The roles we play: our true occupation

I am constantly amazed at the roles we, as individuals seem to play; both with our interaction with loved ones as well as our interactions in society. I am constantly baffled at how we end up with these ‘titles’/duties and cannot help but wonder if these roles only further reinforce our emotional roles within our family structures.

Take for example my role in my own relationship with my mum: I am the organiser, the fixer, the translator, the form filler, the corrector, the conflict resolution person, the calmer the list goes on but let’s let it t that… More and more, as my life evolves I start to realise that this role whilst in its entirety is with my mum; so many of these traits play key features in my other relationships.

In my household for example: My husband is the ‘worrier’ whilst I am the one who highlights the ease to his worry. I am the bill organiser, the planner, the contract reader. During moments of emotional upheaval I am the one who moves forward; plans, organises, calls; the shoulder to cry on; the person who bends over and picks up all their pieces and mends it/them all back together as I quietly stand beside them. I am the rock; the soft and quiet steady calm.

Today my cousin called from Doha to tell me that my uncle had passed away. He asks me to tell my mum – to make sure she is ok and gives me the necessary details: when he passed, when and where he is being buried today and why he had passed.

And then I notice how we move all that aside and talk of what needs to be organised: will my mum be heading off overseas? Will he be arranging for his mum (my mum’s now only remaining living sibling) to head over? That he is planning to organise things regarding my uncle’s kids (4 boys; 3 of which are still are very young) and his wife. We sit here in our respective countries and discuss what are the better options for a family that live in another country and I cannot help but see that this is the role my cousin and I play. Him being a man and older and more religious – he organises things; puts all the necessary things in place – arranges it all. And me being the understanding one to things in our family; I listen to his views and can actually give him input and options rather than bombard him with questions and worry.

We are the problem solvers; the calm.

I get off that call and call my mum. Explain to her the news; give her the details. Tell her again what my cousin told me. Explain the situation to her again and ask her that whatever she wants to do is up to her and that I would help arrange it. I am the calm. I listen to her barrage of fears, questions; her crying.
And I sit there silent and stoic – and I almost hate the fact that this is the way I have someone become programmed.

I go back to my desk (at work) and seemingly get back to work awash with sadness at the loss of my uncle and at the further cemented roles that my cousin and I play.

There are no tears.

There never are. They will come during a moment alone; a moment completely separate from this one where it will (probably) seem as though I am upset/crying over something else. I don’t know how else to be. This is just who I am.

Who I’ve always been.

Advertisements

How are YOU?

Do you know can be incredibly frustrating about my relationship with my mother? Is that is completely almost totally one-sided! I mean do NOT for a second think that I am ungrateful for everything she has done, sacrificed and achieved in raising me. Don’t for one millisecond think that I don’t sit here in awe of the fact that from the age of eight she raised me as a single parent without any emotional or monetary help from my dad at all.

BUT it seems that the moment I started earning an income I suddenly started morphing into something else. Sure, I was always the one mum spoke to about her problems, finances and don’t even get me started on the abundance of ‘emotional scarring’ my father left on my mother where I all too vividly remember mum crying in her bedroom then scooping me up so I could sleep with her in her bed. But even then if I (as a child) wanted to cry about my own sadness my mum always told me that seeing me cry hurt her too much – me crying would make her cry so that then i’d have to make her feel ok and happy, so in most cases I’d “sort myself” out by just crying by myself in the dead of night in my room.

When I graduated university and got that full-time job I changed yet again; I became the provider, the husband, the listener, the maintainer, the fixer, the translator, the plumber, the driver… BUT I still had a curfew and I STILL had to listen and obey her every instruction. But I did it; I sucked it up and did it – because she raised me, because she did it on her own, because I think she managed to do a bloody good job of it, because I DO love her, because she is my mother.

And now I’m married and have a baby – and whilst I am now not entirely playing the role of “financier” ( though that is NOT for lack of her trying) I am still the translator, the driver and the person to has to calm her down when things seem too much (which is often, as she is a highly anxious person). What frustrates me MOST of all is she never, ever asks how I am.

Never.

