Mother

The background music to my shower is that of a crying baby, and yet when I turn the faucet off, and stand dripping in the sudden ensuing silence, I hear no baby crying.

I tiptoe out and drip on the carpet, peering into the bedroom.. baby sound asleep on my bed, ne’er a stir.

Back to the shower it is. Rubbing shampoo through my sparse postpartum hair, trying my utmost to ignore the anguished imaginary cries of my baby.

I towel myself dry and watch that peaceful little face, large soft peachy cheeks, eyelashes gentle on the roundness below, small deep breaths under the covers, a contented little sigh.

My eyeballs are burning. I am beyond needing a nap. My body screams for a good weightlifting session at the gym. I flutter about the house on my toes, doing only chores that are silent. Brooming, mopping, dusting. No hoover. No dishes. Never boil a kettle. And set the washing machine to start when nap time is over.

If I am too tired to do that, I sit on the sofa and eat ice cream. Noodles. Doritos. And I watch reruns of Gilmore Girls. Not focusing on the story, really, just mindlessly staring into an abyss.

Daily things are done as and when I can manage them. I want to kiss my boy inside and out, but don’t know how to. I live for the little gurgling laughs and the huge shy smile and that soft little double chin. I knew I would love him but never realised how much it would hurt and what sort of worry it would cause.

I miss my mother. My mother in law doesn’t like it when I visit her. She gives me the silent treatment and yet acts normal when my husband is around. She complains to my husband that I am disrespectful and always act like I am itching to leave. She doesn’t let me leave. And when I try to she asks ‘why’. Even though I spent the entire weekend at her house, and only a few snatched hours with my mother. I am not allowed to stay the night with my mother else she gets very upset and her husband shouts at my husband and calls him names and stresses him out until he fights me to the death so I give in and stay in their horrid, horrid depressing house. My father in law wouldn’t have cared if his wife hadn’t pushed him to. He told my husband that she comes first before anything and he must never upset her.

I am shocked. I didn’t think she had it in her.

What about me and my sanity and my mental wellbeing?

I miss my mother so sorely and yet when I am with her I am stressed because I know I will be ‘in trouble’ when I go back to my husband.

This time is meant to be special, and I am making it so, I really am. I am treasuring my child so very much. I just wish family was easy also. I feel trapped, because I don’t actually have a choice. I feel anxious all the time and on the verge of tears.

My husband makes it very hard for me to see my family as he prioritises his mother, and causes trouble when she causes trouble. So I have to pick my battles, and that means much less time with my parents.

I miss them so much.

Having a baby makes you need and value your mother in a way you never did before.

When I am a mother in law, I honestly will ensure that I am not so selfish and insensitive to my daughter in law. People need their mothers, while they have them.

I NEED my mother.

Drayton Manor

Today is promising to be a great sunny day just like yesterday, when I left my assignment to go on a trip with Year 1 to Drayton Manor. The heat was incredible yesterday. The kids peeled off their layers one by one and guess who was stuck with all the jumpers, ey? That’s right. It was moi. It wasn’t too bad, though, I enjoy kids, they do have some insightful information.

One six year old told the man who manned the ride that she was half Egyptian (she goes around telling everybody that, I don’t know why, and her voice is so loud that she demands to be heard. She doesn’t half make us laugh, though) and then he started speaking to her in broken Arabic! They got on like a house on fire, which was hilarious.

A Teaching Assistant and I escaped for a moment to go on one of the crazy adult rides, while the kids were having lunch. I reckoned we deserved it. We wanted to go on Apocalypse but the teacher i charge of Year 1 was really strict and made us all stay together even though each teacher was responsible for four kids so it would have been alright if we separated.

She made us go to the zoo where we wasted two hours, and got really angry when the other two teachers and their charges wandered off to go on the rides again. School politics.

Needless to say we were disappointed, and the whole point of Drayton Manor is the RIDES, of course! Well, I hope next time we go with somebody who will let us have some free reign and allow the kids to have fun.

Also, perhaps I should have been more assertive and taken charge, especially when I noticed my kiddos acting up out of boredom.

I did suggest that we split up but she said no, and obviously I did not want to risk any damage, so I stayed silent after that.

Anyway. It was a good day, the kids were tired out and fell asleep on the coach home and it was difficult to wake some of them up, but we managed it in the end. One of the kids grabbed my hand with her sticky little paw and exclaimed, ‘Miss, this is the BEST TRIP EVER!’ and I thought, well, kids don’t let things bother them half as much as adults do!

Anyway, my sister in law and I were thinking we would drive our mums and siblings (excluding the older boys such as my husband and brother) to Drayton Manor one fine day in June. We reckoned we would make the mums let the kids have a day off school but the mums seemed dubious about that. If we go on a regular holiday day it would be too packed! And I would definitely go on Apocalypse and G Force and all those crazy scary roller coaster rides that I could only stare at longingly yesterday. Yaaaas!

When I got home it was around 6:30PM and I worked solidly until 11:57PM when I submitted with only three minutes to spare! Whew. That cut it close.

