I’ll be your feather

Pass this message to a woman who needs to be told that she’s good enough

We, women of the world, have forgotten that
We were made for more than this
We were taught that women are born “without wings”
That we were powerless, helpless, weak creatures
And that we should look for someone to lean on, almost like a crutch, a wheelchair, as if we were disabled!
someone who can take us places and show us things, someone to be our eyes, ears and voice
But then one day, we made a great discovery,
we found ourselves…and we liked it
We liked it so much that we wanted to show the whole world
Just how happy we are with this “self-love”, with ourselves
We realized that in order for this love to grow we need to do so many things
Then somehow we got addicted to nurturing it, growing it, boasting it through “achieving” more
Everyday I notice how hard women try to achieve something
I observe their idealism, their perfectionism
Just one struggle after another
A struggle to get things done, a struggle to make things happen,
A struggle to have a career, be an ideal parent, a perfect housewife, a loving partner, to be there for everybody, motivate, succeed and excel,
A struggle to compete and defeat…who…other women? men?
How can this be “self-love”? How can you love yourself so much and want to prove this to anybody?
Why do you need anyone to approve of you?
How can you say that you love yourself for who you are when you can’t even handle criticism? When you must work that hard to prove someone wrong, or meet expectations?
I want you to take a moment and think …
Are you a mom? a sister? a wife? a daughter? a CEO?
a student? a social worker? a doctor? a scientist? an artist? a designer?
I’m here to tell you that you don’t need anyone to tell you “You are doing great”
“You are wonderful”
But if you must hear it and I know you want to, you are…
not because of what you have achieved, but for simply trying
Trying to make life a little better, trying to ease someone’s pain, trying to raise balanced children, trying to show kindness and compassion, trying to perform your duties, trying to love those who don’t show you love
You are trying, and that’s enough
So you if you love yourself, you should know that you are enough
you are good enough, pretty enough, strong enough
And
Thank you. I know nobody says this often but thank you
I’d like you to thank someone else today, maybe your mom, your sister, your bestie, your dentist, any woman you know
Who’s battling self-doubt or low self-esteem
Tell them you’re grateful for who they are
Tell them you love them for who they are
Tell them that even though you may have had differences, you will try to be more understanding
Pass this message on because we women need each other
We were made for more than achieving personal goals
We were made to help one another, raise one another and defend one another
Put those differences aside and learn to empower one another
There’s more to life than bad blood, competitions and showdowns
And if we really do need “wings” to fly, I’ll be your feather

“Back in the old days”…

With all due respect to the elderly in this society, but they all just need to chill! As a parent, albeit it a young thirty-something parent of two children under 10, I believe I have the knowledge and ability to run my life along a safe course. I don’t do drugs, I don’t commit crimes, I don’t feed my kids litter, I don’t keep them awake till after midnight, I dress them in clean clothes, etc… Basically, I count as a good candidate to parent, thank you very much. If that’s what’s considered “mothering”,  I surely can’t be doing it all wrong! Right? 

This short-sighted vision of parenting, however, does not work very well with today’s definition of the term. To be a good parent you have to be a lot of things, not just a housemaid who slaves away in the kitchen cooking, baking and scrubbing floors, or a hermit who severs social ties to raise a family. 

I’m so tired of hearing stories about how moms did nothing but handwash fabric diapers or those obnoxious braggeries about how they potty trained all their children by 12 months in that golden era. You can forget about stating facts and relaying scientific data related to the physical readiness to potty train which most children exhibit by age 2. If you decide to wait it out against your elders’ recommendations, you’ll be looked down upon as the lazy mother who’s too busy texting and tweeting to notice the signs (because, obviously, children at age one SHOULD already by ready to tell you “verbally” that they need to go.) Trust me, your great aunt is more experienced than your pediatrician. 

