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…
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
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
Understandably, this is one of the first things I’m asked whenever I speak to people back in the UK. After all, I moved here hoping that within a couple of years the children could pick up at least one new language, and so could I. So, five months into our overseas adventure, how are we getting on? Continue reading
A few days ago I was watching the film of Dr Seuss’s The Lorax with the children when I found myself having a weird emotional reaction to it. Normally I enjoy this sweet little film with its feelgood message about the power of small actions, but suddenly its environmental values were making me feel uncomfortable. After all, when I spent the day helping the children choose and plant up tubs for the patio recently, it triggered my hayfever so much that I barely slept that night. Continue reading
Back in the UK, I didn’t have a Facebook app on my phone. My first smartphone had a frustrating tendency to run out of memory if I even considered installing it, and by the time I upgraded the phone, I’d realised that I probably didn’t have the willpower to avoid getting sucked into Facebook while with the children, so I left it off. Moving to Luxembourg felt different, though. It was easy to justify installing it on my shiny new iPhone – after all, we had (still have!) no landline here, so the phone was my one link to the outside world, to “back home”, and Facebook felt like a valid way of keeping in touch & having a comforting link to home. Continue reading