Is It Time For This Mother In France To Rentrer?

Is It Time For This Mother In France To Rentrer?

Five years ago, my husband and I packed up our Manhattan apartment and moved across the ocean to France. Our plan was to stay for two to three years and then hightail it back to the U.S. to start a family. There was no way I was going to have a baby in a foreign country! Except that I did. And we stayed. Despite my initial reticence—and bolstered by the experiences described in Bringing Up Bébé—I loved being pregnant in France. I have zero regrets, even though I only understood 60% of any doctor’s appointment throughout my pregnancy. During delivery, my husband stood by my shoulder translating, “Breathe…push…push again…okay, I’m not sure what the OB is saying but maybe push again?...Oh wait, no, don’t push! DON’T PUSH!!” Even though we had lived in France for a few years, we had difficulty making close friends. When my son was born, I realized that we couldn’t continue to operate in isolation. I needed a village....
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Juggling Expectations Of Loved Ones At Home With Responsibilities Abroad

Juggling Expectations Of Loved Ones At Home With Responsibilities Abroad

This is the fifth post in the Global Women Discuss Love, Loss, and Family Abroad series and deals with juggling family expectations and life abroad. So far in this series, we have discussed moving abroad with children, balancing careers and family,  dealing with the loss of loved ones while living abroad, and getting everyone on board before you uproot.   Mansi: Moving abroad, leaving behind things that you are comfortable and familiar with, is always tough. As if juggling your life wasn’t hard enough by itself, you must also now worry about maintaining all your relationships back home while forging new ones simultaneously. What do you do then? If you’re anything like me, you’ll have tons of friends, but may not always be as good at keeping in touch with them as you’d like to be. Especially for the strugglers out there, the first thing that I have personally found helpful is to do some mental weeding. It does sound harsh, but the unfortunate...
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I Can Admit It—My Husband Has More Fun With Our Kids

I Can Admit It—My Husband Has More Fun With Our Kids

  "Let's go down there and play," my husband grabs our daughter's hand and leads her down the bleachers of the gymnasium. Our son is playing on the other side of the gym with his classmates. I watch them as he leads her gently down the steep stairs and he instructs her to run back and forth on a painted line in her socked feet. She loves it and instantly transforms from an I'm-patiently-waiting-for-this-practice-to-end sibling into an I'm-having-so-much-fun-and-I-want-to-stay little kid. I mentally kick myself. Why didn't I think of that? It's not that I'm a wet blanket type of a mother, but I'm a rule follower, and that means that I don't always think about bending the rules. Couple my rule-following personality (which is a great cultural fit for Sweden) with a language barrier and the end result is a slightly hesitant parent. In a lot of ways, my husband reminds me of my own dad (insert your own psychological studies and "daddy complex"...
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Another Thanksgiving Holiday Abroad

Another Thanksgiving Holiday Abroad

As I hugged our friends goodbye at our front door, I heard, "Thank you so much," and, "This was wonderful," from every person as they bundled up into their jackets and slid their winter boots back onto their socked feet. Ending the night with these firm, warm, cheek-to-cheek embraces with friends new and old couldn't be a more fitting way to end the night. During each Thanksgiving we have celebrated abroad, there has been a brief respite in the chaotic day. A moment when I am quiet and I look around the room at the group of people who willingly cram into our tiny space because we asked them to share our tradition. I pause and listen. Conversations blend and weave with one another and the language shifts between English and Swedish depending on who is joining or leaving the conversation. In that brief pause of time, I am so happy and proud to continue the Thanksgiving tradition in our adopted...
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Moving Abroad With Children

Moving Abroad With Children

The fourth article in the Global Women Discuss Love, Loss, and Family Abroad series between Gabrielle of the Expat Coffee Club and a few Knocked Up Abroad Again contributors tackles moving abroad and the emotional challenges associated with these large transitions. Gabrielle: When my parents told me that we were moving, I was devastated. Despite the fact that we were not leaving the country, this move seemed like the end of the world to me. I was leaving a school that I loved, great friends, and a fun neighborhood for the complete unknown. My friends and I promised to keep in touch and see each other often, but being dependent on our parents to drive us an hour one way just so that we could see each other, such a promise quickly fell through. Although it was not a new country, it sure felt like it. The people, the language, and the culture in Quebec were all so very different from what I had known. Furthermore,...
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Balancing Careers And Family Life As An Expat

