ROSE AND ZAATAR

A TASTE OF A LIFE IN LEBANON

Month: March, 2014

Postcards

Tomorrow we are taking another trip, this time back to the UK for three weeks. While I’m away, and with the help of some grandma time, I hope to finish and publish some draft posts  that I started a long time ago. I will think of them as postcards- sent from the past- arriving late and so not quite up-to-date, but capturing things I want to keep.

I hope they arrive safely!

Eat (anything but) your greens!

Yesterday you had broccoli for dinner. Just broccoli. Recently you had it for breakfast and a while ago you only ate peas and pear and nothing else for an entire day. Sometimes the only way to get you to eat things that aren’t green, like rice or eggs, is to put peas in them, as when there is a pea on the spoon you will usually pop it into your mouth.

I know many mothers struggle to get their children to ‘eat their greens’, but I seem to be dealing with the opposite and as happy as I am that you love your vegetables, I want to encourage you to eat all the colours of the rainbow. Which reminds me of when I was little and had to take a multi-vitamin tablet to take every day. They came in a rainbow range of colours and I was very particular about which colour was for which day- Mondays were yellow, Thursdays were purple…

Maybe you and broccoli is just another version of me and vitamins and perhaps another opportunity for me to trust you- that you really do know what your body needs and when.

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day in Lebanon, coinciding with the beginning of Spring, as it does every year. I discussed this yesterday with the Lebanese woman who runs the playroom at the Planet Discovery Science Museum, explaining that in the UK mothers are celebrated on a different date each year, depending on when Easter falls:

Me:For example, this year in the UK it’s on the 30th March but I like that in Lebanon it’s always the 21st March, the same as the beginning of Spring- it’s a nice thing!

Her: Yes…. at least we have something nice in Lebanon, hahaha… and it’s something that doesn’t change and is the same every year… 

…no matter what else is happening in the country, I finish her sentence in my head, and laugh along with her but feel the weight of her words in my heart and I wonder how much they weigh in hers.

So Happy Mother’s Day to the country where I became a mother, I wish you the certainty of Spring coming, with all its bravery and hope, even if it only snowed a week before.

Bake yourself at home

After being away in Istanbul for a few days last week it took awhile to find my way back into my life and it wasn’t until I baked an apple cake over the weekend that I felt at home again. This feeling prompted me to finish the post below, which has been sitting in my drafts folder for far too long!

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We have a new friend in Beirut- new to the city and new to motherhood. I admire her courage. I’ve been both of those things, but not at the same time. Meeting her has reminded me of my own first few days here, the raw fear and exhilaration, crossing roads with my heart in my mouth, even without a baby in a buggy.

But in less than a month she is finding her feet, venturing out to our homes and cafes, crossing one road after another, both physically and metaphorically.

And she even baked muffins to bring to your house, which is a good sign! I said to another friend, who just looked at me quizzically.

Well I always think that baking makes you feel at home. If you can manage to get all the ingredients and get your oven to work… I never really feel at home in a place until I’ve made a cake there… I explain, thinking back to my first baking adventure in Beirut (documented here).

Since starting this post our now-not-so-new friend has made far more than muffins- inviting us for a morning of Valentine’s Day cookie decorating, hosting a pancake party and even organising a new playgroup serving tea and boxes of her own biscuits- well and truly baking herself at home.

Happy Heart Day

Exactly two years ago today I heard your heart beat for the very first time-fast and fine and definite- just like you.

From that moment on, this day stopped belonging only to me, as the anniversary of my birth, and became instead the anniversary of us both, from one to two, from ‘Happy Birthday’ to Happy Both Day’, or as I like to think of it ‘Happy Heart Day’.

Here is something I wrote about it a few months further on into my pregnancy, when I’d not only heard your heart but also seen it:

After our anomaly scan I take us out for lunch, in Dar’s shady scented gardens, to celebrate the doctor’s proclamation that he is very happy with what he sees, that it’s no surprise you are already tall for your age, by a week and a day, and that in his expert opinion you ‘have a lovely heart’.

I think about the first time I heard your heart, on my birthday, how you became real, how I became a mother. 

I’ve been growing you all this time, little jewel seed, all your vessels and ventricles and vertebrae that this morning were meticulously checked by the doctor, but it isn’t until now that you feel like my daughter, not just a butterfly winged, ballet toed, baby whale, playing in the ocean in my belly.

And you have been growing me. Slowly stretching my heart, into a wide worry free garden, where we can play.

Now two years on, my heart is still stretching, further than I ever thought it could. And this morning, we played together, not in a garden, but in the sunlight dancing down over Zaitouneh Bay, laughing and running back and forth, sometimes in opposite directions, and sometimes side by side. Hearts full and happy. 

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A very appropriate birthday gift