Chaos in Cairo and a Mother’s Heart

There is chaos in Cairo and we have not heard from our daughter Annie in 2 1/2 days.  We are glued to the live-stream from Al Jazeera, currently watching repeats of video clips shown earlier in the day.  Tahrir Square in the center of Cairo is the focal point of much of the chaos.  Footage of angry crowds, burning vehicles, and soldiers in riot gear run continuously across the screen and we are acutely aware that Annie is in a flat just a few blocks away. Despite the State Department phone call that came from Washington DC earlier in the day stating she was fine, we want to hear from her.  We yell at the TV screen when our public officials make statements that seem ignorant of the reality on the ground and we’re cheering on those that voice an understanding of the cultural divide between East and West and the need to understand just how frustrated Egyptians are, the voices of reason amid noise.

All the media tools of 2011 are useless against my growing concern.  Twitter, Facebook, Gchat, Gmail, cell phones, Google voice, Skype – none of them are a weapon against the seed of panic that’s rising from my gut to my throat. When I became a mom the chink in my armor was revealed.  It came in the form of a 6 lb. 14 oz sweet-smelling baby girl named Annie and suddenly vulnerability had a whole new meaning.  It’s that piece – the deep sensitivity and knowing that I want to be with her to make sure she’s safe that takes over as I madly write her an email, wanting it to be in her inbox to view as soon as she can log in to her Gmail account.

My head knows she’s probably ok, surrounded by her strong community of friends, each of them developing their narrative to share with parents and friends once the global world is again at their fingertips.  Thinking ahead to playing the game two truths and a lie where one of the truths is “I was in Cairo during the “Day of Rage” on January 25th, 2011″ and having a great story to tell their children. And anyone that knows Annie knows that she loves being in Cairo, right in the middle of life in “Umm el Dunya”  (Mother of the World) able to reconnect to part of her past through her present.

My heart – that’s the part that needs convincing.  That’s the part that puts the cell phone ringer at the highest pitch possible to catch that call from Cairo, no matter what time of day or night.  It’s the part that keeps the computer on all night to hear that distinctive Skype ring wake me from my sleep just to hear that my grown-up, 25 year-old, very capable baby girl is just fine.

Epilogue:  And the call came – 3:15 am “Hi Mom and Dad, we just got cell phone service and I’m safe and sound!”

18 thoughts on “Chaos in Cairo and a Mother’s Heart

  1. Marilyn I read your posts on Cairo, they are well written and extremely informative. What I liked best though is in the middle of all the fear and trauma you were able to understand and describe emotions so well. I would have been a shaking mess. I admire your faith, love and courage. Yes I have often though I was a strong woman till I became a mother and so vulnerable yet to protect those who call me mom I can summon all my strength and more.
    May Annie stay safe



    1. What a lovely comment- thank you. Your words on motherhood resonate so well. Who knew we could be open to so many different emotions through the sweet-smelling baby flesh? I’m so glad you read and commented.


  2. Marylin,

    I’m reading attentively the moment you make a new post. Please continue to do so. I hope your daughter Annie stays safe and sound!


    1. Thank you so much Farhan! You made my day – spoke with Annie earlier – she is no longer 2 blocks from Tahrir but has moved to the Dokki area. So appreciate your reading and your concern.


  3. Nothing makes us more vulnerable than love. Sweet, sweet pain. That Annie is where she is is a testament to your faith in Love. It ain’t easy, but so, so worth it!
    When you hear from Annie, tell her there is some salmon carpaccio in her future. Love you! (Cliff, too.)


  4. Another generation of TCK’s, yearning to be in midst of global change, wanting to make a difference. I can’t help but wonder how our grand-parents managed hearing about news in Pakistan, the Middle East, and yet had no internet, cell-phones, and intermittent land-lines at best. The longer I live, the more “the Greatest Generation” -our parents and their peers, become precious heros to me.


    1. Thanks so much for the comment! It is so true – when I think back to the 6-day War, the 1972 War between India and Pakistan when Bangladesh was formed, the Iranian revolution, the Kabul coup and then Russian invasion. It all happened and made headlines here with no ability to communicate the way we do now. So – do you think the world has gotten more dangerous, or do you think we just have more methods to describe and communicate that danger?


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