Trading the heat for the cold – is it worth it?

To most expats living in the Middle East, summer school holidays mean various things. 

Things like bored children for 3 months, extortionate heat, high humidity, dusty winds, and a mom that’s going crazy trying to keep the kids indoors and hydrated. One just cannot imagine what the heat is like until you’ve experienced it. 

Since there’s only so much one can do each day to keep the kids entertained and occupied, I had to make the decision – stay for 3 months, mainly cooped up indoors, while friends either worked daily, and others exit the country OR leave to go stay by my mom. 

Bunny bored 30 min into his holiday – got himself stuck in Monkey’s chair

The answer seemed simple. We’d take the kids to go visit their gran and some other family members, meet up with some old friends, be away from the heat in the very chilling and wet, winter Western Cape climate, and allow the kids to run outside in the garden, play on the beach or just go for a walk. 

Mr Bear came with us for the first week during Eid and then make his return to the sandpit to continue work; leaving us behind at my moms, knowing I had an extra pair of hands to help with the kids. 

But was this the best decision?

Friends would ask me if I’d be ok to be without Mr Bear for 2 months. I’d give them the quick, well recited response that at least I’ll be with my mom, I’ll have help, and of course some company. 

Looking back on my decision now, I’m not so sure anymore…

My pillar of strength, partner in crime, sounding board and love of my life is not just a few kilometers away from me. I can’t just count the hours down until I know he’ll be walking through the doors to help out during the Murder Hour. My extra hour of snoozing in bed in the morning has left with him, as he used to get up with Monkey at the crack of dawn. My time that I used to catch my 2nd wind and get ready for bedtime routine is no more as now it’s just a continuation until my animals are all in La La Land. 

Monkey having an afternoon snooze

And then I’ve also got my routine of even the smaller things like running the house that is no more. Simple things like watering the plants and popping in to a friends house for a cold one, or coffee in the mornings has all been put on hold. 

So was this the best decision? For me? The kids? My life?

I don’t know. 

It’s like half of your being is missing. Half of your personality. Your life. Just not here. Yes, there’s social media and WhatsApp and skype. But that’s just not the same as a pair of hands to actually be there. Someone who also knows what each cry, moan or whine means. Just your someone. 

Mr Bear showing Monkey the rocks and sea

On the other hand, the kids are happier. Yes, they do miss their daddy, don’t get me wrong. But they see their gran, who adores them. They can play, get dirty, and do boy stuff like get dirty and wet. They are not grounded inside the house while their friends are off on their own exodus from the heat. 

Little explorer

And with that, I suppose sometimes your kids happiness comes first, even when you temporarily feel hollow. 

Only 62 days to go… 

I should have listened to mommy when she said the water is cold – now we’re both wet!

Reasons why I love you

Today you are 1!

Seriously where has the time gone?!?!

Here are my TOP 52 reasons of why I love you. 1 for each week of this past year.

