Back in my senior year in high school, it was quite a feat when a student drops out, or just disappears for a long period of time. Rumors started circulating around school that those girls (who miraculously managed to disappear out of thin air) got pregnant. Half of the time, it was really the case.
When I was in my senior year, the idea of becoming a mom is so strange that it gives me chills to the bones. I mean, seriously, how can a 17 year old girl take care of a baby when she is not even close to being a woman? At 17, I was just playing nintendo games if I wasn’t reading Harry Potter.
At 25, the idea of becoming a mom is just as strange as it was when I was in senior high. Most of my friends (the same age as I) are either getting married, or getting a baby. I see all their photos (on facebook, obviously) and it makes me wonder how they do it, or more exactly, it makes me question how the hell they decided to get married or get a baby. Either they have all gone crazy, or I have become a blip in social trend.
I’d like to think I’m the sensible one in this case.
Whenever I see photos of anyone I personally know with their husband or wife or their new-born baby and those tubby fingers and toes, it makes me feel bad. It makes me doubt my abilities. It makes me wonder why I am not in the same frame of mind as they are. Or am I just not wired to be a wife or mom material?
Then it starts hitting me. No matter how hard I try to deny it, at 25, I am still selfish and self-centered in a way that I would choose to venture and see the world than settle down, that I would rather dance salsa and go out on fun dates than get a boyfriend, that I’d choose to marvel in my career than think about starting a family, that I’d rather be the comfortable, free-spirited, single woman that I am than become a miserable or regretful wife.
I’d like to think that I just know better. I know that I’m not ready, I’m not responsible enough to be a mother, nor am I willing to let go of my free pass card just yet.
Today is a day unlike any other. I am at that point where I am finally putting all the puzzle pieces together, but as usual, life never fails to play pranks on me and decides to jumble my world 180 degrees around.
When I went to bed last night, I was pretty sure that it will be an ordinary day–which means I will wake up just like any other day, get dressed for work as usual, and open the showroom like I do everyday.
So, imagine waking up from an international call from Italy (at seven in the morning!) telling me the news that I have just been selected to become a mother for a day.
They have got to be kidding me, right? I would give anything to think that it was just a drunken call, but it wasn’t.
To avoid any confusion, allow me to explain the ‘situation’. When I moved to Cairo for my career, the company (a family-owned, furniture design business) that I am working with provided me with a flat which is literally one tumbling from the showroom where I work. My flat happened to be one of four flats in our 4-storey building where the CEOs of the company (who is my boss’ parents,) the trade consultant (my boss’ brother,) and the designer (my immediate boss,) and I all live together.
Just last week, my boss’ parents and his brother flew to China for a major furniture expo. Two days ago, my boss and his wife travelled to Italy to attend a tango festival. That leaves me the only adult (apart from the bawab, the household helps who come on a daily basis, and the nanny who comes to babysit my boss’ kids.)
So, imagine (and I’m already telling you that this requires a big, creative mind!) when I was told that my boss’ nanny just decided to quit her job, while the kids’ mom and dad, aunt and uncle, and grandparents are away!
I can’t even imagine how someone can do such a thing–abandon a 6 year old boy, and a 3 year old girl while everyone in their family are several thousand miles away.
I can hear very clearly the nervousness and tension in my boss’ voice as they told me what was happening. Thankfully, the kids’ grandparents and uncle and aunt are flying back to Cairo as I write this blog.
Nevertheless, BOOM! I have become the accidental mom just like that.
That was a lot to take, no one warned me I’ll be a mom even if it was meant to be just for a day. I wasn’t nervous being an accidental mom because I’ve known my boss’ kids for over a year now and they always come with us when we do company trips to Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh. I was more nervous for them being my accidental kids. I had no idea how to look after kids the way real moms do.
So, I rushed up to their flat after I hang up the phone. I was expecting to see two crying and screaming toddlers who probably have no idea that their nanny just fled away, instead, I found two little kids still asleep in bed.
There was a chart posted on the fridge door that says ‘March 31 kids pizza’.
How in the world do you make a kids pizza?
I stormed the fridge to look for anything that would make a healthy kid’s pizza. There were tuna, mushrooms, capers and bell peppers. Healthy.
