Thursday, May 16, 2013

sacrificing beauty at the altar of motherhood, Angelina Jolie style

my story with Angelina Jolie started when i found great resemblance between her and one of my friends who constantly reminded me of her. years later, when i got pregnant with my son, i gained 20Kg and looked like a giant balloon, but i was able to lose all the baby fat in just a few months. when i got pregnant with our daughter, the 1st ultrasound showed two sacks so the gynecologist asked if there are any twins in our family and we said that my mother in law and her sister are twins, but he gave us a month before the second ultrasound which would show either one or two heartbeats. 

during that month we joked about the possibility of having twins which was scary too, and i remember saying to my sister: "i won't gain weight this time, i'll look like Angelina Jolie carrying twins" but the other sack didn't grow and when i looked for some explanation online i found that this is called "vanishing twin syndrome" and as i read more i was grateful that it happened during the 1st trimester in our pregnancy. 

back to the first pregnancy, the scene now is from the night of my c-section, as i lay down in bed (on my left side of course) i couldn't sleep so i tried to distract myself and talk to my husband about different things but i kept going back to my main concern that night. i was excited and eager to meet my son, finally, and see his face and the color of his eyes and count his toes. this anticipation made me both happy and anxious, but my greatest anxiety came from a hidden new fear, which felt more of a fact than a possibility or hallusination that i might, or will definitely, die in the delivery room on that operation table. i wasn't scared of dying because i told my husband: "i'll see a bright light and will be with Jesus, but you down here will find my dead body and be sad, don't, because i'm eternally happy" i won't tell you how mad my husband got because of these dark thoughts of mine, but i managed to go on, not about me this time, but about the baby: "i don't want to die because i don't want my son to grow up without his mother"

this is something many parents have in common, they start appreciating their lives and taking care of themselves when they have children. before my second c-section i had the same fear of never waking up to see my daughter, then the horrible idea hit me again: "i don't want her to lose her mama". as much as we love our children we start to love ourselves for THEIR sake. 

yesterday i read Angelina Jolie's article My Medical Choice and at first i couldn't define where i stand, in terms of "with" or "against" what she did, but the one thing i couldn't agree more with her on is taking such a tough decision for the sake of her children. i too have a family history of tumor and cancer, so there's a big chance i might develop cancer at some point in my life, which is one of the reasons why i drink green tea and add olive oil (EVOO according to Rachael Ray) to my family's meals. i've always told my husband that we should take tests, random ones, for greater chances of what is called "early intervention" in case we do have or will have cancer.

so what Angelina did is surely beyond my imagination, i've never heard of such a thing, and have never thought of taking difficult decisions and acting in such an "irreversible" way based on a "possibility" no matter how high the numbers are. some people might argue that Jolie did this to get the attention of media and become even more famous, but i tried to put some facts in simple words:

  • she's beautiful (me too, at least in God's eyes and the eyes of a few human beholders)
  • she's a mom (me too, and all moms can definitely identify with the word "sacrifice" on some level)
  • she's rich (i'm not, but she has access to excellent medical care and can also afford the "rebuilding" process, for more details on this read the Pink Lotus Hospital article)
so she's a famous rich beautiful mother who decided to spend her money indirectly on her children as she invested not in botox but in a double mastectomy without actually HAVING to do so... i guess this sentence answers my question, yes i'm WITH what she did, because given the choice, i would do the same, maybe not literally, but i would DEFINITELY sacrifice my beauty (and ANYthing else) at the altar of motherhood, spending money (no matter how little i have) to rule out the possibility of my children losing their mother to breast cancer or any other cause of death, simply because i love my two angles more than i can comprehend, and because they deserve to have their mother... during fun days like this one... or other days (no pictures included)

my cousin whose mom is a cancer survivor, said when i e-mailed her the article: "one is lucky these days if she dies of cancer instead of getting killed" in reference to the current war in Syria. As for my friend who reminds me of Angelina Jolie, she lost her mother to breast and pancreatic cancer, now this amazing woman of God is enjoying the bright light and being with Jesus, she's eternally happy...

