Dear Motherhood, I Miss Me 

I wanted to run away from my kids yesterday.

Everything just kind of came crashing down all at once. There were several factors at play. Suddenly, I just felt tired. I felt alone. I felt like everything was on me, and that I had no way out.

Motherhood has this way of consuming every atom capable of feeling love in your body, and then multiplying each and every one at an exponential rate. It can make you want to sacrifice everything, and anything, for another, without having to think twice. It is exhilarating, beautiful, fulfilling.

But motherhood also has another side, which we feel guilty talking about. We shouldn’t really talk about it, right? I sound ungrateful. I’ve been blessed with the privilege of raising these amazing children. I shouldn’t complain. I could have it a lot worse. I should focus on the positives, because the negatives will just bring me, and others, down.  

25202180 i love my momThe truth is, at one point or another, you’ll feel it. You will. You’ll feel trapped. You’ll get tired of being so completely depended upon. You’ll miss your freedom. You’ll think back to when you were just you, and only really had to take care of yourself, and you’ll miss that. You’ll miss the luxury of thinking to yourself, “I think I’ll go to bed now”, and then rest assured that you will only wake up when you decide you’re ready to do so. You’ll miss sitting in a cafe reading a book for three hours. You’ll miss shopping alone, without any time restrictions and without having to do the mommy-jiggle-shake-bounce while you try and lull that ticking time bomb baby to sleep as you hurriedly examine ingredients lists and price tags. Continue reading

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Where Aren’t You From?: A Third Culture Kid’s Identity Crisis 

The question “where are you from?” is a difficult question to answer.

Yes, of course, sir. If your daughter is Egyptian, then your granddaughter is also Egyptian.”

The immigration officer greeting us at Cairo airport warmly assured my father that neither my daughter nor I needed a visa to enter our country of origin. He handed back the crinkled copy of my birth certificate – a document which, despite me having only lived in Egypt until I was three and a half, and despite the fact that I had not set foot on Egyptian soil in over 18 years, was all that was required to legitimise my, and apparently my daughter’s, claim to Egyptian heritage.

My husband and I had decided to surprise my parents and accompany them on a trip to Egypt, my place of birth and my first nationality, in October 2014. Our first daughter was 7 months old at the time. It was a significant trip for me, not only because it had been so long since I’d been back, but more so because I found myself constantly asking the question:

Am I really Egyptian?

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The Universality of Motherhood

The universality of motherhood has a tremendous power to unite.

Let me tell you a little story. Earlier today, I decided to take the girls down the road to a nearby mall. Tuna appears to have outgrown all of her clothes overnight so I needed to take her shopping.

It’ll come as no surprise that shopping with a toddler and a baby is not the most peaceful of activities. Eventually, Puff started crying because I’d been so focused on trying to get Tuna to try things on (which I confirm is torture for both the parent, and the child) that I’d forgotten to feed her since we left home. So I put her in the stroller and swung Tuna onto my back in the carrier and headed to the parents’ room.
You see – we’ve only been here just over two weeks. I still haven’t figured out the protocol in Jakarta when it comes to nursing in public. It’s a new place. It’s a different culture. I want to respect my surroundings as much as I can. I’ve nursed in public before with a nursing cover, but so far, I haven’t seen anyone else do the same. Plus, the baby and I both hate the damn thing.

The parents’ room was large with several changing stations and places to sit. Tuna ran around and kept threatening to head straight out the door while I desperately tried to get her to sit still so that I could keep an eye on her while I tried to calm my baby. I frantically started searching for the nursing cover in my bag when I noticed a mother sitting across from me nursing her baby, without a cover, and totally comfortable.

That was all the confirmation I needed. Forget the cover. You didn’t have to ask me twice.

I relaxed and settled into it and the baby was happy. The lady and her friend interacted with Tuna. We all exchanged smiles at each other. The toddlers high-fived each other. Tuna tried to run out the door again at one point and another mother guarded it and tried to distract her while I changed the baby.

We didn’t speak the same language. We came from different backgrounds. We didn’t know anything about each other and didn’t necessarily have anything in common.

Except that we were all mothers. And in that moment, we were all part of the same village.

I love that the universality of motherhood transcends language, culture, religion, and things that sometimes divide people.

It was a simple, everyday situation, but it made me appreciate that despite all of our differences, so many of the things we go through as mothers, are the same.

So, thank you to the mom that made me feel like it was totally okay to nurse without having to cover up because she knew that sometimes using a nursing cover results in a shrieking baby who attracts even more attention than if you tried to nurse without one;

To the mom that stopped to help me clip the back strap of the baby carrier because she knew how wriggly a 4-month-old can be;

To the mom that held my toddler back from jumping onto the road while I was loading up the taxi because she knew how you never have enough hands when you’re with the kids;

To the mom that gave me an empathetic smile while I tried to wrangle a tantruming two-year-old in the supermarket because she knew that kids choose only the most public places to have the most demonstrative performances;

To the mom that gave me an understanding look while I carried the toddler on my hip and pushed the baby in the stroller, because she gets that sometimes the big one wants to be the baby for a change;

Thank you.