Recently, the Daily Mail, (which is obsessed by celeb mums, their bumps, their post-baby bods and their sprogs at posh prep schools) ran an entire feature on the fashions donned by Elle Macpherson on the school run.
And why not? You might say. After all, to most people, Elle looks pretty damn good. She’s long, lean and leggy, with lots of tousled dirty blonde hair, and she has a supermodel wardrobe to match. In short, she ticks all the right glamour boxes.
However, I reckon even Elle, with her catwalk swish and tush, would find herself feeling a little outclassed if her children attended one of the more ‘posh’ schools in Dubai. And the reason for this is that Dubai seems to attract a different breed of mother altogether.
The Dubai mother is a woman, who, when not attired in unforgiving gym lycra and still giving 16-year-olds a run for their money, looks as though she has stepped from the pages of Vogue. What solidified this stereotype for me, was when one of these said mums posted up a ‘morning after the party’ picture on her Facebook page. The picture in question was of 32 empty Moet Chandon bottles lined up neatly along the edge of her swimming pool.
Of course, not wishing to tar all mums with the same brush, there are variations on the theme. They go something like this.
Alpha mum: Formerly a marketing whizz for a multi-national company, before she met and married her oil-business executive husband, Alpha mum, is usually called something cool like Kat, or Rebekah. She’s in her mid-to-late 30’s and has either three children – or just one child (never two. That’s just so standard) and used to head an Olympic Dragon-boat rowing team in her early 20’s.
Alpha mum’s kids are super-good looking and excel in all subjects at school. They are chosen as regular leads in end-of-term productions and other mums push their children into inviting them on play dates. When questioned about her children’s rude good health, Alpha mum, who sports a perfectly proportioned 34C bustline in a spaghetti strap vest top, reveals that she breastfed all three of them until they were two, which helped her to lose all the baby weight. Her upper arms are toned from hours spent sailing and windsurfing at weekends and her pins rival Barbie’s in a pair of shorts. The only aspect that does let things down is the slightly sun-dried look about her. All that bracing outdoorsy activity has taken its toll a bit.
Fashionista mum: Usually married to a pilot, and formerly an air hostess for Virgin Atlantic or Emirates, Fashionista mum originally hails from Essex. She knows her looks are her best asset and is always impeccably groomed – a throwback from her time in the airline business. Fashionista mum never comes to school minus full slap even though the bell goes at 7.30am on the dot. Her hair is always blow-dried and swingy, or elegantly pinned up, while her wardrobe is a subject of jealous discussion, especially when her selection of Uggs make an appearance in the cool season. The other mums welcome her warmly at line-up time, but secretly wonder at her efforts, seeming as she doesn’t work, and hasn’t had a job since Kyla (now six) was born.
But Fashionista mum doesn’t care because she’s enjoying herself so much. With plenty of surplus money (hubby has a good package) she can indulge in her love of shopping, spas and gossipy coffee mornings with other pilots wives. And with all those urban tales of ‘car keys in a bowl’ parties at Silicone Oasis, who can blame her?
Career mum: Working 120 hours a week at a job she loves, Career mum is a creature rarely seen on the school run. This is because her kids usually come on the bus – unless she’s got a convenient breakfast meeting – in which case she’s the one driving the Porsche Cayenne that double parks with the blinkers on, while her Filipina nanny takes the children into school.
Usually the CEO of a public relations firm, or a management consultant specializing in IT, Career mum (who has two BlackBerry’s and an iphone just for work) often secretly wonders why she bothered having children, and then remembers it was done so that she could cross off that particular box. Her twin daughters, Imo and Frankie, were conceived via IVF (she was far too busy brokering deals to have sex) bottle fed by maternity nurses, and were in full-time daycare as soon as they could smile. But despite her lack of hands on parenting, Career mum loves to boast about ‘her girls’ and how she’s managing ‘to have it all’.
Mumpreneur: Mumpreneur is very different to Career mum because she works to enhance her experience of motherhood. Invariably she’s been involved in something arty and creative before the kids came along, and because her maid is so well trained, she ended up bored silly and decided to start her own business. Typically, Mumpreneur either launches her own kid’s fashion brand which is named after her two children (Jocelyn & Harry), has an online baby shop boutique, or, runs a catering company from home that produces wheat-free, egg-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, and nut-free organic platters for birthday parties.
Mumpreneur has an easy, boho sense of style that sees her mix ethical, hand-woven hemps and chunky craft-market jewellery pieces into her Yves Saint Laurent ensembles. She loves The White Company, has Jo Malone candles in her bathrooms and always gives wooden handcrafted toys as birthday presents. Mumpreneur is friendly, easy-going and highly sociable. After all, every playdate is a potential business opportunity.
New mum: Easily spotted, New mum isn’t necessarily a new mum – she’s just new to Dubai. Not used to the fact that she can leave her younger children at home with the maid while she does the school run, she’s the knackered-looking one struggling with the double buggy containing the baby and the toddler, while her five-year old trails along behind. New mum hasn’t yet discovered eyebrow threading, bikini waxing or the joys of a gym membership, and is in a constant state of guilt. She feels guilty because she’s done that terribly ‘Dubai thing’ and enlisted the help of a live-in maid. But now she has said maid in situe, she finds she doesn’t know what to do with her.
If she lets the maid help with the children, she’s a bad mother (after all, everyone at home manages it by themselves) and, she’s rubbish at telling the maid what to do because she feels uncomfortable asking a person of ethnic origin to wash the floors and clean the bathroom. Gosh, life can be so tricky.
In six months time though, she’ll have it cracked and will be jogging into school in her lycra, and heading off for a workout after dropping off little Sammy in Reception. New mums tend to have a fairly short lifespan….