It’s almost the end of 2016. It’s the end of another year where we all make plans and remember. So the end of year we are doing something different – 5 of mine and 5 of yours.
This can mean anything and everything to you. It can mean trials, tribulations, happiness, epiphanies or contentment. Where does it fit for you- it’s all about you and all of us.
I’m going to throw out my 5 things that I felt, experienced, was joyful and was challenged by this year. I would ask that you do the same thing in whatever way you feel is right.
I returned back to the US again to ‘my’ family. My other family (my in laws). The family that accepted me as their own. My other dad who didn’t think I was a terrorist anymore and realised I was just a normal guy raising our kids. We spent 4 great days together with my other dad and my other mom ‘G’ accepting and finding a lot of love in not only me but our kids and a new relationship that formed between my #crazywife and her dad. Hey, she got him to download WhatsApp and now they have more conversations than they ever have before! Thats an achievement! Although, I am sure the pics I am sending him of my BBQ make him laugh considering he has been doing this for 60+ years! I’m a novice! He’s the master!
I made fun food with my ‘mom’ , talked about politics, theory, understanding Islam and trying to figure out how family works.
I met my sister (in law) who I am still trying to figure out and I’m sure likes me a lot but just can’t quite figure out how that all works. Family dynamics I guess – My #CrazyWife says it’s like Thanksgiving in the US South but without guns which they sometimes wish they had – I don’t know what what means.
But Family made me really think about how things can tie together when they need to. How people can find each other when it’s time. How we can be crazy and stupid and still know that as much as we want to hate – we get to love.
I really enjoyed creating alongside the team at KHDA the #10Minutes10Days initiative. It allowed parents a place to show that they could document and show off their reading with kids. I know it sounds stupid to document it – but it’s cool if you think about it. Parents reading with their kids – their kids reading – looking at new ways to just read.
I was lucky enough to catchup with the crazy American group at #KDSL07 where they launched the #RMRUAE (Real Men Read UAE) initiative. We had fun reading to kids all over the place in the UAE. Seeing their faces reading in english and arabic was new for me. I felt my teacher roots again (the same when I wanted to send them to time out or the principals office too!). I learned so much, was frustrated but I loved everything about it. We took it everywhere – I just wanted to sit and let kids know how cool it is to read with dads and spend time.
Ofcourse, I’m just cool so I kept writing for the most awesome education magazine in the UAE #TeachMiddleEast and these guys are great. They help teachers and parents with new ideas and I have been lucky to be a part of it as a contributor. If you haven’t taken a look at them, do it. This is a great magazine for parents.
I was lucky enough to meet new people and do a few interviews ( if you haven’t checked out ExpatWoman – do it – they are pretty cool).
#3 Who said the ‘C’ Word?
I have a #CrazyWife – she’s not normal. She is nuts. She is my best friend, the mother of my children and the one I can’t live without. This all sounds like a nice card you give to someone but she is my everything. When I found out 5 months later after she found out she had cancer, my first thoughts – I was scared. I didn’t know what I was scared of if I lost her- life, our girls, love, my friend, finances, periods, boys, marriage (no , they will not marry until they are 40 – I swear). I worried about what would become of our little family. What would happen. When I realised she would do her last surgery as a full hysterectomy it wasn’t about us not having kids (as it was for her), it was about I needed her to survive. I need my friend. I need and want the woman that has kept us together. But I also realised this year that we are a family unit. We are it. We are smaller without each other but huge combined and we can conquer anything.
The one interesting thing about being an Expat is that you make friends – but you also lose them.
We are in an ever changing environment of a country – you make friends for a year or maybe 10 but then it changes.
I have learned a lot about relationships this year and not just the ones that leave because their contracts end but also the one’s that are a part of the relationship because of convenience or because they want something or because it ends because they disapprove.
I have also learned that some relationships are none of the above and no matter class or social standing, they hold true.
1 example, when my wife was in hospital she kept many people away due to privacy, but also close friends that we thought were, were not there and not even asking. 2 example, my wife went to a party not long ago with many women and friends there and 2 questions asked before she might have been deported (1- your Pandora bracelet doesn’t have many charms – she responded that they meant a lot to her for the ones she has. 2- What does your husband do? She says he writes. They ask what he has written and she told them what I do. They said that was too bad he must not make any money to support the family – She walked out of the party). 3rd example, we have friends that are high in society and have no issue with anything and continue to keep up contact regardless of the circumstance. We see them, we enjoy, we relax, we are just good friends. That is what means the world to me when we are just people.
I say this not in bad or good of one or the other, I say this in that I have come to value people that are actual people – not about good or bad times – but that are just content to be around other actual people. I applaud those that are few and far between.
Again, when we are weak or strong, no matter how crazy we all are, we need our family and friends together to help us be strong – there is a lot in a chorus of voices versus one.
5) MY KIDS ARE GROWING UP
My daughters are telling me what to do. I’m telling them what to do. They are arguing. They are negotiating. They are hugging me. They are telling me stories in their own imagination that I could listen to forever to get some insight into their heads.
They hear things I never thought they heard. They worry about things that I was sure they never thought to worry about. They see love in things that I had never seen.
These are my girls. They are my life. I’m a dad because I want to be. I’m a writer because I choose to be. I’m a husband because we got stuck together and it REALLY works and I would never see a life without this #crazywife of mine.
I’m grateful for the #GucciPatrol that continues to challenge me at school and I hope that I continue to challenge them.
2017 is coming and it becomes a new year full of new things.
Look at what you have right now. Look at what you didn’t have before. See what is in front of you in whatever way that is.
Be blessed and not looking for what everyone else has – but what what makes you happy.
Not who everyone else knows but who you know that makes you happy.
Not what you think you should do but what you love to do.
What difference can you make in such small ways? It doesn’t take a new year – it takes understanding the previous year to know what you want to accomplish, what is important to YOU.
Happy 2017 everyone. You are all amazing and great and I wish you every part of happiness.