Zen and the art of buying za’atar

I have always struggled with an ongoing internal narrative about the wrongness of the way I am doing things and the potential negative outcomes of my ‘mistakes’, glass half empty behaviour that is learned not innate but nonetheless difficult to rid myself of.

As a parent it has often felt like warding off a hostile universe as I desperately hold onto my children’s hands so as to not risk them running in front of cars or fall off the path into the pond.
When I measure my parenting style against that of the children’s Father, it looks pedantic and paranoid and I have viewed his way of doing things as uncautious and inattentive. The result is that parenting has always worn me out as I struggle to implement the things I thought necessary, imposing my very middle class two child style family vision onto a family twice the size and grown within entirely different circumstances.

My negative internal narrative has fed into other areas also. I have had an almost pathological fear of being late because it is ‘unorganised, disrespectful and disruptive’. Even ten years of attending functions on time only to discover that the advertised time is just a marker for ‘starts three hours after this’ has not beat this fear out of me. I hate being late and I hate others being late. I have not adjusted to Muslim time.

Until this morning, when a house devoid of lunch materials forced me to agree to buy it.
‘I will drop you off at homeschooling club and then go and buy it and then bring it to you’, I said.
And this met much displeasure as the house was also devoid of breakfast materials.
‘Mum, please’
I found myself experience a familiar tightening of the chest, we will be late. And then it hit me, it doesn’t matter. I am not going to make a regular habit of it. It doesn’t matter.
So I pulled up outside the Za’atar shop and left the children in the car. Disregarding the voice that told me it is illegal because the oldest is only ten and they were out of vision. Without looking for hidden Today Tonight camera’s, without seeing newpaper headlines flashing across the sky ‘Irresponsible Fundamentalist Muslim leaves four children alone in a car.’
I walked those ten metres without looking back.
At this point you may be wondering what a half gluten free family is doing in a Za’atar shop, but we are half Lebanese too and what can I say but ‘maktoub’.
I placed my order and sank into a chair and then suddenly, semi satori amongst the man’oush. A deep peace washed over me as I just ‘was’ . Five minutes passed with barely a thought, to just be, on a plastic chair, no children and the scent of oregano and sesame.

Life will clearly never be the same again.


Wafa having her own satori moment.

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