If you think that you have just one life, think again. There's the life you think you have, the life others think you have and the life you really have- three lives!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Egyptian Mum Part 2- The Sex Talk

One day, while chopping carrots, it suddenly dawned on me that I had been remiss in my motherly duties and had neglected the ritualistic sex talk which all parents must endure at some time in their lives:

Suddenly overcome by an urgent sense of parental responsibility, I ran upstairs to where B1, B2 and B3 were playing...

Me: Ummm...boys do you need me to give you the sex talk?

Boys: No Mum, we know everything

B2: Yeah, we know about the penis and the vagina

B1: *giggles like a little girl* You said vagina

Me: Cool, then my work here is done *moon walks out of the room*

OK. So maybe I didn't do too well on the whole sex talk thing. But it's not like I had a good role model....

Egyptians love analogies. They have an analogy for everything. Nothing is what it is, it is always what it is like- men are like walls, women are like cat meat- you get the picture. Not surprising really when you consider what a flowery language Arabic is compared to English.

Consequently, my Mum's version of the sex talk did not involve a penis, or a vagina or birds and bees. In fact my Mum's sex talk did not involve sex at all:

" A woman is like a flower. The first time a man smells a flower, it
smells so lovely. He wants to keep smelling it. But the more he
smells flower the less he can smell until he can no longer smell
the flower and then he doesn't want it anymore and he
looks for another flower."

I first got the sex talk when I "became a woman". Until I got married, the sex talk was an annual event- always the same, never wavering. Without fail, my mother would sit me down and repeat the sex talk word for word (and she NEVER moon walked out of the room when she finished- that was my little innovation!)

I could be forgiven for thinking that I was actually getting a lesson in the fine art of flower arranging, or that sex was something that involved sniffing or that my mother's sex talk was an, albeit obscure, caveat against unpleasant body odour.

It did, infact, take me quite a few years to decipher my mother's coded message about sexual relations between a man and a woman. But by then it was too late... I'd already been sniffed and discarded in favour of another more beautiful flower with an alluring and hedonistic perfume that no man could resist.

My mother's analogy is not completely lost. With a few minor amendments I could really make it work. How's this:

Life is like a rose bush. Watch out for all the pricks!
*moon walks out of the room*

Monday, January 15, 2007

Getting Old

My son started shaving this week. Add to that the fact that he is at least 15 cm taller than me, wears a monstrous size 11 shoe and can stay up longer than me at night- it's official- he is now a man. Which makes me the mother of a man, which makes me old!

So what do I do now?

Do I start wearing purple?
Do I adjust my car seat so that I'm sitting up against the windscreen when I drive?
Do I abandon any hope of perfect abs and shapely arms and instead take pride in the way my upper arms flap in the wind when I wave goodbye?
Do I hang up my stilletos and start wearing ugly flat shoes?
Do I talk about "my day" as if it was 100 years ago?
Do I start carrying around one of those wheelie shopping bags with pink flowers on them?
Do I start wearing three layers of clothing even in the heat of summer so my kidneys won't catch cold?
Do I throw out my sexy lingerie and buy myself some nanna knickers in a sensible beige?
Do I take a belly dancing class so that I can get in touch with my inner vagina?

BUT WAIT... wait just a minute... I don't FEEL old...

I'm still in my thirties
I still have body issues
I still get pimples
I still check my butt and thighs in the mirror everymorning for cellulite
I still complain about how long it takes to do my hair and how much product I need to make it look decent
I still can't apply eyeshadow correctly
I still have at least 5 different mascaras in my makeup bag of which at least 2 are waaaay past their use by
I can still pass the pencil test ;) (ladies- you know what I'm talking about)
I still get hit on by foetuses (ie younger men)
I still catch up with the girls every Friday to talk about men and their appendages

So... when am I officially over the hill?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Memorable Moments #1- The Day my Boys Reconnected with their Father

I separated from my first husband when my two sons were just 3 and 1 years old. It was not a happy marraige. Having reached the age of 21 and thinking that I knew everything, I naively got married despite many of my friends warning against it. My parents were happy though, relieved that their 'wild child' was choosing to settle down. It lasted 6 years.

For the first year or so after we separated he kept in contact with the boys. He still pulled his usual tricks- promising to take them out and then not showing up- leaving me to comfort and console their tiny little hearts. Then he moved to Sydney. He still sent birthday presents and cards but within a year he had stopped all contact.

