This a post I was asked to write a guest post for the lovely Bod for Tea, Parenting around the planet, I would my feelings haven’t changed. If I were to write it again I would put in a friends category I think. Friendships are weird in Dubai, sometimes you feel like you’ve met a life long companion and all the while they are sharpening their knife and drawing out a target on your back. Others are slow to start but long-lasting and after 7 years this is the way to do it and I’m looking forward to spending time with these little gems on Friday (another post awaits). Like anything you can not rush friendship, if you want someone to take you for what you are you need to let them get to know you. Warts and all, I am under NO illusion I’m perfect, its been a tough year for me especially the last few months with my mam being sick. To others “it wasn’t that bad” but I’m a what if person and a worrier and I take things to heart, allow life to pile on top of me, so I need all year round buddies not just fair weather friends. There of course are lots of well established groups of friends you meet, they are friends but you’ll never really be allowed right in. I am very I have some great friends here, some old some new but the one thing they have in common is that I love them dearly
Being is parent away from my family and Friends is normal for me, it always has and I’m not really sure how I’d cope parenting in the UK or Ireland if I’m honest, Id probably feel like a fish out of water. It’s kind of why I didn’t really like Amsterdam, it looked and felt too normal, too much like home….It makes sense in my head anyway!
Dubai is a strange place for some, you either love it or hate it. I’ve heard it called a few names, pretentious, over the top, breath-taking, cosmopolitan, money…….To us its home, they say home is where the heart is and our hearts will always be in our home towns but we left a piece of us here too, thats why we returned last year.
Parenting is NEVER easy wherever you are in the world and parenting here is a complete minefield. Parenting with postnatal depression while away from your family and everyone familiar is absolutely hell. However we have coped and hopefully we’re getting closer to that light at the end of the tunnel.
Here is what I feel is different to parenting in Dubai
The added pressure
Being here has allowed me to have the best full-time job in the whole world, a stay at home mammy. I am at home all day with my two babies, I see them explore new things, I see LPV coming home from nursery with amazing vocabulary , Miss C babbling to herself in the morning sun out on the terrace. Being back here has helped my mood, I’m a happier mammy, I feel everyone in the house feels this too. LPV often comes up to me and tells me “Im his best friend”. That, right there, melts my heart and makes me feel so full of love and warmth that there’s no need to be sad anymore. I have a long way to go with my depression I know this but I have great support network Dubai and my friends are awesome. I can answer the door in my Pj’s and its Okay!!
However I do sometimes feel the Dubai pressures, The constant need to look how the glamazons do wandering through the malls,with their Gucci diaper bags and 2inch waist. I find never leaving the house without make up exhausting to be honest. The women who don’t sweat getting their kids in and out of the car, how do they do this? It occasionally runs away with me but I look at the kids and it bring me back to earth and focus on what really important.
The pressure to be super mum is rife here, who has made best costume for dress up day, is your name closer to the top or bottom of the phone tree? Are you even on the phone tree?
probably not. Are you a member of the PTA? It’s not just pressure on you as a mammy, it’s the pressure on the children that ruffles my feathers. The whole school assessment process is appalling, two sometimes even three assessments on 3 year olds to get a school place. They come to your home, your child’s nursery and then you get called to the school. You as a parent are judged, by your clothes, your relationship with your child and worse of all…..What type of passport you have! When you meet mammy’s in the playground the first questions is what schools have you applied too, have you got a play, did you get an assessment? If you mention you’re applying for a particular school “Oh that’s really academic based” Yes and your point being??? Just what are you implying? I have personally felt a lot of pressure on LPV, for him to be able to write his name etc. I’m told it’s what is expected here….Well I won’t push my child into anything and he develop at his own pace.
My kids are my life, to keep them safe is my priority, I think this is why we haven’t moved to the US yet and be honest I’m not sure if I could ever go with so many shootings there. That’s what I love about this city, I feel safe, I feel my kids are safe. I’m not saying there are no threats or unsavoury people here but punishments are harsh with a lot of zero tolerance is a deterrent. However this doesn’t stop me from having a complete and utter nervous breakdown when LPV does one of his “runners” in the supermarket or doing his favourite, hiding in clothes rack in sports shops!! So relieved in finding him we of course rip the head of him for running away then hug him when the blood pressure stabilises.
Healthy and safety rules can at times be very flippant here, a friend has reported seeing live wires hanging out of wall in a school. The complete lack of common sense of some parents from all walks of life when it comes to car safety is just beyond belief. You have to blink and rub your eyes to believe its true, when you see a child no older than two, hanging out a car window like a dog!! However standards shave improved and lots of changes are being made!
I am a proud mother of two gorgeous children, they’re fair have beautiful blue & green eyes I want to photograph them all day. However I find it very difficult when strangers are wanting to touch, hold and photograph my children . No one asks you if its ok and to be honest NO, NO its NOT ok that you’re a perfect stranger and you want touch my pride and joy. My husband almost threw some guys phone in a fountain when the came right into LPV’s face and took a photo. It’s wrong, some could say I have double standards posting my children on my blog…….The word I offer you here is choice, this is my choice and have control over how much and what goes on here.
Safety issue can swing both ways, on the other side of the coin are the concerns about the bubble they live in. Dubai can be very shut off from the rest of the world. The zero tolerance they have on most things is awesome but is living in this environment making them naive? Being sheltered from the bad world I worry they’ll be sitting ducks for the horrid people out there. I have a friend whose eldest son wanted to go to the UK to boarding school, he’s grown up here in Dubai but had never been on a bus or train by himself. I feel that the children will find it hard to learn basics life skills that will make them a bit more street wise. At night I lie awake thinking about what they’ll become, have we done enough to turn them into well-rounded individuals what can we do to protect and educate them
Money & the Class system
Every country has them, however I feel it’s to the extreme here. A lot of households have live in maids, a small percentage of maids here practically raise the children. I believe that behaviour mirrors behaviour and when you see small children talking to these grown women like they’re dirt I feel embarrassed to live here. A lot of expats come here earn tax-free salaries and enjoy the high life, why not if you’ve worked hard enough for it. However don’t forget where you have come from and the fact you would NEVER have it at home. Here in Dubai you don’t pump your own petrol, wash your own car or pack your own groceries, I find it hard when the children are watching this, I purposely try to find a cashier with no help so I can do it myself, then someone rushes over to help. I don’t want my children to feel that this is the norm, A massive fear of ours is ending up with the stereotypical EXPAT BRAT so we’re giving LPV little chores at home, like picking his dirty clothes and taking out his plate, our children need to know that this isn’t normal life to have all these things done for you. I’m super proud to say I have very well-mannered child, who is pleasant and helpful.
There is money here, lots of it! Unfortunately we’re not up to our knockers in the stuff but we have a great house in a compound with our own pool, so the wee ones are very lucky! Dubai gives us so many opportunities, how many children do you know that have valet parked for lunch and flown business class? It’s hard not to get sucked in by it all, surrounding yourself and children by others who keep thing real is so important. Activities that are available to children are phenomenal, So I try to limit their activities to “normal” ones, swimming lessons and a music class. I really don’t think there a need for Miss C to visiting the spa and LPV to go an activity everyday, we actually just love going to playdates in the park. We are just doing the best we can , keeping it real while the rest of the city gets sucked into the lifestyle everyone thinks we lead. We get out of bed each morning, argue as to who’s going to get up with the baby. Feel like the worse parent ever when you forget their library book ,or sent a cereal bar in their packed lunch. We’re just being parents, we just do it in the sunshine!