Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year

I am sitting in my office working. The students are on vacation. My babies are at home sick with the nanny. Mae is on antibiotics. New Year's Eve is coming and I feel a feeling of peacefulness. Finally, peace and calm. I have Skype on and I am watching my mother sleep. She hasn't been sleeping and has passed out while talking. I think the sound of my keyboard clicking away just now is probably creating white noise for her. I can't bring myself to hang up because I am afraid she will pop awake again into her sleepless grief hell and I won't know it. Thank god for skype. How amazing that I can be there for her like this even while I am at work. I guess it is kind of similar to those fancy daycare in-crib monitors in the US.

Casablanca is cold these days. We almost bought a car, almost as in showed up to pick up the keys and argued about who would drive it off the lot over breakfast. All the paperwork was signed and legalized. And then they asked me to go ahead and hand over a 7 thousand euro advance on it. Don't you think if we had 7K euros we would have freaking agreed to pay that from the beginning. So due to a lack of competence and communication...we have no car. We have not moved. We have not decided on the school. Nothing has changed. I still feel peaceful about that, calmer.

I hope that this New Year will bring us much peace and time together. 2011 has been about acceptance for me. For all of my life I have looked at nothing as impossible, everything magical..Brilliant. This past year of  motherhood has worn down that child like ambition that I have always had. I didn't want to live in a suburb of Casablanca, I didn't live my whole life to end up in sidi fucking maarouf. I don't want my kids to be from there...ok wait...actually I just want things to be easier than they are now, so even though I don't want to live there, I'll take it, please and thank you if that means I get to see them more, avoid traffic and have a better organized life.
I want them to learn Spanish and  be brilliant and make it into la mission or a school with a European baccalaureate...ok wait, actually we can't afford those schools and I am just fine with this MOROCCAN private school right by my job that would allow me to drop them off and pick them up everyday. Walk in and get them, chat with their teachers, see their world...everyday. I think part of this goes back to: no my grandmother can't die, no she won't, or it is abstract and not real and not happening, certainly not before Christmas...ok wait, she's gone. Death came and I saw it. The leukemia showed up and ravaged her body in two weeks flat and she is gone, but miraculously I got to sit at her bedside and hold her hand and hear the most magical words whispered to me on her way out.

I understand all at once that she is why I am so fucking impossibly, hopelessly ambitious about brilliance. All of the concessions I am having to make as a mother feel like mediocrity but maybe it is just practicality. At the end of the day my grandmother was one of the most practical people I have ever known, with a heart full of magic...This is her wathcing my mom turn 50:

And this is her watching her first great grand daughter being born:

And this is me, once upon a time - on a New Year's eve in Scottland,  when I still thought the world was mine:

Damnit I wish I could still fit in those jeans! (see practical things, practical things!!!)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December Days

Well I'm back. I haven't written in a while because I didn't want to always be a whining mess of indecision and strife so I took a small break. Alot has happened in that time. I went to America and back. My grandmother died. We decided to move back into the city and found a place and started packing. Then we changed our minds and unpacked. (apparently we are having a hard time leaving this place)

The part about my grandmother dying deserves more attention. The week that I went home to see her ended up being the last week of her life and I ended up with the shared and tragic honor of caring for along with my sister. What a thing to do. I sang her songs that she taught me to sing to my kids and washed her hair and held her hands and kissed her head and told her I loved her a million times. She told me details of her life so that I might write it one day. The details of what we all experienced are coming back to me one at a time in a fog and as hard as it is to go through this, it would be a lot harder if I hadn't gone. A lot harder. So I am grateful for it. Everyone back here has been so kind and caring and supportive of me. Inviting me to eat and calling me and extending their condolences. I love that about the culture in Morocco. Death and birth and marriage are such big deals. But then again I think people make big deals out of it also in the states and that maybe it is just part of being an adult.

