i can't say "i had a piece of cake yesterday so why would i need lunch today", or "we were invited for a wonderful dinner last month so let's just skip lunch tomorrow". a newly wed couple once shared with us what i call the "lunch dilemma" as they were adapting to new life in their love nest they discovered that they had to think, talk about, and prepare lunch every day which was a difficult new task for them since they took it for grated that their mothers were in charge of this "tiny detail" when they each still lived with their parents
yesterday i was thinking a lot about this idea, not because of anything literally related to lunch and hunger but because of a different kind of need... my need for a break, for rest, for appreciation, for encouragement, for spending quality time with my husband, for taking a day off away from the children, for validation, for self-actualization, for stretching my potential, for challenging my talents, for journeying on in maturity, for the company of a good friend.... part of it was triggered by a longing i started to have for my old life, life before children and even life before marriage
don't get me wrong, marriage and parenthood add more meaning to my life than i've ever imagined, and i've never regretted taking any of these steps not even once, but family life tends to gradually make a woman melt away and get over occupied with tiny and major tasks of good mamahood for long hours, days, weeks, and months which quickly (or slowly) turn into years of what seems to be a lifetime of "doing nothing" when you're doing EVERYTHING and much more for your family. as sacred as motherhood is and as much as i longed for it and as much as i'm enjoying it and as much as i love my husband i still have to recognize and admit need to get in touch with myself every once in a while, to remember who i am. yesterday i was thinking of my teenage and college years and the work i've done during those character-shaping years, how i was so disciplined in so any areas of my life, how rebellious i was of certain given things, how i wanted to grow in maturity to become a deep and kind and successful adult. i also thought of my university degrees and my job and of the decision i took later on to quit my full time job and settle for a part time one at home just to be available for my husband and then for my son and now for my two children. well, i do not regret these decisions but i yesterday i realized how much i hate it when i'm taken for granted
i've worked hard on becoming the adult i am today, i've worked hard on my marriage, i've worked hard during the past 5 years of motherhood since the moment learned that i was pregnant with our first child, i work really hard every single day, i work hard throughout the day and also at night, i work hard on sacrificing so much of myself and my time for the sake of being a good mother and a good wife, i work hard on isolating my children from the unsafe world outside, i work hard on protecting my family against the escalating violence all around us in the MENA region, i work hard to be a strong woman with all my body, mind, and emotions.... and yet i feel that i'm taken for granted
taking people for granted is a very wrong thing to do to others in general, but when a mother is being taken for granted then that's a CRIME. when one has a job they get paid, when a couple are engaged they say wonderful things to one another, when a girl has a really good friend she experiences mutual appreciation, so you work hard and you get something in return... but what happens inside most families, and people rarely admit that or talk about it, is that the couple start to take each other for granted soon enough after the wedding then later on upon the arrival of the first child, it's the mother who is taken for granted simply because she rarely hears a word of appreciation or receives a hand in her hard mamawork or has access to time without the children or have the luxury of doing things she likes to do or have the choice to have a job or not... i don't deny the occasional "happy stations" in my own mamaland journey, but i can't say "i had half a day off 8 months ago, so why need a brake now" or "the kids slept for one more hour yesterday so i won't need any time off tomorrow"... just like lunch, these needs i -and all the mothers i know- have are daily, repeated, common, natural, expected, predictable needs which we have to meet on a regular basis but unlike solving the "lunch dilemma" this "mamahood dilemma" is rarely recognized and respected by others, let alone solved with their help
i can, somehow, satisfy my hunger during lunch time without anyone's help, but unfortunately, my need to rest and re-charge and re-connect can only be met if i get enough help from people around me, so it's double the work: i have to first explain my case and justify WHY ON EARTH i have these needs, and then ask for help which might not always be available. the problem with us mothers is that we don't know how to ask for help, we're programmed to give and give to the extent that we lack basic skills of receiving or even explaining to others HOW they can help us. we leave it to their judgement and we wait for our husbands or people close to us to notice that we're drowning, we're suffocating, but more often than not, people don't notice that so we end up frustrated, hurt, and aching from being taken for granted again and again... "you were doing so well juggling everything i never saw this break down coming" is a common sentence we hear when we eventually collapse
we need to first learn how to admit our needs, and then ask for help, we also need to practice how to actually accept this help when it arrives, simply because we deserve it, not only us, but also people around us deserve to have a sane mother-wife-friend-daughter-sister, a sane me...