To all My Children

Today I wrote an email to all my children, before taking the new levels of medication…loopiness city is what you would call them more now than ever. But it is the only way to give my brain rest from the migraines, that no amount of walking medication can contain.

This is not good news for the doctors that have flooded my boss’ email with requests that I return [to the O R], because my mind is currently on other intense projects. The verdict from my boss will come this very short week- since I planned a short time off from the office. Stress they say comes in different formats- or rightly said it manifests itself in various degrees. My line of work is not the kind taken kindly by most- as it is my job to point out how best to do things-better than what they have done so far… not a maker of fellowship, but hey, it is what it is.

The email to all my children consisted in my reminding them that life is a hard place if you are not prepared for it. That while I have few regrets in life I have really never wanted to look back. I have “emptied my cup” a few times and let life fill it up again as the situation merits.

But I know where my brain is headed, even when others tell me it will take years to reach that point- no one disputes the direction; we just split hairs as to when. The letter was my way of saying things that they could read again in the years to come and know whom spoke to them years ago.

The impetus to write it, came from a conversation with my hubby during one of those night outs we never miss. The reason we never miss them is because it our shared space sans the crew. The rules of engagement are simple…we don’t talk shop; we don’t gossip of extended family- we only speak of ourselves and where we are at as people. It is one of those things we learned in therapy both together and separately, that we instinctively had incorporated into our relationship long ago. And it has helped us muddle through some pretty hard times.

This case is no humdinger either, the doctors are asking me to shut down for x-amount of days or even hours to give my brain a chance to recoup. Because it is the muscle I use the most, it sometimes thinks its on steroids… and well, it has to be told to shut up, literally.

The conversation was about changes- those done through the years due to circumstances; professional changes; and the intensity those required; changes in our kids; my son’s career and how it has affected each and everyone of us- we bite our nails to the bone sometimes if we know where he is off to; or we eat them in relief when we find out afterwards and the stories are recounted for our benefit- with the caveat that he is in one piece… I can and do understand all those moms and dads out there with children in the Service- how we keep it together is a miracle in itself.

My husband was telling me how much of a struggle it has been with his compatriots to make them understand that who he is today is not only a by product of his choices in careers; but a by product of what comes from those careers and the life he led because of them. His is not nomadic- he can’t up and leave for 8 or 9 moths at a time like they do- and come back penniless to start all over. He is not one of them in that, true; nor is he one of them in the simple nonconstructive and at times naive way they look at the world. My husband’s world grew every time he took a plane to places most of his compatriots would be hard pressed to find on a map. That he has volunteered as both an engineer, as well  as a doctor in countries where there is a crisis- is a testament to his commitment to being a citizen of this world…but he knows and admits it was never always like that… he has come a long way Al-Hamdulillah.

My unwillingness to take one thing as Gospel, because someone else said it, obligated him to seek the answers as well. Our discussion on what next to do; which could very well be years ahead made him think out of the box that I was thinking of- a box that included more than at [the] time he was prepared to envision, but knew they were coming if we did or not do something. Those Insha’ Allah’s were used less frequently, because he knew many a times it was the excuse of not only not knowing but also not admitting one didn’t know. It was also the excuse of not being proactive. And he learned the hard way what not being proactive meant in a society that didn’t take lightly to maybes.

My hubby had been living his own personal hell; that he [now] felt he needed to empty out his cup of if he was going to pull through; and help pull me through this new tide of information we needed to absorb for us to continue on our life’s journey together.That night I had little to say- it was his turn to let it all out. I was just the person he was communicating to; no answers necessary.

My email to the kids was a part of that, I didn’t need nor wanted a response from them in words; but in action. I wanted them not to sell themselves short in life; life is dear and precious it must be enhanced by our actions not degraded. There was enough out there happening  in the world that was so full of degradation that they needed, as always, to take care of number one- because no one else would. Unless they lived with a person who was committed to that endeavor, but those are few and far between.

I needed them to understand that they must live life to the fullest; and I was telling them now while I could; while those synapses were  still  firing away, albeit too much at times, but which still allowed for a quality of life worth fighting for. I wanted them prepared for what was coming; life doesn’t stop while you are planning for sure. What else as a mother could I do but hope and pray for the very best for her children.

The email was as to the point as I could make it. My only regret is not being able to let them  into my mind- something I could not have physically accomplished. The feelings, thoughts, those I could and do share…for however long I can. So I leave this post the same way I left the email:

Dare to Live,  to Die is so much easier.


17 Responses to “To all My Children”

  1. May 25, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    You’re so right in what you are reminding to your children, life is a hard place if you are not prepared, and that they must live life to the fullest. Goes by so fast and when you realize can’t catch up time.

