Total Pageviews

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The One Where We Lost Grace!

When telling someone this story they asked me a simple question - 'How does one loose Grace?' Very true, for anyone who knows Grace you would know she is a very difficult soul to loose! But here is how we did!

What happened yesterday is something that I am sure almost every parent in the world has been through at some point during parenthood. And thankfully, for most, it ends the same way as it did for us.

It was boxing day, and we decided to go for a picnic at a park just by the sea on the corniche, a very different but lovely way of spending the day after Christmas for us. We all had a great day, grandparents kicking the ball with the kids, kids playing, sitting in the sun, taking pictures and spending quality time as a family.

I had gone to take some pictures of the sunset with my new camera, Nanny and Joey were playing with the ball, Grandad and Jason were packing up the picnic and Grace was playing in the park. The moment was perfection. That is until I went to get Grace from the park. There I experienced the most gut wrenching moment, the moment, as parents, we all fear.

Grace was gone.

Now I am sure we have all have experienced this, the momentary panic and then you see your child. But not this time. She really was nowhere to be seen. I thought maybe I hadn't seen her. I went round the park several times.

Still nothing.

Still no Grace.

Jason was casually walking over, obviously unaware at this point. I waved him over, he knew something was wrong.

'I can't find her!' - the words every parent hopes they never have to speak.

Jason started looking, obviously thinking with all the children in the park, I had missed her.

He couldn't see her either!

In his organised manner, he set all the things down with Grandad for him to stay in one place. We enlisted Joey to look around the park, Nanny was retracing her steps as to where she had seen Grace last and me and Jason began looking outside the park.

Now I was starting to feel dizzy. Sick. Where was she? The reality that she was not here was beginning to dawn on me and if she wasn't here then why? Where? What happened? Only parent hood panic can create so many thoughts in your mind at any one time! You begin to think of all those stories you hear in the press, we all know the ones I am talking about. And it was 'those' people's stories that began going through my head. The realisation that it could, in fact, happen to anyone. And then that awful question - 'Am I the 'anyone' it is happening to now?' That is the moment you feel the hysteria bubbling up from inside. That is the moment you try to think of all the practicalities. What do we do? Go away hysteria because hysteria isn't going to help me now. I started making a list in my head of what we should do, what would be the most effective way of finding my baby? At what point do we call the police? I don't want to go overboard here, but surely the sooner the better in this kind of situation. And not just one strategy, the park is filled with people, someone would have seen her, seen who she was with, where she had gone!

The panic in our faces must have been clear at this point. A young couple asked us if we had lost our child - YES, the most awful answer I had to give - I wish it was no, but we had lost her. That is when it dawned on me. They asked if we had a picture. I had taken over 300 that day, so there was definitely some of Grace and I had kept my camera on me in case it led to this point (so there was a small piece of me thinking rationally!). This was the moment that made it real. I was finding a picture to show strangers my daughter. It was like a slow motion movie moment. I was shaking trying to get through the hundred's of photos I had taken to find one of her. The couple looked at it and said they would help us look. By this point other people were looking over at us, I was aware that the other families in the park were now aware and that was the point where Jason and me let the hysteria out and starting calling her name all over the park. Who cares what people may think of the hysterical mother I just want my daughter back.

Then in a surreal, slow motion moment I heard Nanny calling us.

She had found her.

I can barely translate that feeling into words. It almost didn't feel real. But it was.

There she was bouncing down the hill, holding Nanny's hand as if nothing was wrong.

I grabbed her close to me and held her with every fibre in my body and soul. I was trembling. And crying by this point.

The relief.

The adrenalin.


She quite simply asked me 'Mommy, were you frightened?' 'Yes darling, I thought I had lost you!' 'I wasn't scared Mommy, I was playing!'

It materialised that Grace had started a new craze that day of rolling down the hills. And the other children in the park had copied her, she met some friends and decided that she needed to teach them how to roll down the hill for maximum enjoyment!

Grace had been blissfully unaware as to what had happened. And I hope that she will remain blissfully unaware when she becomes a mother. As this was the most awful moment of my motherhood experiences so far!

