Doing Qatar (in a week)

Ok, so I’m not a travel blogger, nor a foodie. But here is what we got up to when my mom came to visit us for the first time in Doha. This might also give you some ideas as to what to do when you have visitors and/or when you are a tourist coming to Qatar.

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Mom landed safely on Sunday morning. We were still on our way to the airport when we got the notification that she’s gone through immigration, but due to heavy fog and bad drivers, we were running late (as usual). Bunny had gone to school without knowing what we were up to. Monkey was quietly in the back seat awaiting to see his gran. And I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning.

 

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Roofs sticking out above the heavy fog – Pearl, Qatar

 

Once Mom was picked up, we were dropped off at home to have a cup of coffee, unpack and plan our week, in between constant chatting. (Mr. Bear was very relieved that he didn’t have to attend to the constant chit-chatting.) To plan our iteniary, Mom had the following criteria: Not too expensive, taste as many different types of food as possible, see the most important things but still spend time together to just “chillax”.

At 14:00, Bunny arrived home only to be surprised and overwhelmed by his granny waiting for him in the lobby. And soon after the lunch routine, we set out to do some exploring. (Luckily I had had mentally prepared myself to have no daily naps… pity I didn’t prepare myself for all the walking that was going to be done in this week. On our first day, we walked 7 km!!!!!!!)

With the Pearl-Doha already being an attraction by itself, we decided to show my mom this man-made island and what it has to offer, while we munched away on some ice cream. From slim-lined yachts to an abundance of coffee shops and other restaurants, to clothing stores who seem to only have a few designer outfits. A peaceful and relaxing walk along the marina, taking in the beauty and tranquility with a mixture made from the water and beautiful sunsets.

 

The next day, we went to Villagio Mall to show Mom the decor. Back home (South Africa) we have 1 building with the same type of ceiling; so this was nice to see how a whole mall can look like a village somewhere in Tuscany, even with a small little man-made water feature where you can go for a ride on a gondola, as well as a Ferris wheel and a roller coaster, all inside the mall. The interesting part is how one minute it feels like you’re in Italy and the next you’re inside the Waterloo Train Station…

Working up a good appetite, we returned to the Pearl, where we had lunch at Shakespeare & Co. Now it is absolutely impossible to describe this restaurant’s ambience. The decor is so “busy”, yet everything has its place and it’s like everything just flows together. The food is delicious and always fresh too.

 

The next day we visited Katara Cultural Village where Mom was amazed by the architecture of the new mall that looks like a palace, the passages between buildings with the water streams all along the buildings as well as the Katara Amphitheatre.

If you’re ever looking for the best Belgian waffles in Doha, then go to Chac’Late, right opposite the Amphiteatre. Hands down the best!!

Although we were so full from the generous waffles, Mr. Bear still needed supper, so we decided to add American to our list of foods to try. And off we went along the Pearl Marina again, to Just Burger.

 

Day 3 was spent in and around the Pearl, trekking from Tower 13 all the way to Tower 1 as well as taking a drive through the villas on the Pearl. That night we were fortunate enough to see the Super Moon rise from behind the Kempinski Hotel on the Pearl. And then a Turkish Supper at Mado – the ravioli is to die for!

 

The next day was our “Preparing Day” for Friday’s trip to the Inland Sea. Cooking, grocery shopping and later on a swim in the Tower’s pool and then an early night.

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Swim in the pool
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View from the balcony

 

On Friday morning we woke early and made our way to the Inland Sea. Now if you’ve never been, then you have to make a plan to go. Make sure you don’t venture there by yourself and ensure you have extra beverages and food, just in case your time there is prolonged.
It was absolutely amazing, as always. Bunny and Mr. Bear got to ride a camel, we got to watch a beautiful sunrise come over the horizon; and then we made our way further into the desert; all the way to the Inland Sea, where we unpacked, swam, ate and generally just soaked up the last bit of summer sun.

Going to the desert is always an experience and adventure and you just never know what you’re going to end up doing and/or seeing. This trip gave us the experience of a hightide further into the desert than usual (possibly caused by the Super Moon), forming an unexpected lagoon; some assistance given to a group of people who had an overturned Hummer and had to be pulled upright and out by a Ford (Kudos Ford F150) and then hundreds and hundreds of Land Cruisers coming into the desert in droves, as we were on our way out. I can now imagine myself being a small gecko in the way of a herd of buffaloes stampeding their way towards you. It was a sight unimaginable. All slightly sun burned and exhausted, we called it an early night again.

