Anniversary special: When did I know

​When did I know I was going to marry Eli? How did I know he is The One?

I guess I knew I was going to marry him when he went down on one knee and asked me if I would spend eternity with him​​, and I said yes.

​​Not quite the answer you’re looking for?

Let me put it this way… It was a want to be with him rather than a need to be with him.

​Say what you will, but it is actually much sweeter to me that we want to be with each other rather than a need to be, because then I know every single moment, that it is by choice that we are together.

Falling in love and getting engaged do not by default lead to marriage. As you now know, we did call it quits one time, and we did question this whole thing after we were engaged.​

But we’re here today, celebrating our second year of marriage (yeah no big deal) because we chose to be with each other, come what may.

W​e were both living very successful and happy lives as individuals when we met. When we went long distance for a year and a bit, we carried on living happy fulfilling lives. We most definitely do not need each other to survive, and live happily.

BUT, we want to be in each other’s faces all of the time. We want to share every experience together. We want to go to bed together every night, and wake up to each other’s morning breath. We want to share our sandwiches, and sip on soup together. We want to sit at cafes together and make imaginary conversations of the people we watch. We want to be “one of those (disgusting) lovey dovey PDA couples.

We want to be bound as one forever. We want to stand before God, our family, our friends, and strangers alike to have them witness our wanting to be together as one. So we got married.

But, how did we get to wanting so many wants together? Did we becomeThe One for each other? Or are we made to be The One?

I’m not going to delve into whether we have soul mates or we just marry the one we meet at the right time. What I will say though, is that we couldn’t get enough of each other from the very beginning, and I felt he was made for me – my Gift from heaven.

Anniversary special: Going the distance

​Were we nuts to have gone long distance at a ‘difficult’ time in our relationship? Was the long distance just a ‘cop out’ of calling it quits without really calling it quits?

Neither Eli nor I were believers in long-distance relationships. We just couldn’t see how it would work. That is, until we found ourselves in that situation, and what do you know! It was really, really, good for us.

We were staying at my parents’ when he booked his one-way ticket. The days leading up to his flight were torturous for me, but I kept my chin up, and tried to make the best of our ‘last days’ together. I dressed up everyday, and we would explore the city. I tried to be as happy as can be. I chose not to dwell on the impending separation. Yet, every day, I’ll hold him and cry: “Don’t go, please don’t go.” It was pathetic, yes, but I was being true to myself.

I’d always wonder what went on in his head, and how did he feel as he walked through those departure doors, towards his home, but away from his love. I’d like to think he thought as fondly of me as I did of him. Hopeful of our future together when the separation would end, and life begin truly as one.

While we talked everyday at every opportunity, when he left, I felt broken. For the first time in my life, I lost my appetite. And you know, I’m a girl who loves my food! Nothing gets between me and my food. I get really angry when I’m hungry. I get really upset when I can’t eat what I want. You get the picture. I lost a lot of weight in a very short period of time.

To be honest, I don’t remember what I did in the initial days. Not having enough food, and being heartbroken (haha an afterthought), does that to you I guess. Everything is cloudy. Life is a daze.

Thankfully, I was home with my parents. They gave me the space I needed, while being sensitive, loving and supportive. Fortunately, I was home with my friends. I’d ask them out to dinner ever so often. God bless them for always making the time for me. I was renewing the relationship with family and friends that I had lost when I moved to Canada to study. Life wasn’t too shabby.

But my heart ached.

Things between Eli and I were changing. We were communicating much more and better than before. We didn’t waste time watching movies or aimlessly measuring the road. We really communicated. On every thing. There was no chance of a hug, a kiss, or a hand hold. We had to put how we felt into words. We had to show our support for each other, and communicate ‘being there’ for each other in words. He had to communicate how he felt for me in words. Perhaps because my love language is words, this was really great for me. Despite the distance, I actually felt much closer to him than ever.

What really helped with the physical distance though, was knowing the next time I’d be in his arms again. I’d always have the next date booked, and it was wonderful that my sister was getting married that year because there was good reason to drop everything and jet out to Canada together.