Many times I tried to contact him, to find him and let him know that his son had had major surgery, that his other son was top of his class, that I worried about the bullying at school, that his son, at just age 7, had read his first novel in 2 days- but to no avail. I was a struggling single Mum (he has never paid a single cent in maintanence) but I managed to scrimp and save for a private investigator to try to find him. No luck.

So I brought up my boys as best I could and, despite their Mum, they are fine young men who make me proud. My eldest is in his final year of school and is set on being a human rights lawyer. The youngest is a math wiz and wants to be a doctor or robotics engineer. But they have seen so much heartache for such young lives.

After 7 years of being on our own with no contact from their father I found my eldest son walking around the house clutching a photo of himself as a baby with his dad. I asked him if he wanted to talk and took him into the bedroom for some privacy. He sat on the edge of the bed silent for a long time until he could no longer hold back his tears. Still clutching the photo of his father he turned to me and asked "Mum, is my dad dead?". My son was just 10 years old but in his eyes I saw a pain that I had seen in lonely old men who had said goodbye to children, friends and family.

To say that it broke my heart is an understatement. It was as if my heart had shattered into a million pieces. I am fighting back the tears just writing this now. I wanted to yell and scream my anger at the man who had caused my babies so much pain, who had left them and forgotten them and refused to share in their achievements, their joys and their sorrows. I wanted to take a knife and find him and pierce his heart a million times for each time he had made them hurt. But instead I smiled at my son, wiped his eyes and said "Son, I don't know where your father is, I have tried to find him and I failed. But I do know that he loves you and your brother very much and that every moment of every day he thinks about you both and that he wishes he were here and that he is very proud of you."

It was the hardest but also the easiest lie I had ever told in my life.

Small miracles do happen. The next morning as if by God's merciful hands, I was woken by a phone call. It was their father. He was coming back to see them and to stay for good. Just like that. Just out of the blue like that. I was skeptical but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The day he arrived, I dressed my beautiful angels, who were now 10 and almost 8 years old, in their best clothes and told them that their father was coming to see them. When his car pulled up in the driveway I went out first to meet him.

I stood there, face to face with the man who once held so much power over me that I thought I would surely die by his hand. No more fear- just rage and anger. "You have hurt these boys so much, you have been the cause of their suffering, you have let them down, you have made them cry. Today you are here and in a minute you will see them again. But I am here now to tell you that if you ever let them down again, if you ever make them cry again, if you ever break their hearts again- you will be dead to them. Do you understand me? I will do everything in my power to make sure that you are dead to them- that you never ever ever see them again and that they forget your name and who you are. Do you understand me?"

The man who once wielded such power, stood helpless, a shadow of the man I had married and shared a bed with and from whom I used to cower in fear. To me he was nothing now.

I went back in the house and got the boys. Clutching their hands tightly for fear that he might once again break their hearts. My eldest, who had memories of his father, immediately recognised him. He let go of my hand and ran into his father's arms, smiling like I had never seen him smile before. But my youngest, my little talkative angel, who was just a baby when his father left stood behind me, clutching my skirt and staring at me with his big beautiful brown eyes, looking bewildered and confused. His father stood at the end of the driveway, arms open and tears in his eyes, beckoning his youngest son to him. But he would not go.

I bent down and looked him in the eyes. "It's OK son. He is your father. Go, go say hello to your father and give him a hug." My little angel touched my face with his tiny hand, he looked over at his father and then back at me. Then he let go of my skirt and ran towards his father grinning widely, he jumped into the air and straight into his arms and held his father tightly.

I cannot say that my thoughts and feelings were noble right then. I was damn angry and felt cheated. Cheated that I had endured the long sleepless nights, the nappies, the illnesses (my eldest son has one kidney), that I was left alone to hold their hands and see them through their vaccinations, their scraped knees and broken arms. I felt cheated that I had given everything to them, that I had struggled, put my own life on hold- for this day. For the day that he could return and feel their arms around him and see their smiles and feel their love- 7 years worth of love pent up inside their tiny bodies- all at once overflowing into HIS arms- the man who had done nothing for them but cause heartache.

And so that was the day that my boys reconnected with their Dad. A day they and I will remember forever- each of us for our own reasons.