 

Saturday was spent at the Flea Market at the Museum of Islamic Arts, where we got to see the locally hand made arts and crafts as well as some eats and treats that people make, and then we had a stroll into the museum to view the terracotta soldiers from China.

Once done viewing Doha City from the museum’s side we went to the Souq Waqif where we got some souveniers for the family and friends back home in South Africa and then had supper at Al Adhamiyah Iraqi Restaurant, where you will be given the most tender lamb ever. On the way home, we drove through Doha City Centre so that Mom could see the different lights on the skyscrapers…. yes, yes, Mom’s town in South Africa doesn’t have any skyscrapers!

 

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Lighting up the sky – Doha

 

 

Sunday we had breakfast at Jones, the Grocer and then we spent some time at home, baking Mr. Bear some carrot cake (his fav) and then one last stroll along the Pearl Marina where Mom, Bunny and Monkey went on the merry-go-round. A lovely way to end our week together.

 

And ending our beautiful week together, with yet another beautiful sunset.

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Beautiful sunset

It has been an absolute memorable week for all of us, as we not only got to see and spend time with Mom, but we also got to see more of the beautiful city we currently call home. If you haven’t seen/been to one of the above places, then please make a plan to go.

According to Mom, these were her top 4 favourite attractions, in order:

  1. Inland Sea and desert
  2. Katara Cultural Village
  3. Souq Waqif
  4. Museum of Islamic Arts (She’s not a big historic/museum type of person though)

 

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See you soon, Mom xxx

 

***

Keeping in mind Mom had a criteria for her visit; there were still quite a few places to see and/or experience; but our time was limited.
Here they are, for future reference:

  • Banana Island
  • Camel Race Track
  • Al Khor Park
  • Spa’s and brunches at Hotels
  • Dhow trip
  • Kayaking in The Mangroves
  • Sheihk Faisal Bin Qassim Musuem
  • Al Wakra Souq
  • Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Grand Monsque
  • Falcon Souq
  • Fuwairit Beach
  • FilmCity
  • Sealine Beach Resort
  • Torch Tea Garden

Have fun site seeing and exploring!!

What defines you as being strong?

Being the 6th of November today (yesterday); marks my little Rainbow Monkey’s 8-monthday! As I counted down the minutes and seconds to mark the “exact” time he was in my arms; I couldn’t help but not just reflect on our birth experience but also on how far I’ve come as a woman and what I had to go through on that day and the days leading up.

Mr. Bear wasn’t even on the same continent as me. We were in different time zones for that matter. Bunny was with a family member and I was pacing the empty house, (literally barely any furniture in it) stopping to breathe with each sporadic contraction. It was my one dread, regarding the birth of Monkey that I knew I’d have to do by myself without my pillar of strength next to me.

Here’s our story and how I’ve come to realize just how strong I actually am as a woman:

We’ve been waiting, not so patiently for Monkey to make his debut into this world. I was in pro-dormal labour for 2 weeks and had tried every non-medical way to get induced to meet this young man. Everything from eating the hottest curry ever, to long walks, bouncing on the ball and even had 2 sweeps done by my midwife. But just like his mother, he was stubborn. And during those 2 weeks, he had taught me the true meaning of patience. “Oh how I hope he is coming… I wish he comes while Mr. Bear is visiting us in South Africa… I think he is on his way… Maybe today is the day…;” those were my thoughts every morning and with every small contraction during each day…

On Saturday, 5 March, I woke up with not much change from the past 2 weeks. Slight contractions, period pain, lower back ache and every other single “sign” that Google says “you’re in labour…” I saw my midwife again that afternoon who did yet another internal and said I had dilated slightly more than the previous time, but was still at roughly 1cm. We decided on doing another sweep as I was exactly 40 weeks by this day. And so back home I went with the “I hope it works” thought.

Early evening my pain became more than the previous times after those sweeps were done. Some contractions even took my breath away and made me stop talking. Mr. Bear even said I sound more “in pain”. The annoying part though was that the contractions were still so irregular that I thought it’s just because of the sweep done earlier. I decided to take the “prescribed” bath to see if it will ease the pain, but it didn’t. I then decided to take 2 panado’s, but also didn’t have any effect on me.

