The toughest job of them all – Motherhood

When I was a wee little lass, I came home from school and announced that I wanted to be a scientist. This was after a fun experiment which included lots of water and coloured dyes during a science lesson. The entire dressing up with a white coat, plastic gloves and of course brightly coloured water secured my future. However that dream was shattered when the follow up exam result didn’t come out as planned.

F for ‘fantastic’?

For a while I gave up the thought of a career and decided to wait until I “growed up”. But one fine day, while flicking through one of my father’s old magazines I saw an advertisement for some flashy organisation and it featured a beautiful woman wearing a smart suit looking all snazzy. At dinner that evening I announced that I wanted to be a business woman. Now mind you, this was in the early 90’s where everybody was talking about computers and banking. Well around me they were. So being in that environment and seeing a flashy advert which made the dream all more real, I set upon becoming like that woman. Little did I realise that the woman in the picture was actually an air hostess. Nevertheless I clung onto becoming a business woman until I reached my O Levels. There the textbook size was enough to put me off. There was no glamour in a boring book!

Disappointed by the business world and heavily influenced by the liberal arts I figured my talent lay in art. I pictured myself with long flowing hair, surrounded by nothing but white sheets of paper marred by the black charcoal that was my bread and butter. Colours became personalities, lyrics held hidden meaning that could only be communicated via painting and sculptures were symbols of my everlasting love for the craft. However, the artist’s romance soon faded when I entered university.

There I discovered something that I ignored even though it conquered the discussions taking place everywhere. Politics. Suddenly Palestine was no longer just a fashion accessory in the form of a scarf, religion wasn’t just cherubs and angels but in fact a sinister political ideology and well… I was the person who had to save the world. Yet, polite rejection letters from idealised organisations such as the UN and the World Bank ensured that nope, saving the world wasn’t my responsibility.

We’ll leave that to the professionals.

Now here I sit, well into my late twenties. I’ve worked as a dentist’s assistant, a sales woman, a banker, a journalist but nothing compares to my latest job. A new mum. A stay-at-home mum, which basically means that I don’t work and stay at home. Sounds lovely doesn’t it? Oh yes I do get the occasional “What are you doing with your life?” or “You had so many dreams, what happened to them?” and “So what’s going on with your dreams and career options?”

Well I have to say all my dreams of the above mentioned careers came true. None of them came true officially but as a mum, I’ve had to act as a scientist, a business woman, artist and politician. You see I live in the middle of a desert. A Middle Eastern desert if you must know. And as a result, due to where I live, one depends solely upon oneself because the neighbours aren’t exactly a friendly lot, especially if one happens to have the misfortune of being a woman.

Having a baby round means your entire system goes into overdrive. No matter how organised your home may be or how meticulous you are about housekeeping trust me, there will be a day when you wake up and realise “Fuck! We’re out of eggs… and bread… and who finished off the pasta?” So then it comes down to mixing and matching all the food in your house to come up with a decent meal for when the man comes home.

After all, looting and pillaging tends to work up an appetite.

And before you baji jaans start where I live women can’t pop out to the local grocery store to pick up the necessary bits and bobs. Therefore I find myself working as a scientist experimenting with all the different foods in the house and I tell you, its not easy. Why don’t you try concocting a meal when all you have is bread, pasta, cheese. And an egg.

This then leads me to becoming a businesswoman. I’ve led a pretty good life and thankfully money has often been the least of my woes. But when you have kids, suddenly money becomes a source of real tension. That monthly budget that used to work out just fine for the two of you? Nope that’s gotta change. But then your savings dwindle and you start to worry about things like bills, rent, the kid’s university fund… So then in comes my business acumen. As a businesswoman I’ve had to conduct cash flows and set up a proper accounting system so that at the end of every month I can check where my cash is going and how much I save and spend. It’s basic but it’s also enabled me to ensure I make the proper business decisions when it comes to investing.

As for being an artist… well that didn’t work out as expected but I made it somehow. As any other parent out there knows, before a baby is born, one tends to get carried away decorating and setting up a nursery. Loads of money is spent on the right shade of pink or blue, the cutest wallpaper, the friendliest toys and the prettiest décor. But when the baby arrives, suddenly you find yourself wiping off spit from the walls, picking up broken toys, and staring glassy-eyed at the scribbles made on the walls. Defeated, all one can do is smile and say “Yes but this is exactly how we wanted the nursery to be. It’s a space for the baby to learn and grow”. You learn to accept the mess as if it were part of the picture you painted in your mind. With a few tweaks.

This is exactly how I wanted my house to look, hobo-chic.

And finally a politician. I remember reading in my undergrad that by the time I finished my degree, given how I would have been taught to construct arguments and catch holes in others’ views, I would never lose an argument again. Being a woman, these were holy words. And though I never made it to the UN or standing for elections in Pakistan, I find my arguing skills being used to the max when it comes to fighting my case against my husband over the night duty. This involves soothing the baby back to sleep every 4 hours, changing diapers every 3 hours and feeding every 2 hours. Yes sleep does not exist. And so, armed with my arguing capabilities and a waterfall of tears, I find myself negotiating over who does more work (I do) and who is more tired (me) and who has to stay at home cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, feeding, bathing, putting up with screams and wail (me) and how working 10 hours at the office just does not compare. But as well all know, political arguments don’t always work out and I find myself doing everything.

So now I sit here, figuring what my next career move will be. I’m tempted to write a book. I’d like to go back to university. I think I might consider teaching. But until then I’m off to nurse a wailing child.

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Categories: The World I Know

Author:Mehr F Husain

Mehr F Husain was Features Editor of The Friday Times. She lives out of a suitcase.

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3 Comments on “The toughest job of them all – Motherhood”

  1. Rumi
    December 3, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    love it 🙂

  2. Samia
    December 3, 2011 at 2:36 am #

    ufff tell me about it! i have 2 girls and they drive me mad! excellent reading. i am so loving this 🙂

  3. Kashan
    December 2, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    haha, a very entertaining read indeed

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