'What's wrong?' Husband wanted to know today as we were getting in the car coming back from a nice brunch. 'Did you not have a good time?' He asked.
There was no simple answer that he could understand. An answer that would not sound like i was blaming him, or would not demonstrate just how ungrateful or unreasonable I really was. After all, i did not exactly have a hard day. I woke up at a reasonable hour, had a coffee, a long shower, got dressed up and was taken to a brunch at Ritz Carlton, where i consumed an obscene amount of all sorts of amazing gourmet dishes.
What i wanted to explain to him though, was that to me, it was not a relaxing brunch like it was to him and the other six people at our table today.
OK, to be fair, on too many occasions, husband was the one driving us around so i could enjoy a drink. (Despite many cultural similarities i find between Azerbaijan and Qatar, drink-driving isn't one of them). So today, it was finally my turn to drive. That might have set my mood from the beginning, as the idea of missing out in all that unlimited champagne was simply too painful. So yes, maybe, I was sulking about that- a little. However, that was not the real issue. What i tried to explain to husband was that being a mother of two small children was not, and i mean, absolutely not the same thing as being the father. Even a very good one.
Whether we sit at a beach, at a party or in Ritz Carlton, i can never really relax. To me, the brunch today was continuous hard work.
To start with, we were meeting other people, sort of networking mixed with pleasure. The people who were all adults, with no babies. People who could afford to enjoy a cup of cappuccino and a cigarette before their brunch, without glancing at their watch wondering just how mad the baby would get about such a delay in her lunch routine.
Finally, we get downstairs and take the seats and it is me, again, who is thinking what the baby is going to eat. It is me walking around the big hall looking for miniature quiches and mashed potato, whilst everyone else is queueing at the sushi and oyster stations.
While i watched the baby feed herself, I kept an eye in case she chocked, puked or threw the plate at the waiter. Husband was engaged in a very intellectual debate with the guy on his left.
I managed to get some food for myself, but then the baby started getting bored, so i took her out and walked around the hall with her. I then found her some fruit to keep her occupied for a while longer. By then it was her breastfeeding time and i had to retire to the bathroom, where fortunately, there was a section with soft chairs i could sit on. I sat there for thirty minutes. She fell asleep. I took her back to the table where everyone was getting more tipsy on the champagne. Knowing the baby would just wake up if i tried to put her in the push-chair, I sat there, holding her in my arms. My shoulder hurt. At that time, to be fair, husband noticed us there, and kindly interrupted his exciting conversation to enquire whether i needed anything.
The baby woke up and wanted to be entertained. Besides the baby, I remembered that I also have an older child, who is old enough to be taken care of by the hotel staff in a special children section. But, being a mother, i had to check what it was she was actually eating. Only to discover it was a large box of popcorn. I had to stop her, and go with her to choose something more substantial to eat.
And all that time, i felt that i was working. At this kind of most natural, yet demanding and not always wanted job. A job that takes your life over entirely, not allowing any break.
At the end, the biggest challenge came. I knew we had to go soon. Before the baby decides she was too good for too long. But husband, drunk on the champagne and the intellectually stimulating conversations, could not hear me. And so, there i was. A bored, tired, stroppy wife, who could not even hold a proper adult conversation. A killer of all the fun. I could easily see myself through the eyes of the people at the table, but I could not help it. Because, whether i complain about it, or feel it is unfair ...i still am a mother. And what my baby eats and whether she gets to go to bed at a reasonable time is more important to me than...well, pretty much any stimulating conversation. But maaaan...do I need a break sometimes. And a proper adult conversation i could focus on.