I got into bed at about 22:30, still the contractions were irregular and I’d tell myself “Ok, give it another 30 min” and “Let’s see what happens in the next half an hour”. And by 00:22 Mr. Bear got the This is it, Love. It has begun-call.

My doula arrived first and my midwife soon after. The pool was started being filled while I was pacing the room going through each contraction, thinking to myself “this feeling I know, I had it with Bunny too”.

We did the first internal at 1:35 am and I was relieved when my midwife confirmed that I definitely had progressed since she last saw me this afternoon and I was indeed in labour. Thank the pope!! I was ordered to walk around, go up and down the stairs, bounce on the ball and everything else to open up my pelvis even more. Having a tight muscle in your lower back apparently doesn’t help this cause. At 3:40 am, another internal.

*Note the midwife doesn’t give figures of dilation and all internals are done due to change in my behaviour, expression and/or contractions.

Just after this one, I was allowed to get into the pool as contractions were intense!

“RELIEF! PAIN-FREE! OMG, I CAN STAY HERE FOREVER!” was all I thought…. for a while at least and still definitely better than outside the pool. 4:45 am another internal with another at 6:25 am at which point my waters were broken for me and I was ordered back into the pool. At 6:45 am I told them, baby is coming, I need to start pushing…. At which point my doula started Skyping Mr. Bear so that he could experience the birth as much as possible. (Poor guy was supposed to handle a meeting.)

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“Baby is coming very soon”

7:04 am my last internal (while in the pool) “Baby is coming very soon” was all I remember being told… 7:14 am I got to feel the head and by 7:15 am I had pushed Monkey completely out and he was safely above water and in my arms and my heart had doubled in size. With my wonderful Mr. Bear just on the other side of the phone, our youngest prince in my arms, and the other one not too far away, I felt full of love and complete.

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Safe and sound

(What I did not know and only found out afterwards was this: At 1:35 am I was only 2 cm dilated and I had only moved to 4cm by the time they broke my waters for me. Due to everything progressing (contraction wise, etc, the only thing that stalled baby to come, was my waters, and thus the reason they broke it). By 7:04 am I was 5 cm and progressed the last 5 cm within 10 min.

I wouldn’t change anything about our birthing experience and couldn’t be more ecstatic about the way it happened. Thank you to my wonderful Mr. Bear who suffered with me through this pregnancy, my caring team of caregivers who were always available to help me, KvdM and LB, Bunny who tried his best to help when mommy’s tummy was sore as well as my lovely friends and family.

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Monkey, few hours old

 

Monkey born on 6 March 2016 at 7:15 am
Head circumference: 34cm
Length: 53cm
Weight: 3.06kg

Looking back at this experience and the few months prior, I have realized how strong I am. I think most women often underestimate their own strength, especially when they are right in the middle of the difficulty.

Yes, the birthing part was relatively easy. But emotionally, I was a wreck. I had, yet again, suffered from HG while pregnant with Monkey. For just over 2 and a half months, I was without Mr. Bear having to juggle selling and packing up home to emigrate; support Bunny (a lot) as he had to start at a new school; all this while being in my last trimester. I was drained, yet I had to stay strong; for my boys and for Mr. Bear.

So whether you are going through something that feels overwhelming at the moment or you have just come out of the dark tunnel; stand still for a moment and realize how far you’ve come and how strong you actually are. Yes, it might not have gone according to how you had wanted it, but in the end, it has made you stronger!

To all those mommies who didn’t get the birth they wanted/planned; to those that tried to breastfeed, but couldn’t; to you ladies who’ve had to say goodbye forever to someone way too soon or never even got to hold your little one; to those who are fighting cancer or other illnesses with everything they’ve got; to those who will never have a child of their own; no matter what your circumstance is, no matter how the day feels like today, you will come out of it stronger than ever before, even if it doesn’t go the exact way you wanted it.

And yes, my story might not seem like a big deal to some of you and someone else’s story might seem effortless to me; one thing that I have realized is that you are never put in a situation that you will not be able to conquer, for you. Not your friend’s or a family member’s, stranger’s next to you or anyone else’s.

