After a long wait, the news finally came, my four year old was accepted to start school.
Like all momentous moments in life, I remember exactly where I was when I received the call. I was outside the Supreme Education Council building on the C Ring road, clenching my teeth and banging my head against a concrete block in frustration over seeking equivalency certification for the older two children (metaphorically banging my head of course as to do this in reality would result in me being certified in a different department). The call came at just the right time and provided the perfect pick-me-up to a frustrating day.
He was accepted, we were accepted, he would start school, big school, proper school and it obviously meant he passed the entrance test – hurray! –a little genius to boot! ‘on the basis that he’s unable to read or write, we feel he should start as soon as possible in order to be able to keep up with the rest of the class next year’ continued the admissions officer, a clarification that would only dampen the delivery of my good news if I chose to disclose it, so I chose not and instead, took great delight in telling all and sundry that my little baby was starting school, big school and that I was going to be a lady of leisure, proper. I would finally get time to go the gym, work on a proper fitness routine and write that book that’s on the tip of my tongue.
I pictured the scene, me accepting yet another accolade for my novella whilst wearing a size six number. The reality……I would do the drop off at 7.15, dressed head to toe in Nike training gear, from there I would head to Aspire park and fitness centre, where I would order a skinny latte (skinny to negate the lack of exercise) check my phone for emails, updates, messages etc. I would arrange to meet some equally time-rich friends for a latte the next morning (thus negating my intention to exercise in the near future). After pick up, I would rush home, whip together a 20 minute pasta dish and spend the afternoon writing my book (reading, sorry.)
I needn’t have worried about neither (try and say that when you’re drunk). No sooner were the heels of my brand new Nike runners out the school gate, than the phone rang. ‘Hi there, now your free, how about coming back to work in the office?’ I felt sabotaged, hoodwinked so I did what any Irish woman would do in that situation, I replied, ‘I’d love to! absolutely, when can I start?’.
Gone were my plans to become thinner than the thin edge of the knife and Irelands answer to Yann Martel. I was going back to the workforce, back to earning a crust, back to eating a lunch that was made the night before, back to blisters and bunions from court shoes, back to actually spending time considering how to improve the schools filing system.
Not a pessimist by nature It wasn’t long before I began to look on the bright side, I would embrace my new role, enjoy the feeling of being effective again and get a new work-wear wardrobe. It was five years since I moved to Doha and started the very same job, things sure have changed in that five years and I began to actually get excited about going back to work.
I was no longer just wife and mammy, I was now an employee and having spent four years, wiping, washing and wilting, I was happy to have the feeling of being independent from the homestead back although, the kids were in the same school so I could pop in to the class to administer a spoon of Calpol or a nose wipe, if needs be (apron strings, check)
I was called in to sign the contract, I searched in the bottom of my new large envelope shaped work bag for a pen, but I need not have bothered. ‘same as before, you’re husband needs to sign his approval for you to work, so can you take it home and bring it back tomorrow?’. Was this Independence? In Qatar, yes.