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Saturday, February 19, 2011

motherhood

I have a biological disorder and it's called "motherhood." I usually see myself as somewhat rational, as someone who tries to act like a responsible parent most of the time, someone who does not plunge into reckless behavior out of nowhere just because it's possible. But when the symptoms of the motherhood disorder kick in, I seem to throw caution to the wind and become a person I don't recognize. I think it has to do with my brain circuits: when the kid seems to be unhappy about something, they start firing in unpredictable directions and I become completely helpless, responding to their commands like a robot, "Fix the problem. Make the kid happy again. Right now."

Maybe evolution intended it to be this way. After all, happy kids make happy parents. But sometimes I am not sure whether this motherhood disorder was meant to upgrade the performance of the human species, or I am simply displaying a unique evolutionary glitch.

Case in point:

Last Saturday, not because I wanted to, I found myself chasing a bus on highway 1 in my little Honda Civic. It was 7:05 AM and I was still in my pajamas, socks and slippers; not your typical car chase attire.

My daughter was sitting next to me, making sure I don't run into a speed trap. Not that I was driving over the speed limit or breaking the law or anything like that... But every time we approached an overpass she would say, "Ima, slow down." So I did. I told here that although I never planned to be chasing a bus on the freeway in my pajamas, I certainly did not plan on getting a speeding ticket.

There's only so much I am ready to sacrifice for her.

You see, my daughter was supposed to be on that bus with the other kids in her science club, going to the Marine Mammal Rescue Center up in Marine County. But the bus left at 6:45 and she told me it was leaving at 7:00.

As soon as I saw that she missed the bus, I knew I was going after that bus. Don't ask me where that decision came from. Maybe it was the expression on her face when she saw she missed the bus. Maybe a need to prove something to myself. I have absolutely no idea. I just knew I had to do something that did not include getting mad at her for screwing up. I told her to call the trip organizer and tell him we were going to try to catch the bus at the next meeting point. Just tell us where it is.

Now, you have to understand that I am not your typical adventure driver. I don't like driving to places I don't know. I like to look at a map before I venture into the unknown. I don't have a GPS or a good sense of direction. But here I was, preparing to catch a bus I knew was traveling over the speed limit, because many times I have seen these big fancy buses galloping by me at 75 mph as if there is no tomorrow. And so it started to dawn on me as soon as I got on the freeway, that this Spielberg horror movie in reverse that was playing in my head, me tough fearless driver mother in pajamas stalking a speeding careless bus, might be a tinny bit over the edge.

My daughter got the directions to the next meeting point, wrote them down and settled in her seat.

Sometimes during the chase I tried to guilt trip her into thanking me for going out of my way, literally, so she could have her field trip as she planned. After all, I was about to be spending an hour and a half on the road only because I wanted to make sure she does not carry her disappointment into adulthood. She, on her part, gave me a typical teenager "thank you" which sounded more like, well, do I need to spell it for you? Let me say only that it didn't make me feel that great about myself. Oh well, I didn't do it to hear her thanking me. I did it because a certain circuit closed or opened in my brain and a certain nerve fired a command to another nerve who reacted promptly and activated the rest of me, ordering me to bring the kid to a meeting point somewhere near the highway so she can have an interesting experience.

I think it was 7:45 when we caught up with the bus. The organizers knew we were not far behind them and agreed to wait for us. When she got out of the car and disappeared into the bus I thanked them for waiting and then added, "My house is going to be so clean next week, and I am not going to lift a finger." They laughed in total approval, making me feel very astute.

Of course, at the moment I didn't know that the kid was going to come back home from her field trip sick, give me whatever virus she had picked up, and spend a week in bed next to me, in total flu misery. I've been cleaning house, making tea, and trying to make her get better for a week now, all the while fighting one of the nastiest bugs I ever let invade my body.

And in spite of all this, I still love her.

It's the motherhood disorder that's responsible for it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

the egyptian intifada


Everyone and his cousin is talking about the events in Egypt as a natural continuation of the Tunisian and the Iranian revolution. But this is not fair. With all respect to the failed Iranian green revolution and the successful Tunisian revolt, we have to give some to the Palestinians who started the trend and also gave us the word "Intifada," - the shakin' off.


Basically, the Palestinian Intifada is not much different from the Egyptian intifada if you look at it from the personal relationship perspective. In both Intifadas, people who lived in a very abusive relationship woke up one day and realized that they could fight back. It's that simple.

Just compare it to any domestic abuse case. Let's say a woman lives with a husband who regularly beats her, humiliates her, ignores her pleas, locks her up, and threatens to kill her if she tries to resist him. We've seen this scenario in countless movies, read about them, studied them, and some of us even lived in these situations, hoping no one would notice our misery.

How many women dare to leave their abusive husbands? How many women dare to even tell their best friends about the abuse? How many women take those husbands back again and again after enduring bruises and cuts and fists and insults with the hope that this time it might work because this time he really promised to change. How many women felt that they simply had no other alternative but to bite the bullet and try to survive the storm? How many woman accepted that they deserved to be treated badly because they didn't have the degree or the connections or the right documents that would allow them to get a job and leave that abusive husband?

What the Egyptians are doing is the natural thing. Anyone who realizes that there is a way out of an abusive relationship would want to take it. And why shouldn't he or she or they take the road to freedom from abuse? For the sake of the kids?

People who are being pushed to their limit of humiliation and hopelessness will always end up fighting back. It's inhuman not to fight back. Sometimes it might take a generation, sometimes two generations. But all it takes is a spark when conditions are ripe.

The Egyptians have been stewing in their paralysis for years. It's about time they come to their own. And instead of blaming the entire world for their misery (like some of our Palestinian friends), they can take action, real action, not fake action like hating Israel, and killing innocent Israeli children, and blaming everyone else for their paralysis and fear.

We all have to come out of our own abyss and reclaim ourselves, take responsibility, and live the life we meant to live. I only hope that what has started in the Middle East will prove all the doom's day prophets wrong.

It's not about the Muslim Brotherhood or another war with Israel. It's about dignity.