Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Married life: New mums, don't doubt yourself

I get so worked up when inundated with unsolicited advice that, although may be well meaning, is mostly just ignorant and sometimes rude.

After a smooth flight from Abu Dhabi, the plane had just landed in chilly Amman. The city was blanketed in white fluff after a recent snowfall, and tiny snowflakes dotted the plane's windows. I was prepared; Baby A was bundled up well in warm and, as usual, pink clothing, and in my carry on, I had a jacket, blanket and adorable little hat for her to wear just before introducing her to the elements. There was no need to weigh her down with all that just yet, however, because we'd still be indoors for a while and I didn't want to overheat my sensitive child.

And yet, just as we stepped off the plane and began striding towards the immigration counters, I could hear an old, raspy voice calling out to me from behind.

"Ya binti, ya binti." I turned, and there, an old, bent woman was being assisted out of the airplane and into a waiting wheelchair. "Oh daughter," she called out to me, her voice warped with disapproval. "Wrap up that baby of yours, why isn't it wrapped up, it's cold, daughter, it's cold."

If I could just sit down with every mother-to-be, I'd tell her she must prepare to be judged, by all, and learn not to take it too personally.

I'm convinced that Arabs, in particular, just can't help it. It starts early, when you're still pregnant. What you choose to eat, what heel height you wear, where you go on vacation; there will always be someone out there more than ready to give their two cents, always unsolicited, and point out exactly what you're doing wrong.

When Baby A was six weeks old, my mother and I took her with us to the mall to run a few errands. As we were waiting for the valet to bring our car around (normal operating procedure in Jordan), Baby A decided to start crying, which, I have come to learn, is normal behaviour for a baby.

"I think your baby is hungry, she certainly sounds hungry," said a fellow shopper, one I've never met before.

"No, no, she's cold, look at what she's wearing, she's practically naked," said yet another stranger, one standing at least five metres away, with what I assume must be exceptional hearing.

"She might be hot," chimed in yet another random person, eager to take part in a conversation that I had yet to acknowledge.

"Don't carry your baby so much," said an old friend of my parents'. "She'll get used to it and then drive you crazy."

"You should carry your baby as much as possible in these early days," said a distant cousin. "Otherwise she'll grow up with emotional problems and never learn how to love."

"You shouldn't be using that brand of diapers," said a mere acquaintance who became a first time mother just a month before I did, but come on now, that gives her a superiority of knowledge, surely. "And you shouldn't put her down on her tummy, and I can't believe you give her that brand of milk, and oh my God, you keep the air-conditioning on in your house? Don't you know that can give your baby girl gas?"

Mr T can never understand why I get so worked up when inundated with unsolicited advice that, although may be well meaning, is mostly just ignorant and sometimes rude.

"You're going to ignore them anyway, and you are already very sure of yourself when it comes to Baby A," he says. "Why do you get so angry and let them get to you?"

Because somewhere out there is a new first-time mother not so sure of herself, perhaps, and not yet convinced that she alone knows the best for her child. She may not turn a deaf ear when everyone and their neighbour tells her how best to raise her baby, and that woman should know that it's all difficult enough without having to doubt herself as well.

Hala Khalaf is the deputy editor of The National's Arts&Life

hkhalaf@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Lionel Richie performed many of his hits from the 1970s and 1980s at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre. Jaime Puebla / The National

Lionel Richie dishes out the hits to Dubai crowd

At his Dubai concert on Thursday, Richie greeted the audience with “Yalla habibi” – a statement of intent as his energy rarely let up.

Tyrese reunited with Fazza

Tyrese today posted on his social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) his pleasure at being reunited with the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

 Falconry is an activity where they demonstrate how falcons catch prey while flying at a speed of almost 360 kilometres per hour. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National

In pictures: Adventure in the desert at Abu Dhabi's Qasr Al Sarab

Mohammad Ashfaq, an adventure guide at the Qasr Al Sarab resort, Abu Dhabi, showcases a day in his working life.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National