* yes, there should be FIVE sets of boots but Allen ignored my advice to get adequate rain gear...

Friday, August 3, 2012

International Mothering

I consider Megan to be my easy baby. She had rather severe colic so she cried for about 4-5 hours every evening for her first 4 months of life. She was also my sleeper. She would sleep for a 2-3 hour stretch at least once a night and slept through the night by age 2. She also took at least 1 nap of 45 minutes to an hour at least once a day until she was about 2! Heaven!


There is a reason my babies are impossibly adorable. I am convinced it's an adaptive mutation.

Noah and Becky

The upside is that they all became enchanting toddlers and wonderful preschoolers. We apparently front load our early childhood struggles.  They also adore playing with one another.  My main mothering function at this point seems to be corralling the fun.  I never really thought I would find myself hollering "Stop hugging your brother!" but there we are.  It's not unlike having a tumbling mass of puppies underfoot at all time.

Charlie and Megan

As my children have gotten a touch older and I've started to sleep for 4-5 hours at a stretch and don't have a very small person attached to my body at all times, I've noticed my mothering is slowly improving.  My shoulders aren't quite so hunched.  My breath is a little easier.  I tend to be able to speak in complete sentences.

Blacksburg front yard Spring 2012

Then we came to Dublin.  Dublin 4 to be exact.  Dublin is broken into numbered areas and Dublin 4 is considered pretty posh.  When we were looking for places to live, we had friends who could check likely rentals out for us but we also needed to be reasonably sure that the "likelies" really were so said friends weren't always running hither and yon.  A number of other Dublin neighborhoods have nice sections and if you know Dublin well, you can find reasonable places to live all over.  But we didn't.  So, posh we went.

Allen hunted about for a playground and found one near Dublin's embassy row.  This is where the WASP standard of Never Yell In Public in was born.  I always came home from our outings feeling like the lowest of the low.  I holler.  I chastise.  I expect the children to give way on the sidewalk and not run in front of swings.  I don't call my children "darlings."

I finally stepped back for a minute.  A key issue was simply my accent.  An American accent rings out over the rumble of all the Dubliners for everyone BUT my children who, in the way of children, are excellent at tuning it out.  Dublin 4 is the land of the yummy mummy and Embassy Row has the yummiest.  Nannies, grannies, and dear aunt Frannies abound to help mothers care for the children.  Plus, there is something about "Darling, you were brilliant!" that somehow sounds like so much higher praise than the more American "Good job, sweetie!" that I tend to say (rather a lot, actually).

I also started trying to pay attention when we weren't in the land of the yummies, especially when I saw mothers with a toddler and 2 preschoolers in tow.  Those moms tended to sound a lot like me with a Dublin accent and a few cultural differences that I can learn from, or at least enjoy while we're here!

Dubliners tend to have a more relaxed attitude towards time.  This means that they tend to have more patience with the natural tendencies for children to wander all over the sidewalk (Dublin adults have the time to walk around them).  Dublin adults tend to enjoy taking a moment to smile at the children.  Construction workers will take a minute to let the children investigate their project.  People are more likely to help you with your stroller rather than sigh at the delay.

Dublin parents tend to put away the phone on the playground and play with the kids.  I saw parents playing tag and hide and seek and a lot fewer tantrums.

Dubliners seem to genuinely enjoy children.  They welcome their messes, noise, and chaos in a way that I rarely see in the US.  As I learn to adapt to this attitude, I am finding myself smiling more; relaxing a little and at some point, I might even see myself dropping a few "darlings."

Noah, Megan and Charlie at a Dublin playground

1 comment:

  1. Love it! I know exactly what you are talking about. It is nice to step away and see the rest of the world is WAY less uptight. What a relief!