When I started my Instagram account, back in March, I had no idea what an amazing, kind and caring community of mothers (and fathers) was out there. I have met so many sweet and inspiring moms over the past couple of months. They live all over the world, either working moms like myself or stay at home moms. Seasoned moms with multiple kids or new time mamas. They are all so different and yet we also share a lot of things in common. For starters, we are all sleep deprived and trying to balance being a mom with everything else in life. But the most important thing we all share is the love we feel for our children. Today I would love for you to meet Emily. She is a Texas mama, living in Sweden, with her husband – whom she met in Turkey – and their daughter Lily. Enjoy!
As I try to write this I am awakened by my toddler. I go in and we do our thing, and hopefully she’ll relax and mommy can either stare at the screen some more or continue to write this little story for you.
Nope, she wakes up again.
That is ok, because there is a certain word that comes to mind. A key word that is constantly thrown at me in my various google searches and in the well-intended advice from friends in mommy groups on facebook. You may know this word, too. Temporary.
It’s alllll temporary.
Our high-need, attached, fussy little one won’t always be this sensitive, and also won’t always need to be rocked and sung to and, most often, nursed back to sleep. This realization is both a relief and crushing. There’s comfort in knowing we may have easier days ahead as she becomes less needy and there’s a chance I may actually get a full night of sleep. At the same time, knowing that she may not need me as much does make me selfishly want to slow down time a little bit and let her remain the sweet 17 month old that she is a little while longer.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
So how did I end up halfway across the world? I get that question a LOT. I always reply, ”Do you want the short answer or the long one?” (I’m still working on both, so bear with me!)
Get to know World Mama Naomi from Bonaire!
Flashback to when I was 22 and a fresh college graduate who decided to move to Istanbul for a 10 month teaching gig. Yes, only ten months. Little did I know I’d fall in love, throw my original semi -plan out the window and decide to just let life happen. From Texas to Turkey and then the very beautiful yet very cold Sweden. Oh, my life has changed drastically and in the most wonderful ways since moving to Sweden! Within three years I became engaged, married, pregnant. I gave birth (naturally), became a semi-crunchy attached parent and we bought a car, house, and business. That (and more) are all gold nuggets from the last three years – where my relationships blossomed and so many of life’s precious moments happened. Boom, boom, boom. “Yes!” “I do.” “It’s a girl!” and more.
So here I am, now nearly 30, running daily after a crazy, happy, little monkey of a toddler and trying to get at least a few minutes of quality time with my husband when neither of us are too exhausted to have a normal conversation that lasts more than 5 minutes. Why are we so tired? I keep wondering, Are other parents this tired? Is it because of some of the choices we have made with our child-rearing? Am I doing something wrong? How can I be better? I mean, at a recent fika Lily was so hyper the other Swedish kid there could barely contain himself in his lagom state and laughed so hard he cried. I mean, should I google “calm Swedish children” and then translate whatever I get my hands on? Because yes, google and google translate have become close friends of mine over the years. (Just look up the words from above “lagom” and “fika” to see for yourself.)
Well, whether it’s in regard to parenting or living a more Swedish way, these questions are never-ending. One observation I have made in the last year and a half: parenting is definitely not as easy when you don’t have a village. I do have a village, they just don’t happen to be nearby unless you count facetime. I do have a very eager and helpful father-in-law. Somewhere between our English-Swedish-Turkish, that gets mixed up as we communicate with each other, Lily is looked after safely (thankfully). I am thankful for him, and for my far away friends and family who do the best they can with the touch of a button.
But I do still look around me and I often am left wondering how these other Swedes seem to have their stuff, for lack of another word, together. IS it because they have a village and we don’t? Are their priorities different? Do I need a better grasp at their whole “lagom” way of life after all? Or.. is my grasp mostly fine and I just need to embrace our differences, the life we chose, and breathe a little, taking each day one at time with a little more confidence and determination than the day before? Yes. That one. It’s a good reminder for every parent!
Kari has said this in one of her columns and I could not agree more – you are the best expert on YOUR child. This reaffirms that I should remain strong in the choices we have made if they help Lily thrive. Even if those methods may not be the typical way here, or anywhere for that matter. So Lily. Sweet and fierce Lily Rose. She is an extremely happy, very energetic girl who is almost always in a good mood and if she is not, she will let you know. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to get it. Bless her. And bless my husband for going along for the ride as we “do” life day by day and hope for the best. His support has been amazing and I appreciate him more than he knows.
I know there are a lot of things that I can learn from the Swedish people and self improvement is definitely always important. Even with time I may never be fully Swedish and that’s ok, too. I’m just trying to be me, no matter where I live, and right now my biggest priorities? They are both in the other room asleep.
Thank you for reading the rambling thoughts of a sleep deprived mom who is doing her best to follow her instincts without much of a village in a far, distant land where she’s still wrapping her head around the culture with the ones she loves. I absolutely love our life here. Other than the distance, I wouldn’t have it any other way.