Dubai's Desperate Housewife

Trials and traumas of a full-time mum in Dubai

Posts Tagged ‘Motherhood

21st century mum

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And for my next trick I’ll make a gluten-free, vegetarian lasagna while answering emails with my big toe

Last night, I fell asleep at 6pm, lying flat on the living room floor. Not even on the carpet: on the hard floor. I was in such deep sleep I didn’t know where I was when, 15 minutes later, DD said ‘Mummy! I’m hungry!’

‘You do too much,’ my mum tells me when I mention how tired I am come sunset. Well, getting up before dawn doesn’t help, but I don’t think I do too much: I don’t even work full-time. I do what most other mums do these days – less than what many other mums do – and certainly never a bean of housework.

When my mum was a stay-at-home mum, her main concerns were feeding the family and cleaning the house. She relaxed by listening to Woman’s Hour on the radio while she did the ironing. She was busy and she was fit but I doubt she ever felt stressed (well, not unless the pressure-cooker exploded, which did once happen. I still remember licking dinner off the walls while Mum hit the Christmas sherry).

So what is it that we 21st century mums do that our mums never had to do?

  • Make an effort to do some sort of exercise every day (because we’re not doing so much manual housework).
  • Try to keep up with some sort of career action.
  • Update and maintain a presence on social media.
  • Write a blog.
  • Produce packed lunches that contain protein, fruit, vegetables and healthy carbs but are free from pork, nuts, chocolate and anything nice.
  • Understand how to cater for play dates involving children who are vegetarian, vegan, lactose-intolerant, gluten-intolerant, pork-free, allergic to nuts, allergic to eggs and not allowed vodka.
  • Keep up with the news – not just in the one newspaper but via several different news sources.
  • Read and reply to emails. Can you imagine your parents getting 60+ letters through the letterbox every morning?

Does anyone else yearn for zero emails and long afternoons spent ironing with Woman’s Hour on the radio? Or is it just me?

Written by mrsdubai

October 15, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Back to school in 10 questions (at 6am)

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“Do I have to tuck my shirt in?” Back to school

“Which side does the zip go on?”

“Will I need my geometry set today?”

“Do I have to do up my top button?”

“Can you do me a plait?”

“What have I got for snack?”

“Where are my new shoes?”

“Can I have an omelette?”

“Who’s picking me up today?”

“What are we doing after school?”

Bye, kids!

Written by mrsdubai

September 2, 2014 at 11:49 am

Banned from the iPad

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After dinner. DD, with a but of a sore throat, has a throat sweet. “Sweet” is a bad word to use.

“Mummy, can I have a sweet?” asks DS.

“A Tic-Tac?” I say generously. He’s already had his after-dinner truck-load of marshmallows and other chewy stuff.

“Okay,” he says.

Yes exactly. Hug it, look after it but try to break it and you won't see it for dust

Yes exactly. Hug it, look after it but try to break it and you won’t see it for dust

I get the Tic-Tac (you think it’s mean to give only one? I was brought up on slices of Mars Bar) and take it to him. World War III explodes on the sofa. DS shoves my hand away.

“Noooo!” he screams. “Not Tic-Tac! I thought you said Kit-Kat! I want a Kit-Kat!”

“No Kit-Kat,” I say peacefully. “You asked for a sweet. Kit-Kat is not a sweet.”

DS, who is playing on the iPad (after-dinner treat, not status quo) slams his fist into the screen.

“Don’t do that!” I raise my voice. “Don’t break my iPad!” This is, after all, my iPad, not his. All my bookmarks are on it.

DS frisbees the iPad onto the sofa and karate-kicks the screen. I grab it back. “Right. That’s it.  You are banned from the iPad!”

You can imagine what happened next. I won’t glorify it by writing it down. Anyway, sometime later, DS sneaks onto my lap.

“I want to be nice now,” he says.

“Sure,” I say, bringing him in for a snuggle. He kisses my cheek. “Best mummy ever,” he says.

“Best boy,” I say.

