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I remember a time when eight o’clock meant being half awake in a classroom with the blurred vision of a loud woman with a questionable sense of style speaking to me. It was only the beginning of a long day of eight consecutive classes. Home time felt like a distant dream of my mother’s luring home cooked meals and the fragrance of her hugs. Minutes felt like hours, and I often dozed off scattered into daydreams — a luxury I miss as an adult.

By three o’clock, my parents, siblings and I were seated at our dining table ready for lunch. Dad shared jokes at the table, and mum would ask my brother and me to stop picking on each other, and instead ask us about our day at school. I had looked forward to being surrounded by my family all day.

Today, I’m a grown independent 27 year-old career woman, just got married to my loving and supportive husband, who works as much as I do. Lunchtime is merely an afterthought for us both as we race through our responsibilities for the day, rushing from one meeting to another. Quick bites at our desks is what our times allow, or even a combination of late lunch and early dinner when we meet at a restaurant after work. It’s often dark out when we get home and we unwind over some TV show and tea, with one eye constantly monitoring our phones or laptops for urgent work emails.

My mother was a stay-at-home mum when we grew up. She spent her days planning carefully for when we got home, preparing our favourite meals and tutoring us for school. She had an active interest in our lives and paid close attention to our behaviour and friendships. She knew each of her children inside out.

One day when I have children of my own, I wonder what they would daydream about coming home to? Will they feel the same rush knowing I will not be there to shower them with love and that I did not spend the day cooking them a feast? The ambitious working woman in me would like to think that perhaps it would make them pay better attention in school than I did. Would they be forced into independence at an early age and would that be in their best interest? As we get caught up in building our future dreams, are we losing sight of the quality of human beings we nurture for future generations? I often wonder...

— The reader is an Emirati marketing specialist based in Dubai.