My mom left Riyadh on Friday night. She headed back home to the States, after a two-week visit. It was wonderful having her here. For the two days prior to her departure, we both bawled pretty consistently in anticipation of her leaving.
This is one thing that I wish I had understood and been more prepared to deal with before I moved to Saudi Arabia–leaving my mom never gets easier. And it’s just never going to get any easier. I guess I expected that on some level, I’d get used to it. Like, I figured I’d develop some sort of emotional scar tissue that would let me not waste the last two days of my time with her (and other members of my family) on crying jags. I figured I’d be okay after awhile. But I still cry every single time. And so does she. It never gets easier for either of us.
The ironic thing is, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned it more than once here on the blog over the years, is that if I only had a bad relationship with my mom, with my parents, then this negative part of life in a foreign country would be completely eliminated. But I adore my parents. I think they’re the most wonderful parents that God could have given me. I’m grateful for them every day. And I’m also grateful for the incredible technology that we have nowadays that keeps me connected to them–I’m pretty sure I would not have survived this move if there were no such thing as video chatting.
My mom is here in Riyadh for a visit, and I am thrilled. Obviously. I always miss my mom, but I was especially in need of a mom hug after the week we had before she arrived.
Shortly before Christmas, after my plans with a friend got cancelled, we decided to make an impromptu trip to Bahrain for a few days of relaxation and holiday cheer. We were enjoying our time, soaking up the Christmas music and decorations. And then disaster struck. (A pretty mild disaster, in the grand scheme of things, but it was still somewhat traumatic for all of us.)
Since we arrived in our hotel room, Lavender had been fascinated by the bidet. She loved to run into the bathroom and play with the bidet and call, “Wash hands! Wash hands, Mama!” See, the bidet was exactly Lavender’s height, so she just thought it was a cool sink that happened to be exactly her size. Needless to say, we weren’t super thrilled about the idea of her playing a hotel room bidet, you know? It didn’t seem super sanitary. Not to mention that she seemed to be fascinated by everything in general in the bathroom, and she kept trying to stand on the bidet and boost herself up onto the bathroom sink/countertop. And that didn’t seem super safe at all.
I’m not typically in the business of doling out unsolicited relationship advice here on the blog. I just write about my life…and yeah, through that, I probably end up waxing poetic (or actually, let’s be honest–probably not so poetic) about how we’ve made things work in our relationship. And through that, I get a lot of “What do you think about my situation?” emails from different folks (especially women in relationships with Saudis). But aside from a post of advice here or there, with guidance mostly gleaned from my own mistakes, I try to stay away from marketing myself as some sort of relationship expert. Because (and I’m laughing as I type this) I am so not that. But over the past few weeks, I’ve had some experiences that have led me to believe that this one suggestion will be tremendously helpful to anyone in any relationship.
Take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a questionnaire that helps you sort yourself into one of 16 personality types, based on combinations of four different personality traits. (I won’t go into a lot of detail in describing them; folks have already done that elsewhere on the Internet in much more detail than I can provide here. So you can read about them, and then you can find your own personality type, if you wish.) Business types use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator a lot, and so do educators. And it just seems to be getting more and more popular. I’m guessing that in the next few years, our Facebook newsfeeds will be filled with trendy listicle thinkpieces that dispense advice on how to deal with certain personality types, much the same way we currently see constant discussion about introverts and how to deal with them (or, you know, us…I’m an introvert. Interestingly, introversion/extroversion is one of the four Myers-Briggs personality traits that go into making a personality type). And maybe in 50 years or so, we’ll all see the Myers-Briggs craze as nothing more than pseudoscientific pop psychology, like the way a lot of people feel about psychoanalysis now. But even if that’s the case, I gotta say that so far, I’m totally aboard this hokey train.
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.
Hollywood has a history of giving movies present participle titles that include the word “saving,” presumably to indicate that this is a Very Important Film. Saving Sarah Cain. Saving Private Ryan. Saving Mr. Banks. And I think there are like, four different movies called Saving Grace. (Spoiler alert: I’m pretty sure the main character in each one is named…wait for it…Grace. Punny.) And then there are the not-so-important movies that piggyback on this precedent, like Saving Silverman.
I think if Mr. Mostafa and I had a movie, it would be called Saving Cerelac. Because we always seem to end up eating Cerelac.
Once upon a time, about seven years ago, Mr. Mostafa and I paid a visit to the only Middle Eastern store in our city (or town? I’m confident that some people would call the place where we met a town; its population is around 165,000. But for me, growing up two hours southeast in a town–or I’m confident some people would call it a village–of 212, that big “town” was, to me, the big city. Also, fun fact–that Middle Eastern store was also a Latin American store, because the couple who own it are bicultural–the husband was Middle Eastern and the wife is Latin American. Love). Anyway, Mr. Mostafa took an immediate liking to this store, obviously, because it was the only one in town (city?) that carried such homesickness-alleviating items as black limes and Vimto.