For the past 18 months, I’ve stepped away from writing to figure out this whole motherhood challenge. In this new role, I’ve wrestled with being away from family and friends and where I feel most known and understood. In my yearning to be home, surrounded with the familiar and other moms in similar life stage, I’m beginning to admit I would miss out on what I have here if I did live in the U.S.
Here, I’m faced with another reality of life. As much as I’ve fought it over the years, I’m learning a lot about myself and the people around me. Therein lies the benefit to raising my young son in a foreign land.
Here I’ve learned to slow down, sometimes uncomfortably so. I’ve don’t like to be still much less silent. Yet, I’m forced to do both. Without being fluent in the language, I find myself often smiling and nodding in conversations versus jumping in. I can’t say that this has made me a great listener because that would assume I always understand what is being said. Prior to moving here, I found my identity in my busyness. Yet here, it’s a lot harder to do that when I’m figuring my way around culture and language. That said, it has helped me in early days as a mom to focus on being fully present, albeit lonely.
Over the past near decade, I’m constantly meeting new people. These friendships have opened my eyes to a new way of living. I’ve observed the closeness of family–living in the same neighborhood, daily conversations, family group Whatsapp chats and Sunday lunches. Here I have the permission to slow down and allocate time to family. Where I once was fighting for my independence, I now wish I was nearer to our families. As a new mom, I’m seeing how living in this culture is impacting my son’s experience of family. Though we are distant from our own, we have been adopted by others and as a result have an even more extended family.