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.

This entry was posted in Love.

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.

This entry was posted in Yalla!.

3 things motherhood taught me about myself

​This is the second year I’m celebrating Mother’s Day.

A year ago, I was nurturing my baby inside of me. Only 18 weeks pregnant, but already fiercely protective of my baby, and acutely aware that I’m not a “mom-to-be”. Rather, I am already a mother.

Today, I’ve got a happy, healthy, and ohsocute almost 32-week-old in my arms. I’ve heard the sweet words “mama” and “mom”. I’ve also had my fresh spring white pants stained by three days worth of breastfed-baby-experimenting-with-solids-poop. I did not get mad at him for that either.

Motherhood has surprised me in many, many ways, and I don’t think anything could have prepared me for what I’d experience on this lifelong journey.

1. I have a big heart. I have so much love to give. This is a big shocker. When I met my husband and fell quickly in love with him, I couldn’t imagine loving another. But now I do… It is love on a different degree, but it is pure love, and I don’t even think I’m making an active choice to love my little boy.

From the moment I held my newborn son in my arms, I never wanted to let him go, and I didn’t. He slept on my chest and in my arms. But, I didn’t feel the surge of overflowing love. Saying “I love you baby” would have felt forced. Even calling myself “mommy” didn’t come naturally.

Yet, I am very protective of Thad. When it comes to him, it doesn’t matter who or what I’m dealing with. Everyone can get mad at me, but Thad, he must not be compromised.

2. I am a strong woman. More than the physical strength of labouring for 12 hours and then pushing a healthy 3.57kg baby out of me without painkillers. More than my arms and back adjusting to carrying my baby who gained weight rapidly.

I am a strong woman capable of functioning effectively and efficiently despite not having had a night of undisrupted sleep since. I work, I clean, I cook, I bake, I wife, and I nurture my baby.

I am a strong woman in control of my emotions. My baby may go on a nursing strike. He may prefer daddy over me. There are things I wish I had done to better protect my baby. I am able to deal with my feelings of sadness, rejection, guilt, and inadequacy.

I am a strong woman with the mental, physical and emotional strength to care for my child. Strengths only the purest of souls can draw out of me.

3. I am more than enough. He doesn’t care for my high flying job, my fancy gadgets, or that I cook gourmet meals.

My baby sits next to me, and watches as I fiddle with my phone or type on my computer. It’s as if he’s waiting for the moment when I look up from my phone and computer, and give him some attention. He’d gleefully hold himself up in his crib while I lay on the foot of my bed (where his bed meets mine) scrolling on my phone. He reaches out his hand and grabs my phone, pulling it out of my hands and onto my bed. He doesn’t want the phone. He wants my attention.

I set him in his playroom while I prepare dinner or bake a dessert, and he’s happy to occupy himself, but he’s always looking out for me. Not once has there been a time when I look up from whatever I am doing and he isn’t watching me. Never has he not given me a big grin when our eyes meet. He never fails to crawl rapidly towards me, and reach out his hand for me to hold. He wants me.

I may not feel worthy of him but to him, I’m mama. I am who he needs, and wants.

This entry was posted in Oh Boy!.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Spring is officially here, which means it’s Mother’s Day here in Lebanon! What a beautiful day it is indeed. Comfortably warm, sunny and crisp. I love it!

My baby gifted me with some alone time with his papa before Eli left for work, and I managed to scoff down brownies and milk for breakfast, while Thad snoozed and played in his crib. The day is still so young, and I can’t wait to make the most of it! Perhaps a stroll to the beach to catch the sunset?

Happy Mother’s Day to all mamas around the world. You’re the best mama for your child every single day, and they love you even when it sure doesn’t feel like it sometimes!

This entry was posted in Lebanon.