US. Just typing those words is amazing to me and even more amazing is how far I’ve come from those early days.
When my mummy friends ask me for advice with their infants, I sometimes find myself drawing a blank because I simply can’t remember what I did to get myself through those first 12 months of baby hell. The colic, the teething, the sleepless nights…it’s all a blur now my boys are almost school age.
And it’s the same when I think back to the days when I first moved to Maryland.
Emotionally I remember that time. Oh boy, do I remember. Excitement, loneliness, anxiety were all daily feelings.
But ask me what I actually did to cope with those feelings, the strategies I put in place to combat homesickness,
boredom and feelings that I may have made a big mistake and it’s hard to come up with any answers.
(Not something I should be admitting on a website created partly to help ex-pats, but hey, it’s the truth.)
Maybe, like those traumatic new mummy days, I’ve subconsciously suppressed that time in my life. And who could blame me.
First, there was the fact I’d left a well-paying job with great prospects. Then, the realization I would be residing in an area with no friends or immediate family nearby. Not to mention my new environment was a like a suburban ghost town to me, with a practically non-existent public transport system. A big set-back seeing as we only had one car at the time which my husband used for work. And even if I did manage to catch the small bus that operated at random times from random places, I had no one to visit. Life was pretty dismal there for a minute.
And then I got pregnant. Add baby blues, moments of depression and sleep deprivation and you’ve got one stressed
I remember regularly staring out the window, with a crying baby in my arms, watching women across the street get into their cars and go somewhere…anywhere. Most likely on a mundane errand to get dry cleaning but to me they may as well have been international jet-setters off to a power meeting. The point is they had an agenda, people to see, things to do and a second vehicle that allowed them to do it.
I remember spending hours researching my new neighbourhood, trying to find an activity, group or organization that would interest me and help with the quest to get out of the house and make friends. I refused to believe that a local bird-watchers club, quilting circle and bingo night was all my new town had to offer.
I can recall saying daily prayers, asking for a non-crazy, friend to be sent my way. Someone I could bond and have
It’s very hard to meet people in a new town. If you’re lucky you might bump into a smiling face coming off the
treadmill at the gym, or strike up a conversation with someone browsing the same section at the library or bookstore.
Of course finding a church home is always a great start. But, more often than not, these kinds of friendships are not
organic and rarely turn into long-lasting ones.
After joining the gym and the library and attending a neighbours Tupperware party, I still felt hopeless.
Until I found a local mums group. To say that group was a lifesaver is an understatement.
With the bond of motherhood in common, I was finally able to ‘exhale’ with some like-minded women, ask for advice, find a shopping partner and get recommendations for a decent hairdresser in the area.
Things slowly got better once we got another car and the area became a little more familiar to me. Most importantly
once I realized I wasn’t the worst mother in the world.
And as much as I may have questioned my choice to move I have never regretted it. I did it for love and cherish the
family I now have.
So, I suppose if I think back hard enough I can identify ways in which I took control of my situation and tried to make a life for myself.
One thing I know for sure, moping around waiting for excitement or friends to come your way is pointless.
Relocating, especially if it’s to a non-English speaking country, forces you to be proactive, outgoing and resilient. It’s one of the bravest things you can do. And I suppose that’s the simplest strategy I can share when people ask me how I did it. I found my inner super woman and got through it, one day at a time, even if I didn’t realize it back