Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The challenge!

Dubai isn't the kind of the desert you would imagine. It doesn't reflect the old desert image of tents, camels and primary living. On the contrary, it is the sophisticated, most civilized image of the world. Many places in this country made their way to the Guinness record book, through being the highest skyscraper "khalifa tower", the longest gold chain, longest stationary bicycle, biggest raffle of Rolls Royce cars!, longest taxi parade, tallest hotel "Burj al Arab", tallest fountain, largest shopping mall "Dubai mall", the list goes on and on for pages maybe. Traveling to such a place for a week or may be a month, gives you the opportunity to see and try nearly every available thing human race ever invented. You can begin with the desert experience all the way to have your tea on the top of the world's highest skyscraper. But how would it be to live here? What would it be like if having your breakfast in the shades of that huge building is your daily or weekly activity? Would your adrenaline rush through your body the same when you do all the activities you would think of over and over again? Would it give you the same pleasure? Riding horses, sky diving, using the fastest roller coaster in the world at "Ferrari world", located in AbuDhabi a close emirate which is an hour drive trip from your home, would it still be the same? Or the correct question would be? How easy or challenging is to have a future to do list of activities, in a place where adventure is what you do on daily basis?!

Now, imagine raising kids in such a dynamic world! This is the real challenge. The first question that comes to mind is, are kids over entertained in this place? If yes, is there a limit? To make my point more clear I should mention that my 3 years old boy, already took ice skating lessons, ski lessons, have a Ferrari driving license and He asked Santa for a laptop this Christmas!.

Kids are entertained here, I agree, they try things that other kids don't know exist. They deal with sports daily, where certain kind of sports are their daily game. When I was at my boy's age, my ultimate game was hide and seek, I enjoyed it, he enjoys it too. I used to play that between the trees of our garden or our neighbors' garden, he plays it between the huge walls of the malls and we don't even have neighbors!. The difference between yesterday and today is huge, I was first introduced to computers when I was grade 12, he, a preschooler, spend hours online, learning and playing various games. The difference between our time and theirs and add to that living in a different country away from family, friends and known neighbors, make it hard even to us, parents, to decide when it is too much of entertainment. Deep inside, there is always the well of protecting our kids from loneliness and the greatest fear is watching them losing their childhood between closed doors, cause once upon a time, we decided to offer them a financially better life. We don't want our kids to pay for our decisions. And sometimes, maybe, we overreact.

Kids at home, preschoolers, toddlers and babies are rarely to do anything. If your kid belongs to this group, the options are: 1-you have friends, neighbors or family members that are there to make sure that this baby don't think that life is all about you, you don't want to go to shyness, loneliness and the mental troubles that comes along with that, nevertheless you should keep in mind the physical activities that this baby should do to insure a healthy growing. 2- you don't have this community and you believe that the baby should interact with the world. Your options are endless, playgroups, activities, places to visit that are child friendly, and on. If you don't know what to do, use the net! This country uses the net efficiently and at all levels. Now if your baby goes to school, the options are the same but with one difference, now you are affected with what other kids do and know, you won't tolerate a lot of the "all the other kids skates, and we live so close to the ice rink, I should learn that!" pressure. This won't end up here, cause as I said before there are too many activities. And if you want to catch up with others you should "entertain" your kid, or simply not! But if not you will be heading to endless hours of learning, lost childhood and suffering kids. You would think that you can control this, and you are right. But unfortunately it isn't as easy here as in other countries. Because here, daily, without any occasion, celebration or a known reason, people will be celebrating, kids all around you will be playing, activities again! and entertainment. sometimes you enroll your kids in such activities without further planing.

The good thing is that there could be a third option between the "always at home, with lost childhood" and "over entertained" options, but it is a real challenge to get there.

I look at the long queues everywhere, at each gate, game, place ( parks and beaches) and it worries me, what if all these kids are missing the point! They don't know what their parents are worried about, they can't understand what they are missing. What if they were spoiled by the good intentions of their parents! If they were lucky to try all these activities and visit these fancy places, how hard would it be for them to be entertained when they grow up! Will they have the same sense of fun and time enjoyment like us?! A worried SAHM in Dubai

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Choosing the perfect gift

Many times every year we live this challenge, the challenge of choosing the perfect gift or at least a good gift that delights it's recipient. I am not an expert in this process, or at least, it is not as easy to me as it is to some people. Heading to the market and picking up that one gift that is expected to be a good one isn't the easiest job ever. If you have no idea what will your gift be, then you can expect that this shopping trip will turn up to be an exhausting, frustrating and money wasting journey.

After long years of gifting and receiving gifts, I guess I have a gifting mentality now. Some people see a gift as an object that speaks for itself, others go deeper than that in their choices and they tend to pick up what they think is the most meaningful caring gift with special criteria. I think it is healthy to travel between these two boundaries rather than taking a side, always leave your options open, if you can't think of a sentimental gift, you can gift something that says "I remembered you and I wanted to give you something thoughtful in this special day!".

Whoever said this "the idea of gifting itself is what really matters, the content of the gift isn't as important" must be warmly thanked. Only because sometimes we are surprised with some awkward moments where we get lost, our brain can't process any useful thought anymore, those couple of minutes where we don't know what are we searching for, as for me I get some headache beside the getting lost part, just then we tend to believe-in this idea, support it and admit how wise and relieving it is. Then, we run to pick up the first shining item from the shelf.
I hate to feel that the recipient of my gift didn't like what I spend time, effort and money on, but who said that we should always be Mr. And Mrs. Perfect gift givers?! I know I don't want to be the opposite, like the person with the worst gifts record, but somewhere between the two is good.

Exchanging gifts is a healthy practice for all kind of relationships. Searching for a gift makes you spend time thinking of that person, what he/she likes and needs. Technically you are trying hard to gift that person happiness, even for couple of minutes. I mean that, you may be spending a whole day searching for the gift that will ensure you the gratitude smile.

Relationships are hard enough to maintain, the extra pressure of "delicate gifting" isn't really welcomed. When you want to gift someone, always think of something you would like to have it yourself. Choose your gift with love, it shows. And, if you were on the other side, receiving gifts, always show gratitude to whoever spent a second searching for something to make you smile, "they tried!". People who cares deserve to be appreciated, when they send love and care, love and care should be showered back at them.

The most inappropriate gift I ever had was an elegant lighter. I don't smoke! Sender: Friend.
The best gift I ever had was my kids, sender: God. A SAHM in Dubai

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A priorities changing experience

Becoming a mother could be the weirdest experience a woman goes through. It is the most complicated procedure and yet so normal. From my experience I can only say, after having your first baby, life as you know it changes completely, nothing looks the same again. Priorities rearrange with loads of modifications and unexpected new intruders show up to take the first level of your priorities list too. Men's experience with a woman's pregnancy and the existence of the first baby isn't easier than hers at all. With all the excitement and the wondering there come those moments where both men and women feel like doing their maximum to understand the new situation but still have no clue. and life goes on sometimes, without our slight knowledge of how the stage of pregnancy, delivery and the raise of the child went, it just did, like it is the most natural thing to happen. Like it doesn't need any explanation or understanding. But whatever you plant you harvest and there comes the stressful part.

Just like most girls, I grew up in a family, I had my life, my parents' rules and my boundaries, which were my only problem. I lived some of my days creating ways and ways to break these rules "this idea seems way too scary to me now after I got my own kids!." In those old days, I never put my self in their shoes, even if I have tried I wouldn't know what that means, not the way I know now!. They always used to tell me that when you have your own kids you will understand! They were right. 

So, as a single person, my interests were school, work, being always beautiful and taking care of myself to be mainly "again" beautiful. Love stories were my day and night dreams! Being in love was the ultimate feeling and breakups with all the songs that comes along with it, the tears and the payback promises were my nightmares! "while writing this, I am wondering where did that girl go!" . Even after getting married I still lived this life, but with a slight difference, rules were different, dreams and nightmares were always around the same person "my husband" but yet that was just about to change with the first pregnancy test I had. The whole life as I know it changed so fast, uncontrollably and whatever I lived, I felt or I suffered in the past is just a memory now. My priorities changed, now I am a mother.

 But, who knew that this could be such delightful and so hard at the same time. Being a child is nothing like being the parent of one! Parenthood, carries all the nonsense of the world, the pressure and the happiness of life. My journey with being an expat mother, is a little bit difficult than most mothers, and what I learned throughout this experience is the reality that with the uniqueness of every child, the uniqueness of his mother reveals.

I didn't know anything about that four years ago, and at that time if I would've been told this reality it wouldn't really meant anything. " teenagers!" I wouldn't believe that I am a different mother and I have these strong parenting feelings buried inside only to glow when it is the perfect time. My husband who was living the same life as mine before marriage, didn't ever had the thought of having a baby or being responsible solely about a human's life in all means. Sometimes he whispers to me " when I used to think about kids, my daydreams were full of smiles, running by the beach and playing soccer. Nobody told me that I'll be having lunch on an alphabetical mat inside a tent in a kids room!."

As far as I lived, which to some of you is a long time and to others I still look like a young girl, I learned that life always test us with new challenges. Challenges that we are unconsciously ready to take. And being a parent is a delightful one. But what challenges are there in parenthood? What is special about being an expat? And how does it link? A lot of questions to be answered and thoughts to be written down. A SAHM in Dubai

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