Last week, I wrote about building mama confidence. A big reason this topic has proved important to me is that I became a mother in a foreign country where my confidence has been especially put to the test. Without my tried and true tribe, and family nearby, I've had to navigate some tough mothering terrain at times. Some of the voyage has led to insight.
Five Things I've Learned from Becoming an Expat Mother In Chile
As for the what not to do in Rome... well, long story short, Chile has a lot of lovely qualities, but its national relationship to birth and conscious parenting are not included. With great joy, I've found my little pocket of naturally-minded mamas leading a movement, but that took some doing (see Find your Tribe for more on that!). This country reportedly has the highest cesarean rate in the world (90% in private hospitals, the same ones that generally prohibit rooming-in, have no water birth facilities and liberally induce labor with synthetic oxytocin), has very few homebirth midwives, has a general population that considers powdered "milk" in a can superior or at least as good as breastmilk, pierce their baby girl's ears in the hospital directly after birth (as well as shave their heads), and usually nurse their babies for only six months. So, these parts of my "Rome" I've forsworn, naturally. Luckily, I can play the "gringa" card and just politely explain that this (extended nursing, cloth diapers, not piercing ears at birth, etc.) is just part of my culture. Since most of my mothering inclination come from experiencing my clan of mother friends in Boulder, Colorado, this is absolutely true. Pleading "tourist" or "outsider" can be helpful when the natives are challenging your e. ve. ry. move. Also good to not jump on the chance to explain to said natives why my way is better. I just try find the most graceful way around the local customs I consciously choose to forgo, and carry on.
This realization has spurred me to think harder about choices that affect our future as a family. I used to move like I could make it work wherever I was, however things were arranged. Now, I look at my daughter and my relationship and ask, "What will give us the best, most joy-filled, easeful life most naturally?" This is about conditions, generally. We just completed a move to a more family-friendly and progressive town in Chile to better answer this. I'm so happy for the move.
What about you? Are you reading this from a country your weren't raised in? What things have you learned as an expat mom? I'm still learning and I'd love to hear your thoughts!