There’s a pause. He kisses my cheek again, then: “I love you mummy.” Another pause. A flutter of tarantula lashes. “Am I still banned from the iPad?”

“I love you, too. Yes you are.”

Written by mrsdubai

May 7, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Car-seat Sudoku

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Think of a grid – say your average 7-seater car – 2 + 3 + 2. Put inside it one Maxi-Cosi high-back booster seat that’s fixed in place. Add two children, heat to 40˚C, pick up after school – and stir.

DS: “Can I sit in the back?”

6 passenger seats x 2 children = 12 options. Put them on a bus and get a sports car

6 passenger seats x 2 children = 12 options. My advice? Put them on the bus and get a sports car

Me: “No.”

DS: “Why not?  She’s in the back. It’s not fair.”

Me: “Your seat’s in the middle. Just sit in it.”

DS: “It’s not fair. She’s in the back.”

Me: “She’s big enough to be in the back. When you’re big enough to be in the back, you can go in the back.”

DS: “It’s not fair.”

Me: “It’s perfectly fair. When she was your age, she sat in the middle.”

DS: “Waaaaahhh… waaaah….. waaaaaaaaaahhhh!”

Me: “DD, can you come and sit in the middle please?”

DD: “I don’t want to sit in the middle….Can I sit in the front?”

Me: “No, you cannot sit in the front. It’s illegal!”

DS: “Can you put my seat in the back?”

Me: “Oh for fiddler’s sake, yes, I’ll put your seat in the back.” (Bear in mind it’s 40˚C outside and about 60˚C inside and my patience is wearing thin.) “Now get in the back. DD, can you help DS do his seatbelt please?”

<DD starts clambering forward over the divide>

Me: “DD! What are you doing?”

DD: “If he’s in the back, I’m not sitting in the back. I’m sitting in the middle. I want to sit in the middle.”

Me: “Please can you help with his seatbelt before you come forward?”

DD: “Nope.”

Me: “Okay, I’m going to get out, open the boot, collapse the other back seat, climb into the boot and put on DS’s seatbelt. Then I’m going to put the seat back up, put the headrest back up, shut the boot and get back in the front. And, for every second I spend doing this, I’m going to deduct one sweet from both your treats tonight.” <Opens door>

DD: <rolls eyes, leans back> “Okay…. done it.”

Me: “Four words, children: School. Bus. Next. Term.”

Written by mrsdubai

May 5, 2014 at 6:18 pm

The influence of parents

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They say children learn by watching their parents so I try to set a good example to DD and DS. I say “please” and “thank you”, for example. I eat my dinner nicely and I put my clothes away at the end of the day (or each time I change, to be fair, which can sometimes be three times a day).

Sometimes, as I wade through discarded items of school uniform strewn en route to the bathroom, or pick wet towels up off my bed, I wonder if any of it goes into their sweet little heads.

And then I saw a picture DS, now age 5, drew at school, and I realised just how much influence I have over him. The picture was of a fire-fighter – notice anything peculiar?

Yes... a lady fire-fighter wearing high heels and carrying a handbag that looks suspiciously like my brown Carolina Herrera!

Yes… a lady fire-fighter wearing high heels and carrying a handbag that looks suspiciously like my brown Carolina Herrera

Written by mrsdubai

May 1, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Do you know how big your children are?

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You’d think I’d know how big my children were, not least because I gave birth to them and have since watched them grow almost 24 hours a day for the last five and nine years respectively. Aside from DH, my children are the most important things in my life and not a day goes by without me hugging them, squeezing them, pinching them and tickling them.

You’d think I know how big they are.

The offending shoe. Stylish enough but way too small...

The offending shoe. Stylish enough but way too small…

Still, yesterday I found myself in the shop that stocks the school shoes DD likes to wear (if you read my blog in September, you’ll know how fussy she is about this). Her current pair of Hush Puppies is in the final stages of disintegration – perhaps the down-side of a having a girl who spends her lunch hour turning cartwheels – so I thought I’d nip in and get a new pair. No need for DD to be there, right?  I know she likes the shoe; I’d just buy her size.

