Happy birthday!

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Spring is a busy month for our family with six of my nine children having been born in those few months. My father also has a spring birthday and this year he celebrated his 84th! We don’t generally exchange gifts any more but instead spend extra time together.

IMG_6724.JPGOn Saturday we woke up early and made our way to Spokane, my hometown. Osama had steak marinating and had the meal planned out. We stopped to see our little guys at their first soccer practice and then went to Osama and Jacki’s house. Fattima and B picked up the cake I had ordered at our favorite place and arrived shortly after we had settled in.IMG_6746.JPGEveryone pitched in to help get things cooking and then Mom and Dad arrived.

The meal consisted of perfectly prepared Flank steak, three choices of smashed potatoes and two salads. It was an amazing dinner!

We stayed a few hours and then drove back to our little town on the Palouse. Dad was happy to have most of his grandkids and great grandkids celebrating with him and we have come to realize this is the best gift we can give!

Happy Birthday Dad!

 

True life story- Balance due

Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia 2009

A thin veil of fog still drifted past my thinking and functioning brain, protecting me from everyday events that were no longer fathomable. I bit my lap and scratched my chin holding back a flood of tears that would inevitably turn to sobbing. Choking and gasping breaths had been quieted and normal respiratory functions returned. A single tear dripped down my face landing awkwardly just beneath my nose.  I could not let the barrier down, the one that held back uncontrollable desperation. It did no good to cry and fueled a rage that had now become unyielding. I wiped my face and pulled my clothes together in a tidy fashion, spitting on a tattered sleeve, pausing before I opened the door and silently drifted away.

Idaho 2015

A solid and unwavering resolve that had been steadfast until his advances had become aggressive and unrelenting now teetered.  It had been 10 days since his arrival and simple kindness interspersed with cold and calculating manipulation was somehow noticeable as I watched his eyes. I had never seen this thinly shrouded phenomena that reeled me in and then knocked me down repeatedly until now. I smiled and laughed nervously, keeping him at arm’s length while still offering a measure of appeasement. He edged nearer, placing his hands just over my shoulders and onto the wall, his body pressing closer with each movement. A part of me wanted to give in and surrender to a sick and familiar reality that kept the relative peace for days, hours or possibly only minutes. He spoke quietly and reminded me that I was the mother of his nine children, the key to all that he held dear in this earthly existence. I scratched my chin and cheek inching closer to the bathroom door, almost forgetting the previous violent encounters in Al-Khobar and Riyadh.

I knew that submission would once again fuel the never ending cycle and would also mean a short lived peace. The choice had never been mine to make and had always hinged solely on survival. But in the present I felt a surging power and with it the reality of his words that left an indelible mark, “Lynn, you are only good for one thing“.  I entered the bathroom and slammed the door,  knowing full well a price of some kind would be held in the balance.

 

 

 

 

Intervention

                           The top picture is me and a couple of my walking buddies

My father’s words touched a chord within me and while I knew he meant well, a familiar irritation welled up and could not be ignored. It was easier to just go along, not make waves and hope to avoid unnecessary altercations. Guilt and shame hid just beneath the surface and masked my frustration at any intervention that might cause a possible eruption. A look of disapproval crossed my face, the standard one that assured him I was steadfastly behind him in every way. The same commands were repeated again and he knew that they were in fact a warning not a mere request. Although the money was a gift he wanted to see a new stroller, vacuum and other items for the children before they returned to the United States. He handed him a check for $5,000 and shook his hand.

A daily walk with compound friends had become a new ritual and helped to shed the pounds that had stacked on through seven pregnancies. Ladies clad in sports bras, shorts and tshirts all took to the loop and made their way past homes, security gate and mini mart. People had come to know me well and most looked past a long black abaya and scarf that was held together by a yellow ducky diaper pin.  At first they invited me and then insisted that I join them.

The stroller I had purchased before leaving the United States was now barely operable and teetered back and forth on what remained of wheels that kept it in an upright position. I laughed and pushed, talking and joking ignoring the scratch and scrape when hands gave out and I was unable to support the weight of two toddlers. I hopped and danced moving forward hoping no one noticed these peculiarities that presented themselves during each and every walk.

A single pair of black canvas shoes were now worn beyond repair and had been purchased five years early before leaving for Saudi.  The souls of my feet touched the pavement giving way to burning heat that created a strange and awkward gait. Mom and Dad sat on the porch reading the paper and sipping coffee, watching me make my way past, looking torn.

He pounded his fist three times gaining force and momentum with every blow.  A single vein protruded from his forehead and intersected with a childhood scar. The table wobbled and creaked signaling anxiety and humiliation. His eyes were no longer dark and brown but almost seemed a shade of black. He stammered to release words that would increase in volume with each repetition. His thick accent that had once been charming was now menacing and almost toxic in nature. The message was clear, He would not have any garbage people tell him where to spend his money and now as always it would be my job to walk the tightrope of abuse.

 

Weekend before Easter

This weekend we spent a quiet couple of days after being with the sweetie pies on Friday. On Sunday I cooked and took a few walks and worked on scheduling. But last weekend it was right after my birthday and the kids came to stay. I really love routine and make lists on top of lists to check off my monthly, daily and weekly tasks. However, when the kids come to visit it is just plain fun and my planning takes on a beautiful come what may status.

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First I ready the house; baby proof, spot clean, prepare the guest room. Then it is time for groceries, special snacks for the boys and a menu for the big people. The toys are taken out of storage and lined up on the back wall downstairs. Last minute details are attended to and then I wait, thinking of the fun that will unfold!

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Our routine is the same, Friday they arrive and I have prepared a meal. The boys are unsure for a few minutes but then start pointing to downstairs where they know they will find toys, aunts and uncles.  They play until they are tired and fight going to bed that first night.

The next morning I am on call waiting for the kids to wake up. I quietly walk in the room and grab the boys when I hear them stir and it is back downstairs. They settle in my lap on the recliner, grab blankets and chatter away. Eventually they shift to the couch where they switch channels and argue over the remote (so much like adults). It is then time for princess to wake up, we grab her and get a bottle started.

Frustration gets the best of the boys and they head to the tiny room at the bottom of the stairs calling Heme. Then it is on to the Aunties door where they pound and try to turn the doorknob. Uncle Hehe or Auntie Deeja wake up and I head upstairs to make a coffee and bring crackers for each boy. Alayna sits watching quietly but her eyes follow every movement!

This visit was different, we had an egg hunt. Fattima took charge and bought plastic eggs, filled them and hid them. The boys were not quite sure what this was all about but they found eggs, toys and candy! Needless to say Fattima was pretty excited and it went well.

My objectives are clear for these visits:

  • Enjoy the time we get to spend together
  • Let mom and dad  sleep in and have a tiny break
  • Hold as many babies as possible, get hugs, play with toys and soak in the sheer chaos that surrounds us with love.
  • Say goodbye and wait for another magical visit

Days when I feel anxious or down I remind myself or someone else reminds me haha, that I am living my dream. I sat in Saudi never imagining there could be a future like this one!

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