  1. Your gentle being.
  2. Your emotional connection to others.
  3. Your empathy, you give to others who are hurt and/or sad.
  4. Your beautiful smile.
  5. Your genuine giggles.
  6. Your contagious laugh.
  7. Your hugs, you generously give.
  8. Your wet kisses you love giving.
  9. Your eyes, and how they are wide open and alert.
  10. The color of your eyes, like some exotic sea water.
  11. Your smootchi mouth.
  12. Your curiosity of all the things around you.
  13. Your ability to learn and understand so quickly.
  14. Your feistiness.
  15. Your determination to get what you want.
  16. Your desire to still want to be connected to me and daddy, by having us pick you up.
  17. Your no-fear attitude, when you climb all the way to the top of the slide.
  18. Your assistance to have me constantly think of new ideas for snacks for you each day.
  19. Your slapping my face while I’m sleeping, just to remind me that I’m not alone.
  20. Your explosive nappies, to let me know you ate well the previous day.
  21. Your love you give us.
  22. Your excitement to see your big brother each day.
  23. Your soft skin.
  24. Your easy going attitude.
  25. Your confidence in new places and doing new things.
  26. Your ability to have fun with simple things like a piece of toilet paper or a wooden spoon.
  27. Your amazement at things we take for granted.
  28. Your constant excitement after a nap and we come get you.
  29. Your willingness to share your toys.
  30. Your warm and inviting eyes.
  31. Your sincerity when you call me “Mama”.
  32. Your intelligence that comes through, even at this young age.
  33. Your good-natured behaviour.
  34. Your constant happiness.
  35. Your gentle, old soul.
  36. Your enthusiasm with regards to doing something or trying something new out.
  37. Your brilliant way of lighting up a room.
  38. Your calming presence.
  39. Your ambition to do what you want.
  40. Your observing of all things around you, not missing a thing.
  41. Your personality.
  42. Your ray-of-sunshine comfort, when times seem dark.
  43. Your creative streaks of playing.
  44. Your attentive eyes when we teach you something completely new.
  45. Your charming personality.
  46. Your golden curly locks.
  47. Your beautiful hands with their long fingers.
  48. Your self-confidence.
  49. Your way of bringing calm to those around you.
  50. Your persuasive ability for things you want or things you want to do.
  51. Your love that you give to all around you.

 

Your untouched innocence
That lovely blue in your eyes
With my heart you’ve made
Some very special ties
Your flawless little face
Fingers than tangle with mine
Brings a feel of purity
Which is just so divine
Your unfathomable sounds
Your heart-melting smile
Everything that you do
Makes my life worthwhile

Happiest of birthdays, my sweet rainbow child. How I love you so!

 

 

 

 

 

 

For now, you are still my baby

As I look at you while you’ve drifted off to Dreamland, I can’t help that my heart just skips a beat. You look so peaceful and content. Although I’m sure you’re busy slaying a big dragon; or running amongst wolves; or maybe you’re just contemplating your next exploration adventure for once you awake. Oh my, how I love you so.

It’s been a few days now that I can’t keep my eyes off of you. Not because you’ve started climbing on top of everything. Nor is it because you move my furniture and things all over the place. It’s not even because I have to ensure I’m close by, in case you’re able to reach the top of the table and pull things off. Instead, it’s because I cannot believe just how you’ve grown. We’re less than 2 weeks away from your first birthday and Mommy is just ever so slightly emotional about it.

Why? I don’t know. The reality that you’re not a baby anymore, even though you’ll always be my baby. Maybe because you’ve achieved so much in this past year. Or maybe it’s because you’ve taught me so much. It’s probably all of the above and more.

I look at you and I see love. I see the enjoyment of simple things. I see the excitement when you’ve achieved something new. I see your face brighten up completely when Daddy or Bunny walk into the house. I see your curiosity when you’ve managed to reach a higher height/object. I see your amazement when you look at water splashing down. I see your joy when I come get you after you’ve had a nap. I see your fascination with the light switches. Oh, how I see it all.

How it pains me when you bump yourself and the tears roll over your smooth cheek. How it hurts when I see you’re in pain. But how beautiful it is to see you getting up and trying again; once you’ve had a cuddle or two. There is just so much we can learn from you and your persistence.

All years fly by. At each year-end, you’ll always hear someone say something like “I can’t believe this year is over!” But this year… this year has gone by at the speed of light. Just the other day I touched you for the first time. Not long after that, you’d give your first real smile. Soon after that, you would turn full circle while lying on your back. And not long after that you’d roll over, sit, laugh hysterically, crawl, have 6 teeth, eat most food, pull yourself up, cruise along the couches, blow kisses, clap hands, point to things, stand, say a few words, stack my Tupperware to make a tower, and now even giving a few unassisted steps.

Where has the time gone?

It is wonderful to see you grow and become more and more dependent. But it’s the best to see that you still love Mommy’s cuddles and kisses and routinely come back to me for safety, reassurance and just to connect again before you go explore or try something new.

I cannot wait to see what you have in store for us in the years to come.

