Vital this Mothers Day


What a mothersday weekend we’ve had!  It was our wedding anniversary, maybe not commemorated lavishly, but no less celebrated.  There were multiple mothers day performances and events.

There were the Peruvian folk dances yesterday, performed by the most delightful preschool dancers in front of a crowd of proud mommies, daddies and assorted family.  There was plenty to enjoy even if you weren’t a proud parent – from the matador who almost stepped on his cloak several times, to the young bull obsessed with his horns, to the amplified spontaneous comments of a preschooler who certainly did not understand the magic of the microphones in front of him.

Next, a toddler baker, in an apron and chef’s toque, made cookies with mommy, while teachers and helpers brought juice, posed for pictures, and cleaned up spills effortlessly. Each mommy was presented with a handmade (by the teacher I’m sure) gift.

365-2592Tonight: “Daddy, daddy, you have to make fire! “

And just like that, my chicken and eggplant menu plan turned into chicken kabobs, and mothers day wrapped up with impromptu “camping” with food cooked over a fire. Their little tent was set up outside, and they carefully supervised as daddy cooked chicken on a stick. They were very disappointed that we could not eat in the tiny tent, but happily munched on camp food cooked over the fire even here at the kitchen table.

Maybe some moms would have been disappointed without cards and gifts and lavish meals out, or even less lavish meals prepared by someone else at home.

But for me, this day again proved why I said “I do” to this guy eleven years ago.  Instead of insisting that he needs to finish the office setup he was deeply involved in completing, he dropped everything because a little boy wanted to camp. “Make fire Daddy!” And he did. Dinner was made; hearts were warmed.   And that is what’s vital this mothers’ day.



I’m unpacking boxes.

Here’s the frequent buyer card from my favorite coffee shop on Road 9. Here’s a phone number for a parent at my son’s school, scribbled on a piece of giftwrap from the birthday party we attended the afternoon before the evacuation.

Every box is an Egyptian artifact, an archeological clue to a life left behind in a rush. Here are needles and thread in a box filled with toys from my boys’ playroom where I sat down to fix the shirt he wanted to wear to the birthday party. Here’s the note on what I wanted to write in a friend’s going away message. Here’s a box filled with random make-up and perfume – all still open and messy – from getting ready for the party we were at when the call came to leave.

It’s not the archeology of Egypt – tombs and paintings, the book of the dead, all carefully prepared. It is the archeology of Pompeii. Caught in the act of living.

Here are the kids’ school bags, labeled with their names in elegant Arabic script. These bags, and their school shoes, were picked up by our nanny after we left. I asked for their portfolios – those have not shown. There is no proof of the year my children spent in the most amazing Montessori school, playing with friends from the UK, Australia, the Netherlands, and Egypt. Speaking words from three languages – all jumbled together.

Here’s my desk – my calendar filled with play date plans, the menu for a coffee morning, ideas for a ladies wine night, suggestions for the next book club book. Business cards with a phone number long forgotten. Resumes and job applications, acceptance letters for a job never started.

The chronology of that last day in Cairo is simple:

  • 5 AM The boys are in the playroom, and I get the cheerios.
  • 9 AM. Brunch at the American club – awful food, great friends, and bacon.
  • 11 AM Boys in the pool, adults talk about the protests, and home leave for summer.
  • Noon. We walk home, the kids nap. I walk to road 9 to get pictures printed. I take it to my friend S’ house to get included in friend A’s farewell book. S, one of the most beautiful women I have ever known, was harassed again. We’re angry, but shrug our shoulders. It happens too often.
  • 2 PM. We get an email about a possible voluntary evacuation. If there was a voluntary evacuation, would we go? We must respond by 4PM.
  • 3 PM. We head to a birthday party for embassy friends’ daughter. The kids are at home: they know the place; they know each other. Hushed conversation for the adults: What about the dog? Are you going?
  • 8 PM We head to A’s farewell party. My husband is off in a corner of the garden on his blackberry. I’m with my tribe – these women I have come to love like family. I drink too much white wine and dance like a lunatic, watching him from the corner of my eye the whole time.
  • Midnight. The call comes – we’ll be picked up in two hours to evacuate for 10 days. Do you want to stay in Frankfurt or go to the States?. I start saying cryptic goodbyes. Should we leave, people ask. We are instructed not to get anyone panicked. How do you answer when you don’t know?
  • 1:45 AM I’m packed (one bag only) and wake the boys. We are going to grandma’s house, I whisper to them as I get them dressed.
  • 2 AM We are picked up in convoy.
  • 5 AM We are at the airport. I say goodbye to my husband.

The last picture of have of my son in Cairo is this:

It is dusk, and the picture is blurry. My guy is dressed as a pirate – white linen shirt, ragged shorts, a red sash around his waist. His hat is missing. He is dancing with or hugging his little friend Runi. We should leave to get ready for the next party, but we don’t. My son is happy here, and we don’t know what’s next.

Right Now

Right now I’m

… happy to announce our household goods (HHE) have arrived.  For those who were keeping track, we were without our things for 10 months, the Cairo apartment was packed in September, finally shipped in January, and got to us here in Lima the last week in April.

…still sweating from my morning run to drop the boys at school.  Did I mention my beloved BOB stroller was in our household shipment?  Maybe you’ve heard me speak of it… once or twice… a minute… for ten months?  We are reunited.  And it does feel so good.

… washing dishes and laundry, constantly.  Everything coming out of the boxes is dusty, musty, and gross.

…listening to a Power of Moms podcast marathon – it makes everything go easier.

…packing box after box for the yard sale we’ll be participating in later this season

…not yet ready to put the baby things in that pile.

… tripping over the Thomas trains the boys have been playing with non stop since it same out of the boxes.

… thinking that it was a shame (and expensive) to ship boxes and boxes of expired groceries (mostly canned food) and medicine all the way here.  I went on a huge shopping trip just days before evacuation – we were told to stock up since it may not be safe to go grocery shopping, power may be out, etc.  Little did we know.

… planning where all the art will hang.  It will finally be our home.

… smelling bread baking – my first home made bread in over a year.  It is good to be home.

…inviting you to come visit, friends!