Lebanese Working Mothers

A zone for Lebanese moms to share concerns, experiences, thoughts and do somehting about them!


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Happy Empty Women’s Day

Again bombarded with International Women’s Day greetings, posts, supporters, and emptiness! It’s just a day in 365 days!!! You cannot support women just one day a year!
Feel better for promoting a cause you hardly relate to , by posting a post , or sending a greeting, well I’ve got a newsflash for you: This is not how women are honored, this shouldn’t make you sleep content you have supported the eternal cause.empowered-woman-620x330

Empowering women starts at grass roots, supporting women is when:
• Everyone stops calling my daughter beautiful. This is not how she is identified! She is a stunning 7 year old who is talented, smart, fun, daring, and beautiful! Once people stop flattering just her looks, from day one, so frequent that this identification sticks to her skin, to compliment anything else that is outstanding, then we support women rights.
I tried for years to hear someone call her brother beautiful, to call myself paranoid that no discrimination is happening, all he got is champ or hero!

• Once women are not asked to bite their sorrow to keep their families, to fit in, once they have the right to fight for basic rights of time off and personal decisions. Women basic rights are wrapped in basic camouflage of masculine love and care to override her as a separate entity.
It shouldn’t be guilt gluing the family, or fear, or even love, it should be mutual respect. I don’t want my daughter to relate my image to endurance, patience and suppression. I want her to see resilience, strength, hard will,stamina, love and maturity! My daughter will look up to me and say, mom was a great person, rather than just a great mom or worse a great cook.

• Once assertive women are no longer “Bitches”. Million times we all heard the jokes around assertive women and maidens. Assertiveness is critical leadership skills! Nothing wrong with strong women, yes they scare off weak men, but that is the point! Do I want my daughter to be married to a loser! Then why should I be scared if she repels one!!!

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• The daily practices, chores, and expectations, of both women and men are the same. I had a pitiful colleague ask me about how I left my kids to go on a business trip, the same business trip he was in!

Me smiling:” well aren’t you here?”
Him:” well yes, but you know you your role is different and that you have more chores with the kids and and and…
Me: “well , does your wife do the decision making regarding the kids and the house?
Him:” Of course not, she just implements!”
Me:” Can’t a nanny do that?!”
Him:” Of course not! She has to improvise, to adapt to situations, she has a very important role in raising the kids!
Me with the smile of victory:” See that she need empowerment, stop limiting her role, or step in and provide your on the ground input! You are your kids’ dad too, if you want not to be just considered as a cash machine, start building credibility from an early age!

• When our needs, stop being blocked at the second or third levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, while those of men fully overrun the pyramid. Confidence is a need, the necessity to be unique is a need, and it doesn’t contradict with being a mom, with the need to have a family or with the need for companionship and love. Our daily fights for basic rights, do many times cause tunnel vision and we forget the big picture of our rights as human beings.

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• Even I sometimes am annoyed by feminist groups that stand out with bizarre looks and ethics from another planet! These just help Feminism as much as ISIS is helping Islam, Feminism is not standing out, feminism is blending in as equal, no more no less. I don’t want my daughter to hate men, to be superior, I am raising her exactly like her brother. They both play sports, they both cook with me, they both nag about chores and they are both asked to respect me and their dad.

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My daughter is seven, in a very open school, raised by me, who is constantly challenging her perception, was puzzling around two months ago to find out, we women can be entrepreneurs! She thought its just a man thing. They were introduced to the concept in school, with a guest speaker, we googled it a bit, and it slipped my mind to tell her, we can be anything. I want to reach a day, where I no longer have to convince my daughter and son that, in spite of being labeled as women, we can become anything we want.

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Standard Lebanese Women versus Grayness

This is the story of Lebanese women. So we are selfish, snobbish, sexy and big spenders. That’s how we’re promoted, that is how we are perceived.

Finding tons of Lebanese women out this new year is not shallowness. It is not selfishness or lack of empathy to martyrs and refugees, it is pure resilience. It is toughness to the core, kissing death on the cheek and turning back to resume life. Some people drink their sorrow away, some people live it, some people deny it, and we Lebanese women do master that.

You tell me about selfish Lebanese women, I tell you a story. Every Saturday I take my kids to scout. It happened just after the explosions and the country was barely standing the conflict. Resilient mothers still decided that the show must go on. We took our kids to scout, waited two and a half hours in the cold, just for them to carry on, to live a life worth living. You look at the mothers obsessively changing channels on their car radios while the kids footsteps and laughter fly from the playground into our souls.