But for now, I’ll continue rocking you when those pesky teeth are bothering you at night. I’ll continue to give you cuddles. I’ll continue to help you up after you’ve fallen down. I’ll continue to join you in your amazing world as we discover all the new, yet simple things in life, I’ll continue to hold you when you feel the floor is about to swallow you whole, I’ll continue to love you, even when you drive me loopy. I’ll continue to kiss you, until the day you’re able to run away from them.

For now, you are still my baby. My ray of sunshine, and vibrant rainbow after a stormy weather.

 

Back to work or stay home with the kids?

If you’re already a mommy, about to be a mommy or still planning on becoming a mommy; this question is going to pop up at some point or another, and believe me, it will be a major decision to make for most people.

This is the question of becoming/staying a Stay at Home Mom, Working from Home Mom or a Working Mom.

Each one has their own pro’s and con’s and I want to try and highlight these here, to try and help you make the decision.

There is no right or wrong way to go about this. Every situation, household, and person is different and one does what one has to, based on so many factors in ones own life. Whichever you choose to do, or being forced to do, as long as it is in the best interest for your family, then don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it.

I’ve held all 3 of these titles and this is what a typical day looks like. Do keep in mind, these days are relating to how it applies to me and my family…

Stay at Home Mom:

(Day with a 5-year-old and an 11-month-old…)

Your job/work is never ending. N.E.V.E.R!!

On a good day, you get woken up, most of the time, not by an alarm set the previous night, but by a little body that needs you. Breakfast to be given, change of clothes, cleaning a dirty nappy, getting the older kid his breakfast and dressed for school, teeth brushed, hair combed and looking somewhat presentable and out the door in time for them to catch their ride to school. If you have a baby that is still stationary or that it playing by himself for a while, it does give you a few minutes to clean the house; dust, mop, wash and the dreaded IRONING, or just have some coffee that is still warm! And trust me, the washing and ironing never stop! As soon as 1 load is dry and ready to be ironed, another load needs to be washed and yes, there is that previous load that has been lying there to be ironed for a few days now. If baby is roaming around and exploring, this routine changes to run after them, help them down from climbing onto the coffee table, cleaning up whatever mess they’ve made; all while trying to clean in between all the shenanigans being done by said baby. Don’t even try to pick up the toys just yet… they’ll soon lie all over the floor again, in any way. Constantly remember to keep a watchful eye as the Little Explorer does get up to mischief if you’re out the room for 2 minutes. Think about what to make for supper and take the frozen things out the freezer as early as possible. Put baby down for a nap – takes a good 20 – 30 min on good days. While they’re napping, maybe go take a pee or get 1 thing/room cleaned. I won’t even blame you if you snooze with them for a bit. If they’re eating solids, remember to give them a snack here and there too. Just because you’re not hungry, doesn’t mean they don’t need it. Somewhere in all of this, remember to brush your own teeth and wash your face. I would tell you to get out of your yoga pants too, but they’re too damn comfy and if I’m not going out the day, then I will stay in them even sans bra.

Alright, morning complete.

The older child has returned home from school. Lunch needs to be given, homework has to be done and child changed out of school uniform. Just these 3 things have previously sometimes taken us 2-hours to do. This in between picking up said baby that has now woken up and is petrified of the floor, as if it will engulf him in hot lava wanting some extra cuddles. Once done, somehow start making the supper with said terrified baby on the hip or if lucky, open the cupboard door with all the Tupperware in and allow them to decorate your kitchen floor with lids and bowls of all shapes and colors; it’s excellent exercise for you too so jump around, missing these objects and of course, the baby.

Remember to give another snack to all kids in the house. They go loopy when they’re hungry. Possibly break up a fight or two between siblings as the older one does not want the baby to play with that car. Switch the TV on for a few minutes to get something done. Assist baby that has gotten stuck under a table/chair and who’s entire world is now crashing down on him. Did you forget those snacks? It’s not too late to give them… If Baby is down for (another) nap, whip up that supper asap. Work in stealth mode so they don’t get woken up from all the banging of pots and chopping of food.

