I am not going to complain. I love my life in the UK with Grumpy Boyfriend and Baba. I am a very independent woman. When I decided to land in London 8 years ago with two (massive) suitcases, I didn’t look behind me and what I was going to leave.
My mum always told me to do my life and not take decisions for my family but for myself. I am barely homesick. Of course, sometimes I see a beautiful French movie or I read a good book from my favourite author and I wish I was back into the Frenchie land for a moment. But it never lasts. My life is in London. I love it this way and I would not change it for anything.
But since having a baby, being an expat mum has its hard moments. There is no time when I am on the phone to my mum that I don’t feel guilty. Coupable because my decision to leave abroad means that my family can’t see my son on a regular basis. Of course, there is Skype. And we go back there at least twice a year.
But every time I talk to my mum, I can feel the sadness in her voice not to have her petit-fils with her or being able to give him a big cuddle right now if she wanted to.
A typical guilt moment happened a couple of weeks ago. My mum is rubbish with computers (that’s probably why I am too!). Her internet is always slow or there is something wrong with her tablet. She lives in the countryside, in a very boring place. That’s probably one of the reasons why I escaped to London in the first place! So when we arrange to do a session on Skype, it’s always a mission.
Two weeks ago, she was visiting my brother, who happens to have both a good internet connection and some brains to work out Skype! So I jumped on the occasion and we promised to talk together. De plus, I could also see my brother and my niece. I was really looking forward to it! Time arranged at 6pm.
I knew that Grumpy Boyfriend’s auntie was visiting us that day, but it was my only chance in a long time to talk to my mum and show her how Baba changed. I also imagined that la tatie anglaise would have left us by then. To cut short a long story, the conversation carried on and basically, the auntie was still there at 6pm. I texted my mum and said it would be fine. I was sure that Auntie would understand if we skyped while she was at home. But my mum didn’t want to bother. ‘We will do it another time. Don’t worry’. And it didn’t happen. Another occasion missed.
I was gutted and angry. Auntie sees Baba every fortnight and my mum barely has a chance to witness him growing. And then the guilt. I should have arranged it another time… Or should I have pushed for it?
Next time I talked to my mum, she was saying how fast Baba was growing up (I always send her some pictures and videos so that’s she doesn’t miss that much). Again, I could feel a bit of sadness in her voice. It was clear she would have loved being here to share those moments.
But that’s the harsh reality of being an expat mum. Your family doesn’t get to see your kiddies as much as they should. And I feel bad about it. It’s my decision to have left my country and somehow, I feel like I am punishing my family, especially my mum. I am certain that she would love to see Baba more often. Even if we are not that far geographically, we have our own lives and we can’t visit each other every month.
And yes, we have Skype and other wonders, but it’s not the same… And when I send my mum some pictures, she sees him changing into a nice toddler. But the milestone she sees on the photos are more important moments she missed: the first time he rolled over, the one we went to the park when he was starting on solid food. And I feel bad about it. It’s like I punished my family.
Who wants to have grandchildren they can’t see whenever they feel like it? Who wants to see their daughter coping on her own with a newborn while she is still healing from the birth?
I am not complaining. I am very lucky to have Grumpy Boyfriend’s family to be here and support us when we need. They are great, to say the least. And I have many friends that I can count on as well. They are the reasons why I don’t feel like I need to join a playgroup. I have them and it’s enough. They might not all be mamans, but they get me and I am happy this way.
It’s just that I feel like I am the worst daughter on earth sometimes… Hopefully, Baba will fully embrace his Frenchie side. And even if he doesn’t see his French family on a daily basis, he will still feel part of this gang!
How is it for your folks who live far away from your family? Do you feel guilty that your relatives don’t spend much time with your children?