It is YOUR story. It is YOUR life. It is YOUR mountain to climb. It is YOUR tunnel to come out of. And when you’ve done that; then YOU are stronger as a being and that is the ultimate definition of how strong you are.

Don’t ever forget it!

*What event in your life has made you stronger than before?*

Mommy, she doesn’t want to be my friend anymore

Having a sweet, loving child who is often shy, yet considerate most of the times, with fellow children; makes it almost unfathomable that you’ll hear this phrase from a little mouth. “Mommy, she doesn’t want to be my friend anymore.”

Bunny has always had 1 best friend. In his previous school, he had the same best friend for more than 2 years straight. They were inseparable. If she wasn’t at school, he’d easily play with someone else so I was content in knowing that he had more than just one friend. I even asked the teacher about it, she confirmed that he was well liked by his peers and was often the center of attention.

Now in his new school, it seemed he was doing the same thing again. Attaching himself to one girl. From his description of her, she sounded very similar in looks compared to his old bff. Every day I would ask who he played with and who did what etc. And so far, he’s only mentioned her. If I asked for the names of boys or other girls in his class, he’d just say that he doesn’t know their names. But still, I hoped that over time his little circle of friends would grow.

But then last week, my almost 5-year-old came home after school, acting besides himself. He was rude, whiny, teary eyed and in general a little nightmare; more than usual. Despite various usual questions and activities throughout the afternoon, he spiraled further down into a bag of unpleasantness. Both Mr Bear and I were at breaking point by the time it was his bed routine. We’ve run out of compromises, negotiations, threats, patience and quite frankly enough eff’s were given for the day. The sooner he gets into bed, the better for the sanity of this entire household.

Instead of allowing him to see that I was about to loose it with him; I decided to do the bath routine with him, instead of Mr Bear. I stayed calm and asked random little questions about his day at school since they had an event at school. He told me something trivial regarding his day and quickly asked me why I don’t believe him. This was odd to me, as I did believe him and more surprisingly, it was a phrase he’d had never used before. I then asked him who at school didn’t believe him. And there I found my answer. “Cinderella.”*

And then it happened. My little boy looked down and started crying. “She doesn’t want to be my friend anymore.” I was shocked. My little boy’s heart was shattered. His behavior of the day suddenly made sense. I wasn’t there to protect him. But most importantly, yet, scary, this is something he will have to learn to deal with by himself with only tools that I can offer him to use.

Upon questioning what happened, I learned that they had a disagreement about a simple thing. She believed in the one thing. And he believed in the opposite. Something so trivial yet in the life of a young child, it was something absolutely major and enough to break up a friendship.

I calmly explained to him that it was okay to differ in opinions. It was okay to not agree with each other the whole time. It was okay to see things differently or experience something differently. But I also ensured he understood that it was not okay to force someone to agree with you on everything. We used some examples of daily life things as well as of different relationships and he seemed to understand. I asked him what he is going to do when he sees Cinderella again and he said he’ll tell her that she can believe in what she wants and then they can play again. He then asked me whether I still love him and like him even though we disagree on things. Upon which I promptly told him that I will always love him, especially when we have different opinions.

My little boy had calmed down and was the loving child again.

After tucking him into bed, I went to Mr Bear and told him what I had found out. A sigh of understanding was sighed. And yet, I was only half way to helping my child regarding friends and relationships.

After some consultation with my mommy-groups and some reading up on articles and blogs, I was ready to bring up this subject the next day.

The following morning, I brought it up as calmly as possible. I told Bunny that I had different friends. I had friend A and friend B that I spoke to about any and everything almost daily. And I had friend C and D who I go with for coffee. And friend E and F who I share some vino with. And then I had my bff who was his daddy. I told him that even with my bff, Mr Bear, we don’t always agree on everything and sometimes we might argue about it. But most importantly, we respect each other’s viewpoints and often come to a compromise on an issue or we agree to disagree and that was fine too. With this he understood that it was ok to have more than one friend and that you didn’t have to do everything with just one person, all the time.

I continued by giving him examples of how to use this at school. He could have 1 or 2 friends to color in with. Another to kick the ball with. Another to sit with during lunch or to walk to a certain class.

