Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mother's Day(s) -- Antrosht-- Comes after the Rains Stop . . at least in Ethiopia

Celebrating Mother’s Day is a special time for me. My husband and my kids each have their own way of making me feel cherished. The method changes as they grow but the sentiment is true. This year, my 10 year old was proud to have prepared my morning coffee and brought it to me in bed. He then produced a homemade card which introduced his power point presentation. It showed his quirky nature including "a mom graph" and favorite things he likes to do with me. He had been tucked away in secret for days working on it. My 14 year old designed a card. The cover showed his artistic talent which included a number of clever hidden messages I would likely have missed without his explanation. Inside, he opened his heart providing me a peak into his inner self and his view of our connection. My 3 year old got into the act with a wonderful painting of a butterfly where the wings were her hands. She’s couldn’t quite get the celebratory wording of the day right. She kept telling me “Happy Mother’s Time,” which seemed almost better.

Since she is adopted from Ethiopia, I wondered how mother’s day is celebrated in her home country. I found familiar dates in the US have different significance elsewhere as I blogged about previously. Having been raised by Dutch parents and marrying a Greek native, I learned not to assume a significant day for America is necessarily significant elsewhere. What I learned was quite interesting.

Ethiopia celebrates Mother’s day(s), “Antrosht,” in the fall, after the rainy season. It doesn't have a fixed date but can occur in October or November depending on when the rain lets up. The family celebrates with a meal and continues the festivities over two to three days. I like this version already. The children bring ingredients to make a traditional hash. Girls are charged with bringing butter, cheese, vegetables and spices; the boys with bringing a bull or lamb. I was fascinated that it broke down gender lines even at this young age. I imagined Leyla bringing her ingredients. I think she would embrace her part as she enjoys the culinary arts. As soon as she spots me begin activities at the kitchen counter, she pushes a bar stools, significantly taller than she, over next to me. She then excited climbs up, anxious not to miss a thing. Once she is safely perched, she scans the landscape and asks, “Can I help, Mama? PLEASE!”

In the Ethiopian celebration, the mom prepares the meat hash. A little different than my ideal Mother’s day where I don’t have to lift a finger. (I did say ideal, this has never actually occurred). Also the mother and daughter there put butter on their faces and chests as part of the ritual. This could be fun although maybe not so good for my combination complexion. Having caught Leyla experimenting with my creams and lotions on more than one occasion, I imagine she would have fun with this.

They dance and sing songs about family and heroes. This I like too. Leyla is moved by music. When she hears a favorite song on the radio, she enthusiastically orders, “Dance with me, Mama!!” I scope her up and happily swinging her around. We both laughing giddily. Her ten year old brother, my budding photographer, took some pictures of us cavorting about a year back, seen below. She never seems to tire of it. And my soul soars when I have her in my arms joyfully moving to the beat or watching her twirl with abandon alone. She also loves to make her own music. When we drive around on the weekends, I hear her little cartoon character voice blending with the pop vocals emanating from the car stereo. I find a spontaneous smile spread across my face as I peak at her sweet face in the rear view mirror. She sings purely for herself which is truly beautiful.

After the rainy season finishes in Ethiopia this fall, we may celebrate a version of “Antrosht” or Ethiopian “Mother’s Time” in Seattle (ironically when the rain starts here) to honor of my daughter’s heritage -- now part of our family fabric-- and to honor motherhood which shouldn’t be celebrated just one day a year.

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