This is in direct references to the millions of times that you ALL doubted me.
But, let’s be real, I am mostly addressing my very own father: Fawaz Rachid Elmasri. HEY BABA, I AM A DOMESTICATED YOUNG WOMAN AND I KICK ASS AT LIVING ON MY OWN. Although this is the very first time I am officially living on my own with my own kitchen in an apartment with adults… I have always been forced (yes, forced) to help out around the house and especially in the kitchen. You see, my father is a traditional man from a small village in Northern Lebanon- Traublos (or Tripoli- no not Tripoli, Libya). This part of Lebanon is as close to glamorous as Lady Gaga was in her meat dress (I’m not the biggest fan of either). Before going to Lebanon, I was brainwashed by all of my Saudi friends telling me it was the most beautiful and extravagant Middle Eastern country… While all this is true, they were most definitely referring to Beirut– the Paris of the Middle East. Traublos is a tad different.
I actually visited Traublos last summer to visit my Grandma, whom I was named after, and adore and love with all of my heart. I didn’t have any expectations upon leaving- except for the comfort of being around family. While staying with my Uncle was… colorful to say the least, I am so happy I went. Because I learned A LOT about my father, his upbringing and his personality traits.
Baba grew up with a mother who enjoys overworking herself for the sole purpose of being able to complain to everyone around her… about how she is overworked. Although this is hilarious and ironic to say the least, I do not want to undermine her accomplishments. My Grandma Aisha raised eight wonderful kids who she tirelessly worries and stresses about—doing all she can to ensure that her children’s lives are better than her own. Even though she is almost 87 years old… My Grandma still cooks and cleans every day. She cares for her 47 year-old-son who has a mental disability, and also a heart of gold. (I miss my Uncle Azaam.) She hates when people try to help her and she loves her independence. She is all about doing things on her own. Although this can be frustrating and scary to those around her, I can’t help but sympathize and understand my Grandma because I am just like her. If there is anyone on this planet I share commonalities with… Even down to my very own name… It is she. Our hands are even the SAME.
I am so blessed to be her Granddaughter. I learned so much about her last summer. She got married when she was 18 years old and had her first child, Asya, at 19. I would sit with her on the couch, play with her fingers and ask her question after question. There is no doubt that she drove me crazy at times, but at this moment, all I am filled with are good memories and an indescribable and thorough ache and longing to be around her…. Snuggled in her arms. It is a rare comfort to know that you are with somebody who loves you wholeheartedly and unconditionally. I will never forget how lucky I am to have my Grandma. I only hope I get to see her again soon. I love you Taita.
She also loves to do things for other people. My Father was catered to as a child. I am not undermining his own work rate and all of his accomplishments… But when it comes to household domestication and meals… His mother spoiled him. My father learned his good habits from his mother. She is extremely clean and her entire life revolves around the house. She constantly cooks and caters to her children. She knows nothing else. Her life is Islam and her household. My father was thus used to a strong domestic female presence. He obviously is completely supportive of my sister and I pursuing an education… but he has high expectations for us. Because of his upbringing, my Dad expects me to get good grades in school, be a good soccer player and be the exact replica of a typical Lebanese housewife from the village of Traublos.
No matter how ridiculous this may sound to the rest of the world. AND how frustrating and annoying it was at times. It is because of my father’s high expectations that I became the young woman I am today.
Thank you Baba. I love you more and more every day.
In Lebanon, I could only hope that my Grandma didn’t actually think me as incapable of a woman as the people in Lebanon permitted me to be. I was pretty cooped up and catered to. I hated every minute of it. But I did develop an extremely special bond with my Uncle Adnaan and my Auntie Maryam. I am so appreciativee of them. In fact, I made my favorite eggplant dish that my Auntie Maryam taught me to make today. It came out fabulously.
Here in Spain, I am finally able to put all the years of criticism, lessons and frustration to the ultimate test… Living on my own.
I am in love with independence. And I think that I’m pretty damn good at it.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, I prepare either a chicken or vegetable dish and buy fresh spinach so I may have lunch and dinner already prepared for myself for the following days. I love cooking. I cook every day for myself. I cook the dishes my mom taught me. I cook things I like. I buy what I want. I am eating the healthiest I’ve ever eaten in my life. Because I have full control. I love this control. I would never eat out if I had the choice… But going out is a social escapade that I need to force myself to indulge in every once in a while. It’s also nice to get things like frozen yogurt and chocolate… (Like I did yesterday).
It almost makes me angry that I love domestication. I wish I hated it. Like other business/ career women often do. But I don’t. I love school, and I get good grades. But I also love children, cooking and cleaning after myself. I love when things are spotless. And I never make a mess in the kitchen. I clean up as I go. Just like my Dad taught me.
But I am a good cook because of my wonderful Mother. I love you Mom. You’ve shaped me in more ways than you’ll ever know. Your compassion is what drives me to treat others graciously and lovingly. It is precisely why people tell me that they are so immediately comfortable around me. I got it from you Mom.
I am so blessed.
Have a fabulous day!