Tunis: 1st impressions….hot, beautiful, ancient….and dirty.
Between the bustle of the Medina, the rocky remains of Carthage and the white-washed walls and crisp blue sea views of Sidi Bou Sa’id lie fields, highway divides and alleyways of litter.
While the omnipresence of trash and it’s accompanying odor, flies and wild dogs are something you quickly become accustomed to and learn to look past, it is hard not to think about how much more lovely this city could be without it.
Why, I asked myself, can people not find a better way to get rid of their trash? Don’t they care about their city? An editorial in a local French language paper echoed my thoughts and reported the shame of having to apologize to visitors for the state of their public spaces; asking them to look past the litter to find the beauty of their country.
As a scrupulous sorter of my trash, compost and recycling back home, it was a shock to the system to see all manner of glass, plastic, paper and vegetation strewn willy-nilly along the road leading up to our beautifully maintained and manicured Embassy home. I reduce, reuse and recycle! I care about the the future of the planet my kids will inherit! I could never do such a thing…
And then it came time to dispose of our own garbage. (more…)
Ana Gaby’s son, Evan, climbing yet another tall structure.
“Boys will be boys” people say when they see my two-year-old run around wild and try to jump off the steps or throw sand on his head or when he decides the restaurant table is the perfect race track. Yes, “boys will be boys” I’ve realized, the problem is I don’t really know what boys are like. I learn a new lesson on boyhood everyday as I breeze or trudge through the journey of motherhood.
I grew up surrounded by estrogen. I was an only child until the age of seven and before that I attended an all-girls school and visited with my female cousins often. When my sister was born, my mom, my sister and I created a very special bond that keeps getting tighter despite the distance and space between us. My sister and I grew up in a fluffy, pink bubble where the worst tragedy that could happen in our eyes was related to ice-cream staining our dresses, or our best friend not being allowed to come over for a sleepover.
I was not used to the dirt, rowdiness, sounds and smells that little boys bring into the picture. Nobody told me about the bleeding noses they would give me (product of accidental head butts), or the sore toes (victims of Tonka road accidents), and the fact that I might find dirt and sand in the most bizarre places in my boy’s anatomy. I was not aware of the physicality that entails chasing mothering a very energetic little boy and the taxing toll it would take on my back let alone my manicure. (more…)
One-year-old Nadya at a temple in Thailand.
In 2009, I moved with my husband, one-year-old daughter and four-year-old son to work with trauma survivors at the Mae Tao clinic on the Thai-Burma border. While there, and at Angor Children’s Hospital in Cambodia, I learned that midwifery care was non-existent. Wanting to find ways to support pregnant mothers, I trained as a doula and, later, as a Lamaze childbirth educator.
In 2011, I traveled to a ground-breaking, private birthing center in Uganda (Shanti Uganda) to try out my new doula skills. In addition to working at the Shanti Uganda Birthing Center, I volunteered at the local hospital. What a life-changer!
There was a shocking lack of sterile supplies for birthing, for example one woman gave birth on the dress she wore to the hospital. I later learned that in addition to lack of supplies being unpleasant for the mother, it was unhygienic and could cause infection.
I arrived at the doorway of my daughter’s pre-school classroom to pick her up. We made eye contact and I could see that she was very excited. I knelt down to her level as she ran over to me and happily announced, “Mommy! I met the tooth fairy today!” “You met the tooth fairy?” I incredulously replied. “Yes! She wears glasses and wings, and a blue dress,” my daughter replied. One of her teachers walked over smiling having overheard our conversation. She explained that the Tooth Fairy, from the Center for Pediatric Dentistry, had in fact come to visit the children and talked to them about the importance of taking care of their teeth by brushing every day and not eating too many sugary sweets.
That was the first time my daughter had ever heard of the tooth fairy, but she quickly took to the idea and I could tell that she was already eagerly looking forward to the day she would lose her first tooth.
For readers who may not be familiar with the tooth fairy, you may ask…why? Well, a couple of the older children in her class had already lost a tooth. They informed her that after a tooth comes out, if she puts it under her pillow at bedtime, the tooth fairy will come while she is sleeping, take the tooth, and leave her some money in return.
Sometimes I feel guilty about perpetuating things like Santa Claus and leprechauns, but when I see how much fun it is (both for me and my girls), I quickly change my mind. I have to admit though, on this particular day, I wasn’t ready to start thinking about another character. I mean, the girl didn’t even have any wiggly teeth yet!
To add to this, since I was raised with Hispanic culture, my tooth fairy was a little different. In my home, when you lost a tooth, you still put it under your pillow at bed time, and when you woke up, it was gone and money was under your pillow in its place. But the money did not come from the tooth fairy. It came from Ratón Pérez. Yes, that’s right, a mouse. I told my daughter about Ratón Pérez, but she did not believe me. She said, “A mouse? Really mommy? Why would a mouse want your tooth?” (I thought to myself…why would a fairy want your tooth? I don’t know!) I said, “Yes, really. You should talk to Abuelita, she’ll tell you about Ratón Pérez.” She did ask my mom the next time she talked to her, and my mom confirmed, that yes, he comes to take your tooth. (more…)
This week’s Saturday Sidebar Question is a spin off from Mama Kat’s writing prompts.
“How and where did you meet your husband/partner?”
Check out what some of our World Moms had to say…
A lady in France
ALadyInFrance of France writes:
“My husband and I both came to church in NYC the same day for the first time. He was an atheist but he thought he might meet some girls. I found him to be proud and unfriendly so I kept telling people I wasn’t interested when they suggested we should go out. Three years later we finally did go out, and this October will be 12 years.”
There is more to this story. Read it here in the French lady’s site. The pictures are priceless. You should hop on there to see them.