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We are promoted as a nation raised by nannies, we are judged by a couple of hours mothers take their worriers break, while their kids play in the sun. If we really care less, why are our selection of places based on kids, our TVs with blocked channels, our phones need formatting from children education applications. Never judge a book by its cover, scared books have the most dull covers.
I wonder why every time I watch a Lebanese series, I never find a woman like me, average looking, average spending, average nice, just plane average. I wonder why never my concerns are addressed, ain’t I the public, the crowd, the majority? It was never the case. We were never beautiful women who dress to work like I dress to a wedding, with ridiculously good personalities or aggressively naughty ones. We are just a bunch of smart women, trying to live to the most, look the best, and raise our kids in a what to become a good country.

Yes we want to look beautiful, and we dare to. Some fall into the marketing game and do try to resemble X and Y, but give us the honor of trying, or even caring. It is true some of us are plastic surgery freaks, seeking security at all the wrong places, yet look around, we the average are all around, we are the standard deviation. We do care to be beautiful, but being beautiful doesn’t identify Us. So start representing us, in your stupid talk shows, movies, series, banners, or a promotional idea you come up with.

As to the massive spenders claim, I want to share another story: We work full time, we spend our days off acting full time teachers and drivers, and eventually we are spenders. We survive in spite of radical inflation, we come up with the most creative tools and we are still shopping addicts with no brains, thank you Lebanon for the good reputation.

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My friend was well off, two kids in a very well off school, and with the situation, her husband’s financial income is deteriorating. Did she keep spending and change her kids’ school?! She changes everything but their education, and this is what we are. She changed into fake brands, changed her detergents into un-bottled ones, changes her perfumes into mixes, changes her mobile into recharge, she even changed her diet! But never touched her kids education. This is us, so give us some slack.

We dare to dream, dare to stay, dare to live in green, while the whole setting is black and white, these are Lebanese women.


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The fear that kills you, the guilt that haunts you, the covet that changes you forever..

This post is without a moral, it is just to share my emotions, I guess only a Lebanese would rationalize.

I’ve known fear, we all have. The rush of adrenalin that makes your senses crazy and optimized. We’ve all known the exhaustion following. Yet , I am talking about a different type of fear, the fear that kills you. The fear that snipers you within the streets of your beloved city, you cross the streets wondering where would the next bomb be. You are constantly aware that it might strike any sec, any place, just when you are least prepared. Least prepared?!! How by the love of God can you ever be prepared.

It’s not just me, I’ve heard some twisted thinking among very regular people, standard people you don’t feel they are in shock! My friend was telling me she is leaving her kids home rather than at the day care, when I asked her why, her logic was that she lives at the fifth floor while the daycare is at the first. First floors get the most damage in street bombs.

My other friend changed her parking space! She used to rush to the closest parking spot to the highway so that not to have a long walk to work. Now she walks the furthest to avoid any damage to the car in case of bombing!

How are people rationalizing death, and playing chess with fear function normally? How can we keep pretending that the show must go on, and it actually does, but do we?

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It the guilt that haunts you. The guilt for existing, for surviving, for being warm while refugees are freezing, for eating while others strive for bread, for even living while a 16 year old just died. It is the guilt that stops you from having your kids birthday to empathize, but you do it so often that you even forget to live.

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Just today, a colleague was greeting me on New year, as he is not coming to work tomorrow. In the same sentence he came out justifying how he is greeting me while eight people died just two days ago! He was justifying how he dared to live and greet!

It’s the guilt that holds you by the throat, it won’t kill you, it will just harass you until you drop by yourself.

“Calvin : There’s no problem so awful, that you can’t add some guilt to it and make it even worse.”
― Bill Watterson, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

It is the covet that changes you for ever. Lebanon is changing me in irreversible ways!
My kids racing along their bicycles with their cousins, screams of laughter reaching the second floor where me and my sister sat sharing our Nescafe. All our concerns were the high voice of kids that might annoy the neighbors and the traffic ahead! What a scene, what a life?
Exactly two days from this day, I was sitting at my office as the doors of my balcony opened by the burst of the explosion. I ran to the phone to check my kids, my fingers so hasty I dialed the wrong number! Yes an explosion. Everything later was so routine, kids are safe, husband and parents are safe. You check the bigger circle and that is it… That is it.
Later that day I went home with my kids, they asking me why we are not going to their afternoon activity! I checked in to Facebook to find their exact cousins safely enjoying the park in Dubai! Why are my kids here? Why aren’t they enjoying the minimum right of safety? This yearning for the basic is making me drop any belonging to this called country.

