Tag Archives: stereotypes

Sacred Choices

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The other day I was at my regular grocery store when the cashier lady whom I had been seeing over the past year asked me if I was a stay at home mom with a tone that was a bit degrading.Society is so harsh sometimes, if you stay at home to raise your child the assumption is that you are literally staying at home and doing nothing and that life is so easy for you. If you are a mother that has a job, the guilt treatment is the main resort from most people who will comment on how early you left your child to be cared for by someone else. I have experienced both worlds and here is what I have learned along the way.

I have learned that there should be no such thing as a working mom or a stay at home mom and I quite can’t understand the need to be labeled as this or that. We are all mothers regardless of our career and personal choices, we all love our children, worry about them and want what’s in their best interest and I am writing this post because I truly believe that something needs to be changed on how we treat new mothers specifically and mothers in general.

The most difficult thing that I experienced as a mother with a full time job was not missing my baby girl, it was having to deal with comments about how  early I went back to work and how I am missing out on the most important moments of my life and and and etc. Another difficult thing that I went through and I am still going through as a mom other than maintaining my sanity is dealing with the pressure of the need to go back to work and the comments about how I need to start doing something useful in my life and that I should be careful not to get stuck in the mommy world or else my career is doomed.

I have learned that as a new mother you are so fragile and overwhelmed that you really do not know how to react to the judgments from others and one of the most hurtful comments that I dealt with were ironically from other mothers. Two years later I began asking my self  why I spent so much time worrying about Justifying my family’s choices and seeking the approval of others just to be recognized as a good mother. At the time I was so overwhelmed as a new mom that I didn’t know any better, I look back now and realize that this was a very difficult experience that has taught me so much about understanding my self.

I have learned that the moment you give birth to your child you become an advocate, an advocate that fights from all her heart to do what is best for her family but along the way we forget ourselves, at least I know I did. I forgot that it is not acceptable to be labeled, I forgot that it is not normal to have to justify  your choices especially to people you barley see. I forgot that I can and should stand up for my self when I am criticized for my choices.

I have learned that the best advocate for mothers are mothers themselves and that real change happens when we fight for what is ours, our right to make our own choices without being judged. If every mother spoke about this with her friends with her colleagues at work, with her parents and in-laws we would be setting the path for more compassion and understanding.

I have learned that there is a pressing need for us as mothers to speak up as to what is acceptable and what is not and to not live in the shadow of being too busy or too tired if  we want to see things changing for us.

For all the mothers, the heroes, the invisible advocates and any woman who has fought with all her heart and soul to support and empower herself and other mothers and the sacred choices they make, this post is for you.

Happy Mothers Day,

Esraa

Changing our diets

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They say that to truly experience a new culture you must experience the food and the eating habits of this culture. Some people travel the world in search of new flavors, others purchase cookbooks of international cuisine in search of a new meal to add to their next dinner party. We live in a country where food is precious and each region in Lebanon is known for something, whether it is the “Sfeeha Baalbakiyi” or the “Southern Olive Oil”,there is always something new and delicious to discover. But how much do we really know about each others food and what does that have to do with stereotypes and discrimination?

A recent chat with a friend of mine who works as a dietitian made me realize how important food is in bridging the gap between communities and in making us closer to one another. “For the past 3 years I have been seeing the same patients over and over again, I have literally memorized most of the food they eat. Most of my patients’ culture and background are similar to mine. When there would be a holiday or an important occasion coming up I would know what foods to warn my clients from eating, however all of this changed when I started working a few hours a week in a new clinic where I had the opportunity to meet people who were from a totally different religious and cultural background. With every new patient I began to learn about the foods my patients were eating in different occasions and this made me better understand their traditions and culture. ” 

This idea of simply learning about other peoples food traditions opened my eyes to the simplicity of the solution that could solve so many problems. We do not need books or anthropologists or documented studies to learn about one another . We need food, music, holidays, events, clothing and anything that can bring us closer. We need to change our social diets, not only our food but also our approach to understanding one another.

Esraa 

The New T.V. Set

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For years my parents have had one T.V. in the house. Me and my siblings would always fight over the remote control and what shows we were going to watch. Few were the moments when we all agreed on something and most of the times we would end up watching either a chick flick or a horrifying movie. In both cases no one was happy,if it was the girls turn to choose the show,the boys would make it impossible for us to watch because of their constant nagging and we would do the same to them just to make sure we were even. No one was happy except Makdis.

Makdis has been part of our family for the past two years, she cleans and does the dishes but most importantly she never complains about what T.V. show we are going to watch, what ever is on Makdis will watch and she always seems to enjoy it.

I really never paid attention to Makdis or what Makdis wanted to watch and for some reason I always assumed that she understood  what we were watching whether in English or Arabic. I forgot that she was from Ethipoia, that she barely spoke Arabic or English and that this was the first time she had seen a T.V.

In an attempt to solve all the family disputes my parents decided to buy an additional T.V. set, of course we were all thrilled but no one was more excited than Makdis. The presence of a new T.V. empowered Makdis, now she could watch what she wants,when she wants and was  not confined by our personal choices, instead she  had the ability to hold the remote and control and choose her favorite shows.

Over the weeks I observed Makdis, in the morning she would watch a morning show with her nescafe and in the afternoon after all the housework was complete she would tune in for her favorite Turkish soap opera. Her life had been transformed!

The assumptions we make about people determine the way we treat them. I assumed that Makdis didn’t care about what we were watching but in fact she did, we assume that physically disabled people might be less intelligent so we speak loudly and slowly when in reality they are as smart as we are if not more.

Makdis’s story  taught me a  very important lesson, the basic needs of any human being such as laughter, the need for entertainment and having our own space are universal to all human beings whether they  are from Lebanon or Ethiopia. The idea might seem cliche but in practice I realized that I was not really applying it.

Today Makdis enjoys a variety of TV shows and my siblings and I still fight over the remote.

Esraa