It’s really okay. I’ve been there. In fact, I’m there.

So, here’s my word and my two cents on the rainbow-colored poop of social media:

I went through a phase of writing a lot in cafes but that got old quick. There’s only so much small talk you can make with fellow writers, graphic designers, coders, and start-uppers. It’s always the same. They’re all trying to look busy and accomplished and find out all the info on you. It got tiring. Like really fast. Even though I was addicted to this one salad with grilled halloumi cheese and just the perfect dressing. But, I sacrificed that great salad and now I write from hotel lobbies and bars. Because the bars are quieter during the morning hours. But it’s still inappropriate according to my Palestinian father even though I’ve explained it’s not what he thinks or how it was in the ‘70s.

I am that mama with all the addresses of the chilled hidden hotels all around Dubai with clean bathrooms and miniature snacks. Where the staff likes me enough to give me a free juice here and there as one of their regulars.

So because I spend a lot of time in hotels I’ve observed a lot of families and kids and breakdowns and furrowed brows and less-than-perfect moments. Why isn’t all of that on Periscope and Snapchat? Wait, is it? Am I missing an entire tribe of people I should be trying to set up coffee dates with? I’m really not sure.

This is a post like no other. But hang on, dear mama, because here comes the point. I know I’m not the first to say it and I certainly hope I’m not going to be the last because well, so many of us apparently are just not getting it. I’m here to tell you to embrace the breakdowns and the fact that you don’t have your shit all together. It’s as simple as that: It’s really okay. I’ve been there. In fact, I’m there.

Let’s talk about Snapagram, FaceChat, Pintwitter, and the rest of it for a minute because I think it’s there that our collective source of anxiety as mamas stems from. It’s that perfection. The folks with 100K followers who never have a hair out of place or a stain on their kid’s clothing. There are no signs that projectile vomiting has gone down in their perfect interiors. Nobody called Baby Grumpy in their family. But it’s really okay. It’s not real.

And guess what? If you did forego the fakery and post the breakdowns you wouldn’t end up clicking Post because you’d be being. You’d be in the moment and not side-tracked trying to shout out to tell people how happy you are. Kinda like that little girl (my daughter) who found a lollipop (wrapped, thank god) in the corner of her bedside drawer and wants to keep it a secret so she whispers to me that she has it, but doesn’t by any means shout it out to the rest of the class. That is the mama who is simply being happy. If she didn’t have the lollipop she would be pretending, and posting about it, while waving nothing in her hand. But you don’t have to do that because I will never judge you, as I hope others will not judge me.

The point is that (and maybe this is all covered in Bad Moms, which I have yet to see, but the trailer almost made me pee my pants): you’re not getting it all done, all right, all good, with a gold star on top all the time. And that’s why we’re friends. I don’t want to hang out with you and your perfect hair and perfectly dressed kids without a stain on their clothes. That would be boring. That would be contrived. That would be curated. With flowers included and babies in every post (even though your kids are all in elementary school). And yes, I get it—social media blah blah blah and people want to see that side. But honestly do they? When it comes to mommyhood I can get a petition signed of over 100 (okay so maybe 6) mamas who get exhausted looking at those photos and perfection.

This is not a race.

It is not a competition.

Curated is another word for faked.

That woman with perfect hair is going to wake up tomorrow, grab her phone and post and you? You can snooze for an extra minute and cuddle up with your little ones and take that gift of their snot with your hand before reaching for a tissue. I won’t be appalled at any furrowed brow or less-than-perfect you. In fact, I’m nodding in solidarity and probably looking for a tissue for a snot gift right now.

*A word on judging. Yes, I’m spoiled I have help. But let me just say I have help and no family and I would gladly exchange the help for some family. So, for those who may be judging my “nanny situation” please stop. It’s a Dubai thing. And for those who don’t have a nanny or family nearby… well, to you I say you are the truest and purest form of a mama and I will take a minute and salute you. And then I will carrying on parenting and calculate when to go pee next… because I’m still a normal mom doing all the night shifts and everybody pees, even those with a nanny.


Open Letter to Digital Natives While You Still Read the Alphabet

I think it’s great that I can order Pampers, new Havaianas, and the latest NY Times bestseller with one click. But my day is sprinkled with the fake… okay, doused. I’m swimming in it: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. All the time. If I’m this “taken” by the virtual, then how affected by technology will my kids be?

So before communication is reduced to emoticon-only, here’s a letter to my digital natives on technology. And, by letter, I mean list. Because attention spans are, well, not what they used to be.

Hi there my little puzzle pieces, you are growing up in a different day and age. Here are my hopes, fears, and kind requests on keeping it “real.”

  1. Breathe in deep and savour the smell of crayons.
  2. Scratch ‘scratch and sniff’ stickers until the tip of your finger is numb.
  3. Will you have an active-enough imagination to imagine things that could be, but aren’t yet?
  4. Please don’t let, “My battery’s low” be your first sentence ever uttered.
  5. Will you live your life through social media and forget what I’ve been telling you, “The mess and cracks are where the magic lies”? Live the mess. You don’t have to record it.
  6. I wonder how much time you’ll spend indoors versus running around outside.
  7. Having a profession is not a bad thing and don’t be intimidated by all the “creatives,” “entrepreneurs,” and “coders” around you. Being a doctor should still be just as cool. And being a plumber will probably earn you the most.
  8. When’s the last time you even saw an actual puzzle? You must think me calling you “puzzle pieces” is as bad as, “C’mere you little Rubik’s cubester”. Confusing and annoying as hell.
  9. Will you even have the attention span to read this whole list?
  10. You probably stopped reading halfway through to google “being a doctor,” go a round of Candy Crush, and buy scratch ‘n’ sniffs from Amazon on my account…

Dear little puzzle pieces. Please go outside. Smile and make eye contact. Remember that human beings don’t speak in chipmunk-high voices, have huge eyes or sticks for bodies. But you may develop all of that if you don’t turn off that screen.

Okay, I guess you are reading this on a screen, but at least meet me halfway, try and keep your mama happy and read it on a screen outside? Deal?

*Thanks to Blunt Moms for publishing this first!


Grandparents a pure dose of unconditional love … and well, anxiety

To spend a month at your parents’ house over summer is always a bit of a reality check. We escaped the peak of Dubai heat to be in cooler Lebanon, but there is no escaping “grandparents’ rule-breaking.” We all know grandparents totally ignore whatever routine you had going that took all year to instill. This post is all about what I say versus what my parents hear. I can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of some of what has gone down. I mean, after my initial reaction of cringing and crying. A lot.

No, Rayan can’t have honey. He’s not even a year old.

This is because honey can, occasionally, contain a spore of a bacterium called clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism (food poisoning…I had to look it up too) in babies. I do my research. According to health experts a child shouldn’t have honey until after 12 months of age.

What they hear: “Of course I haven’t given him honey yet because it’s not fresh honey like from the all-natural beehive in your garden. So, yes, give him that honey…6 months, 11 months it’s all really the same because the honey is, (say it with me now) FAAAA-RESH.”

Adriana doesn’t really like eggplant or tomatoes. So maybe you can feed her other stuff?

What they hear: “I don’t know how to cook or feed her eggplant or tomatoes the way she will like it. So please put her on a strict diet of those two items until she learns to love them because what half-Syrian, quarter-Palestinian, and quarter-Lebanese child doesn’t love those two staples?”

Neither of them knows how to swim yet so please be careful when they’re at the pool.

So because Adriana was in a brace (see hip dysplasia article: we put her in the water kinda late… so she’s almost 3 and doesn’t swim yet. I said yet!

What they hear: “She’s afraid and I have instilled this fear in her. Go ahead and fix this.” My dad’s plan of action harks back to 1983 when I was 2 and barely learning how to walk, let alone swim. What’s his develop-an-Olympian technique? You need nothing more than a swimming pool because he throws the child in and shouts, “SWIM” from the other end. Yes, it worked for me, but I wonder how harmful 2 gallons of chlorinated water is for the digestive tract of a two year old?

Ice cream is just for special occasions

I prefer they don’t eat ice cream for dessert everyday. Is that too much to ask? Why not at least alternate with fruit? But noooo the week I traveled to Greece for a babymoon with hubby while they cared for our other two kids, they sent me photos of their faces smothered in vanilla, and chocolate, and God-knows-what other flavors, which were then rinsed off in the sea because well, that’s what they did with us!