“From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate”
Socrates

After all isn’t happiness the point of life based on The Dalai Lama


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How easy is it to judge? How costly…

I went home, feeling very uncomfortable, feeling even victimized. My team, my own people, have judged me. How easy for people to throw the blame, how easy just to label someone and feel relieved.

Regardless how my actions were perceived, the truth remains the truth, as I was stuck in my own misery of being unfairly treated, an outsider just struck me with:” so why do you care what they think? Isn’t your conscious clear?”

“We must not allow other people’s limited perceptions to define us.”
Virginia Satir

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“It amazes me sometimes that even intelligent people will analyze a situation or make a judgment after only recognizing the standard or traditional structure of a piece.”
David Bowie

People need to play the blame game, the safest thing is to judge and categorize. I guess this is a natural tendency. My best friend was telling me about her six year old son as he was asking her whose religion , hers’ or his dad’s, as they were mixed married, is the “right “ religion. She kept explaining to him about both, yet he wouldn’t settle for days and days to label them! One should be right and one should be wrong.
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“Labels are for filing. Labels are for clothing. Labels are not for people.”
Martina Navratilova

I think it gives us a sense of security to be one step ahead, meaning for example that we know this guy is a playboy, and we know we should be alert. I guess we even label sometimes to spare ourselves the trouble, the adventure of knowing, the risk of loving, the odds of being wrong. Many times our ego swamps our perception and common sense, and all we care about is to prove ourselves right rather than actually being right.

“We evaluate others with a Godlike justice, but we want them to evaluate us with a Godlike compassion.” ~Sydney J. Harris

A couple of weeks ago, I was backstabbed with a friend. I was furious, I had this urge to classify him, to reassemble all our life experiences to come up with the conclusion that he is a scumbag. It would have worked easy, as I looked deeply into him, and actually comprehended his “ put yourself in my shoe phrase”. How easy is it to destroy, how hard is it to assemble.

“The major block to compassion is the judgment in our minds. Judgment is the mind’s primary tool of separation.” ~David R. Hamilton, Why Kindness is Good for You

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was watching my kids play games with their scout colleagues. It was an attention game. They had to watch a scene and then give as much details of it as they can. None of them hardly gave any facts of the scene, they just matched it with their perception and interpretations.
The children were “ happily dancing”, the “ naughty thief”, the children were “scared”… None of them mentioned information like the number of children, the setting of the house, the number of door knocks….

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

There is a big difference between these two phrases students use: “ I missed the Bus”, versus “ The bus was late”. The reality is the same, the student missed the first bus and came with the second. It is the perception of whose responsibility is it that matters. Students that bare responsibility would just “ Miss the bus”.

I need to end with a quote and a promise:

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
Mother Theresa

“Practice not wanting, desiring, judging, doing, fighting, knowing. Practice just being. Everything will fall into place.” ~James Frey, A Million Little Pieces

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Gender Justice In Our homes!


“Social gains are never handed out. They must be seized.”
― Sheryl Sandberg

I was having this informal dinner with one of the policy makers in an Arab country last week. He was justifying the severe violent reaction of his government against a campaign lobbying to get one of women rights. His logic was as follows:” why campaign and lobby to change the law, weren’t we ( the government) turning a blind eye on many of women violations of this discriminatory law? Why do advocates corner us to change it, they provoked us for a reaction and our reaction is justified!

This logic to me is just twisted. There is a massive difference between acquiring a right, and having a law to support it, against someone just passing your violation of the law. This “ blind eye” might be temporary, changes with the change of political parties or even with going deeper into remote areas in the country that are more male dominated. It is our every right to advocate for having equal rights, and not count on the seasonal good intentions! If good intentions were realistically present, why weren’t abusive laws corrected! It is never that two wrongs make a right, avoidance is never the solution, it’s only a path followed by people lacking confidence to admit their original mistakes.

