Monday, December 27, 2010

Confessions of an Expat Mom: Resisting the Urge to Compare

Everything I read as a new mom told me not to compare my child to others. And I've been pretty good overall about realizing that each baby develops at their own rate.

But what I didn't realize about being a mom AND an expat is that it's not just the development issue that tempts us to compare.

It's also our living situations.

It might be about what kind of flat you live in, what type of car you drive (or if you don't have a car), where you're able to shop, what you can afford, how many times a year you're able to fly home for a visit...

Because you meet people of all kinds when you live in a place like Egypt. You might meet oil executives, teachers, American diplomatic workers, people serving in roles of all kinds, foreign women married to Egyptians, people with money and people without, people who've been here for years and others who just arrived...

Some people are happy and well-adjusted. Others are not.

And regardless of where you fit into this list, you might look at someone else and think how easy of a life they've got or how hard your life is. Or you might look at them and realize how easy you've got it.

Either way, I encourage you to resist the urge to compare. 

We all have something unique to offer that no one else has. We all have a mission in life to fulfill. Your family is special, regardless of what you have and don't have.

Don't let it become a barrier for you. Don't let it keep you from making friends with people who are different than you. Don't let it cripple your lifestyle to the point where you can't leave the house. Go out and experience new things.

Honestly this isn't just an issue for expat moms. We all need a little reminder to keep our heads up and our eyes from judging.

Because call me crazy but I find that no matter how sad a story someone has there always seems to be a sadder story that's out there.

This might seem trivial but if you're stuck taking taxis everywhere and wish you could have a car. Well, maybe you'll meet someone who's hauling around 2 kids (and not just 1) across town in a taxi (a black-and-white one, no less) on a regular basis. Or maybe you'll meet another expat family with three little girls all under the age of four who can't afford a car.

Kind of puts things into perspective, doesn't it? I whine about things sometimes and then I meet someone who makes me look at my life. And then I kick myself for ever thinking I've got it so hard.

And if you're frustrated because you can't find Cheerios at the 10th place you've looked. Or the right kind of soy formula your baby needs because he's lactose intolerant. Or that brand of diapers you always use for your infant.

Well, unfortunately sometimes things don't go the way we want them to. And no matter how well we plan when we live abroad, something always happens to throw everything off.

But the worst thing you can do in a time like that is let it get to you. Please, for my sake, don't let it get you down.

You never know what tomorrow will bring. Tomorrow is a brand new day. And tomorrow you're sure to discover something new that you'd never find in your home country.

Being an expat isn't easy. Being a mom isn't easy. Just get through today and see what tomorrow has in store for you.

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