Dear "Elite" Mom

I've been growing increasingly irritated with you the last month or so, because I feel I'm being practically dragged into your sisterhood of mothers, with kids who just happen to attend the same school as mine do, yet have almost nothing in common with me. Nearly every week, I encounter one or three of you "elite" moms, and it's gotten to the point where I feel Karachi is loaded with ridiculous women. I mean thank you for inviting my kids to your child's birthday party, which resembles a circus, but it wouldn't be wise for us to meet up for coffee, or "do" lunch during the week. For one thing, I "do" lunch with my kids everyday.


But yes, sadly (in your opinion) this is the life I chose when I decided to stay home and raise my kids. And no, I do not have a nanny who cares for them while I attend mid week lunches, or spend hours at the salon. Sue me.

And, second of all I think it's both pathetic and hilarious that you arrive at the school gate, allow your driver to hold up traffic while he jumps out of the car, and opens your door, and you instruct one of your maids to sit still, while your two year old screams bloody murder in her lap, and then proceed to yell at the other maid to hurry up and get out of the car because you don't want to be late.

I slip my phone out of my pocket, and yeah, I don't carry my handbag to school because I have two hands to hold, two backpacks to juggle, two water bottles to prevent from being dragged on the road, and crazy traffic to fight my way through, while listening to a couple of excited voices telling me about their day. And, no I don't carry designer bags everywhere I go. But, moving on... I'm going to pretend now you don't exist, because I know you'll grab my attention in one way or another.

You don't disappoint.

I'm about to start pretending, when you march right up to the closed gate and loudly ask what time the bell rings. The guard gives you a look which says "You don't know what time your child gets off from school?" and then mumbles that you need to wait five more minutes. So, you huff and haw, till you realize there are people around you. Also waiting. Your eyes quickly pass over the two hijab clad women with whom you avoid making eye contact, as if they're contagious. You step away from the males, stare at a few maids, wrinkle your nose at another woman's shoes, and then glance down at your pretty slippers and smile.

And, then you spot me.

I pretend I'm busy texting someone on my phone.

I feel your eyes raking over my jeans and kurti, my barely combed hair, twisted into a knot and held with a clip, my phone which wild horses couldn't drag my eyes away from at that moment. You move closer... It is a Blackberry!

And, you've found a friend.

"Does your child go to school here?" You ask.

I groan inwardly, and look up at your face half hidden by massive Jackie O shades (which look ridiculous on your face btw). "Yes they do" Because you know, otherwise I would be just another psycho woman who hangs around outside school gates in the burning sun.

And, so begins the conversation

You: Which class?
Me: Kindergarten
You: Oh, my daughter is in Kindergarten.
Me: That's nice.
You: I don't usually pick her up, but the teacher wanted to see me today. She sent a note yesterday... Such short notice... I have a lunch appointment at 1:30, so this is really inconvenient.
Me: I can imagine.

Then I start my slow turn away, but it's not meant to be.

"And, my maid took the day off today, so it's been chaos since morning!"

I cannot.ever. and I mean EVER, resist this kind of stuff. I'm such a sucker for punishment, and a complete blog fodder instigator.

Me: How many maids do you have?
You: I have three... Well, two are nannies, and one does all the cleaning etc. I have a man who cooks.

And when you say "man," you do not mean "husband." I know that much.

Me: And, how many children do you have?
You (confused): Just two... That's why I have two nannies.
Me: That makes sense.
You: You know how difficult it is to manage kids, and my maid knows exactly the kind of day I would have if she doesn't show up, so she takes advantage and all these days off, and then my other maid has to neglect my daughter so she can do all the housework.

School Bell!

I smile sympathetically, but it's really a "STFU" grimace, and start walking. But, you match me step for step, rambling on about your maid problems, and the stress you endure daily at the hands of your three shrews. Then suddenly, all that's forgotten and I feel you pressing something into my hand, while you beam at me and say "Let's get together for coffee or lunch one day, it was SO nice meeting you... How about Thursday morning? Is 11:30 good? I'll ask a few friends to join us.... But, I have to be done by 1:00 because I have to be somewhere else by then."

So, while the tune for The Twilight Zone fills my head, I look down at a pretty cream color business card, with a golden motif and lettering. Your name and cell phone number printed neatly in the middle. And, nothing else. I mumble something about my kids waiting and practically run off.

Much later, once the kids have eaten lunch, and settled into boisterous play at home, I remove your embossed card from my pocket, place it on the table, pull my note book and pen toward me, and start to write.

Things to Do Before Calling and Confirming Meet-Up with School Gate Mom

Get your hair cut and styled.
Reserve a table three days a week for club coffee mornings.
Go to the gym everyday and work out.
Eat a 1500 calorie meal at some swanky place right after that.
Apply for 9-5 job, or insist J get rich enough, and then join at least two charity committees.
Employ someone to drive the car, or alternatively employ someone who will sit quietly in the back seat while you drive yourself everywhere.
Name him "Driver."
Import maids and nannies from remote villages across the country.
The younger the better.
Pretend you shop in Dubai and Europe only, but sneak into Zainab Market and buy all the export reject clothes you can.
Tut Tut and snicker at anyone who buys shoes from a Zamzama shop.
Insist J leave his job and start up some "business" so you can talk about it vaguely to your new friends.
Learn to complain incessantly about maid problems.
Find male, Bengali cook.