Even when she calls me and its obvious I am sick; she’ll say in an accusing tone “you sound sick – why aren’t you taking medicine?” HOW do you answer this? With a deep breath and “yeah, I have a cold, I am taking some medicine – thanks”. I mean really – what else can I say?

But don’t get me wrong – she LOVES our little girl; she looks after lil missy every Monday and I can tell she loves it. And when she calls me she DOES sometimes ask about Amira towards the middle/end of the conversation… she’ll even ask about hubby as well (I know right, how the times have changed!) and how she feels she hasn’t seen him in ages.

But not me – and not about what I’m doing or got planned for the day, or if her call is disturbing me from work etc. No, instead my mum jumps strainght into her conversation and wat is frustrating her at this VERY MILLISECOND and that I, as her daughter, her one and only child – the one she raised all by herself MUST stop whatever I am doing and listen, help and fix her issue… even if it is the EXACT same situation she has already told me of 4 times before in the last other 4 converstations (of which I may have provided a solution but that it does not meet her requirements.

Take for example my converstion with her but minutes ago – as soon as I picked up and said salam she was straight into it “remember how I went to the chemist yesterday? Well they didn’t have the medication for my prescription – so I went to another one today and they said only the chemist in Applecross has this – WHAT will I do? I MUST have this medication NOW! Plus I have the problem with the neighbour still! There are 5 cars parked in front of their and my house – it makes it very difficult for me to reverse out – I have a new car, I could have an ACCIDENT! WHAT should I DO? Maybe I call police and they talk to them? They don’t understand – you can’t JUST park in FRONT someone house like that!” do you notice how there are no full stops? Because my mum doesn’t use them – I feel the need to tell you that at this exact moment; whilst I’m on the phone to my mum that my lil missy is screaming her lungs out as I was trying to get her down for her afternoon nap and that I KNOW my mum would’ve been able to hear – but she doesn’t even ask what’s going on… why? Because SHE has an issue and I MUST listen and fix it…

And I’m totally stuck – I completely caught up in her “you have to help me because I am your mother and I do everything for you” only its not that she does everything for me – it’s that once upon a time I was a child and THEN she DID do everything for me. And tr as I may to desperately make her understand that in fact, for the last DECADE or so I HAVE been the one to do everything and that the moment I worked out my mum held over my head the fact she’d done it ‘all for me’ as a single parent (so that I “owed” her) I quickly smartened up and thought that I would rather go without than ask for help as I did not want my ‘list’ of ‘debt’ to get any greater.

What frustrates me and upsets me most of all is that there is no possible resolution in this situation because try as I have to explain things it either falls on deaf ears or she changes the subject or will throw the trump card: “I gave birth to you.” I can’t argue with that… so I stay silent and realise its easier to just go along with her.

But it hurts me.

Then she asks why she looks after missy once a week and my mother in law has her for 2 days (it’s really 1.5 days) – where do I go with that? That I don’t get a bigger a debt with you? That I hate asking you for anything as it is now? That it’s easier with my in laws because they have a stroller/car seat/toys and cot at their house that they’ve set up whereas at my mum she expects/asks/insist that I MUST purchase and leave all these things at her place because she has ‘no money’.

Don’t for one second underestimate my mum – she may seem like she ‘has no money’ and by no means is she ‘rolling in it’ but she is VERY smart with her money! We go out, she’ll suggest we go for lunch and ask me to pick a place that I know she’ll like (see; the way she makes it seem like I’m picking out the place?). Once we get to said place she’ll see what she wants and tell me what I should order for her then sits down… we go to her doctor’s appointment and she wants us to park close to hospital =but she never offers to pay for anything=, she wants to go away and visit family overseas and she’ll tell me how much the ticket is and then say “I’ll get the travel agent to call you and tell you ‘details’” (details = price); even on my birthday when she gets me a ‘gift’ it’s something I KNOW she’s already had at home. But she’ll say she has no money… and then proceeds to buy herself a band NEW car… only AFTER telling me that her friends daughter =allegedly= bought their mother a new car and asked her (the friend) that my mother should ask her daughter (me) to buy her a car. And even with this new car she doesn’t come to visit me on grounds of “it’s too far” because to my mum ANY place that is MORE than a 7 – 10 minutes’ drive away is WAY too far away (FYI: my house 15minutes drive from her place; the same distance it is from my in laws place!)

