The next interview is with Selmira Beckstrom. Selmira works full time in a job she loves while being mummy to her little boy, Miles, whom she named after her father – Selim. I was drawn to her Instagram account first by the beautiful shots of her son, but was soon intrigued further. I was captivated by the story she had to tell about her arrival in America as a five year old, a refugee from Bosnia with her family, and knew that I wanted to find out whether that impacted on the way she raised her child.
1) Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
I’m Selmira and I live with my husband, brother and my son, Miles, in Massachusetts. We live in a rural community and love spending time outdoors and gardening. I work full time in Cambridge, MA, which is about a 1.5 hour commute for me each way, so I listen to tons of audio books.
2) If you could give one piece of advice for an expectant mother, what would it be?
Stop stressing! We spend so much time preparing for our baby, and the hospital, and the labor, and having a child is so unpredictable that it usually just causes more stress if things don’t go ‘according to plan.’ Just take every new challenge as it comes, accept it with an open mind. Also, as annoying as it is, and I totally rolled my eyes every time someone told me, but be sure to ‘sleep while you can.’ Those first few months are brutal!
3) All of us parent differently and have different values. What is your most important parenting value?
I definitely don’t have a parenting style by any means. I have always gone by what my gut instinct tells me, and a lot of trial and error. I think there is a lot of pressure for parents to be perfect. I’m definitely far from that, I make mistakes on the daily, but what I do try to do is raise a good human. So I try to teach my son how to be a good human by example.
4) what motto do you try and live by?
“This too shall pass” for sure! We have a lot of rough, hectic, busy days with neverending laundry, way too many left overs and never enough time in the day.But I try to tell myself through those days that tomorrow will be better and brighter and if not, well then the next day will be.
5) What are your hopes for your son?
I hope that my son grows up to be a kind human, independent, always challenging views and being confident in the person that he is. I want him to always be respectful of others and their views and just enjoy life.
6) Could you tell us a little bit about Parenthood Unveiled? What is it and why did you create it?
Parenthood Unveiled was created by myself and my good friend and mommy blogger, Kristie. We absolutely love Instagram hubs and we were looking to create a place that would celebrate parenthood, all of parenthood, the good, the bad, the messy. Instagram can easily turn into a highlight reel of people’s lives, but we also wanted to show the real side of parenthood, and together support each other.
7) You breastfed your son while working full time. How did you manage to work that and did you find your employer was supportive?
I honestly was not prepared for how much work and dedication breastfeeding would take. I returned to work full time when Milles was 3 months. In preparation for work, I used to pump like a mad woman while I was on maternity leave. By the time it was time for me to return, I had a really nice freezer stash of breastmilk, which made my transition a little less stressful. As I mentioned before, I commute really far, so I actually bought an adaptor for my breast pump so I could pump hands free in the car. I only did this for about a month until I got into a good routine. My employer was supportive and always reminded me to go on my pump breaks, but with the nature of my job and how busy it is, there were definitely times where I just couldn’t pump 3x per day. It was super challenging, I made it fifteen months, and I’m ecstatic to have made it that long.
8) You speak three languages and are of Bosnian-American heritage. What is your opinion on bilingualism and are you active in promoting your Bosnian roots with your son?
I would love love love my son to learn Bosnian, but I honestly haven’t made a big effort to teach him. We speak English in our home, as mu husband does not speak Bosnian, I do wish my parents lived closer as they do speak Bosnian in their home, and I think it would be a lot easier for my son to learn being exposed to it. I also left Bosnia when I was five years old, so I never learned how to write it or read it well, I can speak it, but it’s definitely not ‘proper’ grammar. We will see how it goes, it’s nothing I’m stressing about right now, but I would love to make sure my son understands and appreciates his heritage.
9) There is a beautiful picture of you and your family where you briefly talk about your experience as a child of becoming a refugee. I’m going to quote you because what you say is beautiful –
“Refugees are people, people who need love, hope and opportunity. I was that little girl, running +-from a war torn home. I am so very grateful for the countries that kept us safe and together. I want my son to grow up to know his heritage, understand kindness and acceptance and question authority.”
I believe that kind of thinking is how we go about combatting the evil that is growing stronger in the world at the moment. How do your beliefs manifest themselves in terms of parenting?
This is such a wonderful question! My life as a child was not easy, I never took anything for granted, and I was forced to grow up a lot sooner than my peers. As I mastered languages a lot faster than my parents, I was (and still do) the person that would take care of my parents matters, anything from finances, to going to the doctors, to making phone calls for them. We have really worked hard to be where we are, and I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to start over, and make a future for my family. I think with my upbringing, I think that I’m trying really hard to make sure that Miles never takes anything for granted, always respects everyone around him and appreciates what he has in life. I also want to raise him with an open and accepting min, someone who will reach to others to show kindness and support. I hope he’s the kid that goes to sit next to a new child that may have just started school, and make friends with them and show them around school, because it’s those people that really meant the world to me.
10) Parenting is tough and beautiful all at the same time. Can you tell us about a tough time and a shining moment that you’ve had as a parent?
It is so tough and so beautiful! And there are definitely a lot of tough moments and a lot of rewarding moments. Tough moments for me are usually self inflicted, it’s the days that work was really hard, and I’m behind on chores and I come home to a screaming baby that I haven’t seen all day, and all I want is for us to have a good time together, but everything goes wrong. I absolutely realise it’s because I set expectations for how our evening will go, and try not to, but those are really the toughest days for me. And they happen a lot. I definitely enjoy being a career woman, but it is so challenging, and there is so much mom guilt and missing my little man, and missing out on things that he’s learning and doing.
There are plenty of shining moments to talk about. Miles makes me laugh like I haven’t in years. We all will just belly laugh at how silly and fun he is. Our favourite time is in the mornings on the weekends, we try to do a family breakfast and we blast the music, and dance and cook, and I love this little tradition we have started. It’s the perfect way to start the weekend and get quality family time in.
I loved finding out about Selmira and her family. Find out more about her below: