Dubai's Desperate Housewife

Trials and traumas of a full-time mum in Dubai

Posts Tagged ‘being a mum

Welcome to Question Time!

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One thing they never tell you about becoming a parent is how you suddenly have to negotiate life while answering a constant stream of questions.

Whatever you’re doing as a mum, whether it’s filling in passport renewal forms, working, driving at 120kph, meeting the financial advisor, having a phone conversation or sitting on the loo, is punctuated with questions pitched with such urgency you’d think the world would stop turning if a satisfactory reply wasn’t given at once.

Sometimes the questions don’t even have simple answers:

"Why are you wearing those horrible green trousers?" "Good question, DS..."

“Why are you wearing those horrible green trousers?” “Good question, DS…”

“Why can’t we go to McDonalds?”

“Is Zanzibar a place or a flavour?”

“Why doesn’t it snow here?”

“How many hours till Christmas?”

“Where are my blue shorts?”

Why can’t we have ice cream?”

“What happens when you die?”

“Can I have a heart-shaped birthday cake?”

“What are we doing next summer?”

“Do any of the biscuits we have at home have writing on?” (this gem as I was trying to prevent us from being squished between two speeding 40-foot container trucks on Mohammed bin Zayed Road).

Research has shown that mothers can be subjected to up to 300 kiddie questions a day – that’s one every two minutes. Times that by as many children you have and, well, no wonder I can’t even decide if I want a cup of tea come four o’clock: “Yes? No? Maybe? Herbal? English Breakfast? Earl Grey?” Gaaah!

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December 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm

On being kind in the night

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I had a pretty nice childhood. You know, that hazy 70s thing in England when we grew up in sepia tones, roller-skating down the main road, staying out on our bikes till dark and never worrying about anything. Every summer was the summer of ’76: a sleeveless t-shirt and shorts; limbs bronzed from the never-ending sunshine (though the lemon juice in the hair sadly never worked for me).

This makes Mummy happy.

This makes Mummy happy.

Yet some of my most enduring memories from childhood are of my mum being kind to me in the night.

Weird, you may think. But I was brought up never to bother my parents after I’d been put to bed. I always wondered what it was they were doing downstairs that meant I mustn’t go down (wrapping early Christmas presents, maybe) – and, inevitably, I did go down sometimes only to find my dad glaring at the Nine O’Clock news and Mum fast asleep in an arm chair.

Anyway, I digress.

I’ve managed to instal the same respect in my own children – namely, after lights-out, that’s IT. No whimpering, no moaning, no whingeing and certainly no coming downstairs to see Mummy devouring the Paatchis.

But sometimes, as a child, I needed my mum at night. Maybe I’d wet the bed, had a bad dream, got a fever, vomited, or perhaps there was a terrifying thunder storm. My frantic calls would eventually be answered by the tell-tale creak of the stairs followed by Mum entering the room.

‘What’s up, darling?’ she’d say, and I would be so overjoyed, so happy that she wasn’t cross with me. Whatever the problem was, she sorted it while I waited on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket and swaddled in Mum’s kindness. Twice in one night I remember her having to change my sheets and never a cross word was said.

It’s this I remember now when my children call me in the night. They know they’re not supposed to; they know bedtime is bedtime; that that Mummy needs a little down-time to herself; but, of course, emergencies happen. Water glasses are spilled, unexpected wees flood the bed, Petits Filoux are vomited into sticky peach-flavoured messes on the duvet and there is even, in the case of DD, a little insomnia.

And I try, when I pick up the children’s desperate night-time calls , to be as kind to them as my mum was to me. I hope, when they get older, they remember that, too.

Written by mrsdubai

November 11, 2013 at 8:57 pm

The paradox that is five hours’ sleep

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It never ceases to amaze me how five hours’ sleep can seem so much or so little, depending on your circumstances.

Imagine, if you can, that you’ve been on a wild night out. You’ve been dancing, drinking, having a great time till 2am, and then you get woken at 7am by, I don’t know, the bin men? Other people’s children? (this is pre-children, I imagine). Five hours’ sleep is nothing. You’re wrecked; destroyed. You lie in bed, groaning, till midday.

DH and I chink glasses in the morning. Five hours' sleep! Hurrah!

DH and I chink glasses in the morning. Five hours’ sleep! Hurrah!

And then take five hours’ sleep when you have a new baby. After a good few weeks of being woken for feeds every 2-3 hours, the first night you get five unbroken hours’ sleep you feel like you could conquer the world. You’re practically dancing round Spinneys on stilts, grinning at strangers and planning what you’re going to do with your new-found energy. Yes! You think. There is life beyond exhaustion. I did used to feel good once!

And then there are the nights when your children are sick. Maybe  they’ve been vomiting or got a fever; maybe you’ve even spent the evening in the hospital’s emergency department because you were worried about febrile convulsions, croup or dehydration and you’re allowed, eventually, to take them home around midnight. You put them to bed, look at your other half and accept that it’s going to be a bad one.

