today I sat in the back of a taxi and cried. I haven’t cried like this
in a very long time, with tears flowing freely down my cheeks and deep
chesty sobs wracking my entire body.
The taxi driver must have thought I was mad, but thankfully he said
nothing, and simply passed me a tissue box from the front seat, giving
me a sympathetic smile in his rear view mirror.
had been a difficult afternoon: after recovering from a 24 hour sickness
bug that had been doing the rounds I had decided it was probably about
time I looked after my health and paid
a visit to the ENT specialist that I see every now and again with
periodic ear infections. He looked down his Otoscope with a grave face and told
me that I should never leave it so long before coming to see him again –
I had one of the worst infections he had seen
in his 15 years as a doctor and I should be recovering in bed. I almost
laughed – he thinks I can spend the day lounging in bed with a three
month old to look after?! He obviously doesn’t have children.
antibiotics, nasal spray and ear drops tucked under my arm, I struggled
to detach Sophia’s car seat from the base of her pram and get her into
the waiting taxi. Still weak from
sickness and lack of food, after weeks of continually telling myself I was
fine, the doctor had allowed me to give in to the fact I had been ill
for a long time, and I struggled to remember a time when I had felt
there were two more stops I had to make before the inviting lure of home. Firstly the office where I work when I’m not on maternity
leave. Since Sophia’s birth, our immigration team had been trying in vain
to issue a Residents Permit so that she can legally reside in this
country under my sponsorship. Rejection after rejection had come through, as the Ministry of Interior requested further documents in
some kind of bid to prove her (or our?!) eligibility
to live in Qatar, and after eight or nine visits to the office to try
to sort it out I’d finally been told we had been successful and that I
could come to collect the RP. However, at the immigration desk, a
stern-faced lady told me that I needed a copy of
her birth certificate (which I had already provided but which they didn’t
seem to have on file) in order for her to issue the permit – something
which they had neglected to tell me when we spoke on the phone. “It’s
ok, you can come back tomorrow with it!” she chirped
with a smile. For the second time that day I was reminded that people
who don’t have babies have no idea how difficult simple daily tasks can actually be, and I gritted my teeth to prevent me from pointing out
that my little RP trips to the office were verging on double figures.
Crest fallen, we returned empty-handed to the waiting taxi.
Our last stop was the supermarket. I was dreading making this trip, because by this point Sophia was ready for a feed and fussing, but I knew that there was nothing in the fridge and if I didn’t go now I wouldn’t get out again until late in the afternoon and I would have to forego lunch for the third time already this week. Now shopping with a baby in a pram on the best of days is difficult, but today nothing seemed to go to plan. I forgot to pick up a basket and realised too late that they were outside the automatic one-way doors which had already closed behind me, I couldn’t find anything I was looking for and my pram had suddenly decided to stop steering in a straight line.
Weary and emotionally drained, I returned to my flat, plopped Sophia onto her playmat and collapsed on the sofa, where I spent the next five minutes lamenting my life – the list of things I had to do before I head back to England next week; the long hours that Mr Sunshine works during tournaments like the Euros and Wimbledon, leaving me to look after the baby on my own; the number of unfinished blog posts in my draft box that would never see the light of day; the number of blog and social media comments and emails waiting for me unanswered; The heaving stack of dishes by the sink and the growing pile of laundry on our dining room table and the lack of time I had to sort it out; the lack of time I had for ANYTHING come to think of it; the little sleep I’d had since Sophia came into the world; how ill and wretched I felt and how far away from the place I call home I really was.
But there was nothing else I could do other than to pick myself up and get on with things. So I sat down with Sophia and wrote this blog post. She’s just finished a feed, and is smiling up at me from the crook of my arm, and I can already feel my anger, sadness and frustration melting away.
The sad fact of the matter is, a day like today isn’t all that unusual when you’re a new mum. As well as being the best thing in the whole wide world, parenthood can be really hard. That’s why if you’re a mummy, I applaud you. If you’re a mummy and you live in another country to your main support network, I salute you. If you’re a mummy, an expat, you’re single (or without help from a significant other for any length of time), tired or ill AND you’re managing to hold it all together, well then I think you deserve a goddam medal.
Follow Your Sunshine is a positive blog about positive things, but just for today I needed to get this out. And I already feel better. Business as usual will commence tomorrow!