x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Marriage is all about sacrifice and parenting even more so

Looking after a baby is going to involve a lot more sacrifice than I am used to.

In marriage, there is a certain degree of sacrifice required by the husband and wife. This is something both Mr T and I learnt early on, and were willing to embrace in our efforts to compromise and build an equal partnership that made sense for the both of us.

Whether it’s my willingness to incorporate fewer eggs in my diet because Mr T is allergic to them, or his having to adapt to a banana-free home, considering how much I detest them, we each make allowances for the other. I chose to make the UAE my home in order to build a life with my husband and put my dreams of living elsewhere on hold for now, because it was a necessary sacrifice at this stage in our lives. He chose to rearrange his daily schedule to accommodate our needs as a couple and maximise the time we get to spend with one another each day, while also picking and choosing the types of people he surrounds himself with so that conflict is kept at a minimum.

Whether the sacrifices are small or large, they’re an integral part of a relationship and they’re only fair if both husband and wife are making them.

Of course, all these theories of mine are headed straight out the window with the impending arrival of our first born, now only two weeks away from her due date. Now, it’s no longer a question of what I’m willing to sacrifice for Mr T, or what he’s willing to sacrifice for me. Now, it’s all about what we’re sacrificing as parents for the good of our daughter and, let’s be honest – she’s not going to be making any sacrifices in return, and definitely not any time soon.

Already, I’ve dipped into my savings – that same nest egg that was supposed to keep me stocked in designer bags and take me on once-in-a-lifetime holidays – in order to establish a college fund for the child I have yet to meet. Not to mention the money spent on the endless baby equipment that we can’t seem to get out of buying, on that pushchair and car seat (yes, the cost is almost equivalent to a small car, the rumours are true). And already, Mr T and I have had to sacrifice our own personal vows to never be apart for a single day in order to ensure the best for our daughter’s future: he is currently in the UAE, working, as he must do, and I am in Canada, waiting, as nature intended, for labour to start.

Parental sacrifice, as I see it, knows no bounds and does not end when a child turns 18, or 21, or 30. My own mother has left her home in Jordan, her work, her husband (my father and Mr T are in constant competition to see who’s lonelier) and her responsibilities towards my younger brothers, in order to be here with me in Canada and help with the arrival of her first grandchild, providing both physical and moral support for a daughter who is, quite frankly, terrified of what’s to come.

I may not have come to terms, yet, with a lot of the changes that are about to smack me in the face, but I think I have the “sacrifice” part down for now.


• Hala Khalaf is the deputy Arts&Life editor at The National