A country’s rebirth, it’s hopeful, painful, exciting and scary all at once and for Libya it’s been all this and so much more, intermittently, for a few years already.
We started this concept of a Cafe for moms and children with this newness in mind, hoping to provide a service where we found a gap that desperately needed to be filled. But reality is so much more complex.
Like so many other things, theory and practice can be completely different things. You might have very clear and precise ideas starting off, and then find yourself having to change left and right to adapt to realities that don’t behave as you had anticipated.
The same is true for teaching and, dare I say it, mothering. My oldest told me with pure conviction, talking about the younger siblings, that if they were his children, he would have them behave in such and such a way or privileges would be withdrawn. I had to smile, and admit, that I probably said the exact same thing at some point in my youth, talking about someone else’s kids.
Things always seem so much easier when you don’t have to deal with them yourself, daily, no matter what. Like today, waiting in line at the cash register, I could hear a mom exasperated by her toddler’s cries, giving her stern commands to stop her whaling. It was so painfully clear to me that that child was tired and needed a break, either to nap, to eat or to run around freely and aimlessly. But it was also very clear to me that the mother was tired too, after what looked like a long hour or so filling her shopping cart while keeping her toddler safe and occupied, she was at the end of her rope as well. My heart ached, but I was afraid that anything I said or did, even with the best of intentions, might be taken the wrong way, so I just tried to smile and show empathy without staring. I know I have been in her shoes before, but I struggled to think of anything helpful to do or say.
I know I have had very positive experiences with women showing compassion and being kind to my children without judging me, but I also know that when they did that, although grateful for their benevolence, I felt I was falling short, not being as graceful and cool headed as I probably should have been. And that brings me back to teaching, I have taught many subjects at many levels and in various settings and when I see my kids unhappy in their school I immediately think about how we can turn this around, but I also understand that teachers are under a number of pressures, from Ministry, school administration, difficult parents, challenging students, larger than optimal classes, unexpected time loss, family obligations… I can’t expect them to be at the top of their game all the time.
So it’s in this spirit that although the Cafe is closed, the webpage and FB page remain active, to provide this silent smile. A heartfelt thought, because I know first hand how hard it is and although I can’t do anything to help in practical terms, you are indeed in my thoughts, every single day and I do hope that some of what appears here will strengthen your resolve or inspire you to see things from another perspective.Because I know things are tough and a lot seems like daydreaming sometimes, but I also know that we all need a safety zone, a moment of respite, an empathetic smile to let us keep going, hoping, trying and continue to endeavor towards what we set out to do in the first place.