Motherhood is the greatest challenge of my life. Being a parent escapes all verbal descriptions. We can try to use some commonly accepted definitions, but nothing will capture the depth of the word “mother”. And when we add living abroad, we could write the whole book. I am not going to write a book here, but I will gather some thoughts about my mothering abroad.
I emigrated by choice. Not for work, not for love. It was just my idea for my life at that time. My caprice. (In Polish “caprice” means “kaprys”, as in the name of my website Kaprysy Eli. 😉
My paths led through The Netherlands, a short episode on Cyprus, Denmark and now Spain. Our plan is to end the European wandering here.
I’m happy with my decision. Living abroad has contributed a lot to my life. Friendships, work experience, breakups and returns. And Kaprys was almost always at my side. I left him with my family when I went to Cyprus because it was very difficult logistically. Well, it always was, but…
When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
Nevertheless, life abroad has its pros and cons. Like everything. The biggest downside is probably loneliness. The loneliness that envelops you before you develop social circles.
I love being a mother. Sometimes I have a moment of wonder, “Wow, I am actually someone’s mum!” Pregnancy, birth, first steps, first words and first teeth. I am moved when I review these moments in my mind. Sometimes I look at my son and I melt away from love.
But motherhood is not a glazed cake. It’s also an enormous range of emotions and an unimaginable source of stress. This kind of stress that concerns another human being. It’s about your man, who until a certain moment is completely dependent on you. And then he gains more and more independence, which doesn’t lessen the worries even a bit.
Everyone is different, everyone has different experiences that have shaped him. We also have different dreams and different resources. My situation is that in the place where I live I have no family (except for the three of us, of course), and a group of friends is just starting to develop.
It looks like I’ve been spending most of my day with my son for almost four years. Our choice was not to send him to the nursery. At the age of three, he started attending Spanish kindergarten, but only for 5 hours a day. Moreover, at the beginning of the year, a flood hit our area, so classes were cancelled. Then, there were holidays or illness, and finally a coronavirus. The school will not open its doors until next year. That gives me already four years at home with a child.
And now I will start complaining.
Complaints of the mother abroad
My baby is the most wonderful child in the world. (Do all mothers think so?) But sometimes I miss someone who could take care of him so I could go shopping alone, ride a bike, meet a friend for coffee, or go on a date with my husband-non-husband. I can only afford such craziness when my grandparents visit us. Or we visit them.
My child is almost four years old. Generally, a golden kid. But there are times when his ideas leave me totally stunned. Will it really only get worse? Will these ideas get more sophisticated with age?
So far, probably the best thing he’s come up with is how he locked himself in the house. We were in the garden and I prohibited him to do something. So he went inside and locked the door with a key. This situation made me laugh more than angry because I knew we could enter the house from the other side. So there was no fear that he wouldn’t be able to open it, or that he wouldn’t want to and we would have to sleep outside. 😛
Do kids ever stop yelling and moaning? I know, such little kids can’t handle their emotions yet, so they scream and beat. And sometimes I have a lot of patience to face Tomasz’s anger, but sometimes I just have enough. And I feel so tired. I would like a holiday. Just one day.
And now this whole lockdown. In Spain, we’ve been locked up in the houses for over a month. Until then I was spending most of the day with Tomasz anyway, but those few hours in the kindergarten were like a short breath for me. (And not even from the beginning, because the adaptation was slow and painful). And when he just began to like going to the kindergarten and the birthday parties started, Corona has broken out. He was quite happy. His head got stuck on, “I don’t want to go to kindergarten!” I was a little bit happy too because we’ve been under a lot of stress about this kindergarten. I hoped his emotions would calm down. And next year he’ll be older, he already knows what it’s like to be at school, so it should be better, right? So, it was a little bit like that, I mean, he was calmer. But… how much can you sit at home!? So anger comes into our house systematically.
I find help in the blogs where mothers admit they feel the same. That sometimes they scream, that sometimes they have enough and that screaming and beating are normal behaviour of a child at that age.
I do not accept violence. Spanking is just a milder name for beating. Screaming is also violence. And that’s why I always get remorse afterwards. But… I’m only a human. I’ve got my limits, and four years at home basically alone with a baby is not an easy thing.
I should mention here that my husband-non-husband’s help is irreplaceable. I can count on him and he takes an active part in family life. But someone has to work. So we spend most of the day without him.
It would be good to add something optimistic here. Well, I see such the advantage in lonely parenting that I have more control over upbringing. As far as any control is concerned… I mean, it is different when a child stays with grandparents, aunts or uncles. They may have completely different views on upbringing than we do, they may respect our principles, but they may also introduce their own. We can fight against it (e.g. stuffing a child with chocolate), but when we are not there, we lose control.
Yes, yes, yes… Staying with someone other than mom and dad also has many advantages. Probably more than disadvantages. For both the baby and the parents. But I don’t have such possibilities, so I’m looking for the pros of what I have.
You can have various ideas about motherhood. You can have very precisely defined educational methods. You can have so much advice for the parents. And you can judge women, whose children, or even themselves, are yelling. Till you become a mother yourself.
At the end, I leave you with a great pedagogue whose timeless wisdom is worth knowing.
Before he welcomed the inhospitable world, confusion and limitations had already crept into the family life. The short months of long-awaited joy have broken down irretrievably.
A long period of severe infirmity ends with illness and pain, restless nights and overprogrammed expenses. Disturbed calm, broken order, unbalanced budget.
Along with the sour smell of diapers and the penetrating cry of the newborn baby, the chain of marital bondage resounded.
The burden, when it is impossible to communicate, all must be guessed. We wait, maybe even patiently.
When he finally speaks and walks – he gets tangled up, he moves everything, he looks into every corner, he is just so disturbing and the order is spoiled by a little sloppy despot.
He does harm, opposes our wise will, demands and understands only what suits him.
One should not underestimate trifles: a grudge against children consists of a waking up too early, and a crumpled newspaper, a stain on the dress and wallpaper, a soaked carpet, broken binocles and a commemorative vase, spilt milk and perfume and the doctor’s fee.
He doesn’t sleep when we want him to, he eats not the way we want him to, we thought he would laugh, but he cries. And he’s fragile, if not overlooked, threatens to get sick, the beginning of new difficulties.
If one forgives, the other one accuses, apart from the mother, the opinion about the child is made by the father, a nanny, a maid, a neighbour – and punishes him against the mother or in secret.
A small intriguer is sometimes the cause of friction and acidity of adults, always someone reluctant and offended. For the indulgence of one, the child is responsible to another. Often apparent goodness is unintelligible negligence, the child is responsible for other people’s guilt.
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