Oh dear me…. it’s 16:30 already… Did I have lunch? Can’t recall…

Another 2-hours to go before the husband gets home. The older child needs to get supper (a good 30 min to get him to eat) and good luck getting that TV switched off first. Drama, drama, drama… Hold baby that is now trying to fling himself out of your arms to crawl onto the table to get to his sibling’s supper. Fine! More than half the food was eaten… Off to bath. Ensure toilet lid is closed because baby will put hands in it. Get the older child into the bath and clean. Brush those teeth and into bed. Read a bedtime story and start the negotiations, bribery and await Momster to come out to get kid to stay in bed. Once out the room, set up for the baby to have his supper. (Yes, older kid needs to be in bed before baby, cause he has to get up at 5:30 am to get ready for school.) Once baby is finished with supper, clean him and his surrounding area from all the food he’s messed. The hubby should be back by this time, upon which you can do a gentle hand over so he can bath said baby, giving you time to clean up all the messed food, if not finished yet, dish up for your suppers, pick up the Tupperware in the kitchen as well as all other toys still lying about. Next up, get baby to sleep and have own supper. Enjoy an hour or so of peace and quiet with some catching up of what’s going on in the outside world and then move yourself to go shower and sleep. Wake up a few times during the night for either a feed, consoling of a nightmare of the older kid or just to be told that the older kid wants to pee or that he can’t find his teddy. All of this doesn’t even include the trips to the shops to stock up on any items…

And then repeat. Ev.e.ry.day, including weekends, although you get more help then, if the hubby isn’t working.

Work From Home Mom:

(Day with a 5-year-old and an 11-month-old…)

Your job/work is never ending. N.E.V.E.R!!

This is pretty much the same as above, PLUS:

You have to spend time on whatever work you have to do. Read and send emails. Do phone calls. This usually gets done while baby is napping or happily playing by himself. Get all dolled up with appropriate clothes and make-up, if you have to meet with someone or go out. Maybe do a drive or two, all with baby in tow, or worse, both kids. May result in a very grumpy baby as his routine goes out the door if you miss nap time by 30-minutes; and an upset child cause he wanted to play or relax at home. Supper making time gets cut short and you have to literally think of clever meals that can either just all be thrown into one pot and simmer until cooked or just do a breakfast meal for supper.

Working Mom:

(Day with a 5-year-old and luckily no baby at this stage)

You might have to wake up before all the birds are up. Even during summer, it’s still dark. You’re grumpy and half asleep. Getting dressed and ready in the dark in order not to wake the rest of the house, adds to the fun! The drive to work is infuriating due to bad drivers and people who think the entire road belongs to them. Yeah, sure, you have music to keep you entertained. Then you either get to work before all other people, which can be lonely but usually, it just means you can get more work done. Slowly throughout the morning, colleagues arrive. You might even be invited to go grab some coffee together. Meetings, scheduling things, paperwork, dealing with incompetent people, as well as other adult conversations take up the rest of your day. Your mind has worked and solved work related problems.

Once done for the day, you leave the office again to get stuck in some traffic heading home, testing your patience and skills as you try to navigate the back roads thinking it will make it easier and quicker – it doesn’t. You finally reach the school to pick up the kid and your day seems brighter as you listen to all the things that were done at school. You reach home to start on the supper-making, eating and bath routine.

A few hours to spend with the hubby and then you want to be in bed again as you are already counting down the hours until your alarm will go off again.

****

So there you have it! Is one better than the other? Only you can decide. Do you have to stick to only 1 for the rest of your life? Of course not. Will the above be exactly like that for everyone? No, this is just based on my life/family.

One does what one needs to for ones own family. There are good and not so good points in each scenario. But you’ll have to decide what will work for you and then make it as good as you possibly can.

 

 

For right now, I am happy to just be a WFHM. I set my own times and work around my kids and what they need. Will see how the future develops and then adjust accordingly 🙂

Our first visit “Home”; as an Expat

We’ve been Expats now for close to a year, and the boys and I recently had our first trip “back home”.