I’m really tired of all the well-intended yet unwelcome tips and endless guilt trips the nice old ladies take you on with their remarks. Why can’t they just let this generation of mothers be whatever they choose to be? Whose expectations should we be living up to, theirs or our own? Yes, their days are definitely different, perhaps they did have better days back then. Times have changed, and this stressful lifestyle demands a change in approach to parenting, caregiving and house management. The comparisons make no sense when it comes to multitasking, for example. Mothers in the olden days didn’t have the same tasks, interests or passtimes. In defense of moms like myself, I believe we’re all doing an outstanding job surviving this wretched heartless world while teaching our children all the necessary lifeskills to ensure a safer, brighter future for generations to come. More educated conscious moms means higher awareness (and earlier intervention) to issues that require special attention, like learning difficulties, delays and impairments, or physical disabilities. 

They say we should respect our elders, but how about  a little appreciation from our elders as well? How about the respect we deserve for trying to fix a world our predecessors have left broken? We are certainly not the only generation of parents responsible for the moral degredation we witness today. Instead of constantly grieving over the past, we’d be far better off with a little more help and a little less meddling. It’s our time to make mistakes, just like they did, and our chance to learn the lessons they obviously didn’t learn: To live responsibly and teach responsibility, to raise well-rounded personalities not puppets we boss around at will. We don’t want our children to be us, we want them to be better. As a parent, I want to make sure I’ve left no stone unturned, no study unresearched, no effort unexhausted to see my children blossom. I want to bask in the satisfaction that I’ve done all that had to be done so my kids won’t be disappointed that I’ve been a neglectful parent. If that’s not enough for the generation of mothers before me, I might as well blame my inadequate parenting on every war that has plagued this country, wars that were caused by our elders’ unwise elections and re-elections of corrupt figures of state, rather than statesmen. At least we’re trying to change something instead of whining incessantly.
I will always pay much respect to every mother on this planet who would blindly give up anything to secure every child’s need, no matter what her age is or where she is from or how mean she can be to younger inexperienced mothers. We’ll always need to learn vicariously from parents who have longer years of experience in this domain, but we, too, can learn a thing or two on our own. That’s called life, and no one can live it for us no matter how knowledgeable they think they are. 

~ Zeina
Image credit: adweek.com

What Makes Me…Me

What makes me me?

Is it a bittersweet reality?

A present smeared with history?

The fragments of unresolved 

Crises of identity

Unfathomed emotions, unrealized dreams

A motherhood, as unideal as it seems

The passions reminiscing

Of a long-lost career

The interests, cravings, scribbles

I like to call poetry

That speak volumes about

strength that’s found in fragility

What makes me me?

When there’s nothing special

About my life’s monotony

I fill my papers with the inks

Of my agony

But my imagination dwindles

As the years fly by so rapidly

As the year closes, 

these thoughts consume me

What makes me me?

The uniqueness I bring to the ordinary?

The reflections upon sentimentality?

Things that still mean the world to me

Now overlooked as trivialities

What makes me me is simply

What makes you you

What makes humane a humanity 

8 Ways To Empower Women

March 8 – International Women’s Day

Since my senior college year, I’ve been keen on the issues of women and women empowerment. It doesn’t come as any surprise here. I believe all females, regardless of location, experience some form of discrimination or gender bias at any point during their lifetimes. I also believe that it is our duty as women to stand by one another and support our rights and causes. What did come as a  surprise shock to me, however, was learning that women can actually hate other women, which explains so many psychological problems, fears and anxieties women of all ages face today. It bothers me that some women are mean and unforgiving not just to others but to themselves as well.

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I thought about writing on women empowerment from a different perspective. Understanding the impact we women can have on other females, it only seems logical to address ourselves in trying to change this competitive (and often condescending) approach to our counterparts. Being a mother of a girl, an aunt, a daughter, a sister, sister-in-law, and a confidant to many girlfriends, I know there’s so much I can do to make other women feel worthy. Worthy of love,  worthy of appreciation, just worthy of being themselves in a world that wants them to be everything but.

So here are 8 ways I suggest to empower other women of all ages:

1- Raising an empowered little girl: teach your daughters, neices, or female students that there’s nothing they can’t do with determination and hardwork. There’s no such thing as a “game for boys” and “game for girls”. If they want to play with dinosaurs and legos, let them. If they enjoy construction toys more than pretend tea parties, so what? A girl who is allowed to pursue her interests will be a woman who does not fear following her dreams.