photo credit: Magui Samir our dear photographer 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

knowing something about everything and everything about something... is impossible

this saying also exists in Arabic اعرف شيء عن كل شيء وكل شيء عن شيء
it wasn't until recently that i realized how impossible this is. a simple observation helped me divide people into two categories: those who know something about everything and others who know everything about something (just ONEthing). i haven't yet met anyone who fits in both categories...

as for me, i've always been the KSAE type of person (know something about everything) and i took pride in that specially when people praised that in me, my right brain and left brain are both equally active (almost) with a tight bond and friendship between them.
at school i was good in math AND literature, in collage i had good grades AND participated in many extra curricular activities, in marriage i have a degree AND i'm a good housewife (i'm a good cook bye the way), in motherhood i'm a mom of two AND i'm thin (people say it's impossible to lose baby fat but i always offer someone on a diet to take my two kids for one week and enjoy the weight loss as a byproduct), in social life i get along with adults AND children, in terms of extrovert-introvert battle i'm a book warm AND a sociable person, i am serious AND funny, i'm a perfectionist AND i enjoy chaos with craziness, i'm old fashioned AND creative, just to name a few examples of the two extremes i tend to master with all the in-between marks along the spectrum...

the other day i was thinking about my life and the multi tasks, multi talents, multi hobbies, and multi dreams i have, even multi college majors that i've tried during my 9 years at university... it's mainly where i got the name of this blog from, real life, real me = multi me... but a light bulb appeared in my head and instead of casting away darkness (as light is supposed to do, right?) it kind of turned everything BLACK... blank black in fact... because i discovered that maybe, just maybe, i've been doing this all throughout my life, this multi living style out of fear... i was afraid of failure, i was scared of putting all my eggs in one basket, of focusing my time and energy on one field of studies or one job or one major aspect then failing... this would've meant that i'm a failure because i have no other points of strength to rely on and so my self esteem will starve to death...

before i met my husband, i was convinced that there's a big chance i won't get married, and i was ok with that, even though it meant a constant struggle in our society because marriage is the ultimate goal for females in the MENA region, but i made peace with the idea that "either a successful marriage or staying single" i had no room for a possible failed marriage at ALL. so days and years went by and i tried to educate myself and take care of how i look, to nurture my social relationships, to strengthen my family ties, to stay up to date and keep up with latest events, news, activities, and technology.... isn't that what a "round personality" is about? so my self esteem seemed to have a "colorful salad" as a daily main dish...

then i met my husband, we fell in love, we got married, three years later we had our son then our daughter... during these 7 years of marriage i realized that when i, for one reason or another, intentionally or accidentally, failed in one area of my life, i automatically relied on another area to re-gain balance... even with the most ridiculous things like when my hair didn't look so good i would say to myself "but i'm married"! could you recognize the connection? i'll give you another example: when i stopped practicing my flute i told myself "but i'm a mother"! got what i mean? even if there was no direct, or even indirect link between the two issues, the two points (which i've classified as one being weak and one being strong) i would MAKE one, create a link and force a connection, just like holding one piece of puzzle in my right hand, a piece that says "weak point" and drawing just any random piece from the box of "strong points" and make two fit for an even result!!!

this gets serious when one has to find a job, if i'm not strong enough in any area of specialty then what am i going to do in my life? what would be my successful career? even though in any job you need a "round personality" in order so succeed but you need this ONE major strength in order to DO your job... having one major strength means that your self esteem will have a daily main dish of steak or burger

as i drove my four-year-old son to the nursery this morning, he started naming the things he wants to become when he grows up: "i wan to become a mechanic to fix our car and all cars, i want to become an artist like "VanDog" (a cartoon character who paints and my son is good at drawing, a talent passed down to him from family members), i want to be a musician (he has the genes for that too), and i want to be a cook (he's in love with the animation movie "Ratatouille")"

as i listened to him i couldn't resist but say to myself: "had you asked me son, a few weeks ago about this dream of yours, i would've given you a standing ovation for wanting to be a KSAE person.... but i'm afraid all i have to say now is a hesitant "bravo" because i honestly hope to God that you'll be more of a KEAS person, to excel and stand out in one thing, love it with all your heart and mind, and make a living from it too... if you can put bread on the table by doing what you love to do then i'll be really happy that you did what i'm, unable to do, yet"

it's the number one parenting mistake to fulfill one's unfulfilled dreams through one's offspring, but i'm allowed to have preferences coming from a life experience. at the same time i realize that if one day a tragedy was to happen, just like the story in this amazing video then i trust that God can do what we're unable to do and he'll see you through it, son. "God will make a way when there seems to be no way" so why live in constant fear, trying to create alternative choices and make plans B, C down to Z when you can (or maybe you should) focus on one thing, be exceptionally good at it, and enjoy a high and balanced self esteem nurtured from it...

