Posts Tagged ‘working mum’
Given that I live in a very small fish pond that is Dubai, swim in an even smaller one (my famous compound) and dance naked on tables in yet a smaller one (the Golf Club – just kidding), I’m usually very careful what I write on my blog.
It is not my goal to embarrass or upset people. I try to make sure that those I write about are unable to recognise themselves unless I want them to (muah-ha-ha-ha!) or I’m writing something really nice about them.
But, even with this ethos, I’ve been caught out once or twice. Once was a situation so sensitive I can’t even begin to talk about it here – let’s just say, those blogs were edited very quickly – and, another time, I knew that the person involved was annoyed with me, but she didn’t want to admit that it was her, so I didn’t admit it was me and the whole thing was a stalemate for three years (I believe she’s now left the country. Are you still reading it??).
Anyway, the gist of all this is that I’m usually very careful what I put on the blog. But the other day I got caught out. Massively.
You see, DH reads my blog. I know that. I know that he knows that I know that he knows. He often doesn’t need to ask about my day because, by the time he’s come home, he’s read about it.
But I don’t expect him to delve into the guts of the blog – to read the “About” page, for example. The one that I’d updated some time ago to reflect my new-found contentedness as a stay-at-home mum.
So here’s the story: To date, I still get a bit of leverage at home about being the one who sacrificed her stellar career on the altar of having children.
Every now and then, when I’ve had a really tough time with the children, I bring out the old “It’s alright for you, cocooned in your nice office drinking coffee with your colleagues and popping over to The Ivy for lunch… Oh, it’s so easy to have a job, so much easier than staying at home with these terrors.” (Actually, to be fair to DD, it’s usually just the one terror now).
“One minute I was building an empire, “ I rant, “and the next minute I’m puréeing carrots and singing “Baa baa black sheep” to a toddler while wiping vomit off my Roksanda Ilincic frock and wondering if I’ll ever wear heels again.”
And DH, although preferring me to be at home, is pretty sympathetic. “If you really want to go back to work,” he says, “we could hire a nanny and a driver and a cook and, well… it would take so many people to replace you, darling…”
Even having that conversation – just the acceptance of the concept that I could possibly go back to work – makes me feel like it could potentially happen should I wish it to, so we have it every couple of months.
But then – lying in bed last weekend – DH read something out loud as I pottered about the bedroom getting dressed.
“Now acclimatised to life at home (especially as the children are now seven and three and, let’s be honest, are that little bit easier),” he quoted, one eyebrow raised, “she’s secretly glad she doesn’t have to deal with numpties in the office… Glad she doesn’t have to deal with numpties in the office?” Another eyebrow rose.
That sounds familiar, I thought, with a sense of foreboding.
“And, let’s be honest, the children are that little bit easier,” DH repeated, his eyebrows now so high he looked like a bad Botox job. “And she’s secretly glad she doesn’t have to deal with numpties in the office?” he spluttered. “I rest my case, darling.”
Talk about rumbled.
As we prepare for the start of the new school year (am I the only one who’s still not yet put the name tags into the mountains of new school uniform, checked the state of last year’s pencil case and taught their child how to put on a school tie?), I can’t believe the summer’s already over.
Two minutes ago, it seems, I stood teetering on the brink of the holidays, the prospect of 10 weeks without school yawning before me as insurmountable as the Grand Canyon – but then, in the blink of an eye, I’m back to making packed lunches, getting up at stupid o’clock, coaxing DD through her Year 3 homework, and spending the majority of my day driving up and down the same wretched stretch of Emirates Road like a frustrated long-distance lorry driver.
But, however little you think you achieve in a summer (sometimes, for me, it’s as simple as just surviving the days without throwing the crockery at the wall), there’s always something worth remembering. So what did I achieve this summer? Well…
- I experienced a cruise for the first time. While this hasn’t ever been an ambition, I’m glad to have done it – and you’d be surprised how curious other people are about it. And many don’t even think the concept of a “Med cruise” is tacky!
- I discovered that I’d like to go back to Corsica and that I could potentially live in Gibraltar.
- I found a latent talent in DD for drama (actually, given the histrionics to which she often treats us, I should have guessed this sooner).
- I learned how to park in the Gold & Diamond Park. Until this summer, it’d always been a parking black-hole to me, like Meena Bazaar and most of Deira.
- I got all my good jewellery fixed, resized and polished (while utilising the free parking at the Gold & Diamond Park) so it fits and looks like new.
- I managed not to acquire any new jewellery in the Gold & Diamond Park (though the same cannot be said about England, but the less said about that the better).
- I caught up with three friends from school and loved the fact that our friendships have lasted, largely unchanged, for 31 years.
- I finally, finally, after years of high cost and frustration, sacked the hair colourist and learned to dye my own hair (AED 37 and half an hour as opposed to AED 650 and three hours). Nice ‘n’ Easy No. 76 if you’re interested.