Balancing Careers And Family Life As An Expat

This post is the second in the Global Women Discuss Love, Loss, and Family Abroad series between the women of the Expat Coffee Club and Knocked Up Abroad Again. Click here to read the first set of questions and answers between the two groups of women.   Amanda: For the past three years, I have been working in the world of International Development. Since most of the work is contractual, I’ve also been doing the “long-distance thing” with my boyfriend in Canada during my last two contracts (five months in Ghana, and seven months in Bangladesh/Nepal). This time, my contract is for an entire year in Bolivia, so my boyfriend agreed to take a year off work (he’s a Chiropodist—a foot and ankle specialist) to come travel with me. We both agreed that it’s a good chance to explore the world, work on our Spanish, and live outside of Canada to learn about a new culture. I know it’s really difficult to find someone...
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Getting Everyone On Board When Uprooting Your Family

Getting Everyone On Board When Uprooting Your Family

This is the first in a series of Global Women Discuss Love, Loss, and Family Abroad articles between the two groups of women where they share their questions, fears, and possible anxieties about some of the challenges of creating a family abroad. Great things happen when women come together. Great things, therefore, happen when women collaborate to learn from each others' experiences with motherhood, love, and loss. This series brings together women from Expat Coffee Club who are near or far away from having children with the contributors to the anthology, Knocked Up Abroad Again who became mothers while living in a foreign country. Erin: There's a strange transition time in between referring to the family you grew up in as your "family" and forging a new family of your own. My new family is small, my husband and I, which makes big decisions a bit easier. Only the two of us have to be on board, which made moving away easy...
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Parenting Abroad: Freedom To Discard Unwanted Holidays

Parenting Abroad: Freedom To Discard Unwanted Holidays

Most days, I feel all alone. Geographically isolated from all that is familiar and linguistically isolated from what I know. The foreign language around me is easily tuned out and processed as white noise. It's soothing and I am alone with my thoughts. Parenting in cultural isolation can provide a new type of freedom in many ways. I have gladly discarded holidays and traditions that I never enjoyed. Without the cultural pressure to honor them, they quickly disappear. Anything that I am not willing to import myself will not get passed down to my children. It requires a lot of work to celebrate a holiday that isn't observed locally. Sorry kids, but Valentine's Day isn't going to be that important for our family. You'll survive. Some traditions, only the ones I hold near and dear to my heart, are kept. Celebrating holidays abroad is a bit like moving abroad—you discover that not so many things are important and you only take the...
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How 9 Expat Moms Celebrate (or Avoid) Halloween Abroad

How 9 Expat Moms Celebrate (or Avoid) Halloween Abroad

BY JENNIFER MALIA Though widely known as an American tradition, Halloween has been adopted by other countries around the world. In many countries, trick-or-treating, costume parties, and spooky decorations have become popular ways of celebrating Halloween. I talked to expat moms around the globe and asked them what Halloween traditions they do (or don’t do) when living abroad. Their stories take place in countries as diverse as England, Sweden, the Netherlands, South Africa, Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates. Whether you are an expat family that celebrates Halloween abroad, a family that travels for the holiday, or a family that celebrates Halloween in the US, their stories are sure to entertain you, and might even frighten you in a G-rated sort of way. Kristy Smith, The Midwestern Repatriate “I’m American, and my husband is British. We spent many years in the UK celebrating Halloween, which seems more like an addition to the local village harvest festivals than a separately adopted tradition. Some kids...
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To The Mom With The Bad Birth Experience

To The Mom With The Bad Birth Experience

BY THE KNOCKED UP ABROAD AGAIN CONTRIBUTORSTo the mom with the bad birth experience,It doesn’t matter what happened. Whether you had an underlying condition or were treated badly by your doctor or midwife. Whether the baby wasn’t doing well or whether your providers caused you considerable unnecessary stress. Whether in other words it was caused by an inherent problem with your pregnancy or something external that was out of your control. Maybe, like us, you gave birth in a foreign country, not speaking the language and not familiar with the maternity system.Maybe giving birth traumatized you. Maybe the people you trusted most let you down.It doesn’t matter because all that matters is that you’re hurting. That’s why we wrote this post: we are here for you. We want to tell you that you are not alone.We know because we’ve been there. I think most of us had a traumatic birth experience—for a large variety of reasons. Olga, for example, felt...
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