NEW ZEALAND: Silver Linings

NEW ZEALAND: Silver Linings

KarynAlmost three years ago, we had the option of buying a big house in town or an apartment sized house on a small block of land. With three boys who had outgrown the space we had in town, we moved to the countryside. It’s been a great move and I feel very at home here. There is space for energy to be burned and huts to be built. There is mud. A lot of mud. There are fruit trees and a small forest. No, there isn’t enough room inside, especially when it’s midwinter and there are more than our family in the house. (Groups of 12 yo boys take up a lot of space!) I have culled and culled and culled and we still have too much stuff for the cupboards. But all in all, I’m pleased I’m here.

Before the move, one of the things I was dreading was the extra driving I was going to have to do. My boys go to school in a small city 25 minutes from home and I work in the twin small city, 25 minutes drive in the opposite direction.. The boys have friends spread out all around the area, it’s not unusual for me to drive 700km (about 430 miles) in a week and that can equate to a couple of hours each day.

While I don’t mind the actual driving, anticipating what wasn’t going to get done during that time bothered me. And it’s proven to be a justified expectation. There are weeks when the basics are all that get completed. I relish my days when I don’t have to go anywhere and at least some holiday time at home is essential for my mental health. But there has been a major up side to all that time in the car: Time with the boys, either in groups or individually, and time alone.

I get to have one on one time with each of the three boys most weeks; I get to listen to them and their friends yakking about what’s important to them (if you don‘t say anything, you learn all sorts of things); I get to talk to them about life and they get to tell me about life. We laugh, we rant, we sing, we are silly together, we plan what needs to be done when we arrive home. Sometimes we listen to talking books and at other, rare times, there is companionable silence.

I also really value the time I get in the car alone, with my thoughts or listening to cds. I have mentally worked through discussions, organised my day and contemplated the scenery. I have tuned out, sometimes, to the point where the car seems to drive itself.

And, from time with the boys to time by myself, I can see that it’s all been valuable. The silver lining(s), as they say.

Have you ever dreaded something and then discovered that there was magic in the reality of living that experience? How much time do you spend travelling each week?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our writer and mother of three boys in New Zealand, Karyn Van Der Zwet.

Photo credit to the author.

Karyn Wills

Karyn is a teacher, writer and solo mother to three sons. She lives in the sunny wine region of Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand in the city of Napier.

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CALIFORNIA, USA: The Rule of Doing

CALIFORNIA, USA: The Rule of Doing

imageEDMy dad is famous for his quotes. Some of them are wise words that we all repeated as children, like “When the sun comes up, it’s time to get up. When the sun goes down, it’s time to lie down.”

Some are spin-offs of known quotes; for example, “The early bird gets the pizza.” (Instead of “The early bird gets the worm.”)  In this case he is referring to the leftover pizza in the fridge; it does make a great breakfast the next day, especially with a fried egg on top!

But the saying that my dad is most famous for, that is, amongst our family and friends, is what we have dubbed, “The Rule of Doing.”

The “Rule of Doing” is simple:  “The one doing the doing, gets to do it his or her own way.”  Simple? Very. Highly logical? Yes. Easy to break. All the time! (more…)

Angela Y (USA)

Angela Y. is in her mid-thirties and attempting to raise her two daughters (big girl, R, 3 years; little girl, M, 1 year) with her husband in San Francisco, CA. After spending ten years climbing the corporate ladder, she traded it all in to be a stay-at-home mom! Her perspective of raising a child in the city is definitely different from those who have been city dwellers all their lives, as she grew up in rural Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) surrounded by her extended family. Angela Y. and her husband are on their own on the west coast of the United States — the only family help they receive is when someone comes for a visit. But, the lifestyle in San Francisco is like no other for them, so there, they stay! This exercise conscious mom is easily recognized, especially when she is riding around her husband-built bike with two seats on the back. And, when she’s not hanging out with the girls, you can find Angela Y. in the kitchen. She loves to cook for her family, especially dessert, and then eats some herself when no one is looking! Sneaky, mom!

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SAUDI ARABIA: For Some Women, Not Driving Is A Paralyzing Issue

SAUDI ARABIA: For Some Women, Not Driving Is A Paralyzing Issue

2345068252_a4f24a3901We always talk about “first world problems,” and, I, most of the time, complain about women not being able to drive in Saudi Arabia in the “first world problem” sense. “My driver is late!” or “It’s too hot in the car. I wish he’d switch on the AC before I get in” or “Why does it take so long for my driver to answer his phone!”

It’s easy for me to forget that for the majority of women in Saudi, it is very much a paralyzing issue. As I was leaving Saudi last week, I was in the airport lounge, and one of the women working there was having a private conversation on her mobile which got progressively louder. She kept saying, “Swear he’s ok! Why can’t I talk to him?”

After she hung up she said to me, “My son has had an accident!” I asked if he was ok. She told me she didn’t know and that someone at the scene had called her and told her about it, but they wouldn’t give him the phone and wouldn’t give her details. I asked why she didn’t just go to him, and she told me she couldn’t.

“Surely your supervisor wouldn’t have a problem with you leaving early to go there!” I said.

“I don’t have any way of getting there!”, she said. “My son is usually my driver. I don’t have brothers, and I’m divorced.”

And that’s the simple truth. Her son was on a street somewhere, in God knows what state ,and she was stuck at work. She eventually took a cab and declined the offer to use my car.

I always dread talking about women driving in Saudi because it’s been talked to death, and there’s nothing to discuss, really, since the fact that women should be allowed to drive is such an obvious one. It’s like discussing if women should be allowed to work… or walk even. Not driving means different things to different people. To me, it’s something I don’t think about on a day-to-day basis, unless we have a driver crisis. But even then, I rely on my mother’s, sister’s or brother’s driver to get me where I need to go, and I have never been stranded at home or elsewhere because of it. I forget that this is not the case for everyone.

Yes, some of my friends can’t do lunches on certain days because of the driver issues (lack of reliable ones or lack of ones all together), so when their husbands work they have to stay home. While many, many Saudi families have a driver working for them, not all of them do. And honestly, who cares if I can’t get to my family visit on time or to the shops before they close, when this mother couldn’t get to her son, who I pray was not badly injured in this accident.

And if, God forbid, he was badly injured, or worse, and he is her only “mahram” (male guardian), then she effectively has to put her life on hold till he gets better. And if it’s not a “getting better” situation, then she is stuck. Driving will be only one of her problems.

We do have taxis, which are generally decent, but many women don’t like to use them or the men in their lives don’t like them to. Which is all fine and dandy if these men are willing to be their wives’ personal chauffeurs, but if they refuse, then the women are stuck. But they do sometimes say “no,” and their wives, sisters, daughters comply. I have never really asked my husband how he would feel about me riding a taxi, since there never was a need to before, but I know that even if he didn’t want me to ride one, for what ever reason, he would never tell me I couldn’t.

Work has already begun on the metro system in Riyadh, and I am assuming that it will have a similar set up to Dubai, where there is a women’s tram. (Although in Dubai it is optional to go on that tram.) It will be interesting to see what we end up with, but is public transportation the answer to this problem? No.

Women being allowed to drive is a change that has to happen. It’s going to happen. I can guarantee that, but when? And the assumption that this is a governmental decision is totally wrong as the government is doing what the majority of the population wants.

When the subject of women driving is raised, it is always surprising how many people are against it. Women included. When they decided to introduce girls’ schools, the community also spoke out against it and were fearful and pessimistic. But the government just made the change, and the people got used to it.  Now more than half the college graduates in Saudi are women! So, I hope we just rip the band-aid off.

And maybe the people will come around eventually and want this change, but how long do we want to wait? So many changes have come into our country, culture and environment that people are afraid to open up anymore, but there will be no progress without it.

Maybe I am wrong though. Maybe the views have changed, but the loudest voices are still of those who are against this. In Saudi the moderate voice is the one that talks at home among friends but doesn’t really rock the boat. The extreme views tend to be loud and very well organised.

A little side note to mention is there is no law against women driving. But there is a law against driving without a license, and women can’t get their licenses in Saudi.

It should just be done! Just as the 30 women were elected into the shours counsil by royal decree one morning, this change can happen too. It would, by no means, be mandatory, and whoever doesn’t want to drive, doesn’t have to. But for the women who are paralyzed, stuck and unable to get to their sons when they are hurt, a key to a car is not much to ask.

Do you agree with me that sometimes making unpopular decisions that will better your country is ok? Or is the government’s duty? Or do you think what the people want is more important? 

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Mama B from Saudi Arabia. She can be found writing at her blog, Ya Maamaa.
Photo credit to hhdoan who holds a Creative Commons Attribution license. 

Mama B (Saudi Arabia)

Mama B’s a young mother of four beautiful children who leave her speechless in both, good ways and bad. She has been married for 9 years and has lived in London twice in her life. The first time was before marriage (for 4 years) and then again after marriage and kid number 2 (for almost 2 years). She is settled now in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (or as settled as one can be while renovating a house). Mama B loves writing and has been doing it since she could pick up a crayon. Then, for reasons beyond her comprehension, she did not study to become a writer, but instead took graphic design courses. Mama B writes about the challenges of raising children in this world, as it is, who are happy, confident, self reliant and productive without driving them (or herself) insane in the process. Mama B also sheds some light on the life of Saudi, Muslim children but does not claim to be the voice of all mothers or children in Saudi. Just her little "tribe." She has a huge, beautiful, loving family of brothers and sisters that make her feel like she wants to give her kids a huge, loving family of brothers and sisters, but then is snapped out of it by one of her three monkeys screaming “Ya Maamaa” (Ya being the arabic word for ‘hey’). You can find Mama B writing at her blog, Ya Maamaa . She's also on Twitter @YaMaamaa.

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