2- Watching the way you talk to females: Decorate your lips with compassionate words. Choose your words wisely, particularly with teenage girls and adolescents. Constructive criticism is necessary as long as it doesn’t employ emotional blackmail or harsh language.

3- Cheer on academic and professional efforts: encourage more progress by celebrating little and big milestones.

4- Be kind: especially in disagreements. If you’ve had a fight with your best friend, remember to remain kind. If you can’t see eye to eye with a sister, soften your words and perhaps you can get your message across eventually. When you understand that everyone’s journey is unique you’d be much more understanding and less judgmental.

5- Practice and encourage self-dependence: women in relationships tend to neglect an essential component for their well-being: self-dependence. Sure, it’s comforting to know you have a dependable partner in your life but keep in mind that overdependence may be viewed as a sign of weakness or lethargy. Unless you are physically or legally unable to perform a task, there’s great satisfaction in doing things yourself.

6- Rally for women: Show your dedication to female empowerment by organizing and being part of social, sports, or educational events that support rightful causes. The options are unlimited but make sure they are of value and meaning, avoiding overtly commercial campaigns that could harm the cause’s legitimacy.

7- Help the mamas: do you a have friend who’s just given birth? Does your best friend need some “me time” to get a decent haircut or a much-needed mani-pedi? It would be nice for a mom to know she has a caring friend who would come to her rescue when needed. If you’re good with children, you could offer to babysit her kids while she runs some errands which can’t do otherwise. You may also do those errands yourself if you find it entertaining noisy toddlers a challenge!

8- But first…be a woman: it goes without saying that giving is what we women do best. It’s in our nature to want to take care of everything and everyone. Thus, it’s intrinsic to put everyone else’s needs ahead of our own. Just like you’d never forget to fill up your gas tank before your long road trip, you can’t forget to take good care of yourself while you care for others. Mothers, I’m looking at you. That me-time is not going to find itself. Feed your soul, nourish your body and love with all your heart. Be the woman you were created to be and love that woman along the way. Be a woman of value in the lives of those you love.

Is there anything you’d like to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Women’s Day dear ladies of the world. Keep shining ☀️

~Zeina

 

