Arriving in Qatar in the middle of August meant two things, the first was that the desert heat makes Doha hotter than the sun during the summer so after a summer outside we were back to malls and soft plays, the second being that it meant putting myself back on the baby group circuit. Pushing through the loneliness and saying yes to every event and invitation that was vaguely wafted in my direction.
Yes. Coming to Qatar has meant the return of coffee mornings. This time with a toddler in tow. An 18 month old, non-sleeping, ever so inquisitive toddler. And before school started, my 4 year old too….
On the face of it coffee mornings sound blissful. Drinking coffee. Eating cake before 9am. Talking the hind leg off a donkey to others that understand you, that have babies, toddlers and bigger ones themselves. To those that understand what it means to be a trailing spouse. Yes, coffee mornings were one of my favourite things when the boys were tiny, immobile and slept in their pram. Let’s face it the only thing missing from coffee mornings is wine, and even I draw the line at drinking before midday. But then they got bigger and more destructive, and thanks to all my time spent at coffee mornings I had a solid group of friends in Dubai with similarly destructive offspring and we waved a sad goodbye to Starbucks and a reluctant hello to soft play.
But that was Dubai, and after bidding farewell this summer it was on to our newest adventure in Doha where I didn’t have a group of mummy friends with destructive offspring yet. It was time to brave the coffee shop once more.
The thing is, it didn’t live up to my hopes and dreams. Memories of gentle laughter rippling through the group as we relay the antics our children have been up too, commiserations over lack of sleep, the children sat contendly in their prams…..
That definitely didn’t happen.
How a coffee morning goes down when you have your children in tow….
Aim to arrive at the coffee shop just before everyone is meeting up as it falls over naptime and you’re sure that a little bit of a walk in the pram will give you a half hour nap at least. Which means time to drink your coffee hot….
Arrive, walk frantically round for 20 minutes before giving up and heading to the coffee shop defeated as you realize that you’re on the dreaded transition from 2 naps to 1.
Enjoy a steaming hot coffee and a piece of cake on your own….
Sharing is caring. Make sure that the cake arrives with three forks. And a babychino for good measure.
Make small talk with other ladies who have the potential to be your brand new Doha BFF
Stilted conversations where you repeat the first two words of your sentence at least seven times to the harmonious sound of whining from your biggest one that coffee shops are BORING can we have more cake? And the screeching of your youngest as he tries to make like houdini out of his pram.
Sit in one place the whole time you are there, preferably the comfy chairs, whilst still chatting to your brand new Doha BFF
Run in two directions as you foolishly let the small one out of the pram and of course when they run off they run in opposite directions. You have a better chance of catching the small one first….
Reverse your pram out and wheel contented baby out, with your eldest serenely holding your hand.
Wrestle the Baby back into the pram, countering his stiff as a plank move with a knee in the chest to make him bend the right way and bribing him with sweeties. As you are doing this watch your eldest make a break for it. Catch him and leave the coffee shop pushing the pram with one hand and carrying your eldest under your arm.
Do it all again the next week….
Still, whatever happens you will be leaving with a fistful of number of other expat mums and wives, all of who understand that coffee mornings with little people are a virtual impossibility. And who knows, you might even get as lucky as I did, from one chance meeting in a coffee shop to washing my pants in her washing machine with our boys become firm frenemies has set us on the road to our Doha friendship. And that’s only one tale, I have another 7 or 8 wonderful ladies out here who I met in a coffee shop. However difficult it was, it was definitely worth it.
Besides, if you’ve seen me wrestle my kids and you still want to do more playdates, that means we are going to get on just fine….