Today, on this Thanksgiving morning in Riyadh, I’m very thankful for Miss Lavender.
We’ve had a rough few nights, she and I. Despite a few promising attempts to remedy the situation (last week she actually went to bed at 10 o’clock at night—nothing short of a miracle), her inner clock is persistently telling her that one or two o’clock in the morning is an appropriate bedtime. She sleeps until eleven in the morning or so, wants to go down for a nap around four in the afternoon, and then stays up until the middle of the night.
I’m exhausted. In the morning, I usually wake up a little bit after Mr. Mostafa does, or right before he leaves for work, and of course, I stay up with her at night, because Baba needs his sleep on a normal schedule; he has to go to work in the morning. But I haven’t been able to really sleep in or nap with her, mostly because I’ve got work to do and even if I didn’t, I’m too keyed up to rest because I feel like if I can’t get her to sleep on a normal schedule, I should at least be taking advantage of the time she’s asleep in order to work uninterrupted.
Long story short, I’m currently running on very little sleep.
And it sometimes feels like she wants to nurse ALL NIGHT. Even when I am in bed and trying to sleep, I’m tossing and turning all night because she wants to be snuggled up on a boob and switching between them.
And when she doesn’t get what she wants in her bedtime routine, she throws tantrums. She’s at that age. And a couple of times last night, I lost my patience and didn’t speak soothingly. My speech was rough and angry and today, I feel guilty.
Because I love her so much. I can’t even explain, but I know mothers of all spots and stripes don’t need me to. And I’m so thankful that she loves me despite my neverending missteps as her mother. Right now, she’s sitting in my lap, and we’re cuddling under my Snuggie blanket, and she’s proudly holding her new green bouncy ball that she got at Tamimi yesterday (her “kora,” as she calls it, which is “ball” in Arabic), and we are eating “pangcorn” (not Arabic, just lavender’s word for “popcorn”), watching nursery rhyme songs on YouTube and singing along to “Three Little Kittens.”
She is joyous and giggly as she sings about the three little kittens who shall have no pie, and I’m thankful that she doesn’t seem to remember, that last night, around one in the morning, after she launched into a fit when I wouldn’t get out of bed and go in the living room and turn on Doc McStuffins for her on the TV, I yelled, “LAVENDER, GO TO SLEEP!” and she cried even harder and sobbed, “Potty? Potty?”
And I wouldn’t take her potty, because I knew her game well; she didn’t actually have to go potty. She was just going to have me get out of bed and go into the living room (because in our apartment, you have to go through the living room to get to the bathroom from the bedroom) and then demand Doc McStuffins once she got me there. Which is exactly what she did when Mr. Mostafa, who had been awakened by the ruckus by this time, took her to go potty.
And speaking of which, I’m thankful for him, too. Because instead of laying there in bed and being pissed that he wasn’t being allowed to sleep, he got up and tried to help, even though his patience was worn thin by then, as well. Earlier that night, before he went to bed (or tried to, anyway), Lavender had been having another tantrum because she wanted me to hold her (“Mama, come here! Mama, come here!” is what she says, with her arms up, when she wants me to hold and hug her), but just a few seconds earlier, she had asked for “pangcorn,” and I was busy making it in the kitchen for her.
“Lavender, I cannot hold you and make pangcorn at the same time!” I yelled over her screams. (Because I’m one of those weirdos who doesn’t believe in microwave popcorn so I make it on the stove, and also, Saleh and I now say “pangcorn” instead of “popcorn” and “tomos” instead of “potatoes” and “chocake” instead of “chocolate,” because those are Lavender words and they’re so darn cute we couldn’t resist integrating them into our everyday usage. Parenting hazard, I guess.)
And so Baba came into the kitchen and said, “Babe, go sit down. I’ll finish it,” and he sent me into the living room to sit and snuggle with our crying toddler. And he fixed the popcorn and brought it to us on a Hello Kitty plate, which Lavender promptly spilled all over the floor and I snapped, “This is why we put pangcorn in a bowl, not on a plate.” And that was really bitchy of me, and I feel really guilty about it now. But he didn’t say anything, and I love him for that. And after work today, the poor guy is going on a wild goose chase for a can of pumpkin so I can make pumpkin pie tomorrow, because Tamimi was out when we went yesterday and Thanksgiving requires pumpkin pie.
So by God, the little kittens will have pie.
And speaking of which, I’m thankful for my in-laws, my Saudi family. Because tomorrow, Friday, we’re having our own Thanksgiving dinner here in Riyadh. Like last year, my mother-in-law has ordered a turkey from Burj al Hamam, and I’m going to make the green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, creamed corn, and pumpkin pie. I love them so much. (Both the food and my in-laws.)
And speaking of which, I’m thankful for my loved ones on the other side of the world, too. My family, my amazing friends, the people whose WhatsApp messages consistently remind me that they haven’t forgotten about me even though I’m not there and that they still love me, even though I’m a mess.
And speaking of which, I’m thankful that I can acknowledge this holiday as one that gives makes me happy and gives me warm feelings of love and home, while still acknowledging that the narrative of the origins of Thanksgiving that we are taught in school is dangerous propaganda that masks the reality of a genocide.
Alhamdulillah for everything. Even the little things. Especially the little things. Happy Thanksgiving.