These past few months, I debated over and over again in my head whether or not I should go to Lebanon with my one-year-old for Christmas vacation. I’m not gonna lie, I opted not to. The fact of the matter is that it can be an absolute frustration being the mom of a baby in Lebanon. It can be a nightmare to push your stroller up the stairs all the time, since ramps for strollers and wheelchairs do not seem necessary in the eyes of shop owners or government officials. Even after you manage to push your stroller up to a restaurant or store, you will probably struggle to get your stroller through the tables or aisles because the mommy with a stroller is simply not the priority. This is even worsened if the electricity is out and you’re carrying a 13 kg toddler up 5 or 6 floors.
To top it off, you can count the number of proper diaper changing rooms and breastfeeding rooms that exist in Lebanon on one hand. You can get stuck in traffic for up to an hour trying to get from Hamra to Hamra with a crying baby and beeping cars. And of course, everyone from the grocer to the doctor has some remark to say about your parenting: “leh ma mlabbesti ta2iyye” w “leh hal2ad 3ambeta3me” w “haram ma 3amyishba3.”
Besides the daily nuisances, being a mother in Lebanon can be difficult because women’s and mothers’ rights are a long way from being given their due respect. We have to fight for our every right, from maternity leave to passing our nationality to our children. It is a country where security does not exist and every mom is constantly worried about little things that she should not be concerned with, such as what areas are safest to take her baby for a play-date.
Moreover, it is a country that lacks unity. Our own politicians have taught us to step over each other, if need be, for our own personal benefit, and it seems they have infected the masses. I will tell you though, they did not infect the mothers in Lebanon.
If there is one incredible thing about being a mother in Lebanon that I have experienced firsthand after my delivery in Beirut in December 2013, it is that amidst all the hardships, Lebanon has a wonderful mother support community- especially for new mothers. Within this community you will find sympathy, guidance and support, as well a meeting of culture, tradition and science. You will find a human voice that is constantly there for you, telling you “you will make it through the difficulty, we are all in this together and we will make it.” You will find that the image of Lebanese moms being “lazy, nanny-dependent, and pompous” is simply not fair and far from the truth. The mothers in Lebanon are loving, caring, educated and strong-willed women who push through the dust to provide the best they can for their children. Many of them are working moms who work tirelessly all day and still manage to come home with a smile and spend as much quality time as possible with their babies. Some of them are single moms who suffer trying to raise their kids alone in an environment that does not support single moms. Some of them are stay-at-home moms whose duties are just as difficult, and at times even more difficult than other moms. “Chapeaux bas” as some would say.
You will find that amid the turmoil in Lebanon, these mothers are concerned with how to practice “attachment parenting”, how to support other working moms, how to protect the rights of breastfeeding women, how to best feed their children, and how to improve as mothers, entrepreneurs, and working women. In this community, you will find a sharing of values and a common goal in mind. You will find candid discussions and fruitful debates. What you will not find is jealousy, hatred, discrimination, or judgment. I am proud to say the mothers in Lebanon are a united minority among the overshadowing discrimination and lack of unity. For those reasons, dare I even say, maybe the mothers of Lebanon should run the country instead!
I am sure I don’t only speak for myself when I say these groups have really influenced my mothering experience and they still do every single day. To give you a small overview of the wonderful online support community, I will mention a few of the groups that I am personally a fan of. Some of them are support groups specifically for lactating mothers, and the rest are support groups for all mothers in Lebanon. This is by no means intended to be a comprehensive list of the support groups in Lebanon or the Lebanese mom blogs, nor is it put in any particular order. Drum roll please.
Lactica: Lactica is an NGO that supports, promotes, and protects breastfeeding in Lebanon. They do a great job at all 3 goals. However, Lactica is more than that. It is a family. Moreover, it is a gathering of a common love and concern for other mothers in the community. They organize events year round including campaigns, exhibitions, movie screenings, marathons, nurse ins, if need be, and sometimes just a well-needed picnic or gathering to support each other. They are who you would call if someone told you you’re not allowed to breastfeed in public! They will “peacefully” fight for your rights and get you your due apology back.
“من أم لـ أم” مجموعة أصدقاء لاكتيكا لدعم الرضاعة الطبيعية في لبنان: is a facebook page related to Lactica.
Mama to Mama Beirut Breastfeeding Support: is a private breastfeeding support group in Lebanon for women. Don’t let the “Beirut” bit faze you, it is a group for moms from all over Lebanon and even from outside Lebanon. The group just celebrated its 1000th member, and for me they are one of the major reasons I am still breastfeeding today. Read my experience with Mama to Mama on my post “6 Preparatory steps for breastfeeding”.
On Mama to Mama, you will find tips and advice on how to overcome breastfeeding difficulties, as well as all other breastfeeding questions or concerns. Above all, you will find supporting words and a listening ear. This is where you will hear “you should be proud of yourself, what you are doing is amazing for your baby.”
Breastfeeding in Lebanon: is another great breastfeeding support group for “all members” of society including fathers. It now has 1.6K members and counting.
Super mommy in Beirut group: This is a well-rounded group in Lebanon with the motto “Empower-Inspire-Celebrate” that discusses all mommy-related topics. The group features moms from different backgrounds such as a psychologists, speech experts, nutritionists, pediatricians, and many others that can help with all questions. On the super mommy group and blog, you will find outstanding articles on wonderful workshops, reviews, recipes, and articles on nutrition, health, parenting and other topics.
Mothers support in Lebanon (MSL): This group is a community for mothers, mothers-to-be, or any woman looking to expand her mothering experience in Lebanon. It is also a breastfeeding support group. On this group you will find the latest updates on breastfeeding, tips and precautions by FDA, educational workshops and exhibitions, along with general questions from one mommy to another.
Attachment parenting in Lebanon: This group aims to discuss and educate other mothers on attachment parenting. Why is attachment parenting important and how can we apply it? You will find posts on home schooling in Lebanon, the dangers of sleep training methods, the importance of bonding at birth and many more.
Moms around Beirut: is a group for “all moms in Lebanon who want to find new friends, to share feelings and thoughts, to ask and to give suggestions to each other.” It is a really sweet group that features all sorts of topics and help on everything, from where to find the best hair salon, the nicest places to enjoy with the kids, as well as parenting tips such as how to teach your kids recycling or improving motor skills among other topics. All with an eye on nature and natural life style.
There are also other great groups such as: Lunch box ideas for mommies, baby lead weaning, family events and more, support group for young moms, among others. Not to mention the amazing NGOS in support of mothers, such as LLL Lebanon.
I also want to mention a few nice mommy blogs in town who are all part of this wonderful community. Mamas2Mamas blog is about pregnancy, motherhood, and everything that our life changing experience brings along with it. There is also Mamaholic a blog by a working mom in praise of fellow working moms. In addition, there is Beautiful feet a blog about an expat mom’s family journey in Lebanon with her thoughts on life in Beirut, parenthood, and other topics. Reading another mom’s story, and seeing the similarities in your life and experiences can be undeniably refreshing and helpful in your own journey as well.
Looking back, I am glad I didn’t go to Lebanon for the Christmas vacation, not because being a mother in Lebanon is difficult, but because “Zeina” and Karim were definitely not going to get along. If you’re already part of these groups and you agree, share this article for other moms to know about the mothering community that Lebanon has. If you’re a mom and you are not part of the groups yet, hop on and let’s expand this community.
Follow my new blog for my own mothering journey with nutrition data on how to best nurture yourself and your baby while pregnant and beyond on my facebook page One thousand days of life or instagram on @onethousanddaysoflife.
Post edited by Baraa El-Sabbagh and Mysaa Dimachk.
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