Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Wasn't it supposed to get easier?

With Darbs starting nursery I had all these visions of free time to write and dedicate to the blog (not to mention quiet coffees and solo shopping trips). The reality has been vastly differently – once I get home and beds are made, dishes cleaned, washing done and put out, etc, etc and whatever pressing task needs to get done that day (bill paid, call made, errand ran) time has run out and I have to get in the car to start the school pick-up process.

Parenting is a funny thing. It's like that dangling carrot that it will get easier, better, less hectic once they 'get older' or 'go to school' or whatever. In some ways it's true, I will never take for granted being able to call out "Go to sleep!" and they actually do, oh how I wished I could've done that when they were babies (and for it to have worked). I also love being able to make dinner without a toddler attached to my leg, screaming for attention – I did that for far too many years.

I remember so many people telling: "Once they get older, it will get easier." And it does, sort of. And it kind of doesn't.

Now there are other things, more complex things. Things that can't be solved by just being in my arms or kissed better or being distracted by something bright and shiny. Once they go to school and grow up there are friends, cliques and navigating relationships outside of your family really for the first time. Along with that, there are broken hearts that their BFF is now someone else's BFF. There are classes and teachers and working out what they like and what they don't. There's not being picked for the team they desperately want to be picked for. There are sleepovers and playdates and knowing when is the right time to let go. There are school camps. There are tests. It's soothing anxiety. There's deciphering when something's really wrong and when to intervene or step back and let them have a go at doing it themselves. It's all the complex emotional stuff. It's knowing that they will remember how you reacted and responded. The thing is I can see things getting more complicated and complex as they continue to grow. I shudder at the thought of all the things teenage.

I think the past few months have been the most challenging of my parenting life. And I say that remembering months of rotten sleep deprivation, of having 3 children who liked to wake all night long. Instead of having babies waking me in the night, it's waking in the night worrying that you've made the right decision or that you've handled a situation in the right way. It's worrying that they'll be OK.

I think it's exactly that, at whatever age they are, be it 5 months or 35 years – worrying that they'll be OK. It's the constant state of parenthood.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Flown the coop

Darb's painting from his first day. 


This week, I packed Darbs off for his very first day of preschool (or as they call it over here, nursery). The lad was well and truly ready for this new adventure and I was glad that I was able to send him when he was ready and raring to go and also after I had found him the best place to go.

I have to admit I'm not one of those emotional mothers who will sob on a child's first day of school. I think I got a little nostalgic and my heart swelled when the girls started school, but then I went home to more kids who needing looking after. This time was different. I went home and the house was empty. Just crumbs and milk rings on the table from breakfast. Just unmade beds and silence. There were more than a couple of tears from me.

Darbs has been my constant companion for the past 3.5 years. He sat in the back as I navigated myself round Dubai for the first time, he accompanied me to IKEA, Home Centre and everywhere else to fill our new home. He's been there for shopping trips, doctor's visits and school pick-ups and drop-offs galore. I wrangled him while I've attempted lunch out with friends. We played in parks and swam at the pool. Where ever I've gone he's been there beside me as we've adjusted to living in a new part of the world with no friends or family. Now he's got his own little world and his own little life. A few hours a day where he does something without me. Don't get me wrong, I think it's brilliant and he's well and truly ready, it just feels a little strange to lose my little buddy and partner in crime.

He's gone off everyday to preschool, happy and excited and come home even happier and more excited to tell me all about his day (and yes, he does give me a blow-by-blow account). You can't ask for anything more than that.

Which means, it's a new stage for all of us.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Sand storm!

It's mid-term break here at the moment, which essentially meant the girls had a day off school (most other schools had a full week off). The kids and I had a brilliant day on Thursday, enjoying the fabulous weather and we spent the whole day in the park with some friends from school. The kids ran and played and burnt off loads of energy. I was looking forward to spending the whole day on Friday at the pool and beach, another full day outdoors.

I woke up Friday morning and looked outside, I wasn't sure whether it was fog or sand which had descended upon us. Hoping it was fog, I packed up the swimming bag. Fog is quite common here, especially at this time of the year. Except it wasn't fog, it was a sand storm. A fairly light storm and a soft breeze. I hoped it would soon pass. Except it didn't. The wind swept up and before long you could bare see a few metres away.

Sandstorms are fairly common here and in some ways they're just like a rain storm - they can come from  nowhere and blow off in hour, or they can sit and last for days. This weekend's storm just got worse and worse and by Saturday lunchtime and the wind was crazy and there was sand whipping around a full speed, you could barely see in front of you. I stupidly left some washing on my balcony, which was quickly covered in a thick layer of sand. In fact, everything on the balcony was covered in a thick layer of sand. There's even a light layer of sand over most things inside the house.

We popped out yesterday and there was sand blowing everywhere. It was whipping across the road. You can feel it in your nose, taste it in the back of your throat, it coats your skin and makes your mouth gritty. It blinds you. All in all it's quite gross.

Thankfully, by nightfall it had started to recede. The winds dropped and the world became visible again. We popped into the kids school and poor old Lucy's school hat (which is kept in her cubby outside) had turned from maroon to beige, so covered in sand it was. I can't even face going on to my balcony and it's going to take a big scrubbing.

Here are a couple of dodgy videos I took to give you a little idea of what it's like, it doesn't translate very well and feels worse in real life that it looks on these films. As you can see though, the gutters fill with sand rather than water!

video video

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Before your eyes




Dubai is famous for being the city that grew out of virtually nothing and to do it at breakneck speed. And it's true, it's still growing. In the past two-and-a-half years that we've been here, so much has changed. Whole suburbs have sprung up. Whole suburbs have disappeared with a shopping district popping up in its place. Skyscrapers have grown in front of my eyes in what seems like time-lapse mode.