Preparations may even be made. ‘You sleep in the guest room. I’ll stay with him.’ Mentally, you prepare yourself to be up all night, mopping up vomit, changing sheets and pyjamas, comforting an upset child… and then you get an unbroken sleep till 6am. Five hours, in that situation, gets a massive morning smile from me.

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June 25, 2013 at 5:58 pm

My life in 10 phrases

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 “Because ice cream is not for every day!”

"Are you finished yet?" So it's not just me with bared teeth...

“Are you finished yet?” She may be smiling, but I prefer to think she’s baring her teeth

 “Are you finished yet?”

“Come on! I said now!”

“Just try it – you’ll like it.”

“No. You can wait till your birthday.”

“If you don’t get out NOW, I’m not letting you come swimming again.”

“Have you done your homework?”

“No, sweets are not food. If you’re hungry, I’ll make you a sandwich.”

“Teeth! Now!”

“Wipe it yourself!”

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June 4, 2013 at 6:06 pm

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The different grades of mummy tan

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I’m looking a bit tanned at the moment, thanks to floating round the pool on a lilo while watching the kids on Friday mornings, but my “mummy tan” is far from the flawless version I used to sport pre-kids.  I think the type of tan a mum has depends a lot on the age of her children.

Kids aged 1-3: The playground tan 

Mind how you go , kids! (Can I roll over yet?)

Mind how you go , kids! (Can I roll over yet?)

Developed over endless afternoons spent pushing small, helpless children on the swing or helping them climb up the slide, this consists of a healthy, outdoors face, tanned shoulders and arms, white legs, and feet with a flip-flop “V” mark on them. It’s not great but, after the nightmare of having a new-born stuck on your boobs, you’re grateful even for that.

Kids aged 3+: The mummy tan

This is the tan you get when watching older, slightly more independent children.  It develops while you lie on your back (on the lounger or the lilo) watching the kids but, because they’re not yet old enough for you to be able to lie face down and ignore them while you roast the back of your body, only the front of your body – face, shoulders, arms, chest, legs and feet – go brown, while the back of your body remains completely white. It’s a bit embarrassing, but it’s welcome progress from the playground tan.

Kids 12+: The teen-mum tan

I’m hoping this will be the real deal – tanned back and front – because it’ll be gained from floating round the pool on the lilo all Saturday morning while periodically yelling at my teenage children to get their lazy asses out of bed. Gosh, from my current perspective of 5.45am wake-ups, that sounds mighty good…

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May 29, 2013 at 8:48 pm

A snapshot of life as a stay-at-home mum

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DH writes from a conference he’s at in the south of France (I know, seriously, the south of bloody France):  “Hi darling, how are you?”

Me, from home:  “Glad the week’s over.  How about you?”

This is the cruise ship, Med and palm trees shot from DH's room. Am I jealous? Yes. Do I want to be there? Yes.

This is the cruise ship, Med and palm trees shot from DH’s room. Am I jealous? Yes. Do I want to be there? Yes.

DH sends me a couple of photos of the view from his room: “I’ve just checked in. That’s my view.”

I’m looking at the photos – they’re all palm trees, Art Deco architecture and bright blue Mediterranean Sea. I can even see a cruise ship anchored offshore in one of them.

Me: “Looks gorgeous. It’s been a tough week; I’ve been working till 11 every night. Obviously up at 5.50am to do the school run. Can’t wait for you to get back.”

DH writes: “Oh, hold on. Got to go, they’ve just told me I’m moving to a suite…”

Messaging resumes the next day – Saturday.

DH: “Hello, conference is finished. Suite’s gorgeous! I’m sitting in Cannes old town, having a beer. So what are you up to?”

Me: “Oh you know. Usual Saturday. Screaming loud kids’ birthday party. Now I’ve just dragged two bickering children round the supermarket, fighting with them all the way. When are you back?”

DH: “After the weekend.”

Happy days.

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May 7, 2013 at 8:25 pm

10 things you didn’t know until you became a mum

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How unbelievably chuffed you’d be when someone else’s child likes your cooking so much they have seconds.

How the sound of a toddler having a public tantrum doesn’t irritate you – it just makes you feel very grateful it’s not your own child.

How important it is for a seven-year-old to have a sticker book.

How much time you’ll spend shopping for and wrapping up birthday gifts for other people’s children.

How travelling somewhere by plane changes from being a pleasure into a form of slow torture.

Why your parents told you certain lies.

How much love your heart can hold.

How much it’s possible to achieve in one child-free hour.

How wonderful a glass of wine tastes when the children are in bed.

And, finally, how your children can drive you craaazy by day but then, when they’re sleeping, overwhelm you with so much love you want to wake them up just to kiss them.

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October 4, 2012 at 11:23 am

Mums: To what do you compare your life?

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I sometimes think of my life as a champagne fountain.

Just don't pick the centre glass


And, while I’d like to imagine that means it’s glamorous, sparkling and pleasurable, the reality has nothing to do with fun and everything to do with the balancing act that’s required to stop the whole precarious creation from toppling.