    Your last post sentence, Dare to Live, to Die is so much easier is so true. Sometimes I feel I just pass by life, as I feel I’m only working, not enjoying what life can offer. I miss not having a family of my own, or my dog, or my family and friends close. I am alone, far away and giving it all to the company I work for, that of course does not value me as I think I deserve, and I’m not talking just about money, I am so tired and lonely. So is that worth? No way, life should not be just for working, but working to live a life. And I’ve lost miserably almost three years.

    I don’t know exactly what you have, if its due to stress or other, but take care, do anything the doctors say and try to have the best life possible. I really wish everything goes ok with you. For the general tone you use seems a serious thing, so please take care!!

  2. 2 INAL
    May 26, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Thanks Puca- it is serious as it is progressive- like I said before the doctors split hairs on timing not that it will get better. We have making plans and doing things that put us on the working to live side instead of the otherway around- but my husband had a few issues left unresolved and now was when he finally brought them up so they could be addressed- and it made me wonder if now was the best time to tell our children that time was not on our side.

    I have been in your situation Puca a long time ago- and NO its not worth sacrificing everything for a company- when in the end they can turn you out and all that passed is forgotten- like your name that they will have forgotten by the weeke’s end.

    Nothing is permanent- so get the dog- go exploring; take solid vacations- disconnect from work when you leave the office and live… You may have a bit more to go in the company due to various factors- but don’t let it stop you from living your life on off hours.

    Time does go bt fast- and at one point- like us- you will have to take stock of you life and make some deep changes and/or sacrificies if you are to live fully and at peace.

    God gives you wrinkles in the fabric of life- but he also equips you with the iron- all you have todecide is when to turn the iron on,,,

  3. 3 Chiara
    May 26, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Inal– thanks for sharing your fine mind. You and your husband have made excellent use of your skills and of those you acquired in therapy. The two of you are inspiring. I gather he was in part sharing some of his own distress with your illnesses–a very important thing for him to do.
    I’m sorry to read that more loopiness is required. Why can’t the pharmaceutical companies do better!
    The stress of not working can be as great as work stress, so sometimes job modification is the key. You are lucky to have a wonderful boss and an appreciative environment–fully deserved of course.

    Puca–a lovely comment, if sad. I hope you find a better work/life balance, and a greater sense of connectedness where you are, or in a future place. A dog is definitely a wonderful start (and easier to acquire than some other relationships). My sister’s dog was a blessing, a stimulus to get out and walk more, to engage with others in the neighbourhood, and to plan her own family. The dog is my canine niece (11), and now older sister to my human nephew (9). A friend bought a Canaan dog (indigenous Palestinian bedouin dog) when she was working in Israel/Palestine, and now lives with her here in Canada.

  4. 4 INAL
    May 26, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Thanks Chiara, as you can see the coordination is something I have to struggle with… so please all bear with me for my typos and grammatical errors; I try to clean them up- but its loopy in here sometimes.

    And yes there is distress, because he as a doctor knows exactly what the other doctors are saying- no need for layman terms… ignorance is bliss and all that aside.

    Its the job modification that we are all negotiating; my boss, the doctors, my own physicians and us…how much is the problem; I get bored really quick; but my physicians say “bored is good for a few hours, it won’t kill you”; my boss rolls his eyes “are you guys kidding me, she’s a workaholic- we have to let her down easy”; the Medical Staff is “well if she’s upstairs in the OR we can keep an eye on her; while she keeps an eye on everyone else”; and my hubby is like “When is the next vacation time we have, because we are out of here for a month!”…lot’s of voices…let us see who prevails on the earthly plane.

    Puca I hope in some way coming by here and hearing us all chat; those of us who do the chatting- will help you come up with ways to take control of what may seem uncontrollable at the moment- even I have some measure of control – so I know you will get motivated, we are rooting for you!

  5. 5 Chiara
    May 26, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Oh definitely a workaholic must be weaned gradually, even off of the stress rush, and it is an addictive adrenal produced rush. Think taper to d/c, or behaviour therapy: gradual exposure to calm, not flooding with rest. LOL 🙂

    I’m sure you’ve all thought of it but you could analyze what are the most stressful aspects, and work as much in the more positive aspects. EG replace a meeting you really hate with something else you like, or have an assistant to do the paperwork that bogs your bustling workaholic self down, or whatever it is. Something that is stressful to one person, or even seems stressful to all, may be the best part of your day. When my sister and I discuss undergrad, I am always thankful I moved into residence, and she says the commute was the best part of her day! Needless to say I live in the city and she lives in the burbs!

    I am impressed sometimes at what a difference a small change can make. I resigned once from chairing a monthly meeting I actually enjoyed but it freed my research sacred hours exponentially. A friend who is an HR professional, and places senior executives, is a firm believer in the small change that makes a big difference. I once cut my clinic hours by 4 patient hours a week, which made a world of difference (after I figured out that although I had cut them in theory and in my brain, in reality I was working as many or more with “emergencies” and cut them in reality). Sometimes a lunchtime walk makes a difference, or not having lunch with the neurotic secretary anymore, or working with music or altering office decor and layout.