- I went to Aquaventure for the first time. And liked it – even if I had to get my hair wet.
- I taught DD to ice-skate and, with the not inconsiderable input of a swimming coach, helped her to learn front-crawl breathing (no mean feat when I can’t even do it myself).
- I purged the toy cupboards of a lot of baby toys that are no longer needed [claps hands in the air, does a little dance].
- And, finally, despite having two children on my hands for 10 weeks and travelling through, in and around six countries, I managed to continue doing my job – seamlessly – which, as any mum who’s tried to work from home will tell you, is no small achievement.
Cheers to the new school year.
For a few minutes today, I relived my career. I had a meeting in Dubai Media City (DMC), where I worked from 2004 to 2007. So I walked into the buzzing hub of DMC for the first time in years, and the first thing that hit me was the smell. I don’t think they’ve changed the cleaning fluid since 2004. Instant recognition. Instant memories.
The next thing I noticed was how young, slim and gorgeous everyone was. Living in a world populated with pregnant ladies, new mothers, housewives and absolutely no men, you tend to forget that there’s a whole army of gorgeous young things out there with snake-hips and cute tushes wrapped in bandage dresses, tossing their silken curly hair as they clop the halls of offices in their skinny little stilettos with not a thread vein in sight. And as for the men – wow, they may not know how to change a nappy but boy were they looking moody and media-y in their slick suits and hair gel.
Then there were the offices. I don’t know what it is about media in the UAE (perhaps everywhere) that they feel they have to install laminate on the floors but every open door through which I peered had the same stuff and I’d forgotten how long it’d taken me to grow used to the harsh and incessant crashing of high-heeled shoe on cheap laminate. BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG – ouch, here comes my assistant.
No wonder I initiated “flip-flops-day” on Thursdays.
So, while I was sitting in the company’s reception waiting for my meeting, I sighed a little sigh of, “Maybe one day I’ll go back to it”. But, no sooner was the sigh sighed-out when the tableau was ruined by some sort of manager type who came storming into the office full of Red Bull energy, his suit jacket slung over his shoulder, his Audi TT no doubt in a “no parking” zone and a fawning assistant chasing at his heels while he talked at the top of his affected voice about who-knows-what shit.
I looked at him and I thought: You are media today. You’re probably not even 25 and you probably run this place. If I worked in media again, I would be dealing with twats like you every day. You might even be my boss.
Let me tell you: The mummy mafia never looked so attractive.
So my mum arrived here at the weekend and promptly fell sick with a stomach bug (or food poisoning, if you take her word for it) right after I took her out for a special Mother’s Day dinner. The children are off school and I’m still trying to hold down my small, but satisfying, little job, which involves working from home between nipping out to the chemist’s for Immodium, entertaining my mum with new and exciting Dubai adventures, preparing for DD’s birthday party, putting DS down for naps, running the house, making DD feel valued while fighting her off my computer and cooking lunch for four and dinner for five every day.
Last night, as I chopped broccoli, mushrooms and onions for a scrummy baked tuna pasta dish that DH is particularly fond of, I mentioned in passing to my mum how difficult all the juggling was.
“It’s your choice to work, darling,” she said huffily, implying I was trying to squeeze in 12 hours a day plus a commute from Paris, and eyeing up the gin bottle in a way I thought unsuitable for a lady with the D-word. “No-one, not a soul, makes you do it.”
And there was I hoping for sympathy.
As my friends’ children get older, some of my Housewife friends are finding themselves jobs. I’m very proud of them but, as each one swaps the social scene for the office, I can’t help but feel a little sad for me.
Most of my friends who had their first baby with me went on to have second children much faster that I did. While I now have a one-year-old, my friends’ littlest ones are old enough for the mums to start picking up the threads of their own lives; to launch new enterprises; to get back their social lives and, frankly, I’m jealous.
DS is not as settled at night as (I think) he should be – often I go for weeks on four hours of broken sleep a night. There are days when I am more monster than human. All niceties go out of the window; I snarl; I stumble; I bump into things; I have no memory; I can’t even finish my own sentences. How could I hold down a job?
The social invitations come in and, much as I’d love to do this or that at night, I can’t entertain the thought. By 9pm my eyes are slits, I’m a zombie.
Still, I have recently managed to get myself a little job that I can do in my own time, from home. There is a stipulation on the minimum that’s required from me each week, but no-one beating the whip about when I actually do it, as long as, at the week’s end, I’ve done the quota.
It’s given me back a little work-related self-respect, and I love having it. But I do see DH trying not to laugh when he sees how seriously I take it. As I throw myself about the house, wailing that I haven’t had a chance to do my work, I see him thinking, ‘It’s just a little job, darling, not the end of the world.’ But, if I’m doing it, I want to do it properly.
However small it is.
For now, it’s all I can manage.