Now I have to keep my nose to the grindstone because I have a day school tomorrow, a submission on Monday and plenty of exam prep! I am pleased, though, the summer is looking enticing. I will be away from D a lot, which is sad and I don’t want to think about that too much, but my father and I are going to Morocco to see his mother (who I don’t know very well because I’ve only seen her about eight or nine times in my whole life!) and I am looking forward to that. I shall get quite brown, which is a lovely change, and shall get to know my father’s side of the family a bit better.

Adieu, and I hope you have a great weekend!

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On Language

The word “bombdiggity” is such an American word, isn’t it?

Well I like it.

So I talk with an English accent, more Southern than Northern. I was born in London, in the same hospital my mother was born in. She has had the monopoly of the influence on my speech patterns as I grew up, so I speak more like her than my father.

My father taught himself English; he is a studious man. When people hear him speak, they think he must be a newscaster or something of that ilk. He is very meticulous and such a perfectionist when it comes to his speech and his work. In both Arabic and English, he will correct my grammar and sentences, even in speech! He maintains it is for my own benefit, since I am studying Language at university. I think he just likes to have people speak well.

He isn’t a newscaster, though. He is a professor of Linguistics and Phonetics, has published many books and is a renowned translator in his career circles. He was born in the mountains of North Morocco, and grew up on olive oil, mint tea, pomegranates and oranges, as he keeps telling us. As a child he was poor, and spent whatever money he earned on books. His clothing suffered as a result, but who wants a nice new shirt when you can have books? My father was always knowledge hungry. He would go to bed with a massive book on Biology one week and the next he would have a small booklet about the politics of language. His bookshelves contained a wild plethora of books on all subjects. I attribute much of my childhood learning to my father’s books. His love of books has translated on to his children, and we are all avid book collectors.

I did most of my growing up in a desert city on the Arabian peninsula. It was hot and humid, and in some places hot and dry. I knew only sunshine, dust and curly heat waves. And books, of course. I devoured books because there was precious little else to do, other than shop, and what child likes to shop? My parents tried their best to make our lives more eventful. We had seven bookshelves in our house, all crammed with books. The books we couldn’t fit onto the shelves were tucked away under beds and on top of wardrobes and in stacked on bedside tables. We had swimming lessons, we went to many events, my mother created a club in which a group of people like us did activities together, cooking, sewing, swimming (lots of swimming in the heat), day trips to the desert, renting out villas where lots of families would just hang out and swim and barbecue, day trips to the beach). We had quite the community of friends, and thus we did have a great time.

However, my linguistic experience was mostly pushed forward by my love of words. Growing up, I mispronounced a lot of words. I tended to use words I came across in books, and when I pronounced them, I would misjudge where the stress on the word would lie, and so it would sound funny. My parents would laugh at us, and other people would look at us funny. I do it to this day, folks. So do most of my siblings.

I don’t really know why. So I think I talk funny. I pronounce all my letters, except sometimes for the ‘t’ in water. I sometimes make the word ‘food’ sound like ‘feud’. I talk very fast so sometimes my words run into each other. I think that is the influence of speaking Arabic with my father. Being bilingual is fantastic, but sometimes if I forget a word in either language I will substitute it with a word from the other language.

For example, the Arabic word for ‘stick’ is ‘lasaq’ (in some dialects), and I might say, “It’s not lassiq-ing!” if the word ‘stick’ doesn’t come into my head fast enough. Similarly, I might say to my father “Al-miftah laysa fee al–cabinet!” (The key isn’t in the cabinet)

How do you speak? And how has your language been influenced as you have grown up?

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On Matters of the Heart

I think Downton Abbey ‘triggered’ me yesterday when I watched the *spoiler* scene where Lord Grantham’s ulcer burst while at dinner, resulting in an explosion of blood-vomit all over the table and the shocked diners.

It would have been quite a comedic scene, if it wasn’t for its sobriety. It was quite uncharacteristic of Downton Abbey, and then when Lord Grantham lay in a puddle of blood and his wife told him she was there for him, and not to worry, I began to cry uncontrollably.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t upset about Lord Grantham, I am not so invested in the characters of Downton Abbey that their fates would bring me to tears.

That scene made me think about things which are very close to my heart. Namely that my father who is 53 (which isn’t very old, but he is an overworked gentleman and it shows) lives abroad and works very hard to support his wife and children, his mother and his widowed sister. He works at all hours, and lives alone in a lonely country.

And if anything were to happen to him, like what happened to Lord Grantham, nobody would know, and nobody would be there like Lady Grantham was for her husband. We wouldn’t be there for him and that hurts so very badly, so I spent the rest of the episode sobbing my heart out. I called my father straight away, and didn’t tell him how worried I am about him, but we spoke of cheerful things and it was lovely, but my heart hurts.

I think that enough is quite enough, and it’s time he came home to his family.

 I miss him very very much, and it’s been five years of hurried glimpses, a two week span here and there, and I just want my father back now.