Don’t get me wrong, I am not resentful about the money; money comes and goes and she IS my mum and she HAS raised me all on her own. More than anything I am upset by the “cumulative-ness” of it all. Of all the expectation without warmth, with the total one-way street with no hesitation, with the fact that I seem to be a call centre officer to her so that all I am is the ‘fixer up-er”.

I am just so very emotionally tired and hurt by it all… but have to silently, stoically keep going and pretend that I am ok with ‘this’…

But she still doesn’t ask: “How are you?”

WHERE did my fitness go?

After a long hiatus called child bearing+birthing+rearing I have bitten the bullet and re-joined the gym. It has been something that I have been SERIOUSLLY ‘umm-ing’ and mulling over for the last 6 months! Yep – I know that sounds like a LONG time to make a decision but really I could not justify the payments. I mean, I AM earning less these days (as I am not at work fulltime at the moment) and after we pay for all the necessities + baby needs and a few little bits and pieces for myself (nowhere near as many “bits & pieces” I used to get myself) I just DON’T have the heart to ask hubby to pay for gym membership too. So alas my fitness came a close second to new clothes and I elected to not join… until now.

After MUCH thought I decided that I really, really AM not liking my body the way it is since I had lil missy. Don’t get me wrong – I know that I am really fortunate and am grateful that whilst my body has changed, I haven’t put on that much weight but I literally HATE my midsection – I DISPISE how ‘thick’ I feel I am in the tummy region. I know that I am my own worst critic – hubby is often telling me to not be so hard on myself; that I look great (bless him) and that I need to realise that I am going to look different as I have had a baby but I can’t help it. I think its worse because I was little pre-pregnancy so that now when I see how things have changed I seriously beat myself up about it.

But anyway – here we are; baby almost a year old and I have finally joined a gym near my place. Don’t get me wrong; I really liked Fernwood (my old gym) fitness, but I needed to go to a gym that was:
A) Closer to home
B) Cheaper
C) Cheaper
So I joined Bailey’s Fitness; So far they seem ok – I needed something that had classes as whilst I don’t mind jumping on a treadmill/bike/other equipment, I really do enjoy going to classes….

Usually…

I went to my first ‘not-really-my-first’ Zumba class on Saturday morning. I left hubby with a sleeping baby and instructions for when she wakes up.
Oh
MY
GOODNESS!

WHERE, WHERE did my fitness go? WHERE?

I’d been doing quite a few (read: A LOT!) pelvic floor exercises post baby and had been pretty happy with the results until I realised by the end of the warm up ‘jumpathon’ that I was about ready to wet myself! Thankfully all went ok in that area by the end of the class, however after the hour I was beginning to think an angina was imminent. Let’s not even get me started on how unco-ordinated I was through the whole class! It’s as though lil missy took all my rhythm – VERY sad! Especially when I think about how much rhythm and co-ordination I usually have! i used to be able to dance the night away; do a Zumba class AND then head over and do 45 minutes worth of cardio. Really, if i wasn’t at the back of the class wheezing in agony i would have cried! I am hoping that this ‘issue’ is short term and that once I get through a couple classes I’ll get my groove back and not look so tragic!

One can only hope…

In the meantime I woke up Sunday with sore hamstrings and very tender arms! AND I have a personal training session tomorrow (Wednesday) morning – EEEKK! If I thought I was nervous for Zumba I am even more nervous for this PT session as there will seriously be no place to hide!

Wish me luck people….

This time last year…

I CANNOT believe it is ALREADY October! October people… Where did the last year go? At the end of the month my lil cherub will be a year old… 1 YEAR OLD! It is maddeningly clichéd & scary how quickly time flies. It was this time last year I was having my last day at work and was nervous/hesitant/excited for the arrival of our little girl.

I remember the last 4 weeks of my pregnancy; I wasn’t that woman exclaiming “I’ve had ENOUGH, get this baby outta me!” but rather I think in the last 6 weeks I discovered that I LOVED being pregnant and having this human inside of me moving, playing, responding to my touch. I had so many melancholy moments where I wished I could keep her attached to me for ever… it was only really in the last week where I really felt huge, where going from a sitting position to standing required effort and I had to ‘hold’ the bottom of my belly if I stood up for too long.