He at first said he only wants Cinderella to be his friend, but I then asked him who he will play with if she is sick and not at school for the day or what would he do if she didn’t want to do the same activity that he wants to do at the time. He thought about it and then mentioned another name of a child he can play with. And with that, I knew he’d understood the message.

It’s hard to bring up a child who doesn’t have all the tools in life. It’s hard to not break your own heart when theirs are breaking or feel sad when they’re sad. In this day and age, one can only teach respect and understanding and hope that they understand it and will use it.

 

Have you been in a similar situation with your little one? How did you handle it?

* Name changed, obviously to ensure anonymity 🙂

** After his next day of school, I asked him how Cinderella was and he said they’re friends again. So all is well again 🙂

I’m that mother

I’m that mother…

 

The one who sneaks the chocolates out of your party bag to eat it; enough sweets and chocolates were eaten by you at the party.

The one who says it’s already bedtime when there’s actually still 30 min to go; but you can’t read the time yet, so you won’t know.

The one who rolls over and makes as if I’m asleep just so that you would stay quietly in bed (or go back to sleep for a bit) over the weekend, as I’m not so enthusiastic about getting up at 5:30 am.

The one who sings out loud the made up song of how much I adore my sweet boy, right in the middle of the mall.

The one who will only show you pictures of cakes for your birthday, based on the ones I think I can make.

The one who uses Father Christmas and the gift list, as a way to get you to eat your veggies.

The one who will laugh when you get stuck in an awkward position and can’t get out, before I help you out.

The one who won’t stand for rudeness and being unappreciative.

 

But, I’m also;

The one who prefers buying new toys and clothes for both boys, with money that was given to me, to spend on ME.

The one who floods my social media pages with photos of my kids’ shenanigans and joy.

The one who will laugh at your silliness even though you didn’t mean for it to be funny.

The one who will run after you to kiss you goodbye, until the day you can outrun me.

The one who will daily and hourly teach you how you should behave so that one day you will be the gentleman this world needs.

The one who teaches you to get up once you’ve fallen and to try again.

The one who tells you that you can do it over and over again, even if you don’t believe it yourself.

The one who will encourage you to take the jump off the 2 meter wall, once you are ready to do so.

The one who will be your biggest fan and cheerleader, next to the sport’s field or swimming pool.

The one who looks at your drawing in absolute amazement, even though I cannot for the life of me figure out how you see a crocodile in there. Van Gogh would be proud of you.

The one who hates being tickled, but will fake the laugh, just for you.

The one who will play endless peek-a-boo with you as you find it so funny.

The one who will make 2 spaghetti bolognaise’s so that yours doesn’t have the spices and herbs in that you don’t like.

The one who goes into a frantic panic and will drop everything to come when you are crying.

The one who will suffer the pain of sore and swollen boobs, just so that I know you get the best start in life.

The one who will fight any and every battle to ensure you get the right and fair treatment.

The one who will carry your struggles, pain and fear; even if I have no more energy to carry my own.

The one who will give you the last bit of money to do something, just so that you are not the only one not doing it.

The one who will sing you “your” song when you need to hear it.

The one who will give you a life long sense of security and love, a safe haven and a place where you can be just what and who you want to be.

I am that one!

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Our first family photo shoot

On 7 October 2016, we were fortunate to have our first family photo shoot done. We had consulted the lovely Maira regarding locations, outfits, props and in general, just what we were looking for.

At 5:15 am we arrived at one of the most peaceful beaches in Doha; at Qanat Quartier, Pearl. The boys were all dressed up in their blue shirts and khaki shorts. My hair had some effort put into it and I didn’t have the typical mom-bun-hairstyle. I even put some make-up on and Mr. Bear looked smart, as always.

Now let me tell you something with photo shoots that include a child.

Remember that newborn photo shoot where it was relatively easy to fold and mold the baby according to how you wanted them to lie. Remember that at that young age of only a few days, that they only slept, although it sometimes looked like they were completely comatose. (Well, at least for most newborn shoots… except Monkey’s).

Anyway, this was nothing like that… Complete and utter opposite.

Because now Monkey was wide awake, had his own little personality, mobile and generally does what he feels like doing. And then we have Bunny, who also does whatever he wants; who thinks it’s the perfect time to chase after birds and walk around like a T-Rex.