But, as I stood there faced with a tower of boxes of her chosen shoe in sizes ranging from 27 to 37, I began to wobble. Were her current shoes a 33 or a 34? Certainly not a 35 – I’m only a 38 myself!

I closed my eyes, stroked the 33 and tried to imagine DD’s little feet in them. Pretty sure that was her current size, I plumped for the 34 and brought it home happy at having achieved another mission without having to drag two hungry children round the mall after school (which, as every mother will know, is more painful than having cocktail sticks inserted under your toenails). I smiled to myself: I was smug with my mission achieved – maybe the shoes would even last into the next school year!

I left the box on DD’s bed as a surprise for her when she got home from school.

“Mummy?” came the shout from upstairs when she found them. “Nice shoes. Who are they for?”

“You!” I called. “Aren’t yours breaking?”

DD appeared. She knows how I hate shouted inter-floor conversations, even over the mezzanine balcony.

“But mummy,” she said, handing over the box. “These are two sizes smaller than my current shoes. How am I supposed to wear them? I’m a 36.”

So, the answer: No, I have no idea how big my children are. How about you?

Written by mrsdubai

March 12, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Things I never have to do again…

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Over the Christmas holidays, DS learned to ride his bike. In terms of undesirable things ones must do as a parent, teaching my children how to ride a bike is, because of all the back-breaking, bent-over running that goes with it, for me, right up there with potty training (think: on your knees in grotty public toilets saying ‘psssss’; wees on the side of 12-lane highways; and little puddles all over the living room floor).

Learning to ride his own bike... quite a watershed for Mummy

Learning to ride his own bike… quite a watershed for Mummy

And, just like potty-training, riding a bike is one of those things you think they’re never going to get the hang of. It just seems too difficult but, one day, out of the blue: bingo, they get it, and you laugh big belly laughs up at the sky, wondering what you ever worried about.

But this Christmas it was more than that. I felt, when DS pedalled off into the horizon on his own two wheels, that we’d passed a watershed; that, at four and a half, he’d suddenly become a lot more grown up; more manageable. I realised that I would never have to teach another child of mine to ride a bike.

And then I thought about all the other things I’m relieved to say I’ll never have to do again:

  • Give birth.
  • Breast-feed.
  • Lose the baby weight.
  • Change a nappy.
  • Shop at Mothercare and Mamas and Papas.
  • Squirt Calpol Infant into a reluctant mouth in the wee hours.
  • Heave a pram into the car.
  • Find a lost dummy down the side of the bed at 4am.
  • Worry about the quality of care at nursery schools.
  • Purée vegetables.

And then I thought about all the things that still lie in wait for me:

  • Waving DD off on the Y6 skiing trip (how will I do that?).
  • Getting the children into suitable senior schools.
  • Coaching the children through GCSEs and A-levels.
  • Talking to the children about all those icky subjects like drugs, sex and social media.
  • Meeting DS’s first serious girlfriend (poor love, she’ll never be good enough).
  • Thinking up ways to stop DD going out in her dodgy boyfriend’s car.
  • Actually, come to think of it, thinking up ways to stop DD going out at all.

Written by mrsdubai

January 8, 2014 at 7:07 pm

DS, 4, would like to be a…

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When DD was about the age DS now is (four), she knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up: a princess or, failing that (because “how do I become a princess, mummy?”) an art teacher.

DS, on the other hand, aside from thinking he’d rather like to marry mummy, has never given it much thought. But, the other morning, we got a taste of what he may become in the future.


All those school fees and all he wants is yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum

“I want gold,” he said, apropos of nothing.

“Hmm,” said DH, in an aside to me, “a commodities trader?”

“How are you going to get this gold?” I asked DS. “Are you going to earn it? Or trade for it?”

“Neither! I’m going to be a pirate and steal it!”

[I, meantime, vow to work harder on establishing the work ethic and simultaneously strike Somalia off the list of places we could retire.]

