrants.

I wanted to finish this introduction with something breathtakingly profound about just how much my dad, ‘Papa’ to his five cherished grandchildren, means to me. But nothing feels adequate. Some people are just too good for words. All I can say is, as human beings go, he is the best. And I couldn’t have wished for a better example of parenting.

Everything I’ve Learned about Motherhood (From My Single-Parent Dad)

Zeena Moolla

Published: 24 February 2021

When you’re in the eye of the motherhood shitstorm, wondering how this tiny human can wreak so much bedlam in your life, you need a robust sense of humour to save your sanity.