This was the time I completely understood and took my hat off to family photographers. Trying to get one kid to look at the camera is one mission by itself. Trying to get both of them to look at the camera, at the same time, is a whole other story. And then trying to get both kids to not only look at the camera at the same time, but also smile, at the same time, while both looking at the camera, is a whole other ball game.

I was coaxing the kids to look and smile at me, while standing behind Maira. Maira was squeaking the toys we had taken along. Mr. Bear was jumping and singing trying to get those cute smiles we know our kids have. We did not succeed with each click of the camera.

After about an hour and a half, it became too hot and the sun too bright and we also knew the posing for photos from the kids was coming to a fast end.

We celebrated the overall success… Our very first family photo shoot was a wrap.

Now the work lied in our competent photographer’s skills in editing and making us look pretty 🙂

The great part of it all, is that I was given the opportunity, to view the photos after the first edit. To go through them all and add any that I wanted to be edited as well. I was allowed to give my 2-cents on which photo I preferred and with which color. It’s not often you get the opportunity to be a part of it. But the way I see it, is that I’m going to be the one who is going to have to live with these images for the rest of my life. I’m going to have to be the one who has to show these photos to the grandparents and to the friends, so I think it’s great to be a part of this phase too.

Maira well done!
You have managed to capture the most beautiful photos of our family. You have such a talented eye to see the opportunity for a photo and to not miss it. The way you worked with the boys is phenomenal. And we are forever thankful and grateful for what you have given us.

Here are some of our special captured moments:

 

I cannot recommend this wonderful lady highly enough. If you’re currently in Doha, Qatar and looking for an amazing photographer, then please get in contact with her. You will not be disappointed.

Maira Azhar

+974 5532 4640
myreeazhar@gmail.com 

https://www.facebook.com/myreeandme/

Dear woman without a child; I see you watching me… 

Dear woman without a child; I see you watching me as I get out the pool holding my baby. I see you watching me with my shorts on, trying to cover up the golf ball dents in my thighs; the muffin top pouring over the side; the flabby arms that resemble those of a chicken; the un-maked-up-dark-circle under my eyes; the boobs that don’t quite fit in the bikini top. Oh I see you sitting there in your couture swimming costume while you give me the look. I see it on your face how you judge me. How you think “I’ll never let go of myself like that!” I see you wondering why I even bothered coming out to the pool; why I even bothered with a swimming costume and should rather have worn a baggy t-shirt to cover it all.

Dear woman without a child; I see you watching me as I drag my kicking and screaming preschooler through the shop. I see you watching me as I try to stay cool while my almost 5-year old is throwing the biggest darn tantrum in the shop because I refuse to get him a blowing-effing-irritating-noisy whistle. I see you glaring at me that I can’t control my kid. I see you shaking your head when I ignore him and walk away from him, leaving him to scream even louder. I see your expression and wish that I could just have left him home and not bring him with. And I most definitely see you when I give him a small tap on the bum, which as always only results in him yelling even louder.

Dear woman without a child; I see you watching me as I sit alone having a coffee with only the company of a 7-month old. I see you feeling sorry for me. I see the way you’re trying to figure out why I’m there alone. Pondering through the different possible scenarios. Bouncing between me having lost all my friends over choosing my kids before anyone else. I see how you crave being the center of attention between all your perfectly manicured girl friends and how you sip your piping hot, fat free, chai latte.

Dear woman without a child; I see you watching me as I’m walking carrying a baby and strolling behind a preschooler, my wet eyes clearly giving evidence of me crying. I see you running past me; I-pod strapped to your perfectly toned bicep, pony of hair clearly washed just the day previously, eye liner and mascara fit for an actress on the red carpet. I see you shaking your head as you think I must be a failure as a mother, it’s not even 8 am and already I’ve been crying. The red glistening eyes are giving me away and you can see I’m seconds away from another outburst.

Dear woman without a child; I see your comments on my post telling me how I’m doing it all wrong and throwing some sort of “new scientific study” at me. I see your rolling-eye-tone through your “advice” you want to give me on how I’m running the house, my kids’ bedtime or what we’re having for supper. Sitting there behind your screen, pounding that keyboard with each huff and puff on how I can’t look after my own kids as I’m doing it all wrong.