In the year that we were apart, I believe we saw each other every two to three months. Yes, we clocked a lot of miles, and spent a lot of money on flights, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Long distance was good for us at that point in time even though it seemed like the worst idea at the worst time possible.

The distance gave us the opportunity to really think about what we wanted. As individuals, and then as a couple. Did we really want to be together? Could we do without each other?

Well, of course we could. In our time apart, I got a job I loved, and lived a balanced life with comfortable disposable income. Life really was pretty dandy.

Yes, I can have a life without him. But, I chose to have a life with him, and I am happier for it. My heart sings. Every day, I choose to live a fulfilling well-rounded life with Eli – the man God had intended for me.

Anniversary special: That one time we called it quits

In celebration of the relationship we have today, I’m going to recount the darkest and lowest point in our time together: that one time we called it quits.

It was meant to be a relaxing holiday, visiting his sister in the land down under, attending his nephew’s baptism where he was godfather, and just being together before getting serious with our relocation plans.

​We were newly engaged. I was giddy with excitement, and hopeful about our future. Perhaps naive, but I’ve always felt that together we can conquer all things. It didn’t bother me that we were both jobless – having decided to leave Canada. It didn’t worry me that we weren’t sure where we were headed; do we move for job or decide on a place and then seek employment? I was very, very hopeful, trusting, and in love.

We enjoyed the summer holiday, soaking up the Australian sun, and meeting with family. We were also shopping for our wedding bands; a very frustrating and exhausting experience.

But somewhere between all of that, well-meaning third party talks started to get to us.

People started questioning what our future would look like. Do we have what it takes to start a family? Where will we raise our family? In Lebanon? Will I survive if I do not speak or understand Arabic? Will the system – or lack thereof – be something we can live with? Do we really want to raise our children in a country known more for its ‘unrest’ than its beauty? Et cetera et cetera et cetera.

Days went by with anxiety brewing beneath and bubbles began to pop. We talked at length. Perhaps we’ve been too naive. Maybe we haven’t asked the right questions all these years together. It’s now time for the ‘hard’ stuff, and no matter how challenging life was in Canada, we aren’t prepared to do this, together. But none of us wanted to say it. I guess we were both terrified.

Then came time to board the plane, and my parents would meet us on the other side. Our engagement blessing was coming up in a matter of days. We still haven’t gotten our rings.

That’s when I asked: “So this is it?”

We talked through the same old things again, and again. Really? Lebanon huh? What about me? If you had to choose between Lebanon or Me, you’d choose Lebanon, right? This realisation shattered me.

Yet none of us quite believed that this was the end of the road for us. At least we didn’t want to believe it. All these years of not being able to get enough of each other, and now we’ll carry on with our individual lives as if our paths never crossed.

Everything around me greyed out. My mind could no longer focus. In fact, it was so heavy. I was drowning. Yet strangely feeling like a role in a television soap opera drama scene.

We got on that plane. We were seated next to each other. And I couldn’t feel further away from him. I’ve never wanted this badly to get away from him, yet hold him tight because… I might just never get to hold him again.

It hurt so bad. To know that this man you’ve dreamed into life, has chosen something else over you. (In full disclosure, he didn’t actually say yes he chooses Lebanon over me, but that’s just how it felt like to me at that point in time.) The dream was over. This was reality. When it came down to it, it wasn’t unconditional. I was second choice. I cannot live with being second choice. But the pain, time will heal all wounds. I was happy before we met, and I can be happy again.

I kissed him, took off my engagement ring, and gave it back to him. He looked at it, said nothing, and took it back. He got up from his seat and disappeared. I looked out the window. We’ve reached the end of the road. Then.

We’re celebrating our wedding anniversary in 10 days, so you know it wasn’t quite ‘the end’ for us. ​But it happened, and it hurt, a lot. I’ve never spoken about it. Previously it just made me really angry at the naysayers that claimed no hope upon us. But now, I’m completely desensitized. Everyday I’m living the life they said I couldn’t. I’m living better than I could have imagined, and that’s because together, Eli and I realised it wasn’t us who said we can’t make it. It was them.