“We’ve chosen the path to equality, don’t let them turn us around.”
—Geraldine Ferraro

A couple of months ago, I had this one hour argument with a relative, she was texting her husband that we were going out. There is a huge difference between a “ Please approve “ and a “ For your information “ message. Her logic was similar:” he never says no, he is so nice”! Well actually this is demeaning and taking away her rights! Her man being kind enough to grant her the permission to go is a twisted version of she having every right to go out regardless and she actually being kind enough to inform him, and take his reservations into consideration if any.

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This logic is all around, even we women discriminate against ourselves, we promote and practice our own violations. I was having Nescafe at my aunt’s house, I asked to excuse myself as I need to put my kids to bed before I go to my music class. She started at me with the most shocked cold face and said: “ God help your husband, when will you grow up! You are married and with kids now, invest your time more wisely, take good care of your house!” I looked into my dearest aunt eyes and she was sincere. He was allowed to go to the gym, play playstation, go out with the boys, and my music class was depriving my family the attention (during my kids sleeping hours), just because I became a mother, thus I resided from being a human being.

“The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.”
Chief Joseph

There is a mini-market that is just adjacent to my house, me and the kids are regular customers. As I passed by yesterday, the lady at the counter said:” welcome back”.
Me:” Thank you, how did you know?”
She:” Shadi came struggling with the kids, and he mentioned you were out of country. It good he permits your travel and handles your absence, other men wouldn’t.”
Me:” excuse me, I didn’t get you well! First I was out on business, meaning not optional! Second, these are his kids too!
She, with the face of someone super passing me with life’s experience: “ Men don’t, they want their wife at home! Their right, this is why they get married. Be careful, he might as well deny you the permission to work!”

“The mind is everything. What you think you become.” ~ The Buddha

I really don’t comprehend this, we build our realities. Is this where we women want to get stuck! Do we want to still want to wonder about our right to report domestic violence, to fight sexual harassment, to have political representational, to grant our children nationality, to retain kids custody, to work, to live to breath …

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”
Helen Keller

Its time for us, to leave our comfort zones, to go a step further than just believing or supporting women rights, it’s time for us to practice gender justice in our homes.


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The Key is loving yourself !

Studies have shown that 90% of error in thinking is due to error in perception. If you can change your perception, you can change your emotion and this can lead to new ideas.
Edward de Bono

She burst into my office like an erupt volcano, scattering meaningless empty words back and forth. She felt persecuted and constantly being underestimated! I was asked by a colleague later why my reaction was so minimal to this anger outburst. Well the real reason is that I see her beyond this event, I see her to the extent of sympathy.

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Have you ever met someone with unbalanced perception of oneself! This perception versus reality thing is very tricky. This is what happened to my friend here! She keeps perceiving herself way beyond her potentials, which are basically known by peers and supervisors. Constantly feeling victimized, and always always acting defensive.

Back when I used to teach, I had a student who was exceptional! I stopped teaching eight years ago and I still remember him! He was the opposite! He would have written history if he believed in his potential a little. I taught him for two complete years, and for two years I tried to convince him how special he was, yet his self understanding was contrary. Underestimating yourself also blocks you from performing to your utmost.

It is really very hard to perceive ourselves just right, to match the reality. To fully grasp and acknowledge what we are and what we are not. To love ourselves for what we are, with our flaws.

Six or seven years ago, when my husband told me I am moody, I was so offended. I really was hurt, moody is not a nice trait, how can he respect me if I am moody, and why is he saying it like that. I tried to defend myself for a while, covering up for my mood swings although they were happening, pretending even in front of him i am normal.

Now , I know I am. I know my strengths, at least most of them. I know my imperfections and settling with most of them. I know I am moody, but that’s part of what makes me who I am, I don’t have to excel at every level, I just have to excel in total.

“Only in quiet waters do things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world”. Hans Margolius

Beyond the quarrel between perception of oneself and reality, the bigger challenge is seeing and loving people for what they really are! How mature should we be so that we don’t impose our inner feelings on everyone else. We love people because we need to love now, because we need our beloved one to have these traits versus him/her actually having these traits.
How often do our fears manifest themselves in people, they are not our trouble, we are our trouble.

I have read this theory about when you recite that you are beautiful and you feel it deep inside, then you glow it to outsiders making them recognize your beauty as well. Honestly I don’t think this is how it goes, although I agree on the outcome. I believe when you know your beauty, when you realize what makes you special, you make it one step easier for others to identify your beauty, and love you for that.

