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?

Continue reading

Advertisements

I Need My Mama Tribe

I need my mama tribe.

I remember when I first became a mother, and someone asked me if I’d made any “mommy friends” yet. I brushed it off with a casual, “ah yeah – I have a couple, I guess,” and didn’t give it much more thought.
I didn’t know that the small handful of mommy friends I had at the start, which has now grown into a sisterhood of women that support, love and encourage each other, would become my strength and my sanity on my most difficult days.

Have you found your mama tribe? I hope you have. Whether it’s just the two of you or twenty of you; we need our mama tribes.

n-REUNION-PARTY-628x314

Oh, how we need our mama tribes.

Because you need that mama who knows how sleep deprivation can turn you into a scary and unfamiliar version of yourself, and will ask you – no – TELL you that it’s time to go get caffeinated together, kids in tow to terrorise fellow cafe patrons, matching messy buns so that together you can both get through the rest of your day without eating your young.

Because you need that mama with whom “workout chic” or “pyjama vogue” is always an acceptable dress code. Let’s just agree to turn up in gym clothes so that we can appear to society to have just completed an arduous boot camp session, when really we’re going to go devour cinnamon rolls together and complain about our achy backs, you’ll say to each other.

She’s the one that you don’t have to dress up for, put mascara on for, or even brush your teeth for. And she’ll still want to hang out with you and your raw, un-hairsprayed gorgeousness anyway.

Because you need that mama to talk to about poo for half an hour. You’ll send each other pictures of the contents of your kids’ diapers to get a second opinion as to whether those are chunks of undigested watermelon or something more untoward; she’ll get as disproportionately excited as you when you tell her your toddler is no longer constipated; and you’ll lament your potty training woes with one another.

Because sometimes you need to turn up to a play date with your mama tribe, knowing in advance that the likelihood of you breaking down and crying is approximately 99.7%, because things have just been that difficult lately. So you soldier on through your morning with your kids, counting down until 3.00pm, but once you’re finally with your tribe, you hand someone your crying baby and someone else preoccupies your toddler while you open your heart, cry, get hugged and feel heard.

Somehow, you walk out of that play date feeling like superwoman, because they’ve told you how you’ve got this, but more importantly, you’ve got them and they’re here for you.

There’s that mama that has seen you at your worst, and doesn’t judge you or think less of you. She’s seen you lose your patience with your toddler. She’s seen you shamelessly bribe them so you can just have a couple of minutes to yourself. She’s been there with you when you’ve clumsily tried to detonate a tantrum and then tells you afterwards what a great job you did; how you did everything right and that you’re a wonderful mother.

Because we doubt that we really are wonderful mothers, don’t we? Motherhood can be such an isolating experience sometimes, and you can feel like everyone else has is so completely together, except you. It’s so easy to feel guilty, helpless, overwhelmed, and frustrated. And then these incredible women, these sisters you didn’t know you had, will step in and remind you that we’re all going through it. Everyone struggles sometimes and no one really has it all together. Despite having their own things to deal with, they’ll drop them and do what they can to give you what you need.

I need my mama tribe. I’ve been thinking about every single member of my mama tribe lately, and how so very lucky I am to have found them. Thank you for sending that text message exactly when I needed to hear those words. Thank you for pre-emptively telling me I shouldn’t feel guilty about something you KNOW I’ll feel guilty about. Thank you for bringing me food, laughter and company while I was housebound recovering from a C-section. Thank you for loving my babies the way you love your own, and for just stepping in and making things easier without being asked. Thank you for *just knowing* what I need in a certain moment, because hey, you’ve probably been there too.

We need our mama tribes. I need mine. You need yours. We all need each other. Ladies, you know who you are <3.

Love is Sweatpants and Take-out, Actually

In case the marketing everywhere miraculously hasn’t reached you yet, it’s Valentine’s Day this weekend.

And maybe you’re like me.