Eventually, he came back to his seat, and we realised we didn’t want to separate. We didn’t want to give us up. So in a very strange way, we started dating again. We were on a strange, strange platform of being awkward strangers yet strangely familiar with each other.

We found our wedding bands, had our engagement blessing, and took our relationship long distance. This distance, as with all the other challenges in our courtship, was very good for us, in many ways. More next time.

(Picture was taken in April 2011 – during the long distance, the breakup long forgotten, and super happy to be together!)

On mortality: To give my child the life he deserves

​Death. It is not something my husband likes to talk about at all. But it is something I mention every now and again. No, not some emotional blackmail pity me pay attention to me kind of thing. I mention death because it is something that we need to prepare for, especially because we now have a baby. A child who is 100% dependent on us.

Yes, he will grow up. He will learn to be independent. He will, one day, not too long from now, no longer need me. I selfishly dread that day very much, and right now I can’t help but talk about death, and maybe start preparing for the “what if”…

What if I’m gone before my little baby is ‘old enough’? What if I’m gone tomorrow? What if I’m dead five years from now? Or even 10 years down the road? Who will take care of my son? Who will give him the care that he deserves? Who will protect and defend him? Who will love him like I do?

No one.

I’ve never been afraid of death. I’m not afraid of dying. I’d rather be the one dead than the one left to mourn. I always tell Eli he is not allowed to die before me, because I quite literally don’t know how I’d survive without him. But, now that I’m a mother, it’s an upheaval.

If I died tomorrow, before my child is a grownup, educated, and capable of taking care of himself, there is no one who would love him like I do. No one who would fight for his well-being like I do.

No, I’m not the best mother in the world. But I am the best mother for my son. And today, I know I have to live another day. I have to live another year, another 20 years, God willing. And I have to live well. To give my child the life he deserves.

Anniversary special: Would you like to go home with me?

​Eli and I met while I was an undergraduate in Canada, and he a hotshot executive. Between the Indian summers and harsh winters of the North, we fell quickly and passionately in love with each other.

Within a fortnight, I confessed my feelings for him to him. He didn’t say it back, and it would be a couple of months before he’d said “I love you”. While I was perfectly okay with it, I’ve always wondered just when did he realise that he was in love with me.

Reading my diary from back then, I guess he was in love with me way before he actually said it out loud!

 

“Would you like to go home with me?” he asked

Holding me to his chest, Elias asked if I would go home with him next year.

On Friday, he had casually asked if I would visit Lebanon with him in the summer. I hugged him tight, smiled, and kissed him fiercely, with no further discussion.

Today however, we elaborated on the trip. He told me he wants me to meet his parents, to visit the country in which he grew up and to be with him because he cannot bear being apart from me. He asked if I would go home with him to Lebanon.

I searched his face for clues. Was he serious? Was he jesting? He wasn’t. He looked at me and asked if I would like to go with him. I buried my face in his neck. Looking him in the eye, I told him this is a very big step – bringing me home to meet his parents. He has never brought a girl home before, much less fly one across the continents to spend at least a month with the family. I told him yes, I would like that very much. I wasn’t eloquent in my response – I was overwhelmed, I was nervous and I am generally not very good with spoken words.

I remember telling him I would like that very much indeed; to start travelling the world with him, for him to show me the world, to see the country he loves and misses dearly, to meet his parents would be my honour.

I finally found someone, a Bryan Adams and Barbara Streisand duet floated through my mind and started playing in the room.

Looking at my man, emotions swept over me. I collapsed into his tight embrace and cried. Jubilant buckets of joy! His arms wrapped tighter and tighter around me.

Then I noticed, Eli was wiping tears away from his eyes too.

Our eyes met, we smiled and I slipped onto his chest, listening to his heart beat and… So this is how it feels when you’ve finally found The One.

Anniversary special: Give and you will receive in many folds

​It’s the month of our wedding anniversary, a wonderful time for me to reminisce and get all nostalgic about our courtship, and how we got to where we are today!

By God’s providence, I chanced upon my online diary from when we first met. My terrible memory had forgotten all about that diary! But God never fails. I logged into it by “mere coincidence”.

