I meet so many cool moms! This series gives them a chance to share their stories – to inspire others and to sometimes give us all a chuckle.
Parenting is not for cowards and parenting abroad can be next level. If you want to share your story, please get it touch with me. I’d love to feature you.
Jane is a friend, fellow Expat Coach and the founder of “The Menopausal Expat”. Originally from the UK she now lives in Mexico. Someday we’re going to meet in real life, eat Mexican food, drink cerveza and laugh till we pee our pants. In the meantime, we all get to read her story:
How did you get to where you are today?
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
I met my Mexican husband José at Argentine Tango classes in Leeds, UK. After years of living a single life I found myself falling in love. We married roughly a year after we met. And had a son Eduardo about 9 months later. I was 44 and Jose was 39 and both of us felt the parenting ship had sailed for us. We felt a little sad but could also imagine we’d live a life for us, travelling, tasting fine champagne and lazy days spent in bed. But instead our dream came true: and we got a funny little fire cracker who kept us awake, filled our hearts full of love, and sleep deprived the pair us in ways we never knew were possible.
We lived in the UK until Eduardo was 4 when a job opportunity came up for José back in Mexico – ‘yes, let’s do it!’ and here we are. Literally the decision was kind of fast.
What did you want to be “when you grow up”?
How is that different from today’s reality?
In the early days, I mean like when I was 8 / 9 years old, a prison officer, partly because my mum watched a TV series called ‘within these walls’ and I thought it was cool but also because I was bullied a lot at school and thought I could lock them all up and give them what they deserved. I kind of stumbled into the arts through community theatre and mostly my professional life has been working in the arts sector.
What advice would you give your younger self?
“Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth” this is from Baz Luhrman’s – ‘Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen’. The song was written using an essay by Mary Schmich who was a columnist with the Chicago Tribune. Most things in it resonate with me as an adult thinking about myself as a younger person who didn’t actually feel powerful.
What was the best advice you ever got?
“If you’re going to have a child with a man, make sure you like him, because whether you stay with him or not, you’re going to have to have a relationship with him for the rest of your life”. (obviously this is not always the case but it stayed with me)
What element (of your culture) do you wish to pass on to your kids and how do you do it?
Humour – I know not everyone gets, or even thinks, British humour is funny but it’s an essential part of my DNA. So, I do joke a lot with my son, watch British programmes and movies. I’ve got to have someone to play with!
When did you first hear the term Third Culture Kids (TCKs) or Cross Cultural Kids (CCKs)? What did you think of it?
Honestly, only when I moved abroad and even now I see him as a Two Culture Kid as he’s in his dad’s country. I resonate more with cross cultural.
What’s the one thing you are thrilled your child will have or be by growing up as CCK?
I am so proud he has two languages that are both his first languages and that he understands two cultures. I love that he has an awareness that things are different for different people.
What worry around parenting keeps you awake at night?
Right now he’s very focused on wanting to be in the UK and I can’t do that for him. That keeps me awake and thinking longer term where he will see as home. Will he stay here in Mexico, or want to go the UK and how that will work for him?
Where have you had culture clashes around raising kids abroad - with teachers, your partner or your mother-in-law?
It isn’t a clash as such but something I’ve struggled with more is that kids here often go to bed very late and from my background there’s an emphasis on getting a good long nights sleep. This has been one of the things I’ve battled with my son about. He’s getting older now so it’s less of an issue.
Do you have a favorite food or drink from your time abroad that has become a family staple?
We love traditional Mexican food, we’ve learnt to cook more of it since moving. However my son is more interested in gravy, mash potato and stews – all the traditional British foods. So, we have to compromise a lot!
What traditions or rituals from your host countries have you adopted in your family?
The main one would be Dia De Los Muertos, which is a celebration of our dead loved ones. This is one of the ways we bring to life my son’s grandparents. It’s a lovely time, I tell him stories about them, show their photos to him and he always asks a lot of questions about them.
Note: Jane wrote about this celebration in a previous post.
If you had a magic wand, what would you change about your globally mobile life?
I would have more funds to be able to travel back to the UK on a regular basis.
Share a traveling-with-kids moment - crazy, scary, heartwarming, got lost, best trip ever...
José and Eduardo are real water babies. When we first moved here we did a trip to the beach and to see my tiny 4 year coming out of the water in a snorkel grinning was just the best. He’s kind of fearless in water so it’s both a good and nerve racking thing. But yes, the beach times always.