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.