Wednesday, July 17, 2013

never... take me for granted

"what's for lunch today?" my husband asks, "mmmm nothing!" i answer. "you look surprised, by the way, lunch comes every day" and this sentence turned into a regular joke for us, sometimes we laugh, sometimes we just smile because it's no surprise to anyone that hunger is a daily, repeated, common, natural, expected, respected, predictable need which we have to meet on a regular basis

i can't say "i had a piece of cake yesterday so why would i need lunch today", or "we were invited for a wonderful dinner last month so let's just skip lunch tomorrow". a newly wed couple once shared with us what i call the "lunch dilemma" as they were adapting to new life in their love nest they discovered that they had to think, talk about, and prepare lunch every day which was a difficult new task for them since they took it for grated that their mothers were in charge of this "tiny detail" when they each still lived with their parents

yesterday i was thinking a lot about this idea, not because of anything literally related to lunch and hunger but because of a different kind of need... my need for a break, for rest, for appreciation, for encouragement, for spending quality time with my husband, for taking a day off away from the children, for validation, for self-actualization, for stretching my potential, for challenging my talents, for journeying on in maturity, for the company of a good friend.... part of it was triggered by a longing i started to have for my old life, life before children and even life before marriage

don't get me wrong, marriage and parenthood add more meaning to my life than i've ever imagined, and i've never regretted taking any of these steps not even once, but family life tends to gradually make a woman melt away and get over occupied with tiny and major tasks of good mamahood for long hours, days, weeks, and months which quickly (or slowly) turn into years of what seems to be a lifetime of "doing nothing" when you're doing EVERYTHING and much more for your family. as sacred as motherhood is and as much as i longed for it and as much as i'm enjoying it and as much as i love my husband i still have to recognize and admit need to get in touch with myself every once in a while, to remember who i am. yesterday i was thinking of my teenage and college years and the work i've done during those character-shaping years, how i was so disciplined in so any areas of my life, how rebellious i was of certain given things, how i wanted to grow in maturity to become a deep and kind and successful adult. i also thought of my university degrees and my job and of the decision i took later on to quit my full time job and settle for a part time one at home just to be available for my husband and then for my son and now for my two children. well, i do not regret these decisions but i yesterday i realized how much i hate it when i'm taken for granted

i've worked hard on becoming the adult i am today, i've worked hard on my marriage, i've worked hard during the past 5 years of motherhood since the moment learned that i was pregnant with our first child, i work really hard every single day, i work hard throughout the day and also at night, i work hard on sacrificing so much of myself and my time for the sake of being a good mother and a good wife, i work hard on isolating my children from the unsafe world outside, i work hard on protecting my family against the escalating violence all around us in the MENA region, i work hard to be a strong woman with all my body, mind, and emotions.... and yet i feel that i'm taken for granted

taking people for granted is a very wrong thing to do to others in general, but when a mother is being taken for granted then that's a CRIME. when one has a job they get paid, when a couple are engaged they say wonderful things to one another, when a girl has a really good friend she experiences mutual appreciation, so you work hard and you get something in return... but what happens inside most families, and people rarely admit that or talk about it, is that the couple start to take each other for granted soon enough after the wedding then later on upon the arrival of the first child, it's the mother who is taken for granted simply because she rarely hears a word of appreciation or receives a hand in her hard mamawork or has access to time without the children or have the luxury of doing things she likes to do or have the choice to have a job or not... i don't deny the occasional "happy stations" in my own mamaland journey, but i can't say "i had half a day off 8 months ago, so why need a brake now" or "the kids slept for one more hour yesterday so i won't need any time off tomorrow"... just like lunch, these needs i -and all the mothers i know- have are daily, repeated, common, natural, expected, predictable needs which we have to meet on a regular basis but unlike solving the "lunch dilemma" this "mamahood dilemma" is rarely recognized and respected by others, let alone solved with their help

i can, somehow, satisfy my hunger during lunch time without anyone's help, but unfortunately, my need to rest and re-charge and re-connect can only be met if i get enough help from people around me, so it's double the work: i have to first explain my case and justify WHY ON EARTH i have these needs, and then ask for help which might not always be available. the problem with us mothers is that we don't know how to ask for help, we're programmed to give and give to the extent that we lack basic skills of receiving or even explaining to others HOW they can help us. we leave it to their judgement and we wait for our husbands or people close to us to notice that we're drowning, we're suffocating, but more often than not, people don't notice that so we end up frustrated, hurt, and aching from being taken for granted again and again... "you were doing so well juggling everything i never saw this break down coming" is a common sentence we hear when we eventually collapse

we need to first learn how to admit our needs, and then ask for help, we also need to practice how to actually accept this help when it arrives, simply because we deserve it, not only us, but also people around us deserve to have a sane mother-wife-friend-daughter-sister, a sane me...

