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Nursery: mini ode to career mom

October 4, 2013

The fact that my own mother is a career mom has been eating at me, after my last post. This week, she won an ‘Architecture and Construction award’, for her tireless work in landscape design and eco-sustainability in the Middle East, and I am tremendously proud of her.

It is a pleasure to hold this pride. To recognise that my mother is not mine and my brother’s alone: she is her own person. We share her with her many students, of over thirty years of teaching in Baghdad and Beirut, and her many worthwhile projects.

My mother holds more respect for me, as an adult, than the majority of Arab moms for their ‘children’ (especially their daughters). She does not meddle and emotionally blackmail me to ring her daily- I phone because I want to- nor into getting married to manifest a brood, nor does she criticise what she does not understand. And these, largely, I put down to the fact that she has maintained possession of her own life. She has better things to do than attempt to live her life through me. And for this I am truly grateful.

Also, for eleven years, my single-parent mother did the job of three people, maintaining her teaching post, private practise and two kids. Pretty impressive, no?

And, yes, I was in a nursery from three years or younger, and in 1980’s Baghdad there were no dance or drama classes. Teachers kissed their favourite kiddies on the lips- my mother had to wipe lipstick off my face at the end of each day- and nap time took up three quarters of the day. I remember the misery of pretending to be asleep for what seemed like eternity.

As a child I felt the urgency of tasks, of the planned day to fit a grander scheme. We may have been an exception in Iraq, but here, a child’s day is scheduled to the brim. My happiest memories were of the rare and random, less-scheduled activities of pottering around in the garden, or helping in the kitchen. Even the night war sirens weren’t too bad, as these meant an escape from bedtime and extra time in our little family (including the dog), trapped in the basement for some ‘quality time’.

So the nursery kiddies here are privileged, as I was relatively in Baghdad, compared to today’s orphan and street kids all over the world (I’m thinking Basra, because of my short time there).

Rationale aside, I still feel sadness for the kids, whoever those may be, whose simple need for love is left half-met.

  1. Jala Makhzoumi permalink

    I felt such contrasting emotions reading your blog. I often reflect on being a single parent and working mum affected my children. So a part of me is relieved to hear the upside of Tara’s childhood. Between the lines is the longing for more time, more love and more of mum. I have had many challenges in life, professional, academic and personal, the most challenging by far is raising your children, desperately wanting to do the best for them, but invariably not getting it right in some aspects. The mistakes you make are costly and haunt you for the rest of your life.


    • No mistakes! The decisions we make stay with us, yes, and ultimately, especially if you believe in the grander scheme of things, it is for the best. I would not change a thing from my childhood, and although I’m not on the path to breeding a brood, I am sure I would have found creative ways to muddy their waters with my unearthed stuff. So, Champion Mom, take courage and pride, I’d like to believe you did a pretty good job!

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