I look at Amira now and I am amazed how fast she’s growing and am so hopeful for her and our lives together as a family. At the back of my mind there are so many fears that I have – will she realise how much I love her? Please let her be God-fearing, kind and good to her parents… will she realise the importance of education and constantly strive to better herself?

She’s 11 months now and I can already see little bits of personality shine through; how (for the most part) she is a pretty ‘cruisey’ child – she’s not fazed by much and is quite relaxed about most things; she’s not easily agitated and has always been placid. She’s an observer; when we get together for mothers group I notice how the other little girls are far more ‘rough and tumble’ – they attack toys and jump straight into ‘giving things a go’. Amira will watch them, observe then then decide from there. She’ll hold a toy and REALLY look at it; pass it from one hand to the other and then play with it. She seems to be a quiet, persistent achiever – I’ve noticed this on more than one occasion but it was never more evident than when she learned how to stand herself up against the sofa. She’s a happy baby but doesn’t laugh at everything – she makes you work for her laughter which I find so enduring.

Even as I type all that I can see her so clearly in my mind’s eye; as though I am in my living room and am watching her play with her toy Dora kitchen (and not sitting in my TV room while she’s sleeping for the night), I get all teary just thinking about how much I love her (I know, SO LAME!).

 

Not quite feeling myself this week…

I haven’t written in awhile – it’s not really that there’s not much been much happening but rather that the stuff that has been happening I think you would all find boring; its all wedding party stuff really:

Trying to source a wedding cake: My hot tip is to not do too many bookings on the one day – eating cake samples every 2nd hour does not clense the palate and DOES interfere with the weight that one is desperately trying to lose!

Dress fittings: I had my calico one today and am amazed at how cold it was standing in a room in all but a calico dress. I think I handled the whole pinning situation rather well and must give props to the designers assistant who did not prick me once!

Bridesmaid issues – actually there certainly IS a story there… forget being a bridezilla – I have a covert bridesmaid-zilla… and I personally do NOT think she is very covert about her ‘diva-ness’!

But all the above is sort of the least of my worries as I battle to understnad why I have been feeling rather ‘funny’ and ‘weird’ lately – I have no idea how to actually define or describe how I’m feeling but its a little “off” to how I am normally feeling – Mr A has noticed and keeps asking me “what’s wrong?” and “have I done something to upset you?” and more often “what can I do to make my princess smile?” Bless him greatly for trying – i appreciate it beyond comprehension! I’ll be ok for a little while and then I am back to this ‘funk’!

Then there’s me thinking about having to get mum’s tickets organised; oh yes did I forget to mention? Mum apparently wants to head off to Indonesia and possibly UAE for Eid this year and is hoping to head off on the 3rd of September. She very diplomatically (not) asked about how once she’d found the best price and got the dates sorted how “we” were going to pay for it – which was clearly mum’s way of saying “how and are YOU going to pay for this?”. I told her how her last years trip cost me a bit as she had wanted an open ticket that would be valid for a year and did not want to travel something like Virgin/Air Asia/Tiger (read: budget airline) that this meant the tickets were a little bit of a pretty penny (which really makes me wonder why when she paid for her own tickets JetStar was more than sufficient but since I had to pay somehow JetStar was now far too inferior!). Anyway, i said that based on last years costs i was happy to pay half that amount… Well, she’s done her research and organised her ticket to be a one year open ticket (like last time) where she still has to put in some rnadom return date (she has selected 03/03/2011) and she leaves on the afternoon of September third – oh and apparently the travel agent has emailed me the details and I am paying for her ticket – ALL of it.

Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t really a blog post about me lamenting that I am having to pay for the ticket. I worked out a long time ago that I am definately great at driving her places, paying bills, fixing ‘stuff’ and organising appointments. What upsets me is that i am having to “suck up” that this beyond a one way street – that i am not a complete moron to have not noticed that she is conviently away just prior my wedding party and a whole shitload of time after. I am come to realise that i have no idea about anything when it comes to my mother –  that even as i am typing this i am ranting! In some ways I more than expect it (this ‘situation’) and am happy to claim it as my duty as a Muslim daughter – i mean some people would claim that as a Muslim child my job is to “shut up and put up” and to remember that as she is the mother her word is gold – her requests should be met with nothing more than ‘yes mother’ – but i ask these people: where and when is the line drawn? I am NOT talking about retribution or being vengeful or rude, but rather at what point do i continue to take the ALL of THIS???????  Would a simple ‘thank you’ would go astray. Plus, whilst I am pre-programmed that this is how it has to be I don’t understand how my mum must think that it is more than ok to say what she wants, expect the earth and still its never enough  

Before you quip that that perhaps i should remind her that this means (her departure + return dates) she will not be here for my wedding party – believe me I know and i did remind her! I spoke to her about it the other morning; the conversation entailed her asking me if I had already paid for her ticket (*sigh*) – I told her that I was paying for it on Thursday (today). And her asking if I would come to Indonesia with her? I told that I was very sorry but that I wouldn’t be able to come with her – she then went on about how the family would LOVE to see me as they did not see me on the last trip she went on. I went on to telling her that I was not able to come as surely she must remember that i mentioned my wedding party was on the 30th of October – her answer was so eloquently put mashallah:

“I don’t care about your wedding – I want you to come with me…”

I must say that although I knew that she probably would not be at the party and that I more than realise her stance and her denial on the subject matter that is Mr A and I, that hearing this statement has hurt more than all the denial and other stuff she’s said in passing. I can’t quite put my finger on why though – perhaps its because that while she was putting her head in the sand i could rationalise to myself that she doesn’t really comrehend what i am doing – that she is just lost by this whole situation. But the fact that she is able to very clearly articulate that she DOESN’T care is such a slap in the face that as a daughter my role is to care and provide but that i should not expect the same in return. Perhaps this really hurts because its just one more hurtful thing that she’s said that i have to sit there and take. 

After that little comment she proceeded to make other little jibes comments that again, i sit there and listen to whick led me to sit there and pray for more patience – it is beyond words to just sit there and hear that sort of statement and never be able to say anything back – because as a daughter my role is to be patient; to listen; to not utter a bad word that would upset her (God only knows I upset her enough), to remember that she raised me and that in her way she is trying to do what’s best for me, that I am to respectfully sit there… and take the verbal slings and arrows with silent prayers and deep breaths I silently sat there listening to her say:

“No one loves you like me – I am your mother and I am the only person in this world who really loves you. everyone else is just lying – its ALL camouflage; one day you see – there is only me; everyone else is just pretending… ”

I tried to stop listening at that point – I am sure you catch my drift. We said our goodbyes and I got off the phone not long after that. I sat there next to Mr A (he was driving us to work) thanking Allah that I somehow ended up a rather well adjusted human being and that it truly is by the grace of God that, when I think about all the f#$ked up crap I had to endure with my dad and then with they way my mum behaves and says in the last ten-ish years that I did not end up a mentally screwed individual!

A few minutes after I get off the phone Mr A then turns to me and asks; “everything ok?”

My answer?  “Fine sweetie – i love you…”

He knows me so well and touches my knee, smiling he tells me he loves me too – SOOOOO much (he says).

 I mean really – what is there to say?

While i was away…

My mum came into my office to see me on Friday 30/04/2010 (I left Friday afternoon but had taken the Thursday off to pack and make sure that all things like holiday insurance, etc were sorted!). I spoke to her on the Saturday to tell her that I was away – to NO avail! Upon trying to tell her she cut me off telling me that she did not want to hear anything that would make her have a car accident (as she was in the car). so I didn’t tell her…

The first week went by and I called her on the Wednesday as apparently she had come into my office on the Tuesday to give me my early birthday present. I told that although I was thankful that she had gotten me something, that all I had wanted (as I had previously told her) was for her to finally accept my decision and accept Mr A. She responded with her usual reference to satan (aka Mr A) and not accepting him. I got off the phone to her and told Mr A that I had still not told her –  he called me chicken poo and told me that I needed to call her back and just tell her…

I called a few days later – mother’s day evening (from outside Discovery Mall, Bali) and listened to her tell me about her problems, what she needed and what I must do for her when I come over, about her doctor’s appointment in July, about how no one had come to visit her on mother’s day, etc – I cut her off and told her that I could not talk to her for very long as the call would cost a small fortune from Bali and that I WAS calling to wish her a happy mother’s day.

