Lifestyle is quite a mean word especially when you read it as a headline in a magazine. It immediately makes me picture myself as one of the-devil-wears-Prada-kind of women, who occupy executive positions, live in stylish penthouses, drive cars that start with B and end with W, look stunningly beautiful ALL day and find time after work for a drink with their best pals in their favorite bar around the corner.
Sigh! But unfortunately reality doesn’t work like that for me. I am a single mother of two, living in Cairo, and that’s quite a challenge. My quality of life would have gone down the drain if I hadn’t done the effort to create a sort of “healthy” lifestyle for my kids and me. With my final move to Cairo three years ago I have set certain rules that I keenly follow, so as not to get eaten by the big fish called social obligation, and I started with my family circle. We only go to birthdays of friends and family members we actually know and visit frequently. As for the social club we are members in, I refuse to go with the flow and sign up my kids into activities that put on more stress above the already existing daily stress of life.
We enjoy staying at home two days in a row and we take the time to implement some precious mother-daughter-dates. The girls find it relaxing to invite just one or two friends for a sleep over and they are OK with a nanny-free household. With all this and more it is needless to say: I have created a bubble around my little family – a comfort zone we truly appreciate. But why did I do this? It’s simple, I no longer live abroad! No offense, but quality of life has an absolutely different meaning and taste if you live in Europe, for example. What we call luxury here is an essential there. Time is an important factor to mention. I would be lying if I said that I had less work to do back then, but I had enough time to get things done. At the end of the day I would sometimes feel exhausted but not necessarily stressed out. And yet a two-way drive through Cairo could lead to the verge of a nervous breakdown without actually leaving the car. Sad! As much as I want my girls to be independent, they have little chance to experience it here. I need to drive them everywhere, since public transportation is a definite no go. They cannot go by themselves to the local bakery around the corner let alone ride a bicycle or walk a fair distance to a friends’ house unescorted.
As for myself I hardly leave the house without a thin jacket in the summer, since wearing short sleeves could lead to a case of harassment. Even my foreign female colleagues at school prefer to wear trousers instead of skirts because of what they get to hear if they don’t. So here it is, life has a distinguished taste if you feel free to enjoy freedom literally. I dream to combine my current reality with my desired one to sort of reach a fair balance of both. Live and let live is a humble motto, yet it is hardly applied.
Creating your own bubble is definitely not the ultimate solution. It is a double-edged sword. On one hand you live in a world that you rule, in which you experience your inner peace and self-fulfillment, a world of your own. But then again you deliberately detach yourself from a common ground. Is that a bad thing to do? I have been there and my answer is: No! I believe that we need it to survive the struggles we face on a daily basis. There is a little Robinson Crusoe in each one of us and we secretly do crave for that isolated island. As long as we stay realistic and take off those rose-colored glasses every once in a while, there’s nothing against cuddling up in a padded self-created atmosphere of bliss!