Monday, 15 May 2017

When Friends Leave Qatar

If you have lived in or visited Qatar, you will understand how tedious traffic gets. But what's more tiresome are the lights—ah yes, the lights that never turn green. They stay red for an eternity. Now, you can sit at the traffic lights and feel the deep dark cloud of misery or, like me, use this time to reflect. 
I usually take those seemingly never-ending minutes and make mental lists. Groceries—have I forgotten anything? Milk? Fruit? Chores—laundry, clean uniforms for the kids, dry cleaning, etc. Will they have apples or blueberries in their lunch bags? Both? The lists are endless. 
However, today was somehow different. As soon as I put on the brakes at the stop light, I was overwhelmed. My eyes filled up, I couldn't contain myself, and a continuous stream of tears started pouring out. 
What just happened to me!? I'm crying over traffic! Seriously? 
Then it hit me—hard like a slap in the face. My friends were leaving Qatar. As an expat, you get used to people coming and going, and you make it a point not to get emotionally attached, but you are only human. And oh boy, do you get attached. You get attached like super glue. 
Friends abroad become your family, your support system and you depend on them for every type of help. They are your shoulder to cry on, the emergency contact at school for your kids, your everything. 
But, you are used to this right? 
This time it was much more different. Not one. Not two. Not three, but four close friends were all leaving at the same time. How could they! How could they possibly leave without discussing this with me? Do I not get a say? Have I not invested time, love and energy in this relationship? I was heartbroken. 
The tears continued flowing out. How will I survive? How do I do this every year? 
I tell myself every year not to get attached, not to get emotional, but in a world where we depend on each other, this process gets harder every year. 
Friends, near and far you are always with me. 

Thursday, 30 March 2017

The Perfect Mum

Who is she? What does she look like? Is she the perfectly coiffed mum in nine-inch heels wearing a bucket of makeup? Surely not; she's spent too long getting herself ready and forgot to spend time with her child. 
It must be the mum who has just dropped off her child wearing pyjamas and forgot to brush her hair. Oh my no! She has spent too much time with her child and has neglected herself!
Hmm, what about the one whose child is screaming in the grocery store? Clearly, she's set no boundaries, and the child is probably ruling her. 
I've got it! The perfect mum must be the one whose child is walking a strict arms-length away and is too afraid to breathe without permission. Clearly there are some underlining issues there. 
Do her kids eat junk food? Daily? Occasionally? They must not have been breastfed. No way would a child who was breastfed be seen anywhere near a hot dog or heaven forbid candy!
Then again if they were breastfed, did mum look deeply into the soul of her child and send out love vibes? Or was she too busy catching up on her latest soap on Netflix? (That reminds me, what's new on Netflix?) 
Who is the perfect mum? What is perfect? Mums judge each other. Teachers judge mothers. For goodness sakes, even the neighbourhood dog judges mothers.
How do you decide how to be the perfect mum? What seems right for you may be wrong for another. This is where culture, religion, origin plays a big role. All these factors affect your day-to-date life and relationship with your children. More importantly, as we travel, we see, we learn, and we experience the differences. We become a mix. We even marry from outside our faith, culture, race and country.
How do we decide which culture, religion, country, etc., produces the best mum? Which values are the best? Philosophers, psychologists and more have spent their lives studying this subject and are still conflicted in their opinions. 
For me the answer is love. Love conquers all!
Take each day as it comes and kiss your child every day.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Where Are the Free Babysitters?