I pack so much into my days, from 6am to 10pm, that there’s not a lot of room for leeway. Take out a glass in the middle of the fountain – in other words, sabotage a 12pm appointment by turning up 10 minutes late – and the whole day topples like dominoes.

Those women (and I know a few), who, when you ask them what they’ve got planned for the day, say “Oh, I might go back to bed after the school run”, or “Maybe I’ll download some more games on the iPad” – those women? We are a different species.

But other mums I know liken their lives to spinning plates on sticks – dashing from one stick to another to stop the whole lot from crashing down. I understand that because I once had it, but I don’t really feel it since I stopped working full-time.

Other days I see myself as a swan, gliding gracefully along a river with my head held high, but paddling like mad underwater where no-one can see that my little yellow legs are struggling against the current (do swans pant? I’ve been known to pant).

And on really bad days I see myself as a tiny little spider trying desperately to climb the inside wall of a wet highball tumbler; forever sliding back down to the bottom just before I reach the rim. But, to be honest, that only really happens on the days when I’m trying to have a civil conversation with our bank .

Written by mrsdubai

May 1, 2012 at 7:59 pm

How to get rid of “mum face”

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Victoria Beckham suffers from, according to the Daily Mail, “mum face”.

And, by that, they don’t mean the kind, care-worn face of a loving parent, but a knackered one, aka dark circles under her eyes, grey skin and a gaunt look.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels a flicker of sympathy, especially when I look in the mirror myself. Admittedly, I don’t jet around the world with four kids in tow, run a fashion empire and keep a fit footballer interested – but I do drive around Dubai (hundreds of kms a day sometimes), write a blog, work part-time, keep a gorgeous husband interested and do an awful lot of cooking (which I’m sure La Becks does not).

Anyway the dear Daily Mail went on to suggest how to “banish mum face” using products, treatments and diet (obviously for VB, the answer is to eat more chips, stop taking transatlantic flights like we do taxis, and use birth control from now on).

But I feel I should tell you how I’ve been combating “mum face” myself in the last few weeks. There has been some improvement in the “crumpled” look I have in the mornings, a definite reduction in eye puffiness, and increased radiance.

The question is, which action has been the most effective?

1)      Facial acupuncture – I’ve now completed four appointments. While I’m beginning to hate being pricked with 30 needles once a week, I do enjoy the extra nap-time and I think the acupuncture is responsible for the new lack of puffiness around my eyes, as well as the added radiance due to better circulation. My Chinese doctor asked if I’d seen any “lifting”. I didn’t think I had. But maybe it’s subtle.

2)      Not drinking water late at night – It was always my “thing” to drink buckets of water before bed, to dilute all the Sauvignon, natch, and prevent a hang-over. But the lovely Chinese doctor explained that drinking a litre of water before bed was probably contributing to my eye puffiness as the kidneys can’t deal with all the liquid while you’re asleep so it gathers in places most likely to be spotted by Daily Mail paps. I stopped drinking loads of water at night. I don’t have puffy eyes in the morning anymore.

3)      Taking Perfectil vitamins – They’re supposed to give you good skin, hair and nails. I’m a great believer in working from the inside out, but I keep forgetting to “take with main meal”. I do wonder if “take with large glass of wine” achieves the same result.

4)      Changing my blusher – It’s Bobbi Brown who got me onto this. As a girl who’d used a brown-toned blusher for years, it was a revelation to me how much younger a pink-toned blusher will make you look. I made that change about eight years ago. This month, I switched to an even more pink-toned blusher. I got lots of positive comments along the lines of, “You look amazing. Have you changed your hair?” and “Wow, you look really well.” Heh, heh.

I do suspect, though, that the best thing I can do for anti-aging is to give up wine. And, my dears, I can tell you now, that’s not going to happen. How pink-toned do you think a blusher can get?

Switch from sludgy pink to brighter pink on the apples of your cheeks. It'll take off 10 years.

The frustrations of motherhood

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Obviously we mums love our kids more than anything. DD and DS inspire in me the kind of love I never thought possible before I had children; that sort of tigress love, where you know you would do anything – and I mean anything– to keep your children happy and healthy.

We've all been there

But that doesn’t mean to say being a mum doesn’t have its frustrations. Here are five of mine:

          Having to shout “Sorry? Say that again?” down the phone 25 times in a two-minute phone call because both your children just have to speak to you at that one exact moment when you’re on your only phone call of the day.

          Finding and paying over the odds for imported yoghurts only to have the children open them but not finish them.

          Wanting five minutes to do something with your hair and makeup before going out for dinner, only to spend those precious few moments reading a third bedtime story as the taxi hoots outside.

          Running around with forkfuls of food after a toddler who won’t sit in a high chair yet is still too little to sit still at a table either (yes, this is DS right now).

          That moment when your littlest one calls you at 5.45am on a weekend morning and you know you won’t get any more sleep for at least another 17 hours.

Would love to write more but I’m going to take advantage of the children being in the park with Gerlie for five minutes to try and do something with my hair before going out for dinner….

Written by mrsdubai

September 18, 2011 at 6:19 pm