“When you love yourself, the world is easier to love.” – Christine Arylo

It doesn’t get simpler a phrase than this. When you acknowledge what you are and love yourself accordingly, no outsider influence is that radical. When you love yourself, you’re not bound to the guilt game, or the prove myself game, you’re just bound to experiencing life as it is.


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What comes with Being a mother?

I reached my office, breathless although the day just started. Being this “ abnormal” , my colleague directly asked me what was wrong. It was one of those mornings when kids do everything wrong, like most days, yet you are not yourself to face it.

My non- mother friend was sort of scared! She after around few hours, came and asked me a sincere question:” Will I regret it when I have kids? Will I lose my identity? Will my relationship with my husband deteriorate? I keep seeing live example of how kids suck you in to a place maybe you don’t want. Tell me the truth, will my whole life change?”

As I was at work, with no huge margin for discussions , I answered: “ they are worth every cry, the best thing that can ever happen to you”. The real question would be: What comes with being a mother.

“No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I’m not talking about the kids. Their behavior is always normal.” – Bill Cosby

Parenting is never easy, it consumes you, to the core. It is a real challenge if you take it seriously. No matter how prepared you come, new variables keep popping up. I myself thought I knew a bit about psychology. I knew many theories about kids rights. I admit I violate sometimes. I am just a mother trying my best. I get angry sometimes and when I think of it I realize I shouldn’t have. Their sounds sometimes resonate in my head to the extent I feel my brain will explode, true. Yet, no matter what happened during the day, no matter how stressful the day was, I look at their lovely faces and I feel I just own the world.

When you ask average people about why they want kids you end up with the weirdest answers! I heard :” I need to secure my ending, have support during my last few days here!” This logic is stupid, for the amount of time and money you invest in kids you can make a fortune and secure yourself the best Nurses during your last days. Meanwhile, you cannot for a second secure that your kids will stick to you eventually. You raise them to, yet no guarantees.

The most amusing answer is this is the natural flow of life. If most people are getting kids then we should get as well! Behind the same logic people marry, get employed….

“Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you. – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.”

This is why I have kids. This is why I am blessed every single day with the mission of remodeling the universe through four beautiful shiny eyes. It doesn’t get simpler than this. I know this topic is not rational. No one but a mother would feel a mother’s love. If I recite all the positives of motherhood, that wouldn’t be convincing enough. So I’ll just share a few stories along my everyday life that can ease the process:

1. My daughter, when she was in KGII , came home annoyed. As I asked her what was wrong she told me:” Miss Christelle (her class room teacher ) doesn’t know much”. That was shocking as she has always considered her as a Genius. Miss Christelle asked them what would they pick as a career, My daughter wanted to be like mommy. Her teacher was trying to tell her that it is not a career being like mommy, you should pick your own. She at her age doesn’t understand what is human resources! Yet she believes I am more important that the more conventionally selected Fire fighter or astronaut. She even went one step further in telling her teacher than I “Save children”, as back then I used to work at “Save the Children”.

2. I was playing with my nearly three year old son tag game. I was running and he was following to tag me. He suddenly nearly started to cry. I stopped and asked him:” Mommy what is wrong???” He replied innocently:” I don’t like me running and you running away, I want to hug you.”

3. My daughter , who is very stubborn and seams to hardly ever follow any advice, was telling me about her day before we were sleeping. She said: “Mom, I am no longer friends with Rasha anymore”. You know she bullied Anas, and as I tried to stop her she tried to bully me. I told her to stop like you tell me to do. Later on she told me sorry, but was still mean to Anas, I am no longer interested to be her friend. Nice people don’t bully.” I stopped and asked her:” Mommy she is one of your closest friends, don’t you want to help her become better?” She replied:” Mom I want to help Anas, you always say we help kids MOST at need, everyone loves her she will be ok.

4. As I reached home my daughter was waiting for me at the doorstep! She directly hit me with a pragmatic question that needed around one hour of negotiations and answering. After we finished and were having dinner she said:” Mom thank you for always telling me the truth”.

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5. My son, who is not even three yet, draws the whole universe as straight lines, yet draws me and himself in complete circles and eyes.

No love can override this, No trust can supersede this, yet no words can ever express the sacrifices ahead.

“Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.”
― Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm