Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Universal Adventures in Motherhood

Well, you don't need to be an expat to have a "frustrating adventure of motherhood" like I did this evening, right smack in the middle of what my dear friend Lisa refers to as the witching hour.

First, a full bottle of syrupy Ariel stain remover fell from its shelf and emptied all over my bathroom floor; about half of it seeped under the washing machine, where it will stay. The other half took a roll of paper towels to absorb. In a hurry, though, I began the clean up process without rubber gloves; after all, my primary concern was to take care of things before my toddler got into the mess. As the skin on my finger tips began to corrode though (it felt like tiny shards of glass pricking me!), I thought better.

And then, not twenty minutes later, my toddler pooped in the tub. Diarrhea. And not a lot, either. But as any hygiene-conscious germ-phobic mother knows, there are no degrees of poop; even the littlest bit requires the total disinfection of the tub, the toys, the mat, and anything else it may have come into contact with.

And while I'm cleaning that, said toddler pees on the floor.

Meanwhile Baby starts crying, because he's hungry and tired and I've missed the sweet spot where he's sleepy and easily falls asleep. Now he's just cranky.

Now they're both asleep and I'm sitting here worrying whether my toddler has salmonella or amoeba. I'm glad I bought a bottle of wine at the supermarket on the weekend; this seems like an appropriate occasion to open it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mother's Guilt

After almost missing Halloween entirely, I bought my son's costume. Yes, I bought my son's first ever Halloween costume. I couldn't even find the time or energy to make this Martha Stewart no-sew easiest ever (and super cute) chicken costume. It would have been so perfect for the baby, but who am I kidding? Desperate times call for brutal triage-like decisions, and the toddler took precedence on this one.

Even though it was a very last-minute thing, I know that had I known weeks earlier I'd have the opportunity to take my boys trick-or-treating here in Istanbul, my best intentions would have somehow still landed me where I was the day of the big event: without a costume or candy.

But it gets worse. I didn't even do the shopping! A friend, who I bumped into by chance (coincidence #1), mentioned casually (coincidence #2) that he was on his way to buy his son a Halloween costume. I asked him to pick up something for my son, which he did.

And it gets worse still. When my friend asked me what kind of costume I'd like, I didn't indicate a preference for animal, super hero, vampire or witch; I didn't even say, "Oh, whatever you can find." My exact words, and I remember this with embarrassing clarity, were, "I don't care." Of course I didn't mean that I didn't care; that's just how desperate I was to get my son a costume and get Halloween 'taken care of.'

In the end, my friend and perhaps a little bit of kismet (those coincidences!) saved the day, and my son went as the cutest little Superman ever. The costume was perfect, the weather was perfect ... everything was perfect.

But what is it about motherhood that, even after the fact, you're still wracked with guilt?

Monday, November 21, 2011


This blog has never been a journal, a record of all the daily "adventures and frustrations of life and motherhood for an expat in Turkey." But when I returned to the internet after my three-week 'cleanse' and saw that several of the bloggers I follow had posted about Halloween, I was overcome with a sense of 'Oops.'

How could I not have written anything about my children's first official Halloween, since the challenge of maintaining Canadian traditions for my kids here in Turkey is something I grapple with every few months? I felt it six months ago at Easter, then last month at Thanksgiving; both times I was 'saved' when friends invited us to celebrate with them, thus eliminating the stress of sourcing turkey and ham, chocolate bunnies and Easter egg dye.

I almost missed Halloween this year, swamped by the craziness that comes with two children under the age of two, a husband who works in another city and is therefore away Monday through Friday, and still being nanniless. But in the last minute a friend picked up a Superman costume for my two-year-old at a nearby party store and more than enough chocolates for the twenty-five trick-or-treaters we were expecting, and we took our kids around to the dozen or so homes here on campus that were participating.

It was better than I could have hoped: the crisp fall weather, the darkness (daylight savings time had just ended), people's decorations and costumes ... Somehow the atmosphere of the evening was exactly as it had been on my own Halloweens as a kid.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Internet Cleanse

I finally have another valid excuse for not having posted anything here for so long.

We just returned from three weeks in my husband's hometown, during which time I was internet-free. (Well, almost. The whole exercise almost turned around to bite me when I got a call from work since I hadn't responded to an important email about an appointment to renew my residence permit; I used a friend's internet the next day for five minutes to see if there were any other important messages I'd missed. I hadn't.)

What I noticed:
  • I accomplished way more housework (mostly laundry, laundry and more laundry and all that goes with it -- hanging to dry, taking it down again, sorting, folding, the occasional ironing) during my 4-month-old's 40-minute morning nap than I do when the laptop is open and I check emails or look up something on the internet
  • My to-do list became far shorter, as most of my 'to do' items are created from ideas sparked by blogs I read or emails I receive
  • I read a lot more
  • I wrote a lot more
  • Although I felt somewhat 'out of touch' from my family and friends, a long phone call was far more gratifying and meaningful than three weeks' worth of short emails
And the wildest thing? When I returned to Istanbul and the internet, I found it just as I had left it. Except for the fact that Kim Kardashian was getting divorced. That happened while I was gone.