The girls had to suffer through a week of their mom being gone and then a week of their dad being gone and now we are all back together and I am so grateful and happy for it. They are happy for it as well. It will be many many years before they will understand just how special their Gigi was. Everyone knows that when you loose your grandmother it is horrible but there is a significant amount of people on this earth that had the pleasure to know my grandmother that are currently mourning her loss through playing her favorite songs and videos of her singing, remembering her favorite sayings and celebrating her life through the tears cried from the news of her death. Those people are located on three continents (that I know of) and divided into many states. She would get such a kick out of that.

Right now it has been less than a week since she passed but before we know it it will be more than a year and then many years (hopefully) and then I will be staring at my own inevitable fate as well. That did not escape me. But I think this experience was the first one for me in terms of  accepting death. Being even maybe comfortable with it. Seeing that even when it is a horrible viscous cancer like leukemia that shows up and erases you from the inside out and you can cease to exist in two weeks flat, that even's ok. You can go with love and if you're lucky you can whisper the sweetest most special things in the ears of the people you love.

I am going to try to get better at writing more often on here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Nanny Diaries

I have suffered. It has been going on for years. I hope there is an end in sight but I am not sure. Since I have arrived in Morocco I have been put off by the “maid” thing. It is second nature for most Moroccans. The maid thing inevitably, with the arrival of children, has turned into the nanny thing. My family knows my woes quite well. My daughters are now two years old and this is the situation I faced when I came home last night:

Scene: Dust flying out from behind the station wagon as I zoom along the dirt road not even caring if I happen to actually run over a duck this time…I need to see my kids. I have been gone since exactly 7:20am and it is exactly 6:00pm. I spent the past two weeks with them all day every day and I KNOW exactly how much I missed today in those 11 hours. I pull the car in front of our white house, get out and find the big steel doors open for me, make it to the interior garden and find the kitchen quite but see a light at the end of the house. The screen door is open for me as well. Mae is at the end of the hallway, she sees me and runs at me with an overwhelming rush of loving energy. She clasps on to my legs and I kneel down to hug and kiss her, before I even get halfway down she wiggles away from me and runs to…her nanny. She loges herself on her and hugs her. Caresses her arms and pushes her face into her, looking back at me only to make sure that I will not try to take her away from her. I have at this point made it to the brown rug in the living room where the nanny, Sophia and Mae were sitting quietly reading and waiting for me. Sophia is absorbed in a book. She lets me kiss her and immediately starts pointing out the characters. I am trying to ignore the Mae situation, be fine with it, not care, and tell myself all of the things that people have told me to help me deal with this exact moment. An anger starts to gurgle its way up my throat and out comes the mother I hate myself for being. Me: Sophia, you want to go bye bye with mamma. Let’s go get Baba. Mae: bye bye? Me: not you, Sophia is going with mama you will go home with Hanane. Mae: clings to Hanane more tightly. Hanane: also caressing Mae’s hair, and kissing her. Me: fighting the urge to rip my daughter from her arms. Only fighting it because I know that if I do it will only end in many many tears spilled between Mae and I. Sophia: bye bye? Me: yes, let’s go get dressed. Hanane: yallah Mae, zidi a mama. Me: no, no, ma cain mushkil (no problem) Mae goes with you. Hanane: nervous laughter. Me: In the room dressing Sophia, hating myself for working and then reacting to the consequences. Mae: finds me in the hallway getting their shoes and asks me to go with them. Me: okay benti (my daughter) of course you will go with us. We are going to take hanane home and go and pick up Baba and go and play. I kneel down again to try and kiss her finally. Mae: runs away from me and grabs onto Hanane again. Me: trying not to be angry again, getting Sophia ready, dressing myself, acting like everything is fine, apologizing to the nanny for the long day, showing her the dark circles under my eyes so that she understands that I was  out working, that I really do love my kids but that I have to provide for them and I am not out partying or having coffee with friends. 