I then had to hear her go on about how she thought I was going to Jakarta – I told that I had said to her that Mr A and I were intending to go to Indonesia, I never stated which part! She then went on (and on) about how Bali is predominantly not Muslim and why would I go to where there are no Muslims? I told her that there were Muslims everywhere; that a lot of Muslims come to Bali – that in fact she used to live there! She commented that thi was before she went for haj and that I should know better – that who knows what food I was eating. I said to her that I think she forgets that I speak nearly fluent Indonesian and that I know exactly what meat we are eating! I told her AGAIN that I had previously already told her to stop coming into my office as it undermines my professionalism and makes me looks bad. I got off the phone feeling terrible, frustrated and annoyed and wanting to take photos of the many Hijabi’s and Arabs I saw and send copies of them all to my mum.

I heard nothing from her on my second week.

I didn’t call her at all…

I returned (to Aussie-land) on Friday afternoon and did not tell her.

I spent all weekend doing my own thing and was blissfully happy at the fact that I did not have one single missed call from her (I normally have her call me often) – that when my phone did ring I wasn’t all anxious or distraught about the imminent guilt trip my mm would dish out to me.

I returned to work on Monday and discover that my mum (after talking to me and finding out that I was in Bali) had come into my office 2 more times; one of which was on Thursday to find out when I was coming back – the guy on reception did not know and told her that he was not sure when I was returning.

The irony is that on Sunday Mr A and I sat on the sofa watching a DVD with him telling me that maybe I should visit my mum – tell her that I’ve come back and that I’m ok. The shocking thing is that even after being away from her and not going to see her since January (aside from the times she has seen in my office) I don’t want to see her. I am not angry with her, not at all. I am just tired of it all… SO beyond tired of the repetitive crap that she keeps giving me; the same comments, the same tears and the same emotional intensity that makes me want to move across the country/change jobs/change my number, etc.

But even in saying/writing the above paragraph there is another part of me that wonders why I haven’t heard from her in about a week. A part of me that says a prayer for her hoping that she is ok and hoping that Allah opens her heart to accepting me as I am and the decisions that I have made. And then there is this part of me that wants to call her – not to have a conversation with her as I know that that is unlikely but rather just to hear her voice (sans lamentations) just to know that she’s ok.

But THEN I am overcome with curiosity and against my better judgement I read the birthday card she gave me. Why do I bother? Sentences not particularly worth mentioning include:

“So sad that someone forgot my birthday last time or not ring me – maybe not allowed to send me anything – I know Satan is very strong in your place”

Numerous references to about me and “latnatallah” (it’s a muslim thing that I cannot really explain)

“what you are doing is a big sin and Allah will teach you a lesson”

Comments about how she will be patient and wait for me to come home as God loves those that are patient

That she is my real mother and cannot believe that I am doing this and why won’t I just come home?

Mum had also included some story about how some friend of mine (when I was 14; she was 17 and had a car) took me out and we went to Fremantle and to the beach and that when we came back home late she was really angry/upset and told me that I was not allowed to talk to her anymore and how now look at her life? How she is still single (as far as mum knows) and that she cannot be happy as she lives away from parents etc.

Really – why do I bother? What else can I do to make this stop? I am really beginning to get tired of this; I am beyond frustrated of all of this… I don’t know what else to do – worst yet is that I am baffled by how she seems to still have this way of getting to me? of making me question what I am doing… and with each word that I read and morosely re-read I feel numb, more empty and more resolute at my not wanting to see her. I just want to keep walking; I want to move – I want her to move.

I tried… whilst I was away I told her that we were thinking of coming back to Indonesia in January; that she could go to Jakarta if she liked… she said that she wanted to go to Jakarta in January as long as I went with her… I told her that if she went then that we would visit her – she said she didn’t care about anyone else and that she just wanted to go with me.

The way to a daughter’s heart….

My mum is trying to lure me over to her place with promises of delectable sweets….

Previous Older Entries