On Motherhood & Sanity

Thursday, December 18, 2014

soul carrying rivers- photo post

This was hands down the most intense experience of my visit to Nepal. I don't think I had a right to be there and it felt wrong to be a witness of something that in our culture is  considered so private, but, still an incipient tourism industry, you can pay a small fee to access the temple where the bodies of the dead are traditionally and ceremonially  burned before their ashes are thrust to the river, whose job is to secure their soul's journey. I have always felt that this is the most beautiful (albeit not the most ecological) way to dispose of our dead.  I'll post more photos as I have time to process them -and my own thoughts on the visit. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I can't breath

I’ve worked hard for 10 days straight and finally get a day off. I’ve flown for over 24 hours and driven on  a beat up jeep for miles on end. I am beat and getting what is probably the best massage of my life. Earned and deserved. And then my mind wonders over to yesterday and puts things painfully into perspective.

I’ve worked in the development sector for over 14 years now, but until yesterday I never had a “beneficiary” cry during an interview. And it wasn’t even one, it was the whole lot. The translator turned over to me and said “they are all crying now” as if it wasn’t painfully evident.  As if that needed translation. I wanted to get up and hug her, but the table, the chairs, the computer, everything was in the way, and then the moment passed.

I’ve met women who’ve survived war, sexual abuse, domestic violence….  But my questions always revolve around “the project”. Yesterday I just asked about the old days, what was it like to be a woman. They recounted how the women looked after the house, the children, the agriculture and livestock, as well as cleaning and all other tasks.

“and the men?” I asked

“their job was to sleep and to order the woman around.”

The women could not leave the house nor look a man in the eye.  (This puts into context what a female politician said a few days back about how now a days women gave good speeches  with eye contact). She continued to tell me how the mother in law would cook tasty food for the husband, the children, for her, but not for the wife. The wife could only eat what was left over from the husband’s plate. “We are sold onto marriage”  was another woman’s response when I asked why she stopped studying when she got married “doing something for yourself is unthinkable”.

And the woman who broke down in tears, her story, she had served her husband tea and asked if she could have some. In response to such an outrageous demand he had proceeded to kick and beat her.

And here I am, getting a massage. It stings. It stings more when I think how back home women continue to bare an unequal share of the household work and the childcare, even if they are working full time. How women are paid  70cents to a man’s dollar. So far ahead and still behind. How everyone –myself included- keeps telling my daughter she should be softer and sweeter.  And I can’t help but wonder if we would hold a boy to the same standard. Then my mind drifts to the protests on the TV and truly, I can’t breath. The world seems rife with systemic injustice and it is too much to bear. For the first time I think maybe I should stop my work and go into politics. Fight for women’s rights in “my world” instead of hiding behind other’s struggles. Part of me feels like I owe it to them. Another part  is glad I am here because they received the news of our visit through the women’s group, and the men did not believe them. They did not believe important things could be transmitted through women. “even yesterday they did not believe them” says the translator. But we came. “They feel like today they won”. At least there’s that.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

October family self portrait, Monster mash

Ice-glazed eyes - kills then flies
knife through the head - shoulda been dead
blade-sharp grills - ice-cold chills
ghastly little ghost - sucks the marrow from his host.
Halloween is serious - ghoulish delirious hides something mysterious. 

The family self portrait  project started in January 2011. 
I take one portrait of the whole family, myself included, once a month.  
The poem is a 2013 addition by a "ghost" writer

Every family should do this. 

In late 2013 a "ghost" writer joined the initiative and now each photo is accompanied by a poem.

To see previous months click on the links below:


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

on stories

Bright lights, big cities. like spiders webs knit of stone and metal. they hide the stories of the lost souls that wonder like ghouls, crossing each other's paths unseen.

sometimes amongst the crowds we remember. we are all here. we are all individuals. every single one of those windows contains a full story. An entire lifetime of memories, of hurt, of love, of passion,  loss,  fear, struggle and rebirth.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

So sad

We were in a little limbo we call up state New York. Only half hour away yet a completely different world. A cocoons of sorts that doesn’t smell, look or feel like New York, and as such provides a cleansing effect on the senses. We were sleeping at a friends house and had stayed up too late catching up on life’s little happenings over one too many bottles of wine. I was woken up by their youngest who, in a sweet, soft, quiet voice was  saying “it’s so sad. So, so, so, so sad”

At the time my main concern was that one of mine might have caused  the sadness. So I dutifully got up to take part in the matter. I never got to find out what had happened nor who was responsible. Yet these days I often find myself hearing his soft spoken words in my head: “It’s sad. So, so sad”. There was something about the quietness and softness in which he said it that was able to really communicate the full emotion of the statement. There was a certain amount of defeat and acceptance that made it even sadder. If it were a photograph, I would use it to show others what “sad” feels like. But it was a sound, so I struggle to define it.

Often these days, dealing with the heart ache of the meangirl infestation, I find myself muttering those same words, softly and quietly inside my head. Because nothing can better describe the feeling that not being able to protect my daughter instils in me. Not being able to lift her burdens. Smack her oppressors. Come flying in and saving her from the pain.  It just makes me sad. So, so sad.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

on mortality

And here it is. In its full beauty, every parent's greatest fear: their kid's mortality, their fragility exposed.

Just so we are clear, this is a scan for her braces, but also a rather beautiful -yet haunting- image.   I can't help thinking that you see what you shouldn't see (or what you hope never to have a reason to have to see).