So we’re about to move to Mexico from the UK. If you haven’t been following this blog series then why not start at the beginning before diving in to this newest morsel?
The day of departure is swiftly approaching. Col got his temporary residency visa yesterday, which feels like a huge hurdle overcome.
I am starting to realise exactly what this means. Up to now it’s been easy to focus on the big wins: bilingual children and living in the sun, mainly. Now, I think I’m starting to see a fuller and more realistic picture.
Emigrating With Children: The Big Wins
There are obviously many reasons to emigrate with kids.
- For us, the biggest win is that our kids will be bilingual. We keep reminding them that they’ll be grateful for this one day. For now though, they prefer to tell us they only like English and that they don’t care about Spanish. Pretty sure that they’ll love being able to tell us they hate us in Spanish AND English when they’re older. They will be grateful one day…right?
- We are convinced that growing up with feet in two cultures is what we call A Good Thing. They’ll be just as comfortable hanging out with mates in a dark and chilly park as they will going to quinciñeras (15th birthday party, as important in Mexico as an 18th party is in the UK).
- Kids who see more than their own culture surely wind up as more aware adults. For us it is so very important that our kids understand about cultural differences and that they’re able to live and work in different societies.
- We are taking our kids to an incredibly diverse and exciting country in a region of the world that has so much to offer and to explore. While they may not get to visit Paris or Berlin as often as they would were we staying in the UK, they still have plenty of culturally rich cities and countries at their fingertips.
- Instead of playing in parks at the weekend, they’ll be frolicking in cenotes, on the beach and in the jungle.
But Is It All About The Wins?
No. Clearly there are negatives to leaving your home country, for everyone involved. Our kids are quite concerned about leaving their schools. Both are in incredible institutions, one in an ‘outdoor urban’ preschool, and the other in a pretty liberal state primary. We couldn’t be happier with their education at the moment.
(‘But there’s more to education than the school‘ – practically a mantra in our house at the moment)
Friends. We’ve been pretty blasé about leaving until now. Both my husband and I have lived abroad and travelled for extended periods, together (we even have a rudimentary blog – ceeingtheworld, from a six month trip together in 2010) and before we met. Neither of us is a stranger to packing up and heading off for an adventure. Heck, it’s probably what we love best about each other and I suspect we egg each other on. But this time it feels different.
It might be different.
We know we don’t want to come back any time soon. We have incredible friends: those we met as kids, at university, through jobs, through NCT, through having kids and living nearby and all those others who we are lucky enough to have in our lives. We risk losing them. Yeah sure, facebook and instagram (mexicocassie, in case you’re interested!) mean we can keep up with each other’s lives-ish but I am busy realising how much I’m going to miss my people.
We’ll make new friends, in fact we already have some good friends in Mérida but I will really miss some of the great friends I have here. We have issued a genuine open invitation to everyone but realistically, we know so many will never make it. So fingers crossed we don’t lose our UK based friends.
I’ll Have To Change
It has been occurring to me in dribs and drabs that while I’m super excited to get away from things I don’t like in the UK (cold and damp winters, racism, Brexit, the government) there will certainly be things about Mexico I won’t love. No country is perfect, clearly. So what do I already see that I’ll have to change in order to fit in better in Mexico?
- My obsession with punctuality – I just can’t help it. I’m always on time. No, scrap that, I’m always early. And much as it annoys me here when my friends are late, I know Mexico is going to be worse because no one seems to expect anything to happen on time, ever.
- My inability to walk slowly – When I worked with street kids in Rwanda, the kids gave me a nickname. They called me ‘the general’ because apparently I marched everywhere rather than walking normally. I’d probably argue this point. I might walk a little bit fast but to be fair to me, Rwandans in my small town practically crawled, they walked so slowly. I don’t think my legs could ever go that slowly!
- My love of planning the shit out of life – In my opinion, a successful social life in London basically means organising the shit out of everything. If your diary isn’t planned for about three months in advance then you just aren’t winning at life. I appreciate that not everyone feels this way but I genuinely don’t understand these people. We have family to see, friends to meet up with and excursions to take and even the odd day of family time to put in the diary. I just asked my closest friend in Mérida if she and her family are free to see us the weekend after we arrive. She laughingly told me that they never plan in advance (but yes).
- My hardcore feminism – I’ll never stop being a feminist but I suspect I’m going to have to find different ways to explain feminism to people. Six months in Mexico taught me that many there think of feminists as women who hate men and are probably lesbians (oh, the number of arguments I had in broken Spanish!). Not only that, but I know we’re going to have to an uphill battle to keep our kids on what we consider to be the ‘straight and narrow’ when it comes to equality between the sexes. Thus far, our small girl is a feisty little thing who has little time for princesses or being delicate, and that is how I’d like to keep her. I also expect our small boy to remain strongly feminist in his understanding of the world. This is so important to me I even branched out of my usual travel chatter to write about it in articles for my own blog ‘Rebel Girls’ and Raising Feminist Boys and in The Huffington Post How Do We Teach Our Children About Consent?
- Strict bedtimes for the kids – here in the UK, most small kids are in bed between 7pm and 8pm and ours are no exception. We were in Mexico for six months earlier this year and we never managed to figure out how Mexican families do it. The kids are up super early as school starts at 7.30am, no one seems to have a siesta and then the kids are up until 9pm or 10pm. I see sense in the early to rise and late to bed if there is a siesta happening, but if there isn’t then surely you just wind up with exhausted kids? Last time we were there we’d have the kids in the local playground around 5.30pm for half an hour before supper (which we also never managed to get on to Mexican timings). We’d be leaving just as everyone else was arriving.
Is It A Compromise Or A Massive Freaking Adventure?
Maybe both. Sure we will miss some things and some people but we don’t know yet exactly what we’re gaining. This could be the best damn thing we’ve ever done. I might write a best selling novel because a muse wallops me in the back while I’m sunbathing by my very own pool, or Col might design the best app known to human kind. Who knows?
And that’s the point, right? No one knows. But whatever this awesome adventure throws at us, we’re ready. ¡Estamos listos!