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old ways, new ways, red ways, blue ways

Monday, October 26, 2009

old ways, new ways, red ways, blue ways =
the way i feel right now about what i guess could be called parental culture shock.

it's the confusion and ambivalence i feel after moving continents, changing languages, leaving jobs, modifying lifestyles, and packing and unpacking and packing and unpacking. and packing. and unpacking.

the background:

taking advantage of my year of partially paid maternity leave, my argentinian partner and i and our two little guys left toronto in november and moved here, to a beautiful little town in argentina, with a lovely beach on the river, monkeys and toucans in the trees, and alligators and piranhas in the ponds.

we came here thinking that it would be for about 2 years - a chance for f. to get some good professional experience, for the kids to have the jungle and the river as their playground, for me to brainstorm my future.

then, the plan was (is?) to pack up our family, our belongings and our newly acquired experience and ideas once again and make one final move to The Place We Will Settle Down. a destination still unknown, but it would be in argentina, more cosmopolitan and progressive than macondo, more green space and sanity than buenos aires.

the situation:

for a while, the beauty, tranquility and macondo-esqueness of this place helped to make it feel transitory. easy to enjoy splashing with the kids in the river, reading in my hammock, having a chuckle at the local absurdities and shrugging my shoulders at the inconveniences and objectionables.

now we've been here for 8 months. i've learned that change is not easy for our now 3.5-year-old monster. i've learned it the hard way, as we struggled through several months of his utter unhappiness and our total misery. thankfully, he is a sparkling, yummy, brilliant and hilarious monster, who muddled through all the harsh changes we foisted upon him and has emerged a loving, playful and happy little guy.

i will write more soon about the monster, about how he has adapted to life here, and about how we struggled with his transition - forgetting, or not trusting, that it would all probably turn out ok.

but his difficulties with change have us wondering about when and how we will move again. it won't be easy.

i know we won't stay here forever, but now that we're here for a while - actually living here, not backpacking, not on a year's leave, not with any other 'home' for my kids to attach to - i am starting to really try to figure out how to make it 'home'. what is my place here?

i've travelled a lot, lived in different countries, been in relationships with people from other places who spoke other languages. i've been pretty good, i would say, at going with the flow, respecting local customs, modifying my expectations, while not compromising myself or losing sight of who i am.

but this whole parenting thing throws a wrench into that. there are some things i just don't want to be laid back about, some things i am not willing to embrace, others i am not willing to let go of. my kids are actually growing up here, so i have to figure out what those things are, and what on earth i can do about it.

the plan:

okay, so all that is a very wordy introduction that i want to follow up on in a series of future posts about my parental culture shock, exploring some of the differences between canada and argentina, between big city and small town, between my childhood and my kids' childhoods.

topics will include (eventually, there's no rush - right?):
- argentina-time (10pm dinner; no bedtime (gasp!))
- dealing with lice & parasites
- angst about hiring some help around the house
- teaching diversity
- food, snacks, sugar, organics
- insisting on bilingualism
- can you believe that they (meaning moms or the hired help) IRON the kids' t-shirts??

stay tuned!

the plea:
by the way, i've just added the new 'followers' gadget to my footer. i warmly invite you all to become macondo watchers...


Anonymous said...

I just stumbled on your blog & I like it a lot! You're good at writing about the cultural/national differences.

Without knowing much of anything about your personal situation, could I suggest Mendoza as a great "Place to Settle Down" in Argentina? I lived there for 5 months (wish it were longer :) and I promise you it's big enough to feel cosmopolitan (plenty to do), relatively progressive from what I could tell, and WAY more green & sane than BsAs. Wide streets lined by trees, quiet plazas everywhere, a huge park near el centro. I think it would be a great place to settle down ... I could certainly see myself living there for a longer time, & I wish I could go there now.

macondo mama said...

hi - thanks for commenting!
i should check out mendoza, it hasn't really been on my radar. i'm pretty infatuated with montevideo, without knowing it very well (yeah, i know it's not argentina, but pretty close...)and we've also tossed around the idea of rosario. but mendoza might be a great option. thanks for sharing...

The Golden Papaya said...

So interested to see what you have to say about the upcoming topics.
Our situation is kind of similar in Brazil, although I think we'll end up back in the States eventually.
Moving is harder on the kids than I might have allowed myself to think, though, especially our 3.5-yr old, too.

Hobo Mama said...

I can't wait. I was just talking with my husband about how much our minds broaden when our worldviews are challenged. In Spanish class, I first heard of families eating dinner at 10 p.m., and my reaction was something like: Huh-wha? But, but...that's not possible. That's after bedtime.

Anyway, looking forward to more moments like that...

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