On a recent trip to New York, our CEO mummy Amy Mowafi ransacked the Disney Store in a (failed) attempt to prove she's the best mother in the world...
In theory babies should not be expensive. They cost absolutely nothing to produce. For the first few months of their lives they don’t even need real food or water. And they hardly take up any space at all. But our egos get in the way. Baby must have the best of everything, even if that means $500 designer onesies which will only ever be worn once for a special occasion, get covered in drool and poop in the first five minutes, and replaced by the not-so-nice outfit that was stuffed into the nappy bag. We agonise over Bugaboos and McLarens, stroller-envy fuelling our purchasing decisions although Mothercare does a perfectly workable pushchair for quarter of the price. We insist on buying even the baby basics from posh little boutiques that get all their items from the land of abroad, even if we have to pay triple the price to cover the import tax.
And that’s just the start of course. Babies become toddlers who figure out they can use words to ask for things, and God forbid we don’t meet their every whim. And so it was that I found myself during a recent trip to New York, standing in the Disney Store in Time’s Square, every single Disney Princess looming over me, complete with their friends, furnishings, puzzles, plates, tutus, tiaras, books, backpacks, and so, so much more. I was panic-stricken. Fuelled by the flippant and frivolous spending that often accompanies the ethereal nature of a holiday, I knew things could get dangerous. I calmly dialed my mother and requested she hand the phone over to four-year-old Maya, careful not to give away my whereabouts lest all hell break loose. I asked her to name the one Disney Princess she would like me to get her from America. She replies quick as a flash, “Rapunzel please.” Mr Y, seemingly satisfied that the process was proving far more efficient than he had initially predicted, happily grabbed the first Rapunzel doll he could find and started to walk away. And then all hell broke loose.
“Just ONE DOLL!????” I yelled, barely audible over the din of other crazy tourist parents. “YUUUSEF, ARE YOU SERIOUS? ONE DOLL?!” Crazy tourist parents who have over-excited kids in tow quieten down immediately. Yusef walks over, doing the strained smile that implies if we weren’t educated and sophisticated people, he would lock me up at home and make me hand wash his underwear, far away from civilised parents buying Disney Princesses.
“It’s just that I feel so guilty,” I say, my eyes welling up, knowing that at this point, tears are my only savior (because even if you are a bad-ass CEO sometimes the best course of action is to cry in a public place). “We’ve spent all this money gallivanting around the States just to attend one wedding, and we’ve been away from the kids for ten whole days - I can’t go back with just one doll.” My Y is entirely unconvinced by this argument, but the pressure of a dozens of prying eyes - including judgmental mothers with European accents and 17-year-old store assistants in unbearably chirpy Disney-branded T-shirts - is too much. “Of course, I understand, take your time, and buy what you want,” he says and wanders off to a rainbow-coloured chair in the corner where he will sit for the next hour doing his ‘Marrying you is the worst thing I ever did but I am going to pretend to be OK with this while doing a parody of a patient face in order to avoid anymore drama’ face.
Over the next 90 minutes, I proceed to collect an assortment of shop assistants, and arm them each with their own truckload of princess goodies for my princess. I am the BEST MOTHER IN THE WORLD. Maya will love me forever now. I am a winner at parenthood and life.
But something is not quite right.
I HAVE FORGOTTEN THAT I HAVE ANOTHER BABY!
AND THE OTHER BABY ALSO NEEDS GIFTS.
MR Y IS ABOUT TO KILL ME.
I DON’T CARE. MY LITTLE BABY BOY NEEDS GIFTS.
BUT THERE IS NO MORE MONEY LEFT.
The credit card is maxed out. The dollars have gone pouf. And the cash machine won’t give us Egyptians any more dollars because economics, or something.
All of which brings me to my main point.
Pampers. Yes. Pampers. And life choices. And good parenting. The fact is, much as you’d like to, you can’t give your kids everything. And even if you could, you probably shouldn’t. One Disney Princess is more than enough. Sacrifices must be made. Tough choices come with the territory. And as long as you’ve got their health, happiness and comfort sorted, you’re likely doing a stellar job. So Momo might have gotten the raw end of the deal when it came to travel gifts, but I did arrive with a new pack of Pampers which my mum, who was not so happy after being left with the babies for two weeks, yelled at me to pick up on the way home from the airport.
And here is what happened: exactly one hour after our arrival, Maya has torn through the suitcase full of gifts, and turns to me and says, “Mummy why did you buy me a princess tutu and not a princess dress? I wanted a Princess DRESS. DRESS! DRESS! YOU GOT THE WRONG THING MUMMY!”
I am the worst mum in the world. But also, Maya is a spoilt little brat. Wait, is that my fault?
Momo meanwhile, is snuggled up to me, thrilled just to have me back. He is dry and comfy and cosy in nothing but his Pampers. Lesson learned: as long as Momo hasn’t figured out that poop is better off in the toilet, all it takes for me to be the best mum in the world is to keep investing in the best bottom-protection on the market. Everything else, we can buy another day. Or at least after Egypt figures out this issue with dollars.
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