i once read this: "friends are like taxis, you can't find one on a rainy day" and i've had many rainy days recently and the points of strength which i thought were my "friends in need" turned out to to be like taxis... and i was left alone, in the rain, wondering what can i do with my life...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

in love with technology

i need to put the kids to bed and there's a big chance i might fall asleep too, so i thought of checking on my husband one more time in case i couldn't stay up and wait for his plane to land... and i came across something VERY interesting...

check it out...

Status:In air at an altitude of 36000 feet with a ground
 speed of 460 knots

how cute is it? i've seen it before but when i was ON the plane not ONLINE knowing that my soul mate is in THAT plane! thank you satellites thank you technology for being a good friend to me at this very moment, two hours before landing, my husband is still in the air, he's been flying for 9 hours crossing the Atlantic Ocean but not in a straight line as i had imagined, it seems he flew over parts of Canada too then down over part of the USA and will arrive at LAX in two hours, or less because the new expected landing time is 20 minutes earlier...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

two become one

British AirwaysBA15084London5:15 PM May 08Scheduled

this is what happens when two people get married, or what's supposed to happen, they become one, and i was expecting it to be a total and complete shift from "two" to "one" when my husband and i got married, but it didn't seem to work out for me in many ways, sometimes the idea made me miss my independent self, the me that thinks only about me, no matter how selfish this might sound

then after having two kids this union seemed even harder when expectations and role assignments in parenthood "separated" us into "two" again and sometimes each one of us felt cut into more than two... you do the math

but today i felt that we're one again, in the most unexpected way ever


my husband left on a trip to the US, it's his first time visiting the USA and as we were preparing for his trip i was very excited that he'll see such a different and new country. i've been to the States three times and i found that parts of it are a copy/paste version of the movies we see but other parts are much more interesting and exciting than the media can ever express

after he left i expected myself to get depressed as i do when he's out of town attending a conference or leading a church activity, but this time i didn't feel depressed (not yet at least) because i felt as if it was me going, i was as happy for him as i would be for myself specially that he's going to CA and i've only been to a couple of states on the East Cost, so i couldn't tell him what to expect but i am sure that this trip will be extremely interesting and enjoyable for him

i'm praying for his safe arrival as i checked that his plane departed, so in a few hours i'll check LHR website to check on his connection flight and make sure his plane landed safely in London on its way to Los Angeles

remember the new laptop we purchased recently? it's with him, and last night i made sure he had our family photos, the most recent Easter ones as a screen saver, one for the start up screen and one for the desktop background ;)

by the way, he's taking with him this cute device that a group of nice thoughtful young people gave him as a gift, a remote control for power point presentations, he took it with him and i'm also excited that he has the technology devices he needs for the lectures, sermons, and presentations he'll give there, the main reason for his visit. i'm also glad that this technology will help him keep in touch with us during his three-week trip

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Happy Easter 2013 take two

it's Easter today according to the Eastern church calendar. Evangelical churches in Egypt celebrate today so i should get the kids and myself ready to go to church, we have family members visiting and this is extremely exciting for my children to spend time with their cousins... nothing like old traditions i've talked about in the previous post but it tastes better than any man-made tradition when God sends little blessings our way.

have an as happy as possible of an Easter this year ... remember MENA countries in your prayers, may it witness a resurrection from war and ashes to its original beauty...

