Reworking our Family Rhythm

Madrid

There have been a few twists in our Morocco plans.  Some we’ll share later but the first caveat is that I’ve been working.  The plan was for Urbndervish to work full-time, which he certainly is, but his job was short on teachers and asked if I could do some part-time teaching.  I took out the old English Teaching certificate, blew the dust off, and have been teaching for the last two months.  Our employer has been respectful of our family dynamics, so I’m only scheduled to work when Urbndervish is available to stay with Lil’ Z.  This transition started out rocky for our family.  Me–up early and out the door–leaving behind my beloveds seems so strange.  But, I must admit it feels nice to “come home” to hugs and “I missed you” from my family after work.  Occasionally, there’s even the smell of cooked food when I come home which makes me swoon for Urbndervish all over again.  We have a few afternoon hours to pray and eat together before Urbndervish prepares to work in the evenings.  On Saturday, he works the entire day, which is when Lil’ Z and I run our errands and catch up on our lazy mornings together.

An obvious other benefit to my working is that I get paid.  The Islamic model of home economics is that a husband is responsible for all necessary household and family expenses while a wife’s money is spent in whatever way she pleases.  This is why I call my salary our “fun money”.  Coming to Morocco was an effort and expense that we hope to replenish before we depart.  So, I put my funds towards our travels and our occasional meals out.  Urbndervish has generously allowed his money to flow through my hands and bank account for years as if it is mine, but it’s nice to be able to treat him and Lil’ Z for a change.

Interestingly, when our employers first pitched the idea of working to me, they spun it as a good break and outlet for me.  I guess homemaking doesn’t have much “pop” or “zing” to it.  Others assume that it’s boring or tiring.  In my case, I have no qualms with life at home, so I feel no urgency to escape it.  Therefore, whatever work takes me out of my home needs to be worth my time and so far, it has been.  I’m teaching a class of young women for a program aimed at developing the employment skills of secondary-educated Arab women.  A lot of funding goes into “women’s empowerment” programs, so my students have free English, computer skills, as well as professional and personal development classes.  While I don’t believe that work is the only means of empowering women, I do believe that everyone should have the skills that enable them to work or create economic opportunities if they need or desire to do so.  I hope, if nothing else, that my students will leave my class knowing that success is a personally-defined attainment that is neither linear nor quantifiable.

The course I teach will end next month, so I’m not sure if I’ll be teaching thereafter, but it doesn’t make a difference to me.  For me, teaching is a service, and I enjoy serving others.  I feel no more valuable getting up and putting on my good clothes everyday to earn money.  I feel no more powerful or worthy standing in front of a classroom.  It has been nice to share a greater load of the domestic duties with Urbndervish, but I feel no relief or respite.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to work and even more grateful that I don’t need to work against my will.

Fashion by Daddy and Daughter

Fashion by Daddy and Daughter

Even Lil’ Z has taken on a new role.  Since our arrival, she has been asking to go to school.  We thought about visiting schools for her to see what it’s like but considering the quality our budget can afford, it didn’t seem worthwhile.  The innovative and creative schools cost a pretty penny here in Casablanca and we’re not sold on the idea that young children thrive best in school anyway.  So, due to a schedule conflict, Lil’ Z has a class with a fellow teacher and loving friend of ours for an hour every Friday.  The school yearning has been totally satiated for now.  As far as Lil’ Z is concerned, she goes to school and has a teacher with homework and everything to prove it.  The rest of her days have been our usual life learning style, with real-life skills and problem-solving, and plenty of free time for reading, drawing, and play.  We wanted to add some recreational classes like gymnastics or yoga to her routine, but those costs have been prohibitive too.  Instead, she is learning handstands, front rolls, and other acrobatic feats here at home.  As for her artistic development, the nuance of Lil’ Z’s artwork is admittedly impressive.  She draws for hours every day on her writing board and on paper, which makes her letter writing very legible too.  When she wants to write words, names, or sounds to her drawings, she sounds out letters and writes them on her own.  No drilling, tracing, or repetition needed.

Art by Lil' Z

Art by Lil’ Z

All in all, life in Casablanca has been admittedly challenging but we’re trying our best to make do.  The greatest joy is knowing that our home is safe, cozy, and filled with love.  I often joke that our family tree is always rocking in the winds of life but our little nest–peaceful and intact–gives us the strength to weather whatever storms arise and for this we are grateful.

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