Finally we made it out, we dropped off the nanny (me profusely thanking her and insisting that the girls kiss her and say bye bye), we met their father, they played in a soft play, and we had a blast. 5 hours later, I lay on the living room floor beside my sleeping husband after just having finished a Woody Allen film and sobbed myself to sleep over Mae.

I wish I were a less selfish mother. But I am coming to understand that this is how I love. I am selfish and all consuming and I hate betrayal, I hate not being the most important. I hate the competition and eventually hate the beloved when betrayed. My mom says that my kids are NOT HERE to fulfill me emotionally. She is right, so so right. I totally agree. But I think this issue is more about the way that I love than what I need from them…anyways, this is my truth. 

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Medical Leave

I have been on sick leave for the past two weeks and have so so much to write about. I was supposed to write it all down as it was happening but I became so entangled in the daily drama of running a home, being a mother to two toddlers, reacquainting myself with higher education as a student, remembering and finding out all of the millions of details that equal everything that happens in life between 7AM and 5PM Monday through Friday. I was also busy reaffirming that I could not work from home, that I want the girls in school, that I also want to home school them, that I want to move back to Casa that I want to stay here in this little village...see where this is going. I found myself and almost "done lost my damned mind" in the process. Or actually maybe that should be the other way around...

also...I found snow in Morocco. More on all of this soon. I promise.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Two and counting...

Dearest Sophia and Mae,
Tomorrow is your 2nd Birthday. We have made it two whole years. In October of 2008 I was still living in my little apartment off the park in Atlanta. 

I had not yet decided to come to Morocco. I was in Paris on vacation in October of 2008. I had NO IDEA that within a year I would be giving birth to two twin girls. That I would be reunited with the love of my life and that we would turn into the vessels that would birth you and then care for you and then (now) begin to make decisions that will affect the rest of your lives. 

Every decision that we are faced with feels so heavy. I try not to analyze it all at once or I feel at risk of a panic attack. My god, how do parents, how did my parents swallow this responsibility. Or maybe it’s not so hard for everyone? Maybe some people make these decisions easier. Maybe these things are not as difficult for everyone. For me, though, for your mother, these decisions are huge. I am graying in the hair, I am wrinkling around the eyes. Yesterday while sitting in traffic and trying to accept the magnitude of what it means to be responsible for your lives I was actually able to empathize with the presidents of the United States - past and present. My thinking went like this:

“Holy crap, what is wrong with me. Why does this all feel so huge, am I making the right decisions? Are we making the right decisions for them? Will the decision that we make now about what school we put them in affect the rest of their lives? How will we ever save enough money to send them to college? To retire? To take another vacation? Oh my god, we need more money – no wait, we don’t – we have everything we need. I need to look at myself (opens the mirror) fcuk I am turning gray over this, look at those hairs, and oh my god my face is pale and ahhhhhhhhh this is why the presidents all go gray. I am graying over which freaking pre-school to enroll my toddlers in and a family savings plan and they are, in a way, responsible for so many lives not just in America but all over the world. I mean if THESE decisions feel big to me just imagine how THOSE decisions feel for them!”

So couple that with the keen awareness of the 99% movement in the states and the rough economic times that the United States are facing and the confusion over where to live and when to move and what to do, and you’ve got Madame (gray hair remember, no more mademoiselle) Basket case!

Anyways, besides all of the worrying I do…will continue to do…I also do the following:
I am still able to sweep you up from your beds in the morning, with your languid bodies plastering against my chest. Hold your hands to walk around the house. Get you to give me sweet intentional kisses. Make you laugh your heads off by throwing a really (not very funny) ugly face your way. Sophia you have learned how to throw except that you walk right up and throw hard, at close range, in the face of whoever you are throwing to. Mae, when you are sick Sophia becomes the ‘Mae is sick Sophia’. She is bad, she jumps on you and takes stuff from you and acts really like a controlling little tyrant. She also acts goofy and expresses all of these desires and emotions that I think she usually suppresses when you are well, because her personality has developed in relation to yours. But Mae, when Sophia is sick, it is the opposite, you listen for her cry and accompany me into the room. You bring her Dora doll to her side of the bed and kiss her on the head and are careful not to accidentally hit her. You translate her whines for me and call it to my attention if I overlook her needs.  You are sweet and caring and make sure she is ok. I am so proud of you Mae. You are a good sister. 