 

Give and you will receive in many folds

When my parents taught me that to give is better than to receive, I had a hard time believing that. When they told me that what I receive in return would be many folds over, I could not comprehend that.

However, the events of this week have been excellent examples of giving without expectations and receiving in return, multiple gifts. This relationship Eli and I share have a lot of give. Both of us put the other before self, wanting only the best for the other party and giving our utmost for the love of our life. We are mirrors reflecting each other, from the way we feel to the way we act; the way we give to the other and care for each other.

When Elias was feeling poorly on Wednesday, I presented him with my happy flowers, and in return, I received a box of Roger’s chocolates and a travel mug.

I brought along a Boston Cream donut when I met Elias for lunch today, and on the ride home, he presented me with an entire bag of goodies! Like a magician with his hat, Elias pulled out a variety of stationeries. Post-its of all sizes and colours, tabs, Sharpies, highlighters, tapes, computer lock and pens. I asked if he robbed a stationery store.

Eli never fails to make the mundane entertaining. He could have handed me the bag like ordinary people would. However, he jazzed it up with his antics and made me laugh. After a long hard day (week) at work, Eli mustered up the energy to entertain me on the journey home… Simply because.

He puts me and everyone else before himself, and it is this generous spirit in him that gives him the energy to forget himself and bring joy to others.

He’s a gem.

Beauty beyond the mess – My messy beautiful

​I was having a terrible morning. One of those days where everything that can go wrong, goes wrong. Baby was up at 4am. The husband dashes off to work, late. Now the baby refuses to nap and refuses to nurse. I take nursing strikes very personally. My computer dies. I wear my baby and take him out to the balcony hoping the sea breeze would make him drowsy. No dice. It is too chilly.

I set out to make some brownies, because super fudgy chocolate brownies always makes a day better, right? I even doubled the recipe! Hoping for double the joy!

Just as the time ran out on the oven, my baby took a tumble and cried. I picked him up, tried to soothe him as I made my way to the kitchen. A 10kg baby in one arm while the other hand tries to balance the tray of brownies. Not successful. The brownie tray flips. Gooey chocolate stuff all over my kitchen counter.

I set my baby on the kitchen floor (at least that’s still clean-ish, for now), and scooped up what was meant to be brownies. Pardon me, but it looked like crap – as in poop. How much more crappy can the day get?! Even my fail-proof brownies failed. As I stared at that crap, my baby crawled to my feet, looked up at me, and smiled the sweetest smile. It gave me renewed energy. This failure will not get the best of me.

I took a spoon and ate that crap. While it doesn’t look pretty, it tastes pretty darn good.

Maybe it’s all that cocoa shooting through my veins that’s talking, but no matter how crappy the day(s) might be, there’s always something good that can come out of it. We just need to widen our field of vision. Look beyond the crap.

Today, as I looked beyond the gooey mess on my kitchen counter, I saw my smiling baby. Even if he doesn’t nap and refuses my breasts, he’s still smiling at me, coming up to me showing me that he loves me. Now, that’s not terrible. Not at all. This is my messy, beautiful.

This entry was posted in Yalla!.

Oh Boy! Here we go again!

​Why, oh why, are people so eager to get babies started on solid food? Can I just keep my baby breastfed forever? Okay, not forever, but until he can like, wash his butt off on his own? Please?

My baby never had any troubles with the bowels (Haha that rhymes) up until he started experimenting with solids. He takes only two tablespoonful of food (mainly veggies), if you’re lucky. The rest of his calories are made up of breastmilk, which is 88% water. And yet, he gets constipated for two to three days.

Not only do I have to deal with a grumpy baby for those two uncomfortable days, I have to deal with a clingy baby for when the bowels begin to move, and then, here comes the big one – three days worth of poop. A huge volume of thicker than puree but thinner than mashed potatoes, with some chunky carrots, poop. Are you having beef stew with potatoes and carrots for dinner? Well, I’m sorry. But I’m just painting the picture.

While it was caught by the diaper this time around, the diaper might as well not have been there. I laid my relieved baby on the change mat and poof! Crap gets squished up and out the diaper. Nice job.

