It's just me and Baby A in the house and I realise that, soon, we'll be out of both nappies and formula. A grocery run is in order; it's just too risky to wait for Mr T to get home, because running out of nappies is not an option. Luckily enough, there's a fully stocked grocery store on the ground floor of our building. It should take me 15 minutes tops to get there and back with Her Dictatorship.
She's mercifully asleep, so I place her in her pushchair, gently (as if I'm handling an active bomb), and heave a sigh of relief that she doesn't wake up. I get my wallet and keys from the other room and when I get back to the pushchair (as in, five seconds later), I find Baby A wide awake and staring at me expectantly. It's a little unsettling - how can she go from dead to the world, to eyes wide open, in a matter of seconds? - but I get over it quickly, because she starts to wail. I cuddle her close and nurse her. She calms down. I cover her with a blanket so she feels all warm and cosy. She wails. I pull off the blanket and her socks and the stupid hair band on her head. She calms down. I try nursing her again. She wails. I give her a toy. She calms down. The toy falls out of her grasp. She wails. I make her a bottle of milk. She calms down and starts cooing. We coo at each other for a while. She finally finishes her formula. I wipe her mouth with her washcloth. She wails. Oh my God, can she possibly want more milk? I put her down in her favourite chair and hand her a different toy. She calms down. I race into the next room and slip on a pair of shoes and toss some essentials into her pushchair. She starts wailing again.
I pick her up and place her in her carrier sling. She catches a glimpse of herself in a mirror and giggles. We play in front of the mirror for a while. I decide I'll push the stroller and use it to carry groceries, and just wear Baby A in her carrier. I grab a dummy and try to tempt her with it so she doesn't wail in public. She grins, takes the dummy for maybe a second, then catapults it out of her mouth. It rolls under the sofa. To hell with the dummy. Finally, we get out of the apartment. Preparation time to head out to the supermarket: 48 minutes. Time to get to the shop and back: 15 minutes.
Time, I find, has become a rare commodity with this tiny dictator ruling my life. I allocate time pockets for everything: A drink of water. Brushing my hair. Wolfing down some yogurt. Preparing her nappy bag for an outing.
Showering! Showering has taken on a whole new meaning. One morning, it occurred to me I needed to take a shower before work, which is something I hadn't thought about before. Not the taking-a-shower-part, but the how-exactly-can-I-do-it-when-I'm-alone-with-the-baby part. I can't just take a shower when she's asleep; what if she wakes? And, if she's already awake and I drag her into the bathroom with me and sing to her from the shower while she plays in her basket, what happens if she gets sick of the basket (and my singing) and starts wailing? What if a crazy freak finds a way to break into my home and kidnap my baby while I'm in the shower? Forget it, who needs to shower?
When Mr T gets home on the days when I'm alone with Baby A, and asks us what we did today, I have to hold myself back from punching him in the face for daring to assume anything can ever get done with The Dictator running the show.
And just FYI, I'm still waiting on that shower.
Hala Khalaf is the deputy Arts&Life editor at The National
For more tales of wedded bliss, click on to www.thenational.ae/marriedlife