Organised and calm. That was how I described myself till I became a mum.
Mums I know in Dubai have taken a break to break in baby. We envy housewives, but they are feeling guilty about not earning. All of us think that banks should offer diaper loans. Most new mums are in the milestones phase when we worry why the baby drools but not teethes, slithers instead of crawls etc. I worried too till a woman admitted that she had taken her 10 month old to a doctor because there was no sign of teething. The doctor told her that he had practised medicine for 25 years and was yet to see an adult who had not had a tooth.
Mothering in Dubai has its advantages. You can get a good babysitter; someone to whom you can call out “Careful, careful” every two seconds while you take a five minute shower. But the CDs that replicate womb sounds scare the hell out of babysitters.
We mummies get together in each other’s homes. No beautiful day at the mall with the baby for any of us, thank you. We are all 20 some things who still struggle to work the pram. We carry back up earrings to be worn in the car on our way to the supermarket to buy baby food. We sing lullabies to our children and they go to sleep when they can take it no more. We hint to our guests about the dangers of picking up a baby with unwashed hands (Germs, sterilisation, Middle East can be so dusty…) We worry endlessly over immunisation, cradle cap, breast feeding and try to smile when the grocery woman asks us (again) when the baby is due. Paediatrician is on speed dial – another first time mum, he laughs. We have also started practising yoga at home – especially after a meeting with the above mentioned grocery woman. If nothing, it makes the babies laugh when one is trying to detangle one’s self from the lotus pose.
We invested in a rocking chair not an Arabian divan. We try not to fall into depression when a friend tells us that after living in a cosmopolitan city such as Dubai, her four month old has already mastered 3 foreign languages; we remind ourselves that enquiries from children even in their mother tongues can be difficult. We worried before the birth of our baby that villas would be dusty. Now we worry if our toddlers would take a peek from the 27th storey balcony. To make memories of Dubai special, each of us mums bought a First Steps in Arabia Baby Book which none of us have filled up. And babies in the Middle East do not eat boring Apple Cerelac, but they eat Dates Cerelac. Humus dip accompanies toddler’s veggie snacks.
Our mums suggested that we try Pilates. I am as likely to do Pilates as I am likely to do it with Courtney Cox Arquette, who also had a baby and actually does it. No, we do not relate to super mums or celebrity mums. After 4 hours of colic, 2 hours of 365 Arabian fairy tales and 12 hours of feeding, nappy changing, wiping spit, playing Itsy Bitsy Spider, trimming baby nails and more feeding and picking up toys, I crawl to bed for 6 hours of interrupted sleep. Mums I know have forgotten how to work the office email system, so we have hurried, intelligent conversations on the phone (I wonder how Leek and Cauliflower puree would taste since he spat out Beetroot and Yoghurt puree …blah blah) while daddies take charge.
But believe me; after agonising over a slippery baby (worse when they are wet) and wondering why on earth we decided we were capable of raising one, we mums think that bringing up children can be very fulfilling. Therein lie our deepest fears and our greatest joys. Career, hobbies, and exercise – we can plan those later. But we savour each moment spent with our precious babies who are growing up so fast.
I might have dreamt of rising up on the career ladder once upon a time. But now I dream of chubby hands and gurgles as I feel that satin cheek next to mine.
I just told that to my son and he agreed. Wait a minute, that was a burp, but I am sure he understood.
PS: After a #Sonversation – a long lazy chat with my teenage son – I have just rehashed memories of his babyhood. Time does fly. God bless our children.
By Linda Joseph Kavalackal,
Christ & Co.