5 Things I Miss About Our Pre-motherhood Friendship

Before I start this list and get bashed for being an ungrateful mom, I’d like to make it clear that having children was the greatest blessing of my life. As we all know, parenthood turns your world upside down. It totally transforms you as a human being, some days elevating you, others breaking you down. Parenthood is both honorable and humbling, purposeful and perplexing, practical yet magical. I am a blessed mom. That said, I can’t help but complain about my relationship with people as a mother which is now much more different.
My friendships have tremendously evolved since I earned my first-time-mom title, some flourishing, others falling apart. A few days ago, a friend reached out to me asking whether it was justifiable to feel like you’re going through a form of midlife crisis in your early thirties knowing that you haven’t made many accomplishments in your career life. Of course, I could perfectly understand where she was coming from. Any stay-at-home mom would understand the dilemma of wanting to be there for your kids at all times and having a successful career as well. I reassured my troubled friend with these very simple words “our kids are our accomplishments” and urged her to dedicate some free time just for herself. What a typical advice we moms give one another, eh? Sounds very helpful but motherhood and extra time don’t go together, obviously! Hypothetically speaking, if we moms did have that time on our hands, we’d be too busy looking for things to do in that spare time than actually doing them. So I’m really sorry, my friend, if there was nothing I could to help but give a clichéd consolation.
My inadequacy as a friend has inspired me to write this somewhat concise list of all those things I miss about our friendship that no longer seem possible.
1- Talking for hours on the phone: yes, you knew this would be first on my list. I hate that we get interrupted by kids screaming their heads off, or being forced to hang up to stop a toddler from sticking a pencil into an electric socket. Then we have to call each other after a few minutes…or days…or even months. But somehow we always manage to pick up our conversation from that moment. Strange!
2- Remembering the good ole’ times: when was the last time we talked about the times we were young and crazy? We were crazy, admit it. Yes, I know we are moms now, but we had a LIFE before kids! Can we please talk about how great it was? Just to remind ourselves that we had far wilder dreams than having a baby who sleeps through the night or kids who play quietly for hours in their rooms?!
3- Going shopping together: oh I miss those Friday evenings we used to go shopping (or just window shopping) after work. I wish we could do that some time, pick outfits for each other that reflect our impeccable taste rather than cleverly hide our mommy tummies! It would be great if we could skip children clothes stores on this much desired shopping spree for a change. Worth a shot!
4- Talking about our aspirations: It is not selfish to have dreams of our own. It is ok to have a goal that does not include our spouses and children. I think of my family as an inspiration, because they inspire many of my writings and upcoming projects. Maybe if we encourage one another to follow a long-lost dream, we can find purpose in what we do, especially in those days when things get out of control.
5- Not feeling jealous of our single friends’ freedom: though jealousy may be an overstatement, but truth be said, we have felt a bit green with envy when our single friends say they had a girls’ night out at some popular restaurant. Not that we can’t do a mommy’s night out some time, but I think we haven’t done that yet because arranging for babysitters or leaving the kids at their grandparents’ for the night isn’t always a convenience to some of us. Besides, what else would we talk about but the kids? Which brings us to number 6…
6- Having exciting conversations about non-kid-related topics: Pretty self-explanatory, I guess. It’s very tempting to discuss our kids’ likes and dislikes. It’s hard not to talk about the way they drive us insane each day. I know, I know. But let’s just try to talk about our own likes and dislikes every once in a while, just like back in the days.
As a conclusion to this rather short list, I must confess that having post-motherhood friendships, whether old or new, is an enriching and powerful experience. Not only do I have a friend to confide in, but a new member on my motherhood alliance, so to speak. We all know how closely moms can get together in the face of threats, don’t we? Though I miss a friend’s spontaneous spirit, I definitely admire her courageous, mature and nurturing side. That is only the start of a perfect life-long friendship.

Into the Sunrise

We all have always stories

We don’t tell

We all have feelings we don’t share

There are parts of us

That don’t show so well

But this secrecy is the cross we bare

All our lives we’re taught

To stay away from fights

We’re warned to escape

The very first ray of light

But we’re lured to the sun

Like a moth to a flame

And there’s really no use

To turn the other way

Or surrender to shame

All my life I knew

I had something to give

Every word I write is

A reason to live

And though some parts of my soul

Still don’t clearly show

They’re bound to shine through

That’s what I surely know

Oneday I’ll stand in the sun

And let its rays surround me

And finally embrace

The happiness that just found me

I’ll walk right through the walls

And break through the dark

Like some Supernatural being

That’s the faith inside my heart

Your Shoes Don’t Fit Me

Your shoes don’t fit me

And I don’t think they will someday

Please don’t try to fix me

Because I think I’m doing okay

If I do things differently

If I choose not to have it your way

Just allow me to make those inevitable mistakes

Without being reminded of the price I had to pay

Or worrying about all the people I had disappointed

What kind of a life is this?

Look at all the chances I’d missed

Trying to please people who never really cared

And always ending up lost in regret

Now I look at the mirror and see a person trying

No longer fettered by perfection, pretending, lying

I’m absent-minded, emotional,

So don’t mind the crying

Don’t tell me it’s not ok to feel

Helpless, clueless, I’m human

I’m tired of dragging this torn cape

I could never fly, I’m no Superwoman

What I could do however

Is meet up to my own expectations

Set goals regardless of my limitations

Constant challenges fueled my imagination

You see, your doubts have been my motivation

Everytime you said I can’t

I pushed harder till my bones bent

Lifted my spirit up with my own hands

But I still think you won’t understand

If that’s love then I will respect

I’ll assume you meant to protect

But the worst hasn’t happened yet

And one day when you recollect

All the memories that we had

You’ll find that I’ve always been perfect

Just the way I am