Being away from Home for just over 10 months has widened our hearts and minds. We’re part of a different culture; not only the one that we currently live in but also the culture of being an Expat; an outsider.

For months I’ve had friends and family telling me how they miss us and when are we coming to visit. With Bunny’s school holidays approaching towards mid-January, I suggested that I take the kids to visit friends and family, instead of just lounging around in the house while Mr. Bear still had to work. It would be 2 weeks of excitement; constant get together’s and meet-ups where Bunny could play outside in a garden, Monkey could get used to what real grass feels like, I could soak up the typical Highveld summer thunderstorms with the added pleasure of seeing the people I hold dear to my heart.

I had announced our idea to some friends and family and it was very well received. Some even counting the days down with me, some starting to make plans, but then, some not sharing much care or enthusiasm about it.

I was told numerous times by other expats who have gone through this type of visit, that it’s rarely all that you wish it to be and one often will expect way more; that I had to remember that I’m not going through what they are going trough right now; I’m not really part of their lives, even if we still had daily contact; that I would see who were willing to make an effort; and that the easiest would be to organize one event where people can come see us, instead of me dragging the kids all over the place each day to try and try fit everyone in.

My heart sank quite a bit when I heard that it wouldn’t be all sunshine and roses. I mean, these are people I care for and they care about me. I’m making the effort of a 11+ hour trip across the world; why wouldn’t some make a small effort. I’m sure my people won’t be like that!!

Well, wake up and smell the bloody roses!! They were right.

By all means, I had family and great friends who really did make a lot of effort to come and see me. Effort from driving 3-hours to come to where I was staying; extending their own trip to stay longer; to blocking out an entire afternoon to see their “doctor”; and others just making the effort to maneuver through hectic traffic to come say hi. It was absolutely heart-warming to see how some would put their lives on hold for a little bit to come see us.

Don’t get me wrong; I know one can’t always take off work, or take a break for a coffee, especially during the week, or rearrange a whole day with kid’s schedules. I really do get that. Good grief! I had to adapt and rearrange both my kid’s routines for 2 weeks, in a different time zone, miles away from their new home, without their Daddy, in a foreign house with new tastes and smells. I know that I’m not “used to” what’s going on in said Home Country. I know you have your own life now. I know sometimes plans just really don’t go as we intend them to go. Really, I do get that… Just didn’t realize your own life meant I can’t be a part of it in living form, but only through social media…

This is not a post to make anyone feel bad that didn’t make an effort or whom I didn’t get to see. This is just a heads-up to anyone planning a trip “back home”.

Visiting back home after being away for nearly a year, certainly has stirred up a lot of emotions in me. Even when you look past the whole visiting of friends and family.

Currently, we live in a country where it’s relatively safe. Where violent crimes are unheard of. Even petty crimes do not make the news headlines, not even on a monthly basis. It just doesn’t happen… Compared to our Home country, where violence and crime is part of everyone’s lives on an almost daily basis.

So it was quite a reality shock to be petrified to sleep alone in the house without a family member at night; to not allow Bunny to stroll behind me in a shop; to not want to drive around in case we catch a red traffic light and having to wait for it to turn green.

It made me realize how pathetic it is to live in a country where you don’t feel safe; where you have to constantly look over your shoulder and be on permanent guard mode. How did I ever manage to live with it for so long?

Our holiday overall wasn’t so great. It didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. It was lonely during the days while everyone was at work. It was nerve wrecking at night with only me and the kids in one massive house. I missed having my boy’s daddy. They missed him. We were all miserable. One phone call and a good amount of tears later and Mr. Bear went to change our flight ticket to come back home 4-days earlier.

Do I want to go visit again? Yes sure. But this time completely on my T’s & C’s.

The next time another Expat gives me advice on these type of things, I’ll actually follow them and not think that “my trip will be different.” Seems everyone’s trips are all the same.

 

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On our way back home

 

 

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.**