Families are great: they help out financially and emotionally, they are an overall support system and, most importantly, they are free babysitters.
So what happens when you have moved away from them? At first, you think, no problem, I can set rules for my children, and no one is around to break them. I am solely in charge of what they eat, when they sleep, which toothpaste they will use and so forth. No problem! Right?
Well, that’s all great, but when you arrive in your new home, your new country and you need to unpack the truck full of boxes you waited weeks to arrive, who’s around to help look after the children?
You haven’t met anyone yet that you are comfortable with to call on for such a task. You’ve met some lovely mums, but they have their own settling-in battles to deal with. What about that first cup of coffee you make to reward yourself for unpacking? Nope, no family is around to pop over, and unfortunately playing tea with your toddler just doesn’t have the same gratification, even if you do put real milk in the tiny pink teapot.
Once you are fully unpacked (well I use the word fully very loosely), had your coffee, and are ready to explore the new world, you want to call “home” to share this important moment, but the time difference gets in the way, and you just have to wait.
Months pass, you have settled in, children are in nursery and school, and you decide to go to work. Easy. You schedule the interviews during school hours. No problem. You get the job. It’s part time. Life is perfect. You can drop off and pick the kids up and not worry if they made it safely or not. Fabulous victory moment for super mum, working mum, overall happy mum, life is great!
Hold on a minute, hold your horses, what happens during school holidays?! Yikes! Grandparents are not around to look after them, so where are the free babysitters? Where are the only people in the world you would trust your children with? Even if they would feed them chocolate all day until they had a stomach ache and then blame you for not setting boundaries. Then panic sets in. What do other working mums do? How are all these mums working?
A little research and I find that they go to camps, which sounds interesting. A little research later and I find that my children are in different age brackets and cannot go to the same camps. No problem,  time for Plan B: hire a nanny (although, to me, this doesn’t seem ideal). Then I find out that the nanny needs sponsorship, needs a room in your home, needs this, needs that and the cost appears to grow and grow and grow. So time fo Plan C. But I have no Plan C. Where are my free babysitters? Where are the grandparents? Job? Family? This mummy must put her career on hold.
On the positive side, I will spend more time with the children, attend all school assemblies, watch them grow and be the one to comfort them when they are under the weather. This mummy can do a little victory cheer.

See the article on the Doha Family Guide

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Today Is My Day

Today is my day. I will stay in bed because I’m taking the day off. I will not go to work. I will not wake the kids. I will not dress them. I will not make sure their teeth are brushed, hair combed, breakfast eaten and I will certainly not take them to school.
Today I’m taking the day off from doing the laundry, making sure the PE kit is ready, getting the whatever costume complete, preparing the poster for this month’s topic and any other school commitment I never really wanted to be involved with.
Today I’m taking the day off from cooking. I will not make their packed lunches. I will not make the sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, taste-free treats for the kids’ play date. I will not make five different dinners because one eats only chicken, the other only cucumbers and goodness knows what else they decided not to eat or start eating this week.
Today I’m taking the day off from driving around the whole country to buy groceries from the supermarket. I will not drive to the other supermarket to buy organic fruit. I will not drive to the only dry cleaners I trust. I will not drive my kids to their after-school activities. I will not get stuck in traffic and listen to the kids fight about which song to listen to.
Today I’m taking the day off. But if I stay in bed, I will miss my morning kisses and cuddles. If I take the day off, I will miss hearing how tasty my food was. If I take the day off I will not see my kids in their costumes looking super cute. If I take the day off, I will not see my son score his first goal and feel proud. If I take the day off, I will miss every minute of what a mother is all about—LOVE!
I cannot take the day off, it’s Mother’s Day! It’s my day to be proud of my accomplishments, my children, my joy, my life and what makes me unique. 
Today and every day must be grabbed with both hands to marvel at the beautiful children I have raised. Today is my day; today is Mother’s Day. Happy mother’s day to all the beautiful mums. It’s a hard job, but the kisses, cuddles and snuggles make it worth every second.
Full article can be view: Dohafamily

Monday, 7 December 2015

A case of the "won'ts"

My child won't...
I hear this all the time. “My child won't eat vegetables.” “My child won't eat fruits.” “My child hates meat.” “My child won't wear dresses.” “My child won't...”
Yet when you dig a little deeper, you find out that dad never eats vegetables or fruit. Mum cannot stand the smell of meat being cooked and makes a face every time it's being prepared. 
How do you expect your child not to have any issues or quirks when you have so many?

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Face freeze

In London, you can feel the weather change. The wind picks up, the leaves change colour and you unpack all your winter clothes. A few weeks later your face has a permanent face freeze from the cold weather—the “chill factor” as it is most commonly called.
Ah, yes. The difference in temperature can be felt throughout your body all the way to your bones. You have this fake smile on your face, not because you are a snob or because you are a super happy person. You have this face because it is simply frozen that way. Once you enter a restaurant you slowly begin to melt and your face takes back its normal position. You can then start to peel off the mountains of clothes you have on, as the restaurant is so overheated you think you are in a sauna. Once you have feelings in your own fingers, you suddenly remember you have a child. You look down at this poor little innocent face that is now tomato red from being overheated.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The little things in life

Living in England for over 20 years you get used to “popping out” to the shops to get milk and whatever else you may need. You strap a child into the pram, the other on a scooter/ bike, whatever mode of transport was age-appropriate, and the whole trip takes an hour or two.
An hour or two, not because the shop is far away, but because it takes you 20 minutes to wrestle two children into coats, gloves, scarves and hats while you start to sweat. Oh and suddenly the left boot goes missing as if little elves stole them at night, because you are 100 per cent positive you put them both by the door yesterday.

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