Ya Mama 1.0
Best-selling author, mummy-in-training and founding partner of the MO4 Network, Amy Mowafi finally begins her column on CairoScene and it's about damn time...
I ought to have started this column months ago. I’ve been meaning to. I’d been contemplating it from moment my waters broke during a business dinner and I called my mother up and asked her how I could be entirely sure that I hadn’t just peed myself a little – as had become my habit in those last couple of months of my pregnancy.
Fe-mail, my other column, published monthly on the back-page of eniGma magazine, and turned into two best-selling books by the same name (side note: in Egypt an English author only need sell approximately ten copies in the Zamalek branch of Diwan to be considered ‘best-selling’) saw me through my single and occasionally scandalous twenties; through my crazed early entrée into Cairo high-society as a fresh-faced writer fresh of the boat from London. It saw me climb and claw my way through the local media industry, it saw me meet a man, lose a man, meet the man and get married. In late 2011 it saw me give up a job I truly relished as the Managing Editor of eniGma and a platform that had allowed me to make a name for myself in order to chase a pipe dream. To build, with my three brothers, what I envisioned to be the foundations of a future family empire. Of course, I hadn’t planned on being “in the family way” myself. So there I was, technically jobless, actually pregnant and essentially, starting from scratch. I was stuck in a small room with my three brothers and two techies from Tanta whom I was scared to speak to and were scared to speak to me (long gone was the gloss, glamour and caustic wit of my old team). I was consumed with morning sickness and, for reasons that I can’t even begin to fathom now, I had a reality TV crew up my rapidly expanding ass. The last thing I had the time or even the inclination to do was write anything beyond my regular column.
A year and a half later, and without quite knowing how it happened, a dream I initially considered to be little more than a delusion is being realised. The narcissistically named MO4 Network now has a team of 30+ incredibly talented people and a growing roster of digital marketing clients – including some of the biggest corporate names in the industry – who have somehow placed their trust in a group of gregarious young things who sometimes have a little more spunk than sense but are driven purely by passion. Which I love. And our websites (CairoScene.com, CairoZoom.com, Tazkarty.net, GreaterThanFashion.com and more in the pipeline) which grow each day in the most unexpected of ways, testing limits, pushing boundaries and always, always espousing a sense of fun.
But perhaps most importantly I have an 11-month-old baby. And let me tell you, a baby and a burgeoning business do not easy bedfellows make. My mobile had to be pried out of my hands as I went into the delivery room; I was not afforded the luxury of maternity leave and had to be back in the office within two weeks of giving birth. And each and every day since has been a momentous struggle between being responsible for a whole company and being responsible for a whole human. There have been tears and tantrums and daily dramas. There has been guilt. Layers and layers and lashings of guilt. Guilt that I’m not spending enough time with Baby, guilt that I can’t stay in the office till 2am because of Baby, guilt that I sometimes sneak in a cigarette or maybe two on the office balcony when things get a little too crazed.
But of course I am not alone. Such is the condition of the working mum; of trying to do it all, but usually only doing half; of thinking you want to have it all but mostly just wishing you could curl up in bed with your baby until midday. Of “leaning in” so far (a la Sheryl Sandberg) you’re almost horizontal and have no idea how you’re supposed to stand up straight enough to carry your baby through her formative years. Of wanting to be a role model for your daughter; to show her that anything and everything is possible, that being a woman is neither here nor there, that she can be a dreamer and a leader, but at the same time just aching for enough time to show her how to put the square block in the square hole.
So I should have started this column earlier – I should have started contributing to my own website long ago, but I’ve barely had the time nor the presence of mind. Still, better late than never. Fe-mail will live on in eniGma (if they’ll let me!) but this – Ya Mama – is a new chapter, a space (I hope) to tell all the little stories that shape the dazzling, dreary, dramatic and terrifying (hence the title) days of each and every Egyptian woman defiantly insistent that doing it all really is possible. Even if it rarely feels that way.