Sophia you are too honey, just not when Mae is sick! But when you are both well – you Sophia, you willingly give Mae your toy if she is screaming for it, maybe because you don’t want to listen to it or maybe because you don’t really care either way and prefer for things to be peaceful. Sophia you are able to lay with me for hours or even lay alone and read books. You are very outgoing and you don’t cling and will go to anyone that offers you a kind smile and open arms. 

You are both so loved and adored by your father and me. We can’t even remember what life was like before you got here, even though that was only two short years ago. 

You have also started talking to us. You tell on each other, you tell on the neighbors, you know the names of all the neighborhood kids and ask to go and play with them and the cows and the donkeys on a daily basis.

This past week we considered moving you back into Casablanca to facilitate your lives. Since you have been born I have had the distinct impression that I am only the conductor of your fate, that I am not the decider. I have the impression that you two were born with your own luck, your own money and your own destiny and that my job and your father’s job is simply to be open enough to listen to your fate and simply help you connect up with the wide range of possibilities that are out there for you. This debate about staying out here in the country or moving back to the city at a certain point made me revisit this idea that I am only a conductor of your destiny and that your home, the place where you are meant to live, will come to us and that we only have to be smart enough to recognize it. Well…it turns out…we are already living in it. We found this country house with ease. We found it for the price we need, your nannies presented themselves to us in a month’s time after we moved here and we have been in peace every since then. You have both learned to walk in between the raised beds in the garden and not to step on the vegetables. You have taught yourselves to imitate the noises of all of the animals you see every day here. Your skin gets sick if we take you away from the ocean air and it gets better again when we rub salt water on your legs. I dare say – your home is your home and you are not meant to leave it yet. You are not meant to return to Casablanca and live in an apartment and have a maid pick you up from school.

We just had to be smart enough to understand that. Now we get it. We are staying…until the next thing presents itself.

In the meantime, Happy Birthday little darlings! Thank you so so much for every single day since you were born. All of the worry and enormity of raising you is worth every single second of it. I am humbled and overjoyed to be the conductor of your fate. I look forward to seeing your lives unfold and I have absolutely no doubt there is greatness in store for you at every turn.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Working mother syndrome

Many of you are well aware of my on going confusion and uncertainty about everything in my life how I will educate my girls. I publicly declared, for the benefit of things working out how I want them to, that I want to home school my girls. I still believe that homeschooling and world travel would provide the best education possible for them but I am also coming to realize that  it is a full time job. Full time mothering is a full time job.  I have a full time job and for a while there thought I could fit the homeschooling into the extra. Being the sole provider of their education is not something for the extra. In the time that I am not at work, I am struggling to be one hundred percent present at home. We read books constantly, we take walks regularly, we do bath time and breakfast time and dinner time daily. On the weekends we go out and tend to the garden and cath up with the neighbors. I put them in their pajamas and we tuck them into bed every night, only to wake up and do it all over again the following day.

For those of you with children this will be something that you can easily relate to. For those of you that have full time jobs with two toddlers that you have to say goodbye to everyday and slink in guiltily to every evening, this will also sound familiar to you. Unfortunately I do not have any friends that have to leave their small children that age and go and be away from them all day. This is probably because I live in Morocco and it is not common. I have some work colleagues that also work all day and miss their kids, but they are older. I had one colleague that had a child the same age as mine and you know what? She be around him more.

Anyways, this post is not about me feeling bad for myself for having to find the balance between work and kids. I could quit too, or go to part time or just find a well paid part time teaching job somewhere.  I am not willing to do any of those things because I am ambitious and because I have worked hard to have my career.

