As we honor strong and hardworking women all over the world today, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the Moroccan mama.
I have stayed in her houses. She is old enough to have deep lines on face from a lifetime of work but not quite old enough to have “matriarch” status. Her house is full of children, grandchildren, in-laws, random lost American backpackers (full story at a later time) and others who may stay for a few days or a few decades.
She is the first to wake in the morning and the last to retire at night. In the morning, there must be mint tea and coffee ready as the others waken. A platter of bread, eggs, olives and cheese emerges from the kitchen. She urges the adult children to “eat, eat” to fill their stomachs before they set off to work or school. Then the attention turns to getting the grandchildren ready for the day.
a Moroccan mama does not want anyone to go hungry. That means cooking lunch is started as soon as breakfast is finished. Preparing dinner is started as soon as lunch is finished. And between, there are snacks and endless cups of mint tea. The adult children wander into the house and nosh as their schedules permit and there’s always houseguests and visitors. Every visit means a new platter overflowing with bread, olives and mint tea. A. Moroccan mama pretty much lives in the kitchen.
Everyone must have clean clothes. That might mean hours of washing by hand or one or two hours of sitting by the rusty old washing machine, making sure it keeps running and then hanging everything up to dry.
The grandchildren will need snacks when they get back from school and then the Moroccan mama runs around breaking up scuffles, making dinner and baking bread with the kids constantly underfoot.
A Moroccan mama worries all the time. About her children and her grandchildren. About the various dramas, from old family feuds to whether her former son-in-law will try to kidnap the grandkids. About whether everyone has been fed enough.
Late at night, sometimes the Moroccan mama will fall asleep with a grandchild snuggled at her side. Mostly though, she will stay up to make sure any stragglers are properly fed, the kitchen is cleaned and her loved ones are tucked in safe for the night.
The next day, it all begins again…
Thank you, my hardworking Moroccan mother-in-law. You raised a great son. Thank you for trusting me with him.