Stranger 013


What’s your full name?

Roya Haririan Fohrer

Were you named after anyone?

I share my first name with my mom’s cousin but I don’t think I was necessarily named after her. I think my mom just liked the name because it was simple.

What’s your average day like?

I have 2 young kids and my husband commutes about 40 miles to work everyday. He and I are both up by 5am. He leaves for work (to miss traffic) and I start the day with our kids. I get myself ready and read or meditate for 15 minutes. Our kids get up on their own and play together. They come out of their rooms at 6am to feed the dogs and have breakfast. They eat, make their beds, get dressed and my daughter practices her piano and we are out the door by 7:30 to take my daughter to Kindergarten.

My son goes to preschool 2 mornings/week. If he has school that day, we go home and do some chores together (laundry, clean up) before I drop him off at school. If he doesn’t have school, we go to his swim lessons, playdates, park, museum, zoo or run errands until we pick my daughter up from school. It’s nice to have that time alone with him. The two days he’s in school, I workout and walk our dogs after I drop him off. We have a lab and a golden retriever and they need a lot of exercise. I then try to make time to meet with a friend or volunteer at my daughter’s school. The mornings go by quickly.

Actually, the afternoons go by pretty quickly, too. My daughter is very involved in music so 3 afternoons/week, she has either a piano or cello lesson. If she doesn’t have a lesson, we practice at home after school. Throw in a soccer practice or a playdate and the week is full. I try to give the kids and hour or two on their own to play at home before dinner.

My husband doesn’t get home from work until around 9pm so I do the dinner/bath/bed routine on my own. The kids are usually in bed by 7pm and I’m pretty tired. I try to meditate again before I shower and get in bed to watch TV and eat ice cream. He comes home early in the afternoon on Fridays and we try not to overschedule our weekends so we can protect our time together and with the kids as much as possible. It’s something we have to be really conscious of.

How far away do you live from where you were born?

I was born in Mashad, Iran, so pretty far.

Is that distance something you think about? Any connection to your place of birth?

I think about how the trajectory of my life has changed so drastically from when and where I was born. And I try to specifically talk about it with my kids. Even young kids have an amazing ability to understand how the circumstances of their birth can determine their lives and how even the smallest actions and changes by other people can change their lives.

I have been back to Iran several times as an adult, but not since I was in college. My mom goes back and forth every year. Recently, my kids have been asking to visit Iran and I was hoping to take them (or at least my daughter) in the next year or two. But now, with the Trump administration coming into office, I don’t feel comfortable going back.

What do you consider to be your “home”?

I think of my physical house as my home. Up until recently, I spent every waking moment in this house teaching, playing and being with my kids and my husband. I suppose anywhere I am with them can be “home” but the people within the 4 walls of this house have come to embody everything that I love and cherish.

What’s your ideal way to spend the holidays?

In the past few years I’ve come to value pruning back our obligations during the holidays. We say “yes” to less parties but we spend more time relaxing together. We take one or two days out completely to get our tree, decorate the house, play holiday music and do the whole gingerbread house mess. The whole process is slow and a little haphazard but it lets the kids enjoy the moment and keeps us from stressing out too much.

We also like to take at least a week aside and go up to Mammoth. My daughter and I have learned how to ski and my son will be learning this year. My husband gets to spend time by the fire at the cabin and walking the dogs through the snow. It may not sound all that glamorous but it feels like the biggest privilege to have that quiet time together.

What items do you always take with you when you leave the house?

Wallet, keys, phone, a book to read while I’m waiting for kids at school/activities. Also, usually, a kid or two.

When you look in the mirror, what do you notice first about your appearance?

My eyes. My kids both have these giant eyes and I remember having them too when I was younger. My eyes look smaller and more lined now. But they seem more at peace, too.

If you could change something about your appearance, what would it be?

I wouldn’t change anything. I like how I look. I’m sure I look much “worse” than I did when I was younger but I think within the past year I reached a point where I’ve been the most comfortable in my own skin.

What do you first notice in strangers?

Their posture. I’m sort of obsessed with posture. I used to suffer from a lot of back pain so I’ve spent years working on my own posture so I think about it all the time. Sometimes I look at people and wonder if their neck hurts, or if they’ve been carrying a toddler on their right hip for 8 hours. It’s a lot easier to understand the expression on people’s faces if you look at how they’re standing.

What do think those that know you say about you?

Yikes. I think I tend to come off as one of two extremes: I either talk too much or I seem cold. I think it stems from my need to get out of my own head. I’m either expressing everything I’m thinking or holding it all in.

What would you hope they would say?

I hope people would say that I’m sincere and honest. I may not always be as kind as I aspire to be but I do try to be a good friend.

What do you think strangers notice first about you?

Probably that I’m small. I’m fairly short with a small build.

What is your proudest moment? Biggest victory?

I wish I could say it was when I graduated law school, or passed the BAR or got my first big job. But it was probably watching my daughter at her first piano recital. She had taken it on as a second instrument when she was 4 and I was so nervous that I was making a mistake in letting her do it. She practiced everyday in addition to her other instrument.

A couple months after she took her first piano lesson, she performed in the recital and I sobbed the whole way through. I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I watched her play in front of a room full of people. Her musicality and skill was her victory but I was so proud of myself for not letting my fears and doubts become her fears and doubts. It’s something I struggle with everyday with my kids and I’m proud every time I manage to get it right.

What is your biggest regret? Biggest failure?

I wish I had taken more time for self reflection when I was younger (in my early teens-early 20s). I feel like I knew so little about myself and what I was feeling. I spent so many years reacting to other people and trying to elicit or avoid certain feelings from others. It feels like wasted time. I try to forgive myself for not having that awareness.

If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?

I wish I was more measured. I think I let my emotions take control instead of being mindful of the passing feelings.

What makes life worth living?

My relationships. I love watching my children grow into the people they want to be and sharing my life with my husband. I feel like I meet interesting and loving new people all the time. I love seeing the strength in others and feeding off of it. But I also am falling in love with watching myself grow into who I really am. There is so much about how I feel and live now that I would have never predicted 15 years ago. I’m excited to see how I’m going to keep growing, too.

What is the one rule you try to live by? Do you feel successful at following it?

You are enough. I think so much of the pain, fear and sadness we feel comes from insecurity. And we either focus it on ourselves or wield it against others. I certainly think I’m much better at following it now than I was even a year or two ago. But there are still moments in certain days when I can step back and look at what I’m feeling and see that it comes from a fear that I’m not a good enough mother, wife, woman, intellectual. It’s in those moments when I have to remind myself that yes, I can have a more toned body, I can go back to work full-time, I can go on more dates with my husband. But I am still enough. Even if I did all those things, I would still be enough but just with a better body, nicer office and dinner reservations.



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