Friday, October 11, 2013

A day in Ifrane

My days here start like they did back home: in the kitchen.

I wake up and the first thought that comes to mind is "what's for dinner?" The next is "how about lunch?" Only later do I think of what I want to have for breakfast. Only after everyone is taken care of do I begin to think of myself.

I put a pot of milk on the stove to warm it up. I add a little sugar and what is an inadequate replacement to my Godiva hot chocolate mix. I stir and pour it into a mug. It sits there until it gets cold. I get carried away with the washing and the chopping. I tell myself every day that this morning I will sit, enjoy my drink hot, and read or write or just sit. But that day is yet to come to me here like it had yet to come to me there. If I am lucky, the kids stay asleep past the early hour that wakes me up. Otherwise I am joined by two little ones and their chatter and requests.

Once the meal is put together and simmering, I move on to breakfast. Most day the menu consists of either hard boiled eggs or oatmeal. Some days I make raisin-apple couscous or even pancakes; but those days have been rarer. On the weekends there are omelets, lentils or chickpeas with lemon juice, garlic and olive oil or we go out for chocolate croissants and Moroccan bread.

If it is a "school" day (and I use school here with an immense stretch to the term), usually Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, JR's snacks are next. A Kiri sandwich with honey, three animal crackers in a plastic box, three gummy bears in another box, yogurt and a spoon, and maybe a fruit: an apple or banana. JR fills up her own water bottle and assembles the "lunch bag": a reusable Babies R Us shopping bag. In between I make sure Yousef is fed and changed and Jeff's lunch and fruit are packed.

The early morning activities are concluded with a load of laundry, hand-washed and line-dried. We have a line out on our balcony but over the weeks that I have been here I noticed the laundry taking days to dry there; we do not get any sun there. So I chose to carry the load down the stairs and around the building and make use of the communal line; it gets plenty of sun and I get my dry clean laundry the same afternoon rather than the next day. Of course it adds to my "commute" but we all have to make choices!

The sun has now risen and it is around 7:30. I sweep the floor and if Jeff is ready and has time to watch the kids I wet mop on my hands and knees (we have not yet purchased a long-handled squeegee). I open the windows to dry the floor and move on to another task. I take out the trash or bring it down with me when I take JR to "school", Yousef to the marché, or the laundry to the line.

I am almost done with housework. There is always more housework! Lunch needs to be prepared; diapers need to be changed; dishes need to be washed. The beds are hardly ever made; there is always someone sleeping or sitting on them and so it is futile for me to "make my bed." Maybe one day when the bedroom seizes to double up as a living space I can have attractive "made" beds with soft sheets and fluffy comforters and decorative pillows.

The day is now in full force. We meet up with friends, we take a walk, we play in the playground, we take the bus to campus, we hang out at the apartment. We wait for Yousef to wake up from his morning nap. We go to the neighbor's house. We Skype Teta, have lunch, take a nap, Facetime Grandma. If it is a Tuesday, we spend the afternoon at the university picking leaves and flowers and playing with the mud. If it is a Friday, we have lunch with Baba at the faculty restaurant. If a Saturday we go to the souk. On Sunday we get bored! We invite people over for dinner. I stress out over the cooking! Some days JR goes to the neighbor's house for play dates; some times I join her, others I just drop her off. Some days friends come over to our place to hang out; these are rare.

Some days I write while the kids nap. Other days I cook. Some days I nap. A handful of days I read a book. The days go by.

Jeff comes home from work. The table is already set and dinner is almost ready. I toss the salad, pour the olive oil and vinegar onto the plate, serve the main dish. We sit down to eat, alternating who eats with one hand while holding Yousef with the other. Some dinners Yousef joins us, other times he plays with the plastic spoon. Some evenings he watches us from his play mat. Dinner is over. The table is cleared. The dishes pile up in the sink.

Bath time is next, if it is bath day. Some days it is shower only, others it is straight to PJs. On bubble bath days, Yousef and JR share the fun in the tub. Hair wash days are still dreaded, but they are few and far in between. Pajamas, story time, a little more play time, a "show" on the iPad and then time to go to sleep. I nurse Yousef to sleep, snuggle with JR and then most days I drift off myself. Others I get up, spend time with Jeff, do the dishes if he has not gotten around to them, try to enjoy one last warm drink and head to bed.

I fall asleep almost immediately only to be awaken several times during the night to nurse Yousef, walk him around the apartment or pat him back to sleep. The other times I wake up are to take JR to the bathroom or use the facilities myself. Then all of a sudden it is another day and the cycle begins again.

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