no, I’m not pregnant. it’s just that in the beginning of the fourth month, if you are pregnant, you can kind of let your breath out. the worry of the first trimester is over and now (usually inshallah and knock on wood), you can just settle into the “new normal” of losing your waistline and growing your appetite.  It’s our fourth-month anniversary of moving to Abu Dhabi and I’m feeling myself let my breath out…but this time, part of why I can do that has to do with these boys–not babies any more–who have helped ease my own transition. This letter is for them.

My dear boys,

Today we have lived in Abu Dhabi for four months.  In that span of time, we’ve had to evacuate our building in the middle of the night (down 37 flights of stairs, on September 11th, no less!); we’ve traveled in India, explored the oasis city of Al Ain, kayaked in a mangrove swamp during a lunar eclipse, and one of us (lucky dog sixth grader) spent a week in Ephesus.

These adventures are nothing, however,  compared to the everyday adventure of establishing our new lives in Abu Dhabi.  The little things were, in some ways, the most difficult: we couldn’t find the right sheets for your beds, or the right pillows (note to self: when repatriating family, bring your own linens, even if you’re moving into a furnished apartment).  Our great quest for Toys R Us was a bust: no up-to-date legos, no Nerf basketball.  On the other hand, the Toys R Us is linked to a Tru-Value hardware store, so we didn’t find Nerf but I found all-important bathroom hooks and a new spatula.  We sorted out grocery stores, bookstores, and spent more hours than I’m sure you care to remember wandering the aisles of Ikea.

In four short months, the two of you started a new school, made new friends, joined new soccer teams, learned to love butter chicken from Moti Mahal Deluxe and any form of Lebanese chicken shish tawook.  You found the humor in our endless quest to find decent pizza, and you’ve found the joy in walking to the naan bakery for fresh bread.

You settled in. You figured it out. And then a few weeks ago, we asked you to change again and start a new school in January. You grumbled, you griped, there were tears.  Maybe even a few slammed doors.  But the other morning, when I dropped you off for your “come meet your new teacher day,” off you went, smiling, heads held high, arms around each others shoulders.

The two of you have spent more time together in the last four months than you have in years.  There aren’t as many friends clamoring for attention, or as many activities—we move more slowly here than we did in New York.  Together the two of you could fuel a city with your creative energies: building lego ships and towers more elaborate than any store-bought set; writing and illustrating stories, creating computer games, building sand castles that stretch half the length of the beach.  And okay, sometimes you use that creative energy to annoy the living crap out of each other, which is probably to be expected, right?  But do you really, really have to argue debate—in ever louder voices—about the possibility of a mouse surviving a sandstorm?

Bicker McBickersons notwithstanding, the two of you have astonished and impressed me over the last four months. Your curiosity, (relative) good humor, and resilience have helped me to survive this transition.  Even when you’re making me angry—as when one of you screamed “shit head” the other night—I’m still impressed: you yelled it in Arabic.

I hope you both feel as proud of yourselves as I feel of you.

Love, Mommy

ps: say “shit head” again, in any language, and you’re toast.

it’s lovelinks time! i’m linking up and you should too! click this nifty button and bring your blog over to the linkup! Or don’t bring your blog, just come read some funny smart writing…then come back on Thursday and vote for your three favorites. It’s a lot easier than holiday shopping, I guarantee!