I grew up watching Disney movies and rom-coms. Prince Charming, happily ever after, adorable meet-cutes, gigantic, suspenseful, highly emotional grand gestures, perfect lines in the perfect moment, so on, so forth, et cetera. Ah, that warm fuzzy feeling. That whole, “oh-my-gosh-that-perfect-guy-is-so-perfect!”. That sense of hope that one day, you might have someone bulldoze through crowds of people at a busy international airport to stop you from getting on that plane so that he can perform a heartbreakingly beautiful soliloquy about why you two belong together. Sigh.

happily ever after

Continue reading

This Too Shall Pass.

Last night, as I lay in bed eating gummi bears while watching Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, exhausted beyond belief and wondering when Tiny Boss #2 would wake up next for a feed, I had to remind myself: this, too, shall pass.

There are a lot of things I forgot about having a newborn.

newborn

Those first few weeks can truly be the most exhausting, the most challenging, the most painful and the most terrifying as you think to yourself how your world has been turned on its head and will never be the same again.

Repeat after me, mama: this, too, shall pass.

Last night, I spent two hours solely dedicated to trying to settle my fussy 20-day-old, while her father got her almost two-year-old sister ready for bed. I envied his task a little; its predictability, its dependable routine, its lack of screams and cries, and lack of moments of self-doubt and desperation. Those moments of “what do you want me to do?!” as you try and figure out what this little person needs from you. Continue reading

How my toddler taught me to love my body

Today, I came across an old photo of myself in an album that my mother meticulously put together about twenty years ago. I remember when she undertook this project. She wanted to have a dedicated album for each of her three daughters, and it involved hours of lovingly sorting, arranging and reminiscing over every single photograph. She gave me my album to keep when she came for the birth of my first daughter.

In that photo, I’m about eight years old. I’m standing at the shore of the ocean with my youngest sister, aged three at the time. She has a delighted grin on her face as she gingerly treads the golden sand, but you can’t see mine as it’s covered by my windswept, thick, brown curls with copper-tinged ends due to being in the sun for days on end. I’m wearing a bathing suit. My long, strong legs show that I was tall for my age.

All I can remember when I see this photo is the time my preteen self saw it in the album, self-consciously extracted it and hid it away from view.

I look so fat,” I remember thinking to myself. I hated seeing it and certainly didn’t want anyone else to see it. I remember my other sister, two years younger than me, asking me at some point why I hated that photograph so much. I don’t remember how I answered her.

D98A1272

Continue reading

9 years ago, I met a boy.

22 November 2006. I was 21. I was in a new and exciting country, visiting my sister who had been doing volunteer work for almost a year. She’d convinced me to come along to one of her friends’ farewell barbecue celebration. I was reluctant. Frankly, I wasn’t in the mood for small talk and meeting new people. But I went anyway. Heck, I like my sister’s company and I was only there for a few more days so didn’t want to miss out on precious time together.

We arrived. I did the smiles, the hand shakes, the spiel about what I “did” and how long I was staying; a spiel which I’d perfected due to repeating it so many times, and the “yes, we don’t look alike at all, you’re right!” And repeat.

I have to say, I met a lot of cool people. One of them was a golden-haired, aqua-eyed fella with a sense of humour and impeccable taste in music. Once he started playing the album Things Fall Apart by The Roots, he caught my attention, as did the fact that when we arrived, he was, being the Australian-raised man that he is, expertly putting the proverbial shrimp on the barbie (I think it was actually lamb chops this time, but hey). Continue reading

I’m sorry that you’re not going to be an only child anymore.

The countdown is on. We have about six weeks until baby #2’s expected arrival.

Of course, I’m ridiculously excited to meet this new little person, but so much of it is still surreal. The fact that a second pregnancy goes by so much faster than the first makes it difficult for the whole thing to sink in properly. Every day, it registers a tiny bit more that we’re headed to Newbornville very, very soon.

And with each passing day, all I can do is feel my heart break a little bit more for Tuna. Continue reading