I’m not going to tell you that you’re a good mother.
I won’t even tell you that you’re doing a good job.
Because when I do, you’re going to think back to this morning when your toddler threw that sticky clump of oatmeal at you, and you snapped. You just snapped. She’s small. She’s frustrated. You’re the adult here. But you didn’t recognise your voice as the anger and helplessness rumbled in the pit of your stomach and you growled furiously at her. You didn’t feel like a good mother then.
Here I sit, between them on my bed, the toddler on my left and the baby on my right. They’re fast asleep, peacefully dreaming of the things little ones dream about. If I listen closely, I can hear their steady, soft breaths, and see their little chests rising and falling almost in unison. In this still, quiet moment, I beg the universe:
Don’t let me forget.
Don’t let me forget the way her fine, silky baby hairs tickle the tip of my nose as I breathe in her perfection, or the way she giggles as I bury my head into the cushiony folds of her chubby neck. She smells like milk, soap, and baby powder, even though I didn’t put any baby powder on her. She smells like love and hope and some magical, mysterious ingredient that only babies possess. Continue reading
If you’re a sleep-deprived mama that stays up late for no reason, I get you.
No, really. I get you.
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that at one point, someone has said to you: Okay, you’re sleep deprived – it’s essentially all you ever talk about, so why are you still up now that the kids are in bed?
My very logical, rational husband doesn’t understand why, despite the fact that I haven’t slept for longer than a two-hour stretch over the past couple of months, I still stay up well past the kids’ bedtime. You say you want ‘me-time’ – but isn’t sleep the ultimate ‘me-time’? he asked me once.
Before I had kids, the concept of ‘me-time’ was pretty stock standard. I’d take the full hour lunch break at work and walk through the shops with no agenda whatsoever. On the weekend, I’d set off to the gym on my own for an hour and then stop by my favourite cafe and grab a cappuccino. Sometimes I’d get more than one bout of ‘me-time’ in one day. It was great.
Me and myself had the perfect amount of quality time together.
The question “where are you from?” is a difficult question to answer.
“Yes, of course, sir. If your daughter is Egyptian, then your granddaughter is also Egyptian.”
The immigration officer greeting us at Cairo airport warmly assured my father that neither my daughter nor I needed a visa to enter our country of origin. He handed back the crinkled copy of my birth certificate – a document which, despite me having only lived in Egypt until I was three and a half, and despite the fact that I had not set foot on Egyptian soil in over 18 years, was all that was required to legitimise my, and apparently my daughter’s, claim to Egyptian heritage.
My husband and I had decided to surprise my parents and accompany them on a trip to Egypt, my place of birth and my first nationality, in October 2014. Our first daughter was 7 months old at the time. It was a significant trip for me, not only because it had been so long since I’d been back, but more so because I found myself constantly asking the question:
Am I really Egyptian?
We finally got some professional family photographs taken last weekend. Truthfully, I’d been putting this off over and over again because I wanted to wait until I’d lost the baby weight after having #2 so that I could look somewhat presentable in these photos and not have to look back, 5 or 10 years later, and cringe at myself.
But recently, a light switched on in my head and made me think to myself: you know what? I’m done waiting to lose weight.
Today, you turn two years old.
It’s been exactly two years since that day we met in that freezing operating theatre. I lay there, with your Papa standing in his chalk blue scrubs by my side, when, although numb from the waist down, I felt the exact moment they took you out and you took your first breath. Your first cry was moments later. And although it felt like an eternity at the time, in a couple of minutes they had wrapped you up in blankets and placed you in my arms.
In those early moments with you, one of the thoughts that kept crossing my mind was that at one point, I thought I’d never get to meet you. Continue reading
In case the marketing everywhere miraculously hasn’t reached you yet, it’s Valentine’s Day this weekend.
And maybe you’re like me.
I grew up watching Disney movies and rom-coms. Prince Charming, happily ever after, adorable meet-cutes, gigantic, suspenseful, highly emotional grand gestures, perfect lines in the perfect moment, so on, so forth, et cetera. Ah, that warm fuzzy feeling. That whole, “oh-my-gosh-that-perfect-guy-is-so-perfect!”. That sense of hope that one day, you might have someone bulldoze through crowds of people at a busy international airport to stop you from getting on that plane so that he can perform a heartbreakingly beautiful soliloquy about why you two belong together. Sigh.
“Mama wins today,” I smugly said to my husband over dinner tonight.
He smirked at the conviction with which I made that statement.
“Mama wins today,” I repeated, as I proudly looked at the settled, alertly awake newborn in my arms, the happy, albeit exhausted, toddler on his lap eating a nutritious meal I had prepared, made from scratch with fresh, wholesome, food-blog-worthy ingredients, which involved oranges, greens, purples and pinks.
Are you a brand new mother, mama? Or have you been a mama for a little while now, but have no idea how to handle the stage your child is currently going through? Or are you, like me, trying to navigate the treacherous new path of being a mother of one more than you previously had? Or are you a veteran mama that is just going through a more trying time than usual?
If so, then maybe you’ll understand my sentiments.
Last night, as I lay in bed eating gummi bears while watching Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, exhausted beyond belief and wondering when Tiny Boss #2 would wake up next for a feed, I had to remind myself: this, too, shall pass.
There are a lot of things I forgot about having a newborn.
Those first few weeks can truly be the most exhausting, the most challenging, the most painful and the most terrifying as you think to yourself how your world has been turned on its head and will never be the same again.
Repeat after me, mama: this, too, shall pass.
Last night, I spent two hours solely dedicated to trying to settle my fussy 20-day-old, while her father got her almost two-year-old sister ready for bed. I envied his task a little; its predictability, its dependable routine, its lack of screams and cries, and lack of moments of self-doubt and desperation. Those moments of “what do you want me to do?!” as you try and figure out what this little person needs from you. Continue reading
I get it now.
A week after giving birth to my second child, I get it now.
They said I would be overwhelmed with a combination of emotions I couldn’t comprehend – I get it now.
That I will feel immense love beyond anything I could ever have imagined, but at the same time feel fear that maybe I’m not going to be able to ever handle both kids on my own.
That I can look at my toddler and marvel at how she seems to have grown up overnight, but at the same time feel like she’s my little baby who still needs so much from me and worry about whether I am going to be enough for her now that my attention is divided.
That I can look at my newborn and almost literally feel my heart explode with a love so mind-blowingly powerful that it totally consumes me, and also feel guilt in knowing that there are some things I was able to do for her older sister which I can’t do for her.
I get it now.