Dear woman without a child; I see you watching me from under your Armani sunglasses as I push the stroller into the lift. I see you trying your best not to make eye contact. I see how you wish the lift would open up to your floor faster than what it is. I see how the sight of me and a baby makes you uncomfortable.

Dear woman without a child; I see you watching me as I board the plane and drag 2 tiny humans behind me. I see the shaking of your head to fellow passengers; the “almost” silent whispers of “She better keep them quiet” and the “I hope she’s giving them a sedative to chill and sleep”. Please, don’t get up and offer a hand while I try to strap a preschooler into his seat, make sure the newborn is still asleep, arrange the baggage into the over-head, take the backpack back down so toys can come out for the preschooler to play with, ensure the milk-filled breasts aren’t leaking all while I give an apologetic nod to all the closest passengers. Trust me, to fly with kids, with or without help of a spouse, relative or friend; is the biggest darn challenge for us and I promise you, we have threatened, begged, promised rewards and pleaded the kids for a quiet flight so that YOU are not disturbed too much.

Dear woman without a child; I see you watching me…

And until you have children of your own, I’d like to tell you something:

You can glare at me all you want. You can shake your head at me and my children in disbelieve or even disgust. Silently, yet clearly judging me for not getting my pre-baby body back after a few weeks of having my second child; for publicly showing emotion and near-breaking point; for disciplining my little offspring best I can so that one day he will be considered a gentleman; for letting go some day and just not giving a f*#@ anymore; for enjoying the small giggles and absolute fascination at the steam floating from a hot cup of coffee that my baby shows; oh how I see you.

I wish you could see all these moments, take them all in and really learn from them. Get off your high horse. Let go off your holier-than-thou attitude. Come sit next to me, walk with me, offer a helping hand as I show you what it’s really like to be a parent. Come ask questions and advice, I’m all ears.

And when the day comes that I walk past you with un-manicured fingers and nails, frazzled hair, dark circles under your eyes, milk stains on your baggy shirt, old smell of spat of undigested milk, and holding a wailing toddler while pushing s stroller with the other hand; I will offer you a smile and a look of “I know it feels like you want to run away, but honestly dear; this is the most rewarding, even though tiring days of your life, and it will get better, especially once you realize that you are not alone in this. You have millions of supporters and people who are either going through it right now or have gone through it already and made it out alive.”

Dear woman without a child, I see you…

**And to those women without a child, who look at me with pure love and adoration, with envy and hope in their eyes; I see you too. And I thank you for the assistance and understanding you show me. High five to you and the biggest and strongest hugs to you.**

Take the road less traveled, they said….

Take the road less traveled, they said…
It will be fun, they said…

So often you get advised to take the road less traveled. To make your own (foot/car) prints. To do your own thing. To make your own mistakes and to learn from it afterwards.

This is our journey of doing exactly just that and the disaster, experience that ensued…

On Friday morning, 3am we left our house to venture the desert. We were going to meet up with a whole lot of South African expats and their families at the Inland Sea. Braai (BBQ on flames), sea, sand and pure fun was the order of the day. Kids were half asleep as we carried them to the packed car.

5:00 am
We got to the “entrance” of the sandpit first, as planned, as we wanted to get our car’s tires deflated and ready before the flock of Saffas arriving. The sun was just starting to break over the horizon and we all were hyped up on excitement and a quick snack, ready for the day.

5:07 am
There were already a lot of other cars. Some were about to go in, others were coming out after a night of camping. Camels standing about ready to give tourists an experience. The atmosphere really is an adventurous feeling that really electrifies your whole body.

5:31 am
After our snack, Mr Bear suggested we start venturing in, taking it slow and even have a stop on one of the sand dunes to really experience the beautiful sun rise.

 

 

 

6:03 am
The decision was then made to start making our way to the Inland Sea. This is basically the stretch of water that separates Saudi Arabia from Qatar. Up the sand dunes, down the sand dunes we go. Some are bigger than others, some are more terrifying to get up or down from (well, for me at least). But overall, it’s still fun.