Written by mrsdubai

December 23, 2013 at 9:53 pm

The dreaded ECA (extra-curricular activity)

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To get the record straight before we even start this story: I’m not one of those over-achieving mums who lives their lives vicariously through their kids. You know: the ones whose kids go after school to Arabic classes, tap-dancing, horse-riding, tennis, swimming, hip-hop, gymnastics, Arabic tap-dancing on ice-skating ponies.

Netball: not about shooting, but about boys. And she's only eight.

Netball: not about shooting, but about boys. And she’s only eight.

I’m far too lazy.

Seriously, I’m one of those mums who believes a child needs to be a child. My priority for my children after school and homework is done is that they run about in the park playing hide ‘n’ seek with their friends, ride their bikes down the road like they’re in the Tour de France, and mess about in our pool. Heck, maybe even watch a bit of TV.

God knows, they get it hard enough at their school.

But DD asked me after the summer if she could take up an after-school dance class. “Not a kiddy one, mummy, but a proper dance class. I want to be a dancer.” (I am so not a stage mum.)

After quizzing her a million times before paying for a term’s worth of stage-school classes up front (AED 85 [£15.45] a pop, non-refundable), I finally agreed. And I genuinely love driving her half way round the city to her class each week and waiting around in the middle of the desert for an hour, because she clearly loves her dance class.

But then came the missed classes. One, she was tired. Two, she was sick. And three, she had the netball league match at school. Netball was optional. I gave her the choice: dance or netball. She chose the netball. I was surprised, but pleased. She likes netball!

“So how was it?” I asked her afterwards, thinking not at all of the wasted dance class.


“You enjoyed it? Glad you went?”

“Yeah. It was great.”

Sigh of relief from me. A little jump of excitement, even: she, Little Miss Non-Sporty, likes netball!

“It was fun,” DD continued, “because I was sitting out most of the matches. “And I was with my friend C. She had almonds so we ate all her almonds. Then her mum came and she had some cool stuff on her phone so we watched, like, videos?”

“Is that it? Is that the reason you liked netball?”

“No! Not just that.”

Thank heavens.

“C’s older brother was there doing his homework too, so we watched him… that was fun.”

Facepalm. “So did you play any netball?”

“A bit. At the end.”

So, in reality, I paid AED 85 for my daughter to eat almonds, watch videos and enjoy watching her friend’s big brother do his homework. What will her teens be like?

Written by mrsdubai

December 2, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Those (horrible) halcyon days with a new baby

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New mum

Is this it?

In the last few weeks I’ve been reliving the exhausting days of being a brand-new, first-time mum. I’ve been reminded of it by a friend who’s just had her first baby and is sharing the agony and the ecstasy via her Facebook updates. I can’t tell you how badly I feel for her when I see, as I leap out of bed at 6am, that she’s been up all night.

Much as I love being a mum now, it took me a long time to adjust. In the early days, I remember feeling robbed. While DH, wallowing in the congratulations of his colleagues, put on his suit and skipped off to his adult world of coffees, meetings and the gym at lunchtime, I sat at home and felt robbed: robbed of my career, robbed of my figure, robbed of my sleep, and robbed of my sanity.

There were days – and I don’t apologise for saying this – that I wished I could wrap up my baby, return her to the Customer Service desk and ask for my old life back. Even M&S takes returns for up to 60 days and it’s at about that point, when the initial joy and shock have worn off, that you realise that this is your new, sleepless reality; that, for better or for worse, ‘this is it’.

At 60 days / eight weeks, the tiny tyrant probably hasn’t smiled properly; certainly hasn’t yet passed the magic 12-week milestone; and likely screams endlessly for no apparent reason. You see the rest of your life stretched out before you, an exhausted muddle of sleep deprivation, baby bottles, colic and possets down your favourite top. You think you’ll never be able to go out again without a pram attached.

But it’s amazing how quickly it all turns around; it’s amazing how quickly they start letting you sleep, and grow into gorgeous little bonsai people with their own little characters. Nowadays, I wouldn’t swap it for anything.

Written by mrsdubai

November 20, 2013 at 10:50 am