The pizza was fresh out of the oven when Jem and Belle woke up, but guess what. They just totally ignored the ‘kids pizza’ I so laboriously prepared. Or heck, maybe they knew that that pizza wasn’t really as edible as I wanted it to be. I was starting to crack under pressure at this time. They have to eat something and it should be something that they would like. They told me what they wanted was pizza with only olives and cheddar cheese on it. Easy.
In fact, it was actually much easier since they helped me make the pizza the way they want it. We made a huge mess on the kitchen bench but it sure was a fun mess!
Luckily, my boss made things a lot easier for me, they sent me a detailed email about ideas of activities I can do with their kids.
- Bake chocolate cake
- Painting and coloring materials on the top shelf
- Story reading
- Play dough in the bottom left drawer in the play area
- Play date with friends on Saturday, call 0122514xxxx so on and so forth.
- Go watch a movie at City Stars
- Take kids to Chili’s
Since the kitchen was already in a total mess, why not bake a cake? And so we did, they cracked the eggs, sift the flour, pour the milk, melted the butter, and whipped the batter. Needless to say, we all managed to cover ourselves with flour and egg whites! The chocolate cake turned out really well by the fact that I almost finished half of it!
Story reading was easy to do, thank heavens the books they have are not in Arabic! I immediately crossed out going to City Stars or Chili’s. I don’t think shopping centers are the best places for kids their age. And I know this by the fact that I get so annoyed whenever I see parents walking in a mall with their little mignons. Honestly, I think those parents can do much better parenting than taking their kids to a silly mall. Not to mention the least I would want is for one of the kids, if not both of them, to get lost or, worse, kidnapped. I thought their household help will already kill me for the messy kitchen and the stains in their clothes, so I had to cross out play dough and painting as well, not wanting for all the play dough or paint to leave permanent marks on the carpeted floor.
Since it was a Saturday, I decided to call the number they gave me and arrange a play date with the kids’ friends. I spent about an hour or so, telling the mom of their friends everything that just happened. It felt funny and weird at the same time, going to a stranger’s house for the first time. I guess it was even weirder for their friend’s mom (who I have never met before) to fathom the idea that someone can become an accidental one-day mom.
I thought these things only happen in movies!
I took ‘my’ accidental kids home at five this afternoon. I did a lot of bribery (not the qualities of a real mom.) If they want to watch one show of Scooby doo on tv, they have to finish their homework. They want to get a candy special? They have to have a bath and get dressed by themselves. They want to play hide and seek? They have to eat all their dinner up.
And whenever they do something really good that impresses me, like eating with their mouths on the bowl or not getting milk spilled on the floor, I give them two coins. By the way, I think at the age of three and six, they should be allowed to be chaotic and out of control. I must have been a monster mom in their eyes–a monster mom who lets them watch cartoons before bed, snack on junk food, and play tag.
Right now, it’s 8:39 and they are already fast asleep. Before I put them to bed, I read them two children stories and a bible story. We prayed after the story reading. I do not believe in religion but they told me that this is what their mom always does, and since I have already become their one day mom, I might as well play and act the part. So I tucked them into bed, and hugged them, and kissed them, and told them that I love them. I wished for them to have sweet dreams, and I couldn’t believe I was hearing myself telling them that the angels will be beside them tonight (it was just so not me.)
I guess I just did what I think real moms do, or at least I did my idea of what real moms do.
Like Cinderella (one of the bedtime stories I read them tonight) my accidental mom story will expire as soon as the clock strikes. Their grandparents will be here in a few hours and I will be back to being my old, boring, career-driven self. Tomorrow, I will wake up and know that it will just be an ordinary day. No pizza making, cake baking, or play dates, no bedtime stories to read. It also means no warm hugs and cute little fly kisses from two of probably the most adorable kids I’ve ever had the chance of being with.
What a learning experience. It sure made me realize that I suck at being a pretend mum, but hey, I was put on the spot and didn’t have nine months to prepare for it, let alone read books on successful parenting, or google how-to-be-an-awesome-mom! So, I guess I deserve a pat on the back after all!
And before I forget, I think skipping an 8-hour work shift to have a ball with the kids is not as bad as I thought.