28 May 2012

10 Mama Fears Before Departure (real and imagined)

This morning I had my first cup of coffee on our porch (out of a daily average of 50) while Ani happily swung in her swing beside me. After she fell back asleep, I snuck inside to pour another cup when I heard Mamicho arrive.

As soon as she found Ani alone(!) on the porch I heard her say, "Anifa!" (No idea why she calls her this.) "Why are you out here alone?! Who left you here? Are you sick? Did they make you sleep here all night? Is this what they're going to do with you in the United States?!"

And then I was reminded of all the fears Mamicho and Mama Youyou have shared with us over the years before our Stateside departure. Here they are in no particular order:

1: Charlotte will return to Congo and immediately be terrified of everyone because there are only white people and no gens noirs aux √Čtats-unis.

centrifugal by shoothead, on Flickr
Nope, no Congolese here.
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  shoothead 

2: The girls will get bitten by mosquitoes on their faces right before we leave and everyone will think they're neglectful Mamas. (In reality, chances are this would happen on our watch, not theirs.)

3: I will forget to sort through my clothes and give them what I don't want anymore.

4: I will forget to sort through my shoes and give them what I don't want anymore.

5: Charlotte will be miserable because we live in an apartment building in the States and she won't have easy access to her favorite place, the outdoors. (Mamicho has since learned that we don't live in New York City, as most assume all Americans do. And has seen many pictures of our homes in the country. She feels a little better about Charlotte's access to grass this year.)

Boston cityscape by Bert Kaufmann, on Flickr
Yeah, pretty opposite of the Shenandoah Valley.
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  Bert Kaufmann 

6: In Ani's attempts to start walking she will fall and bang her head and end up with a nasty bruise right before her return. (Most days her forehead is black and blue from this awful stage of learning to walk.) Therefore, Mama Youyou has vowed to carry her everywhere right before we go so this doesn't happen.

7: I will rely too much on the Ergo to carry them around and no one will carry them au dos avec pagne, the girls' preferred method.

8: Charlotte will try to speak French (or worse, Lingala) with other children, and they will think she is crazy.

9: Charlotte will have only me to speak French with her and she will return to Congo with my American accent or she will have totally forgotten everything. --Okay, I made this one up, but they're probably thinking it.

10: They will miss their "real" Mamas so desperately that they will pine away for Congo and have a miserable time. --I made this one up too, but I'm sure they're thinking it. And we'll just let them continue believing it because at least once a day Mama Youyou or Mamicho reminds me that two months is a really long time. "Deux mois? C'est un temps trop long, Mama."


  1. RE #5: Assure the Mamas that not only will Charlotte and Toto have lots of space, the farm house is being expanded to even better accommodate their playing and sleeping needs.

    RE #6: DO NOT tell the Mamas about our wicked steps and the universal toto joy of performing monkey antics on said steps!!

    RE #9: It's a good thing that I did not manage to learn French. The Mamas cannot blame a horrid Virginia-acquired accent on me!

    RE #10: Remind the Mamas that 10 months is a REALLY long time for the bibis and babus in Virginia. And thank them for taking good care of our dear watoto in our absence.

  2. #5: When I told my host-mom in the village that we had a garden, she mimed carrying farm equipment down a flight of stairs because she also assumed we lived in massive apartment buildings (even though she'd never seen one).


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