After we returned from our Christmas break in Sydney, I was astounded to see that major roads had changed, buildings had grown, hotels had opened and I even had to ask myself if that speed bump had always been in front of my home (it hadn't). I was only gone for three weeks.

This morning we headed out to the desert. The kids were filled to the brim with energy that needed to be released and the weather, well the weather is bang on perfection.

We drove out and marvelled at the new road. The new housing developments where not long before had been empty vast desert dunes. There were cars, lots of cars, and bikes and people. Our little spot where we used seek a little solitary time away from the hustle of the city looked like it had been discovered. The first time we went out there I was worried we'd get lost, no chance now with the three-lane road, freshly painted lanes and gleaming road signs. Who knew our little track actually had a name!

It was still beautiful out there and it's still easy to feel like you're a million miles from nowhere. The distant rumble of a plane, but usually just the wind blowing across your ears is all you hear. The coolness on your feet as they sink deep into the dunes. The blueness of the cloudless sky contrasted against the beige of the sand. There really is no place like it that I've been. So tranquil.

The best bit is there is nothing that sucks the energy out of a kid than a couple of steep sand dunes. Somehow it's the opposite for me, being out there re-energises me.

It's funny, even our little spot in the desert looked different. And it wasn't the new road or the signs. The winds shift the sands and the dunes are steeper and closer together than they were last year. The winds of change definitely blow across this country.







Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Timing



Timing is everything, they say. And it's true. When the stars align and everything is perfectly timed, there's no better feeling in the world. When you've made a decision you're a little unsure of and then everything falls into place around it, well it makes you feel like you've made the right decision after all.
Knowing when it's the right moment to leap or to hold back, I don't know if it's wisdom or luck but when you time it right you feel like a success.

At the moment, I feel like I just can't get the timing right. For instance, this week I had big plans - lots of things to do and achieve and make life that little bit better. Then discovering a child's bed full of vomit at 1am on Sunday morning, put all those plans to pasture. As the vomit spread through the house, ideas were pushed aside and then rain, lots of rain, made certain that nothing was going to go as I would have liked.

Being January, it's natural to think about the year ahead, all the things you want to do, need to do, goals you want to achieve. At the moment, 2015 is looking like a puzzle with a lot of mismatching pieces. I just can't see how any of it's going to fit together smoothly or easily. My timing feels completely off, there's lots of potentially good things but the dancers are all off beat. I feel like it requires a big shift or jolt or change of tune to get that timing back. It's not all dramatic but it would be nice to feel in time with the beat of 2015.


Friday, 16 January 2015

TGIF

Friday is a very different day now we live in Dubai. Friday is the new Sunday (well, for us anyway).
Friday is the holy day, the day of rest. No-one gets up early on a Friday. The roads are quiet on a Friday. A lot of smaller shops don't open until after prayers. Muslims go to Friday prayers and the roads around the mosques are full of cars and worshippers. Christians go to mass and  church services. Those who practise hedonism, worship at the ubiquitous Friday brunches, filling themselves with never-ending food and drink in opulent hotels across the city.

For us, Friday means lazy mornings eating toast, drinking coffee, playing on the floor and reading the paper. Perhaps venturing for a swim before it gets too hot (not an issue at this time of year). Friday means a trip to the supermarket. Sometimes it means lunch as a family, Lebanese being a Friday favourite – falafels, 'puff-up' bread, lashings of hommus, zingy fatuoush. An afternoon snooze is not unheard of on a Friday. Occasionally an afternoon swim or frolic at the beach. Maybe even shisha.

Friday evenings are the new Saturday night. Once in a while there is a party or a BBQ, more often there is the kids' beloved movie night. Takeaway dinner and knowing that we don't have to be anywhere too early the next morning.

Friday is without doubt my most favourite day of the week.


Sunday, 11 January 2015

Blowing raspberries

A little over a week ago, I found myself wandering through Chatswood Chase on my own. I'd just dropped Skip off at the airport so he could fly back to Dubai for work and I needed to exchange a Christmas gift we'd bought one of the girls. Feeling sad - at Skip leaving, the holiday being almost over, processing all the events of the past couple of weeks - I wandered aimlessly.

Soon I found myself at Coles staring at a sign promoting a punnet of raspberries for $3.99 and I promptly burst into tears. Sobbing at Chatswood Chase Coles, early on a Friday morning. Pathetic really. I didn't really quite know why I felt so sad. At the start of the holiday, we'd seen the same sign and talked excitedly about all the things we were going to do on the holiday, Goosey saying she was going to eat a lot of raspberries. Then in the blink of an eye it was all over, as quickly as Goose ate those raspberries.

Strangely enough, during the two weeks we'd been in Sydney, I completely blocked out our lives in Dubai. It was like it didn't exist. I didn't think about friends here or school or things we do. I blanked it out. I was two busy visiting friends and family and enjoying life in Sydney. People at home rarely want to hear about life in Dubai, so it didn't seem strange not to think or talk about it.

Over the next few days I struggled to remember life in Dubai, it just felt so far away. Did this mean I didn't want to go back? Was I ready to call Australia home again? I didn't know, it all felt so strange. Especially as I wasn't sure I even wanted to go back to Sydney for a visit, before I left.

I boarded the plane home, still not sure how I  felt about our whirlwind trip. Was I happy about going back to Dubai or did some part of me want to stay in Sydney? Arriving back in the sandpit, exhausted from the flight, it took about half a day to realise that this is where I'm supposed to be for the moment.

It's not all fun and games. There are plenty of times when it's lonely, when you feel that sense of isolation, it can put a lot of pressure on. But for now, we're home.
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