And then it was thought (hmmmm…. Mr. Bear) to be a good idea to go into an area where there are no car track marks, cause you know, take the road less traveled, adventure forward, explore…

Less than a 100 meters off the main road; my internal warning lights start going off… This is a bad idea. Get out. Turn around. You should have waited for others. Don’t go into the sandpit by yourself. Warning lights were correct. Mr Bear started turning around and then… STOP! No movement. Sand being spit up from all the wheels. Feels like we are being showered by sand. I tell him to wait as I get out to see what was going on…

6:39 am
The car was flat on its belly on the sand. Tires sunk deep into the hole it’s dug for itself. We were stuck. Absolutely no way of getting out of here by ourselves…. And guess what, we were perfectly behind a sand dune so the view to the road was non-existent.

6: 43 am
Out Mr Bear gets and we start digging. I mean, we are Saffas, and ‘n boer maaks ‘n plan (A farmer makes a plan — don’t give up, make a plan). Remove the sand from the tires so they’re actually visible. Try again to get out – FAIL! There’s no traction for the tires and the belly of the car is being held up by the sand. Well this is just fantastic! 


6:50 am
Mr Bear decided to go up the sand dune to flag down some passers by. Bunny follows. “So much fun”, he says after he runs off with his dad. But of course, Murphy wouldn’t have any cars passing then.
In the mean time, Monkey and I are making ourselves comfy in the shade of the car. We have enough water and food and we even have full signal on our phones, so we’ll call if no help in a few minutes… and look there’s nothing that can be done right now.

 

7:05 am
Bunny joins us again. Too boring to sit and wait for a passing car. He takes out his toys to play. Monkey starts gnawing on his toys and I decide to indulge myself in a cold one while updating a friend of mine of the happenings. (She thinks it’s hilarious and even sends me a video clip of Daniel the Tiger’s song “When you feel so mad you want to roar”. Thanx hun.)

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7:08 am
Mr Bear arrives pushing 2 huge tires. The plan? To stick it under the car, behind the front tires to provide some grip. Ok; this might work. Bunny thinks it’s great fun getting the tires to the car. Good exercise for them both.

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Buuuuuttt, the plan doesn’t work…

7:17 am
A random car ventures on our side of the dune. Out pops 5 Good Samaritans. We explain to them what happened.
No, we are stuck.
No, we don’t have a rope.
Yes, the tires are correctly deflated.
No, it’s lying flat on the bottom of the car.
Yes, we’ve tried that.
Oh, you also don’t have a rope. Okay…
You can’t help us. Okay…
Oh here’s a number we must call and someone will come. Great!
In the mean time, I post a plea of help on our Saffa’s Facebook page, praying that someone will get the notification.

7:25 am
And just as they’re about to leave, a car gets spotted coming over the big sand dune, a good 500+ meters away from us. We start waiving. We yell. I press the hooter of the car. Bunny jumps up and down. Monkey just chews his toy. And then another car right behind it, and another, and another… And there we spot the South African flag from one of the cars. It was our fellow expats. It felt like they’ve been sent from Heaven just for us. The most beautiful sight I had seen in a long time. Roughly 15 or so cars, filled with our expat family, all of them we haven’t even met yet. They stop about 100m away from us, Mr Bear walks closer to meet them and roughly 15 men come walking towards. We were saved!

Strong pickups come in to pull us out, rope gets hooked onto the cars, we quickly load everything back into the car. Moms and kids patiently wait in their own cars. They’re obviously used to some inexperienced-first-timer to get stuck in the desert.

8:21 am
WE ARE OUT!!!!! To Mr C.S., who took that exact route where he was able to see us, a route he never usually takes, a route even his wife asked him what he was doing; thank you for following your instincts. To all the gentlemen who came to push and pull our car out; thank you. To all the other angels that patiently (or silently swearing us and our stupidity; I won’t blame you if you did) waited for us in their cars; thank you.

We made it to the Inland Sea. We made new friends. We learned to never ever ever go into the desert by ourselves. Mr Bear got stung by a jellyfish. Bunny swam in the sea. Monkey chewed his toys (and slept). We had great fun.

Looking back on this now, I can see why you are often told to “Take the road less traveled” and I don’t have a problem with it. Because if it wasn’t for this experience, we wouldn’t have learned something new; we wouldn’t have made new friends; we wouldn’t have these memories with the kids that we can one day reminiscence on.

So if there’s another opportunity to take the road and make our own footprints, I’ll take it; just not into the desert by myself.

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At the beach, finally chilling.