Monday, July 8, 2013

keep your friends close... and your first aid kit closer

have you heard of a book called "Daring Greatly"? this is the video i wanted everybody i know to watch, and today i wanted one person in particular to watch it, but unfortunately i couldn't make that suggestion. the real reason this book came to my mind was that i was hurt and i thought: "oh, i haven't read Daring Greatly yet!!!" meaning that i'm not, yet, equipped with enough mental weapons to fight back, to justify why on earth did i dare greatly and invite this friend to be my friend, why did i open up to her, become so vulnerable, i needed weapons to kill or numb my feelings of hurt.

i thought there are two reasons behind what my friend did: number ONE is that i don't matter much to her so she said words haphazardly not thinking of consequences or that a person like me (the only person she knows to whom her words can be relevant) could get hurt, so why do i still care about her? why can't i just cross her off my friends' list, i wish this was as easy as "unfriend"ing somebody on facebook. TWO is that i did matter and she read my response, so why hasn't she reacted yet?
this got me thinking that maybe it's not her fault, maybe it's my fault for keeping her so close to my heart as a dear friend so when she stabbed, the knife went right into my heart, deep inside, leaving a fatal wound, and our friendship might die as a result.... when someone is too close to you, you feel when they breath, when they rejoice, when they hurt, but what about when THEY hurt YOU... well THAT's painful

recently i've been craving friendship, as you might have read here and i remembered two girls who were good friends, and our relationship had the potential of developing into true deep long-term friendship, the first one emigrated with her husband and two children to Canada over a year ago. M is a girl i met in the USA, as weird as it is, back in 2001, she's Egyptian and i'm Syrian, years later, i got married to an Egyptian man and moved to live in Egypt, when we moved to this city, where M lives, i met her at church and she was 9 months pregnant. she remembered me (there's no way i could recognize the pregnant M) and i looked up a photo of the two of us in Atlanta and showed it to her. yes, that's true, the world is such a small place, not only that, but over the past few years we became good friends, she had similar difficult circumstances, she had two children, she understood me very well, we used to finish each other's sentences when we shared our struggles with motherhood and raising two children when both our husbands were too busy and we had almost no friends of family around to help. during the farewell gathering we held for them (there were three families emigrating) i tried to say something but ended up crying and leaving the room. i'm glad to hear every now and then that she's happy in Canada and starting to settle down as things get better for them.

as if losing one friend wasn't enough, i lost another one, who also emigrated, she went with her husband to start a new life in the US. i met L almost two years ago, also at church, and we couldn't believe how much we have in common, she's such a mature, kind, and smart young lady and i enjoyed the time we spent together. so our friendship was building bit by bit and getting stronger when i heard that they've made up their mind and it's final, they're leaving. i learnt the lesson, so i didn't open my mouth during L and her husband's farewell gathering two months ago, i even left early and used "escape" as a defense mechanism.

today i can say that i lost a third friend, just like the other two, i need time to morn this relationship, but when things happen and you blame it on faith, or God, it's easier to cope than when things are made to happen by a human hand. i try to keep in touch with M and L in spite of the distance, but with this friend who still lives here, i'm afraid i'll gradually lose interest in mending our relationship if i'll keep needing my first aid kit often.
i honestly am not as mad as i was initially because i tried to find reasons for her sharp unkind words, but i still believe that it's my right to protect myself against further injuries... so what's between me and her can sadly no longer be called a "friendship".

anyway, i've done what i usually do with my dear friends, say something, send an invitation for us to talk. had she been somebody insignificant to me then i wouldn't have gotten so hurt in the first place, then it would've been easy to me to just forget about her. but with my friends, i do things differently, because i CARE about them, i care about US so i try to mend things, i try to listen to the saying: "Don't let your friend's mistake make you forget his (in this case "her") continuous white hands"... so i'll hope that it's just a "mistake" and for now will remember my friend's white hands...

p.s. a few minutes after i finished writing this post, i went back to the youtube page where i got the first video link from and i found THIS

Thursday, July 4, 2013

good morning free Egypt

sunrise at 4:40 this morning...

last night my husband came back from the demonstrations at 11pm after Egypt received the great news . i survived 5 days staying at home with the kids because their nursery is too far and i didn't feel that it's safe for me to drive alone with them, but finally we had the chance to go out and not just any outing,  we went out to CELEBRATE...

the celebration had already started at home... singing DORA's theme song: "we did it..." as we waited for baba to call or come back

we drove along the sea courniche where hundreds of people were celebrating, flags everywhere in people's hands, over their shoulders, and on cars... the kids ended up going to bed at 2am, we all had a cold for a few days now so the feeling when i took this photo wasn't "physically" the best one... but i couldn't resist the temptation of capturing the view from our living room... the crescent was simply too cute...

too much work lies ahead of the Egyptian people... this is just the beginning... what a beginning

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