Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why Saudi Women Need Drivers

It seems my interest in the Saudi Arabian justice system is becoming a repeated blog topic for me. As I mentioned in 2 previous posts here and here, I lived in Saudi Arabia two times so my interest is more than casual. My experiences living in the middle east and in other parts of the world give me perspective on many issues we deal with here in the United States, especially as they relate to our individual freedoms.

A couple of months ago I wrote about several brave Saudi women who were audacious enough to DRIVE!! The nerve! That's right. Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive, so they must either have male family members take them everywhere or hire personal drivers at several hundred dollars a month. No soccer moms there, maybe soccer drivers, but the point is that it is a really really bad idea to drive in the country if you're a woman unless you're willing to go to jail. That's exactly what happened to the women who decided to drive in protest.

Now one of the women, Shaima Jastaina, will receive 10 lashings by whip for driving without permission. One of the religious mufti who enforce religious law in the country said about the ban on women's driving, "It's for women's good.". Apparently it's to protect them from having too much freedom which would lead them to sin. I have to say if there's anything that has led me to sin, it hasn't been driving a car. Sometimes my car was my escape from a questionable situation. And now that I'm a mom, staying home in isolation with no means of escape would be much more likely to lead me to do something crazy than being able to get in my car and just drive. Although having a driver sounds swanky, I often find driving therapeutic, except for driving in Korea which is a story for another day.

The Saudi ban on female driving applies to foreign women, too. Yes, my mother had to use a driver who was shared with other foreign women at my dad's company. Imagine the scheduling nightmare, just saying. No impromptu trips to the store or last minute errands. My mother handled all of that pretty well considering she had 3 children and my dad was gone nearly half the time on business trips. Her attitude was that we were guests in the country and we had chosen to be there. True enough, but for Saudi women this is a way of life not a two- year stint in some exotic country.

If you'd like to read more about this wave of Saudi women taking to the streets, you can read this article from the Associated Press and this previous post on my blog Suffrage Saudi Style

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why I Still Feel Like I'm Faking It

It all came out in a torrent of words, tears and emotions. It had been a tough couple of weeks with the kids and trying to keep up with everything. When my husband made a comment about doing the dishes so they don't sit overnight, I lost it. He wasn't suggesting that I do the dishes; he was offering to do them. But, to me it sounded like a very loud, "Can't you even keep up with the dishes?"

In the outburst that followed, I said something that keeps coming back to me. I was going on and on about the hard week I was having and how I spend most of my time and energy just keeping our four young children fed and alive. And then I blurted out, "I don't know what I'm doing! I don't know how to do this right.". After four babies in five years, I don't know what I'm doing? I don't know how to do this mothering thing? Really? What did I mean by saying that? I realized that somewhere inside of me I still feel like the new mom with a two-day-old baby who looks down on her child and thinks, "Is this for real? Am I supposed to know what to do with this child?". I still feel like an imposter. Like one day someone's going to see me for the fraud that I am and call me out, "Hey, you! What do you think you're doing pretending to be a mom?"

The irony of it is that amidst my daily mistakes and piles of things undone, my children actually think I know everything. My oldest, Maija, even asked me recently, "Mommy, do you know everything?". Wow, I'm pretty good at this faking it thing, at least in the eyes of my six-year-old. Unfortunately, I don't know everything nor can I do everything. I'm just hoping that when all is said and done, my children will look back and remember a happy childhood and will be blissfully unaware that I had no idea what I was doing.