What they hear: “Every day is a special occasion because they’re with teta and jiddo (grandma and grandpa) so ice cream it is!”

I’d rather my toddler doesn’t wear nail polish just yet

Every parent has a few pet peeves – things we see other parents doing that we think is too soon. Mine has always been nail polish. I mean do 4-year-old girls really need to sport red nails to nursery and straighten their hair? (No exaggeration.)

What they hear: “I haven’t had the time or thought to take her to a nail salon to get her fingers and toes all painted!”

No, I like his hair long. I plan on cutting it for his first birthday in a few weeks.

They cut it. I was there, but they cut it. I rushed to grab a Ziploc bag and shove those locks deep inside to save in his baby book. I cried. Okay, sobbed.

What they hear: Again, the time thing. “I don’t know how to cut his hair and haven’t had time to do it myself or take him somewhere so please do me this favor.”

I guess the kids survived this parenting style and what doesn’t kill them makes them stronger right? Ummmm, except for the kebab and uncut apple they were convinced he could eat with 3 teeth!


Poop without Borders

This piece was written in March of 2014 when my daughter was barely 6 months old. I put it aside with the hopes that it would get picked up by The Washington Post or the NY times and it did, but they wanted me to call poop caca and that just wouldn’t be right. So, I had to make a difficult decision and turn down the offer to have them publish it on the front page and am letting you read it on my blog (a much larger platform, of course) instead. Enjoy!

Okay, so I’m officially that mom. I really never thought I would be. But something big went down….something worthy of movie credits and a Morgan-Freeman voiceover. I realized how possessive I am. Yea, I’ll admit it. I never thought I would be so protective about having a baby. Her face, her name, her poop. Yup, that’s right. Her smelly poop. Sometimes with gross corn bits wedged in there. So, like most good things in life, it’s a process. In the beginning I loved it then I hated it right when she started eating solids because well, it’s poop. And yet, it was MY poop. A part of her that I felt responsible for and attached to.

Let me back up to give you the full context of the story and describe my marriage a little bit. Yes, we are of Arab descent, but we’ve both grown up and lived all over. I’m Lebanese Palestinian he’s Syrian but born and raised in the States and we met in Riyadh Saudi Arabia in second grade where he thought I was “nice.” We later re-met in NYC after I lived in London and after letters asking about each other’s tans and who we were “liking” this month. He asked me out in a Monica-Chandler type of way and I had nothing to say but yes. We now live in Dubai, which is “a bubble” with a bit too much sandlewood perfume and not enough mountains, where I worry sometimes we are becoming a little vanilla.

Nice mixture you say? Ummm yes, and no. Sure it means that we have friends from almost every country in the world and can tell you the best coffee place in most cities, but what it also means is that we’re caught in the middle between western and Arab. It is because of that that my husband has a profound resistance to diaper changes, milk feedings and well, any of the icky stuff to do with our baby. He really would only want to take the sweet bits if he could. But wouldn’t they all?

So, back to the poop discussion…I rarely leave my husband alone with my daughter for fear of SSP. SSP is what, according to Sod’s law always happens at the worst possible moments in the day. SSP stands for Stinky Smelly Poop…a very technical term, yes. But on the day I’m sharing with you, I had agreed with hubby that I would join a casual coffee we had planned with friends, a little late – no more than 15 minutes… and left our daughter with him. I was literally in the middle of my permitted 15 minutes (which he claims was 45…and men say that women exaggerate?) when I got a frantic phone call, “SHE DID IT! SHE POOPED! WHERE ARE YOU? ARE YOU ALMOST HERE?” I would have chuckled at the absurdity that he couldn’t be left alone for even 20 minutes without calling me in panic mode…except poop was now on the table. No, not literally, but an SSP had happened and as I was about to learn, I am obsessive about my baby’s poop. So this was spiraling outta control.