I rip your card to shreds and throw it in the trash.


The Imaginary Child Prodigy!

A couple of days ago while sorting through some old papers, I came across a few drawings made by my daughter, which really should have been in her box file and not mine. But, when I turned it over I knew why I had kept it. It was the first colored picture she made of the two of us together. In typical four year old style, there were two stick figures (even though I'm no stick), both with flowing long hair, and triangle looking dresses which I know she'll one day argue are "A line and cool." As I stared at the picture, smiling at the butterflies she had drawn in the background, which really resemble ants marching across the page, I noticed she had spent considerable time paying attention to detail. The shoes on both our feet (also looking like ants marching) matched, and they contrasted with our dresses, which also matched each other, while the butterflies matched the color of the dresses and shoes. "She's a regular Picasso" I thought to myself, or rather "Valentino, watch out!"

She happily attended Art Camp last year with her brother, and I ran out of places to display all sorts of strange and wonderful pieces of art they created! We smile, we gush, we tell them it looks "FABULOUS" while racking our brains trying to guess what it really is, because they're standing there, looking at us all excited and gleeful. And, if you don't guess correctly, you're screwed!

Children are wonderful creatures.

And, they're not all geniuses!

So, now I'm going to slide into the rant you knew was coming. Mothers who give birth to budding Picassos aka child prodigies. And, I'm not talking about real child prodigies! I'm talking about the imaginary ones, some mothers insist are several cuts above their counterparts. Have you seen an oil painting done by a two year old?

I was gifted one.

It must be so satisfying to dip your child's fingers in oil paint and then forcibly drag it across a canvas, to create a riot of colors designed to look childlike, yet professional.

Who are they kidding? Other moms?

Moms who are almost daily presented with some piece of art, or a pebble dripping ink, or a cupcake with teeth dents in it, and a proud voice saying "Look Mommy, I made train tracks on the muffin!" Are they trying to kid those mothers? Well, we're not being fooled for a second.

Your child is not a genius, and you need to give it a rest. Or rather give little Jane a piece of paper and some crayons and let her draw stick figure pictures of her grandparents. Allow your child to be a child, and get over your stupid desire to raise perfect children, when you yourself are average or below that.

Stop caking their faces with makeup at beauty pageants when they're 4 years old! Or even 10. Forcing them to attend the dance classes they loathe, because you one day dreamed of being a ballerina is ridiculous. And, just because your great-uncle Jim strums a guitar at family get togethers, while singing off key, does not mean musical talent runs in your family. Doing their homework is not cool either.

And, don't even get me started on extremist red-shirting plans, when they should have started Kindergarten two years ago.

Of course people have the right to raise their kids how they want to. But, I wish these mothers would stop for a minute and think of the damage they're doing to their own child. Forget about the rest of us with kids who are just average, and might one day surprise us with some hidden talent. Think of how much your little one thinks they have to live up to? How insecure they must feel, because they know it's really Mommy who drew the picture for the competition she insisted they enter. How do you think she feels not being appreciated for who she is, and what she can do?

You're far from perfect, just like the rest of us.

Don't expect perfection from your kids.


Our New Digs!

The last couple of weeks have been nothing but a whirlwind of activity, while we packed up our stuff and moved into our new home. Good Lord! What a boring start to a blog post. Let me try again.

Moving can be a royal fucking pain in the ass!

When one has OCD!


Anyway, quick history. We were looking out for another place for a while now, and finally came across something which suited us well. However, since we're Pakistani and all, what suits us might not be considered acceptable for most people. Yes, I mean you western types. You should know that in Pakistan, everyone lives in huts.

Yes, huts!

We razed everything the British built for us after they left.

Who needs fantastic architecture right?

Contrary to what people in the west get to see on the news, Pakistan is a typical third world country, and we are poor. Dirt poor. So poor in fact, that only the very rich among us can afford to bake bricks to lay as walls for their homes. The rest of us poor folk settle for thatched roofs and bamboo walls, straw or mud flooring, and four foot holes in the ground which serve as our toilets.

But, we have wireless internet!

I get so tired of people constantly thinking we Pakistanis are a modern country. Tired of them thinking we have cable television, cars, fine dining restaurants and educational institutions. Tired of them thinking some of us actually wear western clothes, shop at malls and ***gasp*** speak English! So, I'll take this moment to give credit to my Mexican born English translator, without whom I could never blog, or sign my name. She's the "Press 1 for English" kind in case you were wondering.

Her family who have lived in America for a decade still press '2.'

So, our new house. It's fantastic, and since words cannot do it enough justice, I asked a British tourist to take a picture of it for everyone to see. In exchange I gave him some flat bread which was supposed to be my kids' dinner.

Isn't it awesome?

We're ordering our furniture from Pottery Barn!

Pictures of the interior coming soon! Have a good weekend everyone!