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