I rushed out of the store I was in and cabbed the 500 meters’ distance he was from me, which probably took longer than it would have taken if I had walked, but, in the moment, I panicked (mostly because he panicked) and rushed and was obviously not thinking straight. When I finally got there, out of breath, she was nowhere to be seen. He assured me (and yea, I’m dripping with irony with that word) that a mutual friend of ours was in the bathroom with my baby. Ummm, what? He outsourced it? Logically, yes, I should have been thankful and (according to her husband), “thanking them non-stop for not keeping my daughter in her poop” but that’s not what happened. I was furious. Why couldn’t her dad who was physically there, stop drinking his damn Americano for a second to either hold her and keep the poop fumes from drifting over to everyone, or change her himself? Had we gotten so used to outsourcing all of these icky bits? Was I that expat woman who barely knew my kids’ birthdays let alone their names? Or was I just completely co-dependent with every liquid, stench and stain coming out of my daughter?

This is awkward, but it’s the latter. I am poop obsessed. Cue a whole scene and some nonverbal tension later (the worst kind, if you ask me), which was topped off with a uncontrollable show of irrational emotions from my side. I decided to isolate the “takeaways” from this.

Several, albeit forced, thank-yous later, and a few minutes to think rationally about what had just gone down, I came to the same conclusion I started with. It is a conclusion that only moms will understand and agree with. Take a moment now because this will hit you hard. Moms have an official carte blanche and can do or say anything they want when it comes to their kids. So if I want to be the only one to change her poop then so be it, that’s what’s going to happen. I mean, I wasn’t cut open to let someone else enjoy the SSP without some clearance from me. That’s just the way it goes. Corn bits and all. No matter what postal code.


Leave it to the Daddys to “Finance” Everything and Balance it All

It’s Father’s Day – and in our household, this year, our daddy is a daddy to 2 kids plus bump. I think he may just be deserving of an award or a high five or something. So, how are we coming to grips with this new addition to our family, you ask? Let me break it down for you: it’s all about economies of scale, according to my husband. According to me, it’s all about staying positive and hoping for the best. See where these two may, and often do, clash?

3rd time round, pregnancy is a little different. Long gone are the luxurious showers where I used to take long relaxing bubble baths while singing along with some acoustic covers, something I used to do on a nightly basis with the first two pregnancies. Who has time for that now? I’m now honestly too tired and worn out to do anything other than take my damn vitamins. Oh, and blink.

Instead of calling it three times a charm (I am after all, the 3rd in my family), my husband boils this whole family-expansion thing down to a matter of economies of scale. Economies of scale is really all about going from two to three.

So how did he explain it to me?  “Economies of scale is the cost advantage that arises with increased output of a product…” That’s verbatim. Ugh. Did I mention that my hubby works in finance and thinks about things differently than me? It’s more than a male-female, Mars vs. Venus thing. Much more. It’s actually more like he’s logical and I experience bouts of psychosis. Yes, I can admit it. But only because they are brief bouts. Hey, I said B-R-I-E-F!

In going from two kids to three, my husband’s reaction is that of pure… how do I say this? No, not joy… more like pure logic to his financial mind and his response was, “I’m excited.” When I asked HOW the F he wasn’t freaking out he said he wanted to explain something to me: economies of scale. Simple as that. Okay, I know what the economy is and I sure know what a scale is especially since with pregnancy #3 I’ve been seriously puking my guts out. And have lost about 4 kilos. Disaster. The only thing I can seem to tolerate is pineapple and grilled asparagus. Super random and annoyingly healthy. I know.

So, back to economies of scale. When we had just Gnocchi (baby #1), the conversation was more about what we would have. Cannoli (baby#2) was more about how our dynamic would change and with Ravioli (current bump and baby#3) it’s been about what “cuts” to make to accommodate this third piece of our puzzle and help us keep our sanity.

His suggestions were as follows:

  1. Can’t they all just share…umm everything?
  2. Which two should we send to school? They can share notes with the third.
  3. Can’t we just make them stand outside and hose them all down together and call it bath time? No toys. No fuss.
  4. Let’s have one big meal once a day for everyone like, you know, what is that called? A pig’s trough?
  5. Potty training Shmotty training. Diapers for all. All the time. Without fail. Until they want to be trained. And if that’s at age 11 then so be it. SIMPLIFICATION.

All in all, it’s safe to say their mind just works differently. And so we’re back to that whole Mars-Venus thing. Thank God he has acknowledged that we can’t simply give this third baby a number, and that he does in fact need a name. Finally.