    Planned short vacations at frequent intervals are a recommended strategy that a colleague has used successfully and the hub advocates (from his stress reduction for executives reading). A colleague escaped work and the winter for a 3-4 day weekend in the Caribbean and found it was wonderfully refreshing. The same thing has happened for me on a 2-3 day conference with a change of geography and climate.

    Then there are the demon substances–AKA sources of caffeine! Hmmm, I reveal my addiction too readily, must stop there… LOL 🙂

    • 6 INAL
      May 26, 2009 at 6:49 pm

      Chiara, as I read the list of things all I can say to each is check, yep done that, yes I do that too… However the caffeine, well that one is a different story- which I am definitely working on… in fact I have abolished coffee at home- but the minute I get to the office there I go… and you will laugh but my office is said to be the calmest – Zen like office in the whole complex! People actually come in just to take in the calmness inside! LOL

      It was my boss who asked me for a list of things I would delegate to others; and there were a few- then it was things were not moving fast enough! oy vey! And lunch in my office is sacred- we all take our lunch separate from each other for a full hour; no excuses- my boss is a stickler for that; because he has a knack for forgetting lunch to his own detriment!

      But what I think are the really stressers are the ones I know I can not fix but have a penchant for wanting to fix- the nature of the beast so to speak- since that is what I do all day- give resolutions, solutions, ideas to others. I will have to work this one out more closely because it is the only thing left in the pile I haven’t actually addressed. And it happens to go against the grain having to sit back and watch things unfold without my hand in it somewhere- whether at the macro or micro level. But you give me food for thought as to how I may go about it.

      Thanks 🙂

  6. May 27, 2009 at 5:37 pm


    first of all, to thank you to both for your warm words.

    I love the wrinkle/iron say!

    As Chiara says, for workaholics stress of doing nothing can be as much as when working, so great the planning of the job modification, lowering the work schedule…your boss seems a good person, not everybody would do that.. and your husband, no words to describe, as you, so strong and wise. I see you have assumed it in a very courageous way, keep the faith!

    I’m going to tell you that.. for the first day in my life, and although I’m not proud of what I did, yesterday, I took the afternoon off because of a big headache I had. I’ve worked with fever, gastroenteritis…whatever, because I’m in a position I can not get sick or make holidays, whenever my body or I decide to do so…there’s tons of work waiting for me when I’m back, so I’ve always preferred to stay at work even in a half peace. But yesterday I did not. That’s a beginning!

    I started last holidays, while in Dubai, those were the first ones in almost 3 years I was not connected to a mobile or a laptop. I just attended two calls! Great!

    A dog is a very good idea, since mine died I’ve been postponing to get a new one, well in fact my idea is to get 2, but as I’ve no time to educate them and they will need to spend hours with me, I thought of buying them in summer, so in holidays they can get to know me and see how my life works. And two dogs because for one would not be fair to be left alone at home all day, it would be a depressed dog. I think that being 2, they can play, communicate, whatever…

    The time for change has already arrived, in most of my posts I’m always complaining ….the thing is that as things are not going well in the country, crisis… it’s difficult to get a change. But I must, because I feel I’m wasting my youth, here in the middle of nowhere, far from my family and lifetime friends, If I’d have moved for love, or for a great job, no complains, but going through all that for a job that it is not what I really want for me is not worth it at all.

    Thanks to both!

    • 8 INAL
      May 28, 2009 at 10:28 am

      Puca- now you are on your way- thinking on two dogs and taking the afternoon off because you are not feeling well- a good thing you need the rest.

      Take a look at a post I did on mindfulness- you may find ways for mini vacations without leaving your neighborhood.

      And you are most welcomed!

  7. 9 Chiara
    May 27, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Inal–I thought you might have been on top of the usual suggestions. I think for people like yourself it becomes more important to analyze, or to have someone as high functioning as you to help you to analyze what in particular is stressful for you, as probably the usual “culprits” don’t quite match up. Would a special project that would let you tackle more thoroughly one of those recalcitrant problems be desirable or possible? Or was “the ones I know I can not fix but have a penchant for wanting to fix” an eliptical reference to diagnosis/prognosis? There is a down side to “knowing the future” as you are probably aware, and perhaps ignoring the potential of all the time in between. I note we have a shared caffeine– hmmmm addiction such a harsh word! LOL 🙂

    Puca–2 dogs is a splendid idea! What type? Not taking vacations eventually catches up to one, so I’m glad you started taking yours, as well as genuine time off, and certainly sick days, or even “mental health days”. You are probably well aware of all the expat coping strategies and the community in Dubai. One always has fantasies about how interesting it would be to live in the UAE. A colleague (very religious Muslim) now lives in Sharjah. I have become fascinated with the RC Vicariate Apostolic of Arabia, and its place in contemporary Muslim countries. Anyway, I hope you find more connectedness in Dubai. I left a message on your lovely blog on the “What doesn’t kill you..” post but it seems to still be in cyberspace. Or the computer jinn ate it!!!

