The raising of children is ultimately left to the expat wives in the Middle East. As the men working thirteen and fourteen hour days and six days a week, the role of the woman /wife is predominantly child-rearing. The option to escape the shackles of domesticity for an evening with girls is rare, as the guilt that would ensue leaving the over-worked, under-sexed and constantly -stressed husbands would stifle the enjoyment. Thus it would seem pertinent to put the oomph back into child-rearing and start enjoying all those little achievements and mighty efforts that our cherubs make every day. A sentiment it appears that my expats counterparts have cottoned-on to long ago. Coming from Ireland where all the mummy’s I know are foot to the floor trying to grab an hour alone, to find themselves and lose the kids and many more are putting their efforts into trying to get back into the workforce, fearful that a few years child rearing will leave them with little to offer the world only a few paltry tips on blending fruit and freezing cubes of butternut squash. So living in Abu Dhabi and seeing this new fully dedicated expat mommy in action is something of a novelty.
Hours and hours spent carting their little sweethearts along the motorways of Abu Dhabi, ensuring that they avail of every conceivable opportunity in sporting, musical and academic circles. Six thirty in the morning is the start of the school run and collection at two thirty, the day rightly gains pace here with Mom has to race across town for the best tennis coach and dash back for ballet at 5.30. Maths grinds are fitted in when little darling is having her organic pasta with chicken fed corn in a hotel foyer at some halfway point. The evening is rounded off by a house call from the piano teacher who goes over the scale again while little darling is on the text to her friends. I’m getting blurred vision looking at the too-ing and fro-ing but the immaculate French manicure and the perfectly coloured roots sported by the mom’s bring my vision back to 20 20. These women have it all. They’re happy with their lot. Hanging up their work boots and tying a knot in their ambitions for a while as they put all their efforts into their children and with such panache, might I add.
Like bees around a honey pot, they buzz around the school, volunteering at sports days, swimming galas, craft and cake sales, car boot sales, spelling bees, open evenings, school concerts and musicals, raffles and with such ease. I feel guilty for my flustered approach to motherhood, often resenting giving up my evenings or Saturday morning having to attend an extra-curricular school event. I skulk in a few minutes late, surf the net on my iphone and give myself a private clap on the back for buying two rounds of raffle tickets, which incidentally, none of which ever get picked. Karma, some might say.
So at the end of term school concert, last week, I decided to change my Karma, turn up early and help out. Full time motherhood was my reality, forget the idea of a part-time post and get on with it. Midst these powerhouses of glamour and motherhood, I enrolled my name for volunteering. I didn’t have the Givenchy sunglasses, the Dior wedges or the stainless steel Starbucks coffee cup but I was willing to pitch in. Ticket sales was to be my area and I set out with vigor at the task in hand. I hit the ground running, sold all around me; I ran out of the tickets and sat at the back with the other to see the concert. Sipping from their coffee cups, the mom’s ooohed and aaahed at the hand painted cardboard butterflies and dodgy costumes, they laughed uproariously at the one marginally funny line delivered by a shy six year old. I wanted to show willing so I joined in, not one to outdone; I slapped my thigh for effect whilst throwing my head back in wild laughter. It was when they started to giggle at the finale that I smelt a rat. Or rather smelt the gin when one of my counterparts, passed me her Starbucks canteen of liquor. They were all hammered!, Drinking on the job to take the edge off! My heart sang, they didn’t have it all. They were reality dodgers after all! Faster than you can say, “mine’s a double”, I revved up and pulled out outta there, while I’m aware motherhood is no trip on the orient express, it’s not a booze cruise either!