My heart broke this morning. I was getting ready for work while my son played around in the room. As I took a closer look at the mirror to fix my scarf, I suddenly realised him standing at my feet. He stood still in those military pants and dotted T-shirt, his hair unkempt from night’s sleep. He looked at me without blinking. His face still. I looked back at him and he didn’t smile. He kept gazing at me.
“What happened baby,” I asked. He is too young to comprehend and reply, I thought to myself. I hugged him, my eyes soar with tears. He went back to playing as I took my bag and walked out of the room. He cried as I stepped out of the house. I walked away without looking back as I always do.
I sat down in the car as my husband drove me to work. But my mind was set on those eyes. What did he want to say?
“Mama are you getting ready to leave me? Don’t go please.”
Or did he want to say, “I feel low, I want to hug you and play with you.” Or did he simply wanted to say, “I will miss you.”
My friends appealed me for surviving with even two hours of sleep for months (it surprises me as well) and they added the tag of ‘superwoman’ to me.
I get back to work and look at the time again. I shut down my system two minutes before time and jump out of my chair to leave on time. I run down the stairs, praying for cab to come on time. Days when I get no transport for six-seven minutes, I begin to cry
The word echoes in my head the moment alarm rings every morning and I struggle to open my tired eyes. I battle to leave my sleeping baby in the bed. It hurts to put feet on the ground after long hours of standing the previous day.
I splash my face with water. My image with swollen eyes stare back at me from the mirror. But I am a ‘superwoman’, I tell myself. So I quickly get things ready for my son for the day — his clothes, breakfast, lunch, diapers or medicines he might need.
But the time, I finish the tasks it’s almost time to leave and I remember to eat breakfast.
I struggle with hunger pangs, deciding to get ready for work on time rather than eat. I look at the clock and I am almost late. I run to the door as my husband follows. After exchanging, hugs and kisses and saying goodbye to my crying baby, I leave for work. ‘Superwoman’ rings in my head. I ‘bravely’ leave him behind. I brush away the thoughts and begin to work. To ease my mind, I begin seeing his videos and pictures. I am hurt with the feeling of guilt, of leaving him back home. I remember how I hated my mother to be away from home as a child even when she wasn’t working.
Shutting down before time
During my break, I prefer to chart out the lunch and dinner meals for him. I google ‘best recipes for babies’ and save the links. I get back to work and look at the time again. I shut down my system two minutes before time and jump out of my chair to leave on time. I run down the stairs, praying for cab to come on time. Days when I get no transport for six-seven minutes, I begin to cry.
Suddenly, hunger pangs remind me of food. And I pray my son eats without throwing up.
A warm hug welcomes me at home and my whole being is filled with love. After hugging and kissing him multiple times, I directly rush to kitchen, to make his food.
He runs away from plate, I run after him. I put one spoon of food into his mouth and he pucks.
I pant and feel short of breath.
He laughs around and plays on my back. I remind myself of being a ‘superwoman.’
He finishes his food and he takes a nap. I watch him sleep peacefully as I clean the food he spit around. I go back to chores of washing, cleaning and ironing till its night time.
I feed him dinner, change him and try to put him to sleep. I put him down on his bed and stare at his face. His hands, his little being.I put my head on his feet, tears roll down my face. I ask him to forgive me for being unfair. My heart breaks. I realise I am not a superwoman. I can never be. I am just a mother.
Sana Altaf is a Dubai-based freelancer