I’m Naomi! I moved to Mexico City with my family five years ago, shortly after leaving Spain – our home for the previous eight years. I’m convinced that creating authentic, intimate relationships may be the riskiest activity that I participate in; it’s also what brings me the greatest joy in life! Also, I’m exceptionally good at hunting down the best taco stands in my city.
I wake up to the swish, swish, swish of the street sweeper’s homemade twig broom scraping against the sidewalk three stories below; I roll over and fall back asleep, though. He sweeps our sidewalk at 6 am, and I don’t have to get up till 7:30. While I sleep my kids are getting ready for their day: they set out their white Monday uniforms last night, and they know where to find the yogurt and granola for their breakfast; I just need to roll out of bed with enough time to brush my teeth and twist Selma’s hair into tight, new braids before we head out for the 15 minute walk to our local public school. Joshua (my husband) doesn’t have any work commitments this morning, so today we’ll make school drop off a family affair.
Joshua and I will often start our day together at one of the many fantastic coffee shops in our neighborhood. We find that it’s a good way to be present in our neighborhood, and it’s the time we use to process the events of the day before and to plan the day ahead. Malachai is with us today, though, so we opt for good food over good coffee, and go to a quirky local diner for chilaquiles – Mexico’s star breakfast food: freshly fried tortillas soaked in a bath of hot, spicy salsa – topped with sour cream, onions, and grated cheese (If that doesn’t sound amazing to you, trust me! it is!)
On our way home from breakfast we stop by the chicken truck – a broken down truck, permanently parked on the street just a couple of blocks from our apartment. The chicken guy is awesome! Do I want my chicken breast pounded into fillets? He’ll do in on the spot! Do I need instructions on how to properly prep my chicken feet for broth? He can tell me how! Today I ask for a couple of chicken breasts cut into cubes. I’m making a double batch of curry – half for us and half for my neighbor across the street who just had a baby. I feel a bit sheepish bringing her curry . . . but to defend myself, I did give her the choice between curry and a more Mexican dish and she insisted she wanted curry . . . so curry it is!
I leave Malachai and Joshua waiting for the chicken and I duck into the little store right next to the chicken truck to get some rice and cilantro. Sometimes their apples are overpriced, and I’m not entirely satisfied with their cleanliness . . . but they are open every day of the year, give my boys honest change when I send them to shop without me, and always, always have the best avocados.
We’re home with our groceries; Joshua heads to his office (our bedroom) to start his workday, and I prepare myself to tackle my kitchen. I’m pretty sure that all the women of the world could be divided into two categories: The ones who wash all the dishes before they go to bed, and the ones who leave the clean up for the next day. Most Mexican women fall into the first category; I fall (sometimes happily, sometimes ashamedly) into the second. So that’s what’s next. I really don’t mind today. Today’s dirty dishes are a sweet reminder of yesterday’s guests – our Mexican friends who partner with us in planting a church in our neighborhood. These are the friends who have grabbed us by the hand and taught us to love Mexico. They take us to their favorite taco stands, they teach us Mexican idioms until our brains hurt, they step into the messiness and joys of our lives and invite us into their own. Yeah. I don’t mind today’s dishes.
While I clean the kitchen Malachai starts up his school day. We found that Jr. High in Mexico can be . . . complicated. Malachai is bravely stepping into a new online system this year. (Don’t make talk about it; I might start to cry) I’m kind of super proud of him.
After the kitchen comes laundry. Proper laundering techniques are a big deal here in Mexico. With the start of a new school year comes renewed determination to keep my kid’s white uniforms sparkly, Mexican white. I spent the summer asking my Mexican friends about their laundering methods, and today I try the first one, which involves rubbing a stinky pink soap on my white items, soaking them, scrubbing them, and then hanging them in the sun to dry. I do have a dryer, and I do use it often . . . but I love the view of the city that I get when I use my rooftop drying cage too. I love the way that it pulls me up and out of the sounds and smells of the city streets and reminds me that my city does, indeed, have trees.
The kitchen is clean and my laundry is hung . . . I settle down with my bible and prayer cards knowing that this is likely the last bit of quiet I have for the rest of the day. I glance at the clock not too long after, and suddenly It’s 12:20! Josu and Selma’s school day ends at 12:30. Ay! I rush out the door. Students exit the school building at the end of the school day whether parents are present or not, and I hate arriving late. The mama community is pretty strong, so I know there will be a handful of women who will keep a tight eye on my kiddos if I’m not there on time, but still, I rush . . . I jaywalk through a few red lights (Mexico taught me how to do that!) . . . and catch Josu and Selma right as they are let out (phew!)
The long sidewalk in front of the school is lined with stands that sell everything from tupperware, to plastic toys, to uniforms to tacos; it’s chaos! We weave in and out of the crowd – stopping periodically to greet other school moms with a kiss on the cheek and dodging the sixth grade boys in the middle foam spray battle. As we pass the fruit stand Selma begs me to stop. It’s prickly pear season . . . and it’s her favorite. I say yes because I’m a really cool mom (also, because I need to stop their anyways to buy a couple of coconuts to blend up for the curry, but mostly because I’m a really cool mom.)
As soon as we get back home, I start prepping for lunch – the heaviest meal of our day. I send Malachai up to the roof to get the clothes off the line, while Josu and Selma listen to the Story of the World CD and play legos. Sometimes I supplement their Mexican public school education more aggressively, but for now, I’m pretty happy with Story of the World and Legos!
Selma is on kitchen chore this week; I call her in to help me to finish with lunch and set the table. We ask Joshua to join us; he finishes up an email and does. This is one of the great delights of our days – because of his work schedule, Joshua very often CAN join us for lunch. We’re having spaghetti today – but we’ll serve it with a spoonful of Mexican chilis blended with oil (of course). We love you Mexico.
We found root beer at a local supermarket last week! That doesn’t happen very often, so after lunch we have root beer floats . . . just because we can. While we drink our floats we read the next couple of chapters of our read-aloud. My kid’s Spanish is really excellent, but I’ve noticed that their English vocabulary is much stronger in comparison to their Spanish vocabulary; I suspect that is likely linked to the fact that their extracurricular reading is primarily in in English, so our read-aloud is in Spanish this time around.
The next few hours are filled with the wonderfully mundane things that make up family life. We do homework, break up wrestling matches turned fist fights, practice guitar, and soak today’s white uniforms in preparation for next Monday. It’s almost 5 pm, so I turn over the rest of the day’s duties to Joshua and head to a nearby coffee shop to meet up with a friend. We spend an hour together talking about some really hard things . . . but also about how God delights in redeeming suffering.
We walk two blocks together to another friend’s home. This is where we meet weekly to pray together with some of the women in our church; it’s one of the brightest spots in my week.