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I don’t know where home is…

Is it the house where I’ve grown up, the village where people know my maiden name?

Is it the house full of laughter and love, my new family who welcomed me with open arms?

Or the place where we are living now, maybe for months, maybe for years; our beautiful apartment in the desert sun?

“Home is where one lives permanently”.

Then maybe I don’t have a home…

Or maybe home is no place after all.
No geographical location.
No country.
No city.
No house.

Maybe it is the drawer full of old photographs, the hidden letters in the back of my shelf.

Maybe it’s my mum’s little notes I find in the morning when she has already gone to work.

Or the TV whispering from the living room when I come to my dad’s house late at night.

Maybe it is the smell of freshly prepared lasagne, the dog running towards us in excitement when we walk through the door.

The late night discussions around the kitchen table, the same old stories that are shared over and over again.

Maybe it is my children’s laughter in the living room, the song we sing every evening, the armchair where we rock them to sleep.

Or the boring evenings when we stay home and read or watch TV, the great feeling when I put on my pyjamas at 8pm.

Maybe home is all of these things.
Maybe there is not only one home.
Maybe home is a feeling.
Maybe home is where I am happy.

Maybe home is where you are…

De Gregorio family-055BW

The one thing I don’t tell people as a stay-at-home mum

I’m an expat wife slash stay-at-home mum. I have two kids. And a nanny. I live in sunny Dubai.

I stay in my pyjamas most of the time. And when I feel like going out, I ditch them for a sexy bright-coloured bikini or some nice clothes I bought at the mall with my husband’s money. Cause I don’t work, you see. I see my kids too rarely, I have to admit, as our nanny is taking care of them while I am at the nail bar or the hairdresser, making sure to look decent. Being home all day, I owe that my husband. It’s the least I can do for him.

I am an expat wife slash stay-at-home mum. I have two kids. And a nanny. I live in sunny Dubai.

Only two lines and you have my life all figured, am I right? And I don’t blame you.

“How is it living in a place where it is summer all year?”, people would ask. Or:
“How is it not having to go to work and being home all day?”

“It’s great”, I would answer. “I love it”.

And it is. It is great. And I love it. What I don’t add is “but I wish I had some time to myself sometimes.”

It’s the one thing you can’t tell people when you are a stay-at-home mum.

How dare you – you, stay-at-home mum, who lives in sunny Dubai, who can stay in her pyjamas all day if she wants and has nothing else to do than looking after the kids? How dare you be so egoistic? So ungrateful?

I’ve always been a workaholic. I got up at 5.30 to rush to work and stopped working late at night. And I loved it. Few understanding did I have for women who chose to stay at home after they had kids. Even less when they complained about how tired they were or about their busy lives. I wish my problems were as small as taking care of a sleeping baby, I would think, while I was rushing to another meeting. And I don’t blame my younger me. I forgive you. Cause few did I know back then about what it means to be a mum.

I did work hard before I had kids. I really did. And I was tired sometimes. That’s when I took some time off. To recharge my batteries. To keep me going. To achieve this oh so sought-after “work-life-balance” all companies are talking about (I am not a huge fan of this expression by the way, as if “work” and “life” were two completely different things but that’s a different story…). It was well-deserved. It was needed. Everyone was even expecting me to do so. Taking some time for myself was absolutely ok. Nobody would have ever questioned that. After all, I was working hard all week.

Then I had my first child. And I quit my job. I quit the stressful craziness of my working days that I loved so much. As you can imagine, only taking care of my baby was not what I initially wanted to do. But when you lay your newborn down to check out day-care possibilities (none of which seems appropriate to take care of your baby because, let’s face it, even though the nursery teachers might do a fabulous job, it remains their JOB. They will never replace your presence as a mum, they will never do the things exactly as you would want them to be done. Even the most loving nursery teacher will never love your child as you love him…), it suddenly becomes very tempting to postpone this painful separation for a while. To hold your baby a little bit longer. Add a move to another country when your baby is just about three months old and you easily abandon the idea of returning to work all together. At least for a while.

So I decided to become that expat wife slash stay-at-home mum. That wife who is using her husband’s credit card. That mum whose only concern is to play with the kids and to buy them clothes and toys all day. That mum who can go to the beach every day and doesn’t have to spend hours in a dark and unfriendly office.

Yes, exactly that one.

And I DO use my husband’s credit card. You’re right. I DO try my very best to play and entertain the kids all day. I DO have the chance not to sit in an office all day.

But I still DO work. I parent. I play. I love. I am a jumping monkey and an Indian hiding in a teepee. I am a juke box and a pillow. I am a cook and a personal shopper. I am a nurse and a magician. I am a sport coach and a taxi driver. A psychologist and a coordinator. I am a mum. I am a mum every day and night of the week.

I am a mum. And I am ONLY that.

When I became a stay-at-home mum, I gave up a little bit of my independence. And a bit of my self-confidence. And, apparently, I also gave up the right to have some time to myself.

Try to answer the question “How is it to be home all day?” with an honest “I wish I had more time to myself”. It doesn’t work. People don’t get it. They just don’t.

They don’t know how it is when the only conversations you have for some days are the ones you hold with your two-year old toddler. When you go to the supermarket only to see some adults sometimes.

They don’t know how it is to be constantly followed by a tiny human. That you love more than anything else in the world. But that is still following you everywhere. Every single second of the day.

They don’t know how it is to have given up on nice clothes. And high heels. And make up that goes beyond a splash of BB cream and a bit of mascara.

They don’t know. And I don’t blame them.

“How is it living in a place where it is summer all year?”, people would ask. Or:
“How is it not having to go to work and being home all day?”

“It’s great”, I would answer. “I love it”.


My dear friend, I want you to know…

I want you to know that I miss you.
Even though I don’t call.
Even though I don’t write or even respond to your messages sometimes.

I want you to know that I think of you.
That I wish I could turn back time sometimes.
And go out and party till dawn and be crazy again.
That I haven’t forgotten the laughter and tears we’ve shared over a glass of wine, or two.

I want you to know that I feel lonely sometimes.
That I wish you were here, in this city;
that you were part of my days.
Even though there’s no distance between us whenever we meet or talk on the phone.

One thousand times, I picked up the phone to call you.
And one thousand times, I put it down again.
Cause the kids woke up.
Or were about to jump off the couch.
Cause the baby was hungry.
Or simply wouldn’t sleep…

Yet, I want you to know that I care about you.
That I am still the one you can turn to.
The one who will always be there for you.

Nothing will change that.

Not distance.
Not time.
Not our busy lives.

Not the weeks that go by without a phone call, without a “Hi”…

I know that you understand, my dear friend,
I know that you do.

I simply wanted you to know….