this is a photo of a new "tradition" i did this year, during last year's Spring discounts i bought Easter outfits for my kids to wear to church on Easter Sunday. when the clothes and shoes were still new this year i thought of arranging a photo shoot for the children with a sweet photographer from our church, she's an amateur on her senior year at college and she was willing to give us her time and talent

this was a piece of green garden we selected for our location and our friend took really wonderful shots so i thought of sharing two of them here, the first one is an Easter egg hunt, our style ;) and the second one is of my son practicing his photography skills as his sister collected the plastic eggs in her basket

by selecting these clothes and arranging for this photo shoot i thought i was adding colors to my children's life but the truth was that these two angels were the ones who added LIFE to these colors

Friday, May 3, 2013

gratitude attitude

it's Good Friday today according to the Eastern Christian calendar, and this year i haven't done any of my "rituals" for Palm Sunday or Passion Week, mainly because i couldn't "find" the time and energy for it, or maybe i couldn't "make" the time. 
i felt guilty, both spiritually and familyly (that's not a word i know) because i haven't spent time reading bible passages and reflecting on what happened two thousand years ago during this week and i also haven't created any traditions for my children to follow, keep, and remember. 

when i was a child, the tradition started with wearing a dress that my mother made and finished very late the night before, attending Palm Sunday's morning service which included a special part for the children where we would sing carrying our olive tree branches and big candles as we walked in a row behind our pastor (who carried the hymn book as he changed) and go outside the church main door, rotated around the church building and came back inside from the side door, i don't know if there's an English version of the hymn we used to sing, then the children would go up on the pulpit and recite verses relevant to the occasion.

all week long there would be church services at 7pm from Tuesday to Friday including communion on Thursday night and a special service on Friday. the spring Damascene weather is vivid in my memory, warm mornings with a chilly breeze at night. when we became teenagers we were allowed to go as a group to attend "Christ's Funeral" at other churches, right before midnight a march used to start from one church lead by clergy men behind whom scout bands would walk around certain streets in the Christian parts of Damascus. the march includes the scouts music band playing well-known Good Friday sad music at the tail of the young people's march. i can't describe the crowds that would gather to watch and participate, let alone people on balconies of buildings along these streets who (previously during the day) received a brown paper bag with a cross-shaped cut on one side, filled with sand to hold a candle which they lit when the march starts. 

Easter Sunday morning had its own taste too, with similar marches but different music, triumphant tunes.  we used to attend the morning service at our church fist and then check out these marches on our way to my grandparent's house. at noon, when my grandparents come back form their church, where my grandfather is a pastor, we had the traditional big family gathering and Easter morning greetings exchange: "Christ is risen" the reply is "He is risen indeed". this activity includes lots and lots of colored boiled eggs, chocolate eggs, and home-made Easter backed "ka'ak" which are sweet and fragrant like cookie and have a bread-like softness. 

so what do i do with or for my family during this part of the year? nothing fixed or special which is worth carrying out and turning into an annual tradition. so this year i felt guilty for not meeting the standards i've set in my own head, but at the same time i felt grateful which is weird because the chain in my head usually goes like:

childhood memories - expectations of motherhood and own familyhood - shortcoming - guilt - excuse hunt - complaint - depression (of some level) - rumination over childhood memories

but this year right after the "guilt" ring i felt "gratitude" and this is revolutionary to me. my overwhelming feeling of gratitude broke this vicious cycle for the first time in 7 years, 7 Palm Sundays, 7 Passion Weeks, 7 Easter Sundays. the overwhelming ocean of gratitude washed away the guilt in my heart and mind as i lay down in bed one night with my two kids next to me (a treat when baba is out of town) i just let go of this urge to feel guilt and instead i surrendered to the waves of gratitude trusting that they will carry me to the shore safety ... isn't this what Good Friday is about? why do we feel that we have to beat ourselves up, to feel Christ's pain, to dig out our deepest sins and secrets so we can feel remorse... but Christ already did that FOR us and i think that all he wants us to do is to ACCEPT and BE GRATEFUL... so the new tradition for me this year is a GRATITUDE ATTITUDE that i hope i'll be able to live practically and reflect in numerous ways for my own sake and the sake of my husband, my children, my family and friends with whom i'll interact during this time of remembrance and thanksgiving for what God has done for us through Christ and the cross....

have a GOOD GRATITUDE Friday