I know this is a hot button subject and I don't say this meaning that stay at home moms are not ambitious. This is not a comparison, I am simply analysing myself and tyring to understand my own decisions. I am coming to see these years of heartache over missing them during the day as part of the work I have done to have a career. It is a choice. I chose a very long time ago to get into my field, I had good fortune and a good work ethic. I gave it all up once, I got it all back. I am not quitting now. I am proud of it. Would I rather be with my kids all day than at work? Yes. Am I hoping that as they grow and begin to have their own lives outside of our home, that feeling will get better? Yes. Do I know that I will never ever get all of these days away from them wathcing them grow and need me and being able to guide and love them to their maximum back? Yes. I know that. I do not have it so mixed up that I think that what I do all day is more important than that. I guess I am just trying to make it through though. I am trying to hang on tight and make it through these years of heart break. I am trying to do the best I can, go in as late as possible and leave as early as possible. I am delaying haircuts for six months at a time. I do nothing outside of work if not with them. I am putting aside me because I want to give as much as possible to them in the time I am not already promised somewhere else.

I know that won't last forever either. I know that soon I will scoop them up and take them to the hairdresser with me. They will sit quietly behind me in good behavior so that they can get their hair done after (if they ever get any hair). I will watch them as the hair dresser makes a big to do as though he is 'doing' their hair (this will happen because it is Morocco and no one would say no to it). They will be beautiful and we will talk and shop and go to plays together. They will be kind little companions. I already see it. We already share some of these moments, but then they are slashed by a two year old fit or a dirty diaper or running off and an inability to reason because they are still just my sweet little babies. I am not rushing them. I love these days, I love it when one of them cries out in the middle of the night and I have a good enough excuse to go and get her out of bed, clinging to me then cuddling down into the space between my body and the pillow.

I am just trying to do the best I can I guess. It is hard but it is beautiful.

I meant to write about wading my way through the education system here today. But I will save that. Trust. It is on the way.

Thanks for letting me share!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Work Stress

So, it is that time of year again. For the past 6 years Back to School (BTS) = high high stress for me. I will only very vaguely mention my job on here, so I won't go into details of why or how BTS is stressful but let's just say that many of these days end with me crying or falling down or picking fights with my husband because I just don't have it in me to be gracious about anything. These days mostly begin with a battered, fatigued version of myself mustering up the energy and strength to make it through another 12 hour work day and then checking emails from home afterwards.

Yesterday, was a combination of everything I just listed above. ALL OF IT Most of it (I didn't pick a fight with my husband, I tried but didn't succeed. He was really great actually). The midnight emails, the falling down, the raging fit of tears, plus yelling in meetings, swearing off people and knowing that I am powerless to change an entire professional culture and that actually NO MATTER WHERE I AM IN IN THE WORLD, BTS = STRESS.

You know, I kind of think of it the same way I think of my Fernbank years. Fernbank was EVERY Friday night. And still four years later, I feel lucky to have Friday nights free. One day...I will be so grateful to enjoy September without the stress of BTS.

Back to yesterday and then again today and probably tomorrow and DEFINITELY mantra is going to be this: I don't feel sorry for myself, I am not a victim, I am grateful for the life I have, I am very lucky and I love my life.

This is the mantra that will get me through this Back to School BS.

I wish you a wonderful day.

I'll just be over here.

In the corner.

Rocking myself back and forth and repeating my mantra in the moments when I am alone.

Running up and down stairs and in and out of rooms and meetings and interactions in high heels, dresses and make-up for the rest of the time.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Thanks Harmony

For introducing me to this fun, friday time waster!!!!! This is, for those of you who know me, my signature look. (in my head of course)

And this is my "invited to a cocktail party in Alaska would never actually wear" look

New Look

New Look - from H&M

Products in this look:

Boots, &DENIM Jeans, BlouseH;amp;

This is closest to what I am wearing today!

And Finally, this is what I would actually wear to a winter cocktail party.

Ok so which one do you like the best?

