The end of summer never came quicker, I spent the last week in Ireland wishing for one last glimpse of sunshine whilst in the paradoxical situation of being in total dread of the blinding sun that was sure to greet me when I arrived back in Doha.
Thing was, I have arrived a point that comes to us all. ‘Us’, being mums and ‘all’, being mums that live in Doha, the children start full-time school at the tender age of three and the bell tolls for us to go back to work. I was in this situation before, four years ago but managed to side-step the reality of having to get a job by having another baby, no easy option by the way, but still buys another few years. But now, on 1st September, the baby will be three years and nine months and compelled by law to attend school in Qatar. Ergo I am compelled by conscience and inevitability to go back to work.
Having almost completed an online education degree in the full knowledge that online degrees are not accepted in Qatar, I was shocked when I received a call back from the school, asking me to be Librarian. But, I pointed out; the degree isn’t recognised here? It’s not essential they told me. I have young kids; I’ll be late regularly and out sick probably fairly often? They are in the school, that surely won’t be a problem they told me. I love reading books not filing them away in alphabetical order I told them, doesn’t matter they said, it’s not the be all and end all. I like my space from own kids, why would you think I’d like to be surrounded by 30 of other peoples from 7.15 to 2.30 every day, will you consider they said, I did consider and today was my first day.
A lot of firsts for me this year, first time only bringing two kids back to Qatar and leaving two to study in Ireland. First time seeing Doha in August. First time experiencing 52 degrees and stifling humidity knowing that it will not end any time soon. First time working in a job in Qatar that I know/hope will not end in pregnancy. First time ever, this is probably the most shocking, I have in almost ten years, never left the kids with a nanny. Due to work for a week before they start school and with no teenagers to bribe, I would rely on Darshi, Sri Lanka’s finest.
Predicting a tumultuous first day, leaving the kids, getting the work wear just right and meeting 150 new colleagues I was braced for the worst, after almost ten years of coffee mornings, pyjama mornings, walks in park, I was mentally prepared that this would be no walk in the park. Swiping in, swiping out, timetabling, reporting, group meetings, staff meetings, department meetings and 1064 children from 72 different countries, this library job was going to be on a par with being peace co-ordinator at the United Nations.
Everyone said it, working and juggling home life and kids was hard and today this was the reality I had to face. Hardly homeless or hungry I agree, but nevertheless a stretch from reading by the pool for an hour before breakfast.
First day, Darshi turned up early and did something I’d never seen before, she took the sweeping brush, I thought it was invisible to everyone but me. She proceeded to the sink to rinse out the snacks the accompanied Grand Designs from the night before, feeling surplus to requirement already I went to the car, where I drove in complete silence to work. My heartrate fell to what it hadn’t been since I was 29. Welcome meeting was polite, ‘good morning’ etc etc, and absolutely nobody wiped their nose on my skirt, I didn’t notice anyone complaining about sitting in the middle and not once did I hear the words, my biscuit is broken. I felt sane, people called me Denise and others just smiled walked past and went on about their day. Exhale. Forget childrearing, this is the walk in the park!