real life story of maheen khitab hissah ec abu dhabi

Tell me a bit about yourself. What do you want the world to know about YOU?

I want the world to know that I have chosen this life and I am going to own it every single day. I used to live thinking that it is circumstances and people’s opinions and complacency during decision making that defines the course of your life. I believed in romance movies and Sweet Valley and that ‘the one’ was going to fall into place and then change will be sudden and finally make sense. Little did I know that I was ‘the ONE’ and the journey back to myself was the one that would take the longest, but would be the most worthwhile.

Describe a typical day in your life.

An ideal weekday would begin a night before in anticipation of school the next day. But we know these things never go according to intention. The kids sleep, I Netflix shows like Peaky Blinders, Outlander and This is Us (if I believe in the characters, I watch) and cross fingers that I make the 6am alarm in the morning. Also I make fluid plans on what will go inside lunch boxes and what will be worn. It’s hard to make promises when I use my eyes to make decisions in the spur of the moment. When the alarm rings or the kids wake up (whichever comes first) we rush/roll through the motions of something resembling a morning routine. Well let’s just say that some days look like a beautifully poached egg, other days are like eggs boiled/burnt in water that evaporated faster than the time it took to put the sandwiches together for 10:30 snack time. We pull ourselves together after that daily fifteen minute time vacuum where everything and everyone moves so slowly and you know without looking at the time that you’re definitely late and the older one is missing morning free play yet again. And it’s that five minute make up routine that I signal out as the piece of the puzzle I can fit into the car on the way to work. At work, I morph from Mom Maheen to Teacher Maheen (except when my three year old spots me, and then I become this strange hybrid that doesn’t recognize itself). In my classroom I feel more in control, because the decisions don’t seem like a matter of life and death. It’s about colours and which loose parts to take out. What art supplies would give the kids a particular experience and how can we mix things up.  It is mayhem, but a mayhem layered with the acceptance that the outcome is not burdened with judgement. And that it is the process that needs to be savored. On reflection, I consider what would make the processes more engaging for the kids, and how to reuse the outcomes of the artistic journey. I still feel that I haven’t allowed myself to enjoy the experience along with the kids because the structure of the day still holds sway over me. It’s hard to lose yourself for the little moments without practice and then come back to the ‘demands’ of the day. I took a mindfulness class that feels like another thing I haven’t internalised enough to sustain. But I am determined to add enough reminders through Siri to get there. I get home and it feels like returning to a cup of hot tea and a pack of home-made chips. Which is bliss, for me. The kids slide into some form or the other of home entertainment. There are crackdowns on screen time when I’m not putting away things, restoring the ecosystem and creating food and feeding food. Bath times are directly proportional to the amount of strength left and presence of the better half. At this point all actions are devoted to managing the universe that conspires to end the day at 8:30, with full bellies and full hearts and full ears.

Weekends are days that sit in the corner trying to pretend they don’t know anyone called Monday. My Saturdays start with therapy, something I’ve been working on for two years now. And I can safely say that the web of my mind has definitely loosened and can now make the new connections that I never thought it would.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced during your journey to where you are today?

Definitely lack of self-worth and the need for external validation. I have been very harsh with myself in judgement. Unlearning that it’s selfish to love yourself and making that a priority.

Who would you describe as a role model and why?

All the women I have known up to this point, I carry bits of them inside me.

Tell us one thing about you that most people don’t know.

They don’t know that I used to wish I was a boy. Growing up I wanted us to be three brothers.

What is one piece of advice about how to cope with challenges/struggles you face in life that you would like to give to the world?

Therapy is a gift that you give to yourself. I would recommend it to anyone who has lived and feels that it’s getting too much.

What is ONE word that you feel defines you? (It could be your profession, a personality trait, or a quality you possess).

EXTRAORDINARY.