I had a momentary glimpse into what the parents of lost children go through. Thankfully it was just momentary. Others aren't so lucky. As parents we will all probably experience moments like this, whether it be for 2 minutes or 60 minutes. But most will experience the same outcome as us. We will be reunited with our babies, we will hold them and cuddle them again. We will have the opportunity to watch them grow in their lives. But some aren't so lucky. Some parents live in that moment for the rest of their lives.

Take a moment and spare a thought for those parents, because we are lucky. We still have our babies. And however horrific that moment was for us, it ended, it was resolved.

May we pray for all the lost children in the world and for their parents to, one day, have it end in the same way as it did for us.

The One With All The Patriotism!

December 18 2011 - Qatar National Day! And didn't we know it! The build up for this day had been going on for weeks but in all honesty a lot of it had passed me by. Why would I be interested in national day? This isn't my country. I am merely a long staying visitor.

Or so I thought!

It certainly didn't matter that this wasn't my country, it certainly didn't matter that I was a visitor and I realised I certainly was interested. The way the Qataris celebrate their national day - it would be impossible for any true soul not to be moved by it!

So what's it all about?

Well in short it is a celebration. It serves as a reminder to the people of Qatar as to the hardships their ancestors have endured to give them the Qatar they have today. And trust me, the way that they celebrate they are fully aware and appreciative!

Now really all countries have this, or could have this! So what makes Qatar different to the rest of the world?

This tiny, desert peninsula country poking out of the side of Saudi Arabia (it's only land border) has approx only 300,000 nationals. The rest of the population is made up of ex-pats from around the world. This, for most countries, would be enough to crumble any level of patriotism. But not for Qatar. I am sure almost all of that 300,000 population were out in force to celebrate over those few days! And as a guest in their country I found the whole experience very humbling and moving.

The school celebrated it with pride. Every building had a flag draped over it. Car's had flags all over them, and were even painted and decorated in full Qatar colours. A trip back from the mall the day before national day ended with us stuck on the corniche for 2 hours in the traffic! Something that would have normally been an annoyance, but not this time. There was so much to see!!! The boats on the water all lit up, shining lasers into the sky, music playing, people standing on their cars waving huge flags! Horns beeping, confetti cannons dusting us all in sparkles. And even a Qatari guy dressed as father Christmas spotting the ex-pat cars coming and wishing us a Qatar Christmas! It was an amazing sight. And I felt part of this tiny little country. They welcomed us into their celebrations without question or prejudice.

I learned a lot in a few short days from my host country.

There isn't enough patriotism in the world. Maybe if there was, people wouldn't be so negative and aggressive. People would learn to be proud of where they live and in turn take care of that place and make it a better place to live and eventually this would make the world a better place.

This doesn't only apply to the country you were born, show patriotism to the country you live in. I used to think it strange that foreigners would join in British celebrations and non Irish would celebrate St Patrick's day, but not now. The country you live in, regardless of being born there, has provided you with opportunity, money, food, shelter, protection, safety and in most cases have done so with open arms. We should learn to respect that. This country doesn't have to allow me to stay here, but it does and for that experience I am eternally grateful to any of my host countries along my travels.

I was never patriotic towards the UK. I have my issues with the UK, which I won't go into now, but I have learned a greater respect for my home country. It isn't perfect, no. Is anywhere? Very few if any! But my home country safely took care of me for 29 years of my life and continues to do so. I have that passport. I am safe. No money could ever buy the security that passport gives me as a person and as a mother. Whatever issues Great Britain have or challenges they face and no matter where in the world I am, I can always go back there. My children will always have health care, education, food and shelter. It may not be perfect but this isn't a perfect world. And in reality what more protection do I need for my children.

So take a leaf of Qatar's book - celebrate your nation, home and host nations. Let us dance and celebrate life in the streets. Celebrate each other. The sooner we sing and dance in the streets the sooner we will stop fighting in the streets and with baby steps the world can and will become a better, more peaceful place.