Of course Thad isn’t going to just lay there and let me clean him up. He moves around, I try my darnest to rein him in. I get poop on my hands. I keep on going. I roll up his clothes. I turn to throw the diaper away. I get him in the shower. He gets dressed. I see a pool of liquid on my bed. HE PEED ON MY BED THIS TIME. Great. Well, at least no poop.

I don’t know. I’m inexperienced. I’ve only been on the job for 7, almost 8 months.

I’d really like to keep my baby exclusively breastfed. No constipation. No crazy diaper explosions. Predictable bowel movements. Happy baby, happy mommy. Happy mommy, happy baby.

This entry was posted in Oh Boy!.

Wedding vows

​Our wedding anniversary is exactly a month away! Coincidentally, I cleared out one of my clutch bags the other day, and uncovered these greeting cards loved ones had written us when we got married.

It is so good to read them over, and remember not just the excitement leading up to the euphoria of the wedding day, but to look back upon the years that have passed since we exchanged vows in that tiny stonewalled church overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

A good time to take stock of our marriage. The dreams and excitement we had in wanting to spend forever together. Are we still true to the promises we made? Are we still excited about being together? How has our relationship grown? Are we breaking down or growing stronger together?

I asked the husband the other day if he remembers our wedding vows, because I don’t. I don’t even remember saying them. But I know we did. Of course we did. We used the standard Church vows. To be true to each other in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. Right? I’m sorry but I remember those bits from watching one too many drama serials as a child.

Does that make me a bad wife?

The vows are important. But I think it is more important to live it than to remember it. And I sure don’t need to be reminded to stand by my husband through the ups and the downs. I just do, and I just will.

You are more capable than you think

​I don’t need any reason at all to don white bottoms, and it being springtime, there’s no reason not to! So of course I’m in white on the first official weekend of spring. It also happens to be the weekend that my son has not pooped in three days.

(Sorry, did I not warn you? There will be talk of baby poop in this post, but stay with me. This is not another mommy post (maybe), but it is definitely life-of-a-mommy-inspired.)

Thad is a very active 7-month-old. Every diaper change is a wrestling match. I may or may not engage the use of all my limbs to pin him down. He still manages to wriggle free all of the time. So anyway, my baby has been experimenting with solids, and he has not pooped in three days.

I was delighted when he finally had a tiny little bit of poo in his diaper, and was super eager to change him. He gave me enough time to remove his diaper and wipe him clean before he took off. I wrangle him back and thought I heard a little fart. Maybe two. It might have been wet. I check his clothes, clean. I look at my bed, two little Hershey’s kisses. It’s okay baby, mommy can clean that up. Now get back here and put on this diaper! I grab hold of him by the waist and what do you know. As he tries to take off again, he lets out a humongous three-day worth of poop on my lap. I am wearing WHITE. Gigantic gargantuan poop all over my white pants. The hugest human poop I’ve ever seen. Baby elephant proportions. On my white pants.

My left hand still holding on to my baby who was bent over and crying to be set free, my right hand speed dialing the husband in between tugging at wet wipes. I wipe my baby and I grab all that poop off of my white pants. Yes, with my hands. With wet wipes, of course. (Oh, motherhood, you sure surprise me.) I throw all the wipes onto the change mat. My phone keeps redialing the husband’s line. At this point, I don’t really care to speak to him. He can pick up and hear our baby’s cries!

I put Thad into his bath tub while I pull off my white pants as carefully as I can. Thad is frightened. So frightened, he pees himself. Good thing I got him to the bathroom and into his tub!

Thad has his bath. My bed is free of excrement. I managed to wash off all evidence of poop on my white pants. I did it. Victory. Good as new. I didn’t really need the husband’s help. I just wanted him to know the drama that was going on, and guilt trip him with: “Where were you when we needed you?”

Morale of the story:

You might feel all alone. You may get pooped on. Your favourite outfit might get dirty. You won’t be able to wear that without remembering the drama that went on the last time you did. But, you’re more capable than you give yourself credit for. Keep on going on.

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