Mummy guilt, expat style

It seems to be a given these days that being responsible for children leads to almost-constant feelings of guilt.  I’m not sure whether this has always been the case – my best guess is that it escalated when psychoanalysis-derived ideas on the childhood roots of adult problems entered popular consciousness (after all, you can’t logically blame your parents for all of your problems without also feeling responsible for all of your children’s!), and has exploded of late due to the internet being awash with heated debates on all aspects of parenting. Taken together, this means that we’re all paranoid that our children will be emotionally scarred if we put a foot wrong, and it’s hard to feel confident about getting it right when we’re never far from an adamantly expressed opinion criticising our parenting decisions.

Recently it’s dawned on me that choosing to live abroad adds an extra twist to the tendency to overanalyse and worry.  Weighing up the pros and cons in theory, it felt straightforward to accept some disruption as a reasonable price to pay for giving the children an international adventure and the chance to become multilingual, but when faced with the reality of a child missing their grandparents or friends from back home, it’s hard not to feel guilty…
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The fact that we’re living in a foreign country often fades into the background of our lives, but sometimes I’m sharply reminded of it, particularly when traditions we’ve known since childhood aren’t part of the culture here.

I was sad at the start of November when I realised the (obvious-when-you-think-about-it) fact that Luxembourgers aren’t particularly interested in Guy Fawkes’s failed attempt to blow up the English Houses of Parliament. Continue reading

“What do you miss most?”

People who ask me this generally follow it up with a Marmite joke, but I’m delighted to report that it is pretty easy to get hold of Marmite in Luxembourg – you can find it nestled between HP Sauce & golden syrup in the “world foods” aisle of most supermarkets, and if all else fails there’s always Little Britain

Here, however, is a list of things that have actually made me feel weepily homesick since we moved: Continue reading


#2 in what seems to be an accidental series of reflections on frequently asked questions: “so, are you feeling settled here yet?”

I accompanied the children on a play date today, and while chatting to the other mum this casual (and fairly standard) question got me thinking about it more deeply than usual. I don’t know whether it was the contrast between the beautifully decorated home we were standing in and our bare-walled and rather sparsely furnished lodgings, or the fact that I’d been considering the odd impacts of Luxembourg’s high proportion of expats and immigrants yesterday when writing about languages, but I started wondering what it would actually mean to feel “settled” here, and how far that is even possible for us… Continue reading