december has been (as it usually is for me) both glorious and insane.
i love christmas, really. for anyone who knows me well, you know i love presents, giving and receiving. i realized this year that getting and giving presents is like giving and receiving hope. there’s this package, big or small, and truly it could contain anything. ANYTHING! that’s amazing to me.
the insane part comes in the usual and not so usual ways. first of all, where the hell did december go? i feel like i had thanksgiving dinner, blinked, and now it is almost new years. it is like that for me every year now. i feel sad about that. for ellie, every day was a moaning of how many days until christmas! for me, i am stunned that it has come and gone again.
most people feel that way i think.
as for the not so usual ways, december has been a very reflective month for me. not in ways that have been comfortable or warm and fuzzy. the idea of the season of advent is truly astonishing if you think about it: something is about to happen and it will make it so nothing is ever the same again. i haven’t felt the hope that might accompany ideas like that, only the terror of change and new growth and how often i feel like hiding in my bed until it is all over.
but here i am. waiting and wishing and dreaming that this new year, life will break loose in a way it has not before. i am hopeful that i get to do things differently and curious to know how that might change the world. because that has been my goal all along.
arabic is hard. but not the way you are thinking. my new teacher is a sweet lady who sounds like she understands a lot of english, but then asks me random words sometimes that i think surely she would know (like “knock on the door”). anyway, i like her very much and to add to the mix, she has three small little ones. and some days, i can tell that she is struggling to like her life in any way. she says the kids give her a headache. i totally get that, mine often give me one too.
but it is more than just that. it is the life she is given, taking care of kids, cleaning and cooking and being at home. she says she doesn’t mind, but i can sort of tell that she does. it is both prescribed for her and selected by her, if only because she has no idea another way is possible.
i never regret being a feminist. but there are days when it is easier than others to believe that empowering women will elevate a society.
so i keep going back. i must press into arabic. but i expected to struggle with more language and not so much the relational aches. maybe i was just naive.
It’s only funny, because if i don’t laugh, i’ll cry at my own silliness. But when i go out into the waves, T clutches me so tight, holding on for dear life. I smile and sing to her, telling her she is safe. I gently whisper that it’s ok to hold on tight, sometimes i do too.
My daughter is five weeks old today. Her dark eyes and hair stand out in sharp contrast to her older sister’s fair coloring and ocean blue eyes. To say the least, we are all quite in love.
And she is going to be my introverted thinker, I believe. She quietly takes the world in, bit by bit. She rarely gets upset about anything (unlike her older sister who screamed most of her first six weeks of life). But little T does have her limits. When she is hungry, there is no polite “may I have a nibble?” She goes from zero to unglued in 2.5 seconds. And since she is breastfed, there are times that she simply has to wait, even though it seems like the end of the world to her.
We were driving home from the grocery store yesterday when she got hungry. She proceeded to let us all know about it. Loudly. Even though we were literally only three minutes from home, it was heartbreaking for this momma to watch her little one express hunger and know that there was nothing I could do to ease her frustration and pain until the car was safely parked.
Of course, we arrived home in one piece, and she was promptly fed. All was well.
But the experience led me to think about all the babies in the world, breastfed and otherwise, whose mommas can’t guarantee that they’ll be fed when they are hungry.
In France during World War II, many women found themselves pregnant after being raped or seduced by German soldiers. Once the Germans were kicked out, these women were publicly shamed and outcast. There are stories of women whose babies died because no one would offer these “traitors” even a glass of water. Without adequate water, their breast milk dried up and the babies starved.
It’s heartbreaking to think that the lack of something as simple as fresh water, something you and I can so easily acquire, could mean starvation for a child too young to understand the injustice of it all.
But it’s still happening. Only 27% of people in Northern Afghanistan have access to fresh drinking water. That means almost three quarters of babies born there are either malnourished from the breastmilk of a mother who cannot get enough water or poisoned from the breastmilk of a mother drinking bacteria-laden water. (see the World Health Organization stats here)
The tragedy is overwhelming. And completely preventable.
Afghanistan American Friendship Foundation works to provide Afghan communities with clean water. And they are doing a great job. In 2012, AAFF dug 25 wells to provide a safe water source for over 12,500 people.
What does it take to provide wells for that many people? It takes caring. One ten dollar donation helps AAFF provide an entire family enough clean drinking water for life. Life. Ten dollars is roughly two packages of bottled water here in the US. Or two cups of coffee at Starbucks.
What would happen if we all gave up just a little to make sure that everyone had enough?
It will save lives. And to quote from Beasts of the Southern Wild, we absolutely must “take care of the things that are smaller and sweeter than [us].”
before you ask, no we don’t have a baby on the outside yet.
one of the sewing co-op ladies called me today and she was so cute. we did the whole “hello, how are you” “how are your children” “how’s your family” routine before she finally said, “I call to see you have your baby yet?” it was adorable. but no, no baby yet.
this year is so weird. normally we go out of town on a retreat for getting our minds and hearts centered before starting the new year, but this year, of course, we’re staying in, waiting on this little bundle to make her appearance. and i realized after lunch today that i had officially not been outside my house since last year, which is terrible. so i went for a walk. it was a good walk, but it reminded me that things are pretty different this year. in loads of ways.
in any case, we are here, still waiting and it’s gonna be great. and i can handle waiting and being still, my life will not end if i don’t have someone to take care of at all times. yes, i’m still recovering from codependency, just in case you were wondering.
that being said, i’m on my 3rd cup of “labor inducing” herbal tea today, and also evening primrose oil. hopefully, she’ll take the hint and decide to join us.