Thanks again Harmony, that was great fun!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Magical Morocco

So, yes, I cried and I miss everyone and it so hard to be back and all of that is still true BUT this post is about what makes it better. What makes it more than beareable, what makes it magic really. This post is about what justifies it and how I am able to still be really happy, actually feel really grateful to be here. Even if I still do the missing...

First things first, He makes it magic :

2.) The way that they love home makes it magic:

3.) Friends like this make it magic:
4.) Pools like this make it magic:

Images of Eldorador Club Palmeraie, Marrakech
This photo of Eldorador Club Palmeraie is courtesy of TripAdvisor

5.) Food like this make it yummy:
Images of Eldorador Club Palmeraie, Marrakech
This photo of Eldorador Club Palmeraie is courtesy of TripAdvisor

6.) Champagne Dinners that end up looking like this make it magic:

7.) A night out on the town with my husband make it magic:

8.) Restaurants like this make it perfect for me:

9.) Wine like this make it really enjoyable:
and this:

10.) Oh my are we already at TEN!!!

Speeding through a wild palm oasis with my husband listed above at midnight after enjoying a bottle of wine listed above, in the restaurant listed above after a day at the pool listed above with your kids listed above and those great friends listed above MAKE IT MAGIC:

That about covers it!

Oh and Spa treatments help also!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Cry

I finally cried. Last night, over a tick bite gone red and a stumped toe. I was in heaving sobs. My husband just held me through it and rubbed my back as I had my annual "I miss my family" cry. I am still less than one week back and the people that I was surrounded with everyday for a year are still very much in my daily thoughts. That doesn't mean that they are not always in my daily thoughts, it just means that the details of their nows are my now as well. We shared space, we reconnected. The girls are still saying things in English all the time but I fear everyday that the English will go and the Arabic will be all that is left. I know that is not true. I know that I studies multilingualism and relish in raising my daughters trilingual and I know that I am so so so proud of them for already being able to understand three languages BUT (and there is always a but) I fear the English will go. I fear it will become foreign again. And when they mention mimi or papa or bud bud or awma or gigi or caitlyn, I fight back tears. So the tick bite that I got in south Georgia that is still red coupled with slamming the left half of my left foot on the bathroom door was enough to send me into deep heavy sobs. Finally, I cried about it. I cried because I miss my Dad and my Mom and my grandma and my Shaka. I cried because my Dad's wife was so kind to us and because I miss watching the way she smokes her cigarettes after dinner. I cried because I miss how Caitlyn bursts out into her hellos at the girls. I cried because I miss cooking and watching what I am eating with my mom. I miss our shared jokes and glasses red wine at night. I miss my grandma's waddle across the apartment floor and  I miss seeing the girls give her big kisses. I miss sitting in Kate's living room talking to her about the most personal of personal. feeling free and alive again. I miss spending the next morning talking to her husband about interesting topics to which he offers interesting opinions. I miss the way Harmony is calm with Atlas and gentle with the world. I miss the way Ceci and Yo are just like sisters. Speaking of sisters, I miss my other two sisters so so much. I miss they way their bigger kids jump and cling for a hug. I miss being around the only two other women in the world that have the exact same parents as me and therefore a very different shade of the exact same issues.

I miss America. I miss my aunts and uncles and friends and the houses and the yards and the cars. I miss how nice everyone is. When I left, I was ready to come back. And even through this sadness I do not wish i was there. Well, I do but only in a parallel universe kind of way. And that is the hardest part of the missing. Because I can not just wipe up my tears, blow my nose and make a plan to get back. I can't do that because everything has changed for me. I don't that I am 100 percent headed back. I don't feel 100 percent staying here, but I have no idea where I am heading, so the missing has no end. It then becomes a hollow part of my heart and I do not like for any part of my heart to be hollow.

I have no tidy end for this post. I am going on vacation next week and I am sure that will help. I feel like I need to see wide-open beautiful Morocco outside of Casablanca and where I live. I have been missing that too.