As an expat mommy living in London, let me tell you it has its challenges. Yes, it’s the best city to live in and the quality of life is what keeps me here, but it has come with a lot of sacrifices too.
My husband and I met here in London, a few months into the start of my work permit and after getting married, we decided to settle and have our children here. It was quite a shock to both of our families who thought this was only going to be an extended working holiday.
Initially fuelled by a sense of adventure, living it up in the unknown - it has been quite the learning curve. After a year of marriage, I got pregnant with our first son, and after his birth, fell pregnant again after only four months, despite being on contraceptives, with our second son. That meant two boys exactly one year apart, in a foreign country, with no family to support us, and I had to stay employed full-time to keep our work permit which allowed us to stay in the country. So we got rid of the leather couches
, swapped our passion wagon for a family car and baby proofed our lives.
It was tough; I am not going to lie. I really think women are more supported by their mothers (and/or sisters) during pregnancy and thereafter. There really is power in that I-know-what-you-are-going-through squeeze. My husband though, has done a terrific job and should win an award for his role during my pregnancies (both times) and the deliveries (both times) – give honour where honour is due.
Still, thinking back on the past few years, I wouldn’t change a thing. Maybe just one – I would have loved to have my parents closer; to have them share more of our lives the past two years. To see my dad spend more time with the boys while they’re so young, absorb their adorableness - because they love (read capital letters here) their granddad and they mostly only speak to him over Skype!
Selfishly I had always thought that although I think nurseries, child minders and others do amazing work – I wanted to be the one to invest the most time in my child’s day, see him play and hear him babbling. I wanted to be the one to learn them new words and teach them about anything their super inquisitive minds could absorb.
This I have – I have been blessed with a job which allowed me to reduce my hours slightly to the minimum that my work permit allowed and to work from home. Being an outdoors family, we spend a lot of time walking in the woods, along the river and just lying on the grass watching the clouds (weather permitting). I treasure every single one of our outings as I believe this has cultivated a certain outlook in my boys. As I watch them now, they spend hours lying on their tummies at the back of our house watching ants work, playing with simple grass strings and mixing water with soil – the sheer joy!
My approach has always been more hands-off than other mommies in my closest sphere. I allowed the boys to fall more (always standing close by), to see more and to taste more as early as possible. I had doubt at some points, but always encouraged myself to not intervene, as I have always been surprised at how much and how deep these young creations’ understanding and learning abilities go. They have such a natural ability to conquer, a determination to learn and a deep rooted urge to understand. I can only speak from my experience with my boys, but I am sure every parent has experienced this.
I decided early on in this journey that I am going to allow my boys to remain babies as long as they can. I support having routines and I fully understand the necessity of structure in their day, but I also firmly believe that they should be allowed to naturally learn as much from everyday life as possible. As young as they are, my two baby boys love watching me in the kitchen when I cook, helping me sort the washing when I pack it away and going out for grocery shopping. And all the way whilst doing all of the above, I talk to them, involve them in my activities and learn them about new things, words and counting the amount of butternuts in the basket. I haven’t quite decided if that makes me a firm supporter of unschooling, but I can definitely see that working for my family.
So it’s safe to say I have completely fallen in love with being a mommy – especially a boys’ mommy. Boys just have such an overpowering way of showing love and affection. Lucky me, because I am pregnant again – and I think it is a boy!