Is there an expat superhero in your life?
I actually had a short-lived Wonder Woman when I was about 5. I would try to dress like her and twirl round the back garden in tiny shorts and welly boots with a dressing gown belt tied round my forehead. It took me several more years, but eventually I realised, that the real Wonder Woman was right there watching me all along.
She was the one cooking my superhero tea or plastering my knee when I tripped over my Wonder Woman Wellies. My brilliant mum, who, just to spice things up a bit, faced all sorts of additional parenting challenges thrown at her by expat life.
There was endless carpooling to hockey matches, refereeing play dates and trying to help with spelling tests and homework all in a language she didn’t know very well.
There was trying to whip up palatable meals for us picky children from ingredients or instructions labelled entirely in Thai or Japanese. It was only once she cooked sausages, not realising that, in addition to the general packaging, each sausage was further wrapped in it’s own individual chemical plastic jacket. That meal was a bit of a disaster, but it was the exception rather than the rule.
During those tricky boarding school years she made time pretty much every day for years to sit down and write letters or postcards even if there was nothing more to report what they’d had for dinner and what the weather was like.
Then every half term she would step off the plane after a 30+ hour journey, do a round trip to pick my brother and I up from our respective schools. Instead of then succumbing to jet lag, she would, for example, drive for miles along snowy country roads at the crack of dawn every morning so that I could take soil temperature readings for my A-Level geography micro climate project.
Even now that we are the expats, she will visit fully overloaded with boxes of Shreddies (a much loved breakfast cereal) or special coffee or whatever awkward-to-pack or cheeky last minute request we throw at her. Dad helps to carry everything, but we know that mum does the shopping and uses her magical Mary Poppins packing skills to make sure that however improbably everything arrives and arrives intact.
These are just a few examples that spring to mind, but they are the tip of the expat super hero phenomenon. Basically, I learnt the expat mum ropes from the best and I’m realising that I have jolly big wellies to fill.
To all you expat superheroes (and seeing as it’s Mother’s Day, you expat Wonder Women in particular), you are completely ace.