  8. 10 INAL
    May 28, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Chiara, yes the “knowing” can create a gap in the now- hopefully we can stay grounded.

    The interesting thing about my workload is the variety- the bits of a project- and the large segments- because everything is multidisciplinary for us, we never have a complete project to ourselves- we’d never finish them otherwise…

    I believe it more to be issues or wrinkles that pertain to home and family life where I know that not all are in my “fixing” realm. There was a time when only two of us had to make decisions- now the whole crew makes decisions- and this crept up faster than I thought possible- a mother relinquishing parts that are not hers to hold on to. As I let go of those; I have learned that we, the original two are back where we started- and while it takes some getting use to- its fun doing more impromptu things- I was feeling a tad guilty and my kids rolling their eyes with “paleasse where”d you get that idea” written all over them! LOL

    No more “super-mom” to the rescue, more like someone to the rescue of “super-mom”- gosh I finally get to feel pampered! :))

  9. May 28, 2009 at 5:47 pm


    Yorkies!! 2 small and cute little yorkies that when adult wheigt 2 kg as maximum.

    The internet jinn must be very hungry because the comment is not posted yet in what does not kill you.. but I’ve seen one in chamions of the woooorld! THKS

    No more super-mom, now you have super-kids and super-husband to paper you!!

  10. May 29, 2009 at 3:18 am

    Thanks for sharing this, INAL. Mashallah you are a very intelligent woman and an awesome mother. There is so much not only your children but even your readers learn from your words.

  11. 13 INAL
    May 29, 2009 at 6:44 am

    Thanks ya Suroor!
    There times they were growing up that I, let alone hubby, didn’t know if we were on the right track- but now as I see them hold of their lives- I am happy for those decisions- because they are human and part of the world community- they are what I hoped for- and I needed to make sure that they understood the hardest part of being- that “fortune favors a prepared mind”…I hope and pray for all parents to teach their brood these lessons and remind them that their respnsibilities go beyong the mundande in this world…

  12. 14 Chiara
    May 29, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Inal–ah ha verrry interrrrresting! (strokes beardless chin 🙂 )!
    The workaholic (incipient) empty-nester! Takes everyone by surprise doesn’t it?! Now, you know the drill, re-establish couplehood with hub, and don’t permanently dismantle any bedrooms–the “little ones” have a tendancy to return to home base between adventures, and when bruised (lightly if at all we hope).

    Puca–Yorkies rock! I’ll try another comment on the What doesn’t… post, and hope the computer jinn is too stuffed with the first one to eat it!

  13. May 31, 2009 at 7:00 am


    I attended a wedding yesterday, and one of the son’s of one of my mother´s best friend was complaining that at 35 years old, he just realized real life was not what his family thought him. They always gave him a esay life, as was the elder one he had money for everything, so they never encouraged him to study, her sisters and other brother did because they wanted. And now that he had a wife and a child, his mother, as he is a family man, does not give him money any more, and he finds he doesn’t know how to make it. He has never work, and when he tries, he just wants those so well paid positions with nothing to do (that don’t exist).Even his brother who has a fantastic masia turned hotel, says he could let him run it, and get the highest salary he pays to his manager (higher than mine!!!) if his brother worked a little, but he is only valid for talking with clients and being the landlord, no able to take decisions or solve a problem, or just do something when needed.

    I explain all that in order to say that you’re so right, fortune only favours prepaired minds, or at least, those have more pchances than those no so prepaired; and still not all parents teach valuable lessons. Don’t give sons a fish, teach them to fish.

    Chiara, the comment has been posted ok this time! the translation of that expression is: La mayor venganza es vivir bien. It would also apply to this case, the following says:
    Quien ríe el último ríe mejor; El mayor desprecio es no hacer aprecio, or La venganza se sirve en plato frio.

  14. 16 Chiara
    May 31, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Puca–Yes good work discipline has advantages! Emphasis on discipline as in “working hard and playing hard” or taking advantage of leisure time. I have an inlaw of an inlaw who cannot keep a job no matter what wasta his father has (considerable), who eventual will run out of his father’s wasta and patience too.

    Thanks for the translation. No matter what translation I try I never find it in a list of Spanish proverbs. It is still good, and useful as you have used it.

    Inal–did the loopy meds or the migraines get you? I hope neither.

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