So far we’ve talked about how hard being an expat mum can be, and yet how many great advantages it has with respect to our non-expat counterparts. Today we’ll talk about why we need more expat mums in the world.
This third post in the series will look at expat mums in relation to the rest of the world (we’ve looked at ourselves long enough – time for the big picture). I believe being an expat mum has consequences that go beyond our own well-being or even that of our families and we’ll discuss that in this third post. This year has been sadly marked by several events stemming from social discontentment and estrangement. Stemming from irreconcilable differences between the people of the world and even of the same country. And here is where expat mums have a chance to make a difference.
The expat phenomenon
Let’s first address the elephant in the room.
Are we talking about “expats” or “immigrants”? Well, according to their definition, they’re both pretty much the same. And yet, it is true that the term “expat” is reserved to white western people who are “curious, self-actualizing cosmopolites”. Westerners have been accused of using the name to differentiate themselves to “the other” immigrants. That feels very true.
I would say, however, that this applies to modern times when the people of the western world usually don’t have the economic need to migrate. Back in the 1950’s after the massive migration that took place from Europe to everywhere in the world, westerners were also called immigrants, as much as people from Asia or Africa.
So, let’s set it straight. The western world would have collapsed long ago if it weren’t for the immigrants. Europeans would have starved after the wars and America would be extremely different today. The western world would still collapse if it weren’t for the immigrants, whether people want to see it or not. My father wouldn’t have been born, and by extension, me. So, you get the point.
And now these “expats” rise. A “new type” of migration. You may or may not care about making a distinction, but like it or not the expat population will only continue to rise. And I think that’s great. I personally choose to make the distinction because I think we have a unique opportunity here.
In somebody else’s shoes
Living in somebody else’s country is a character-shifting experience. It can be deeply enriching, daunting, challenging, exhilarating, boring. What you can be certain of is that it will be something. It will change you.
Nobody will remain indifferent to having lived in somebody else’s shoes. Virtually all the expats I know say they’ve loved it. Most of them have become permanent (like me). We simply couldn’t go back “home” at this point (where is that anyway?).
Now picture having been born in this situation. Being born with so many different roots that they span several countries or continents. Having the possibility to speak to millions of people due to your innate multilingualism. Knowing for a certainty that there are infinite ways of doing things and of thinking about things. Knowing from the beginning that you don’t belong to one place, but to many. That you don’t have one culture, you have many. That you mum’s best friend comes from yet a different country you’ve never visited, but you understand the concept, and you take it as natural.
Our expat kids are incredible little people. I cannot even begin to imagine what it feels to be so global. To be OK wherever I am. To feel home anywhere.
Why we need more expat mums in the world
So if our patriarchal western society has decided to differentiate our migrants because they have megalomaniac issues, let’s us expat mums use that to our advantage!
We’re bringing up a generation of “little westerners” who are aware that there are lots of people who are, look and think different to them, and we teach them to embrace it.
I believe that expat mums have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring up a generation of compassionate, humble, adaptable and open-minded individuals, who will, in turn, produce their own. We’re bringing up a generation of “little westerners” who are aware that there are lots of people who are, look and think different to them, and we teach them to embrace it. We’re teaching them that it is OK and we encourage them to develop friendships with those different children. If half of the westerners nowadays had been brought up the way our kids are being brought up, I would feel comfortable gambling that 2016 would have been a much happier year. We are able to give this perspective to our children because we live as guests, and this gives us a sense of humility and gratefulness.
Expats currently account for more than 230 million people in the world (that would be the 5th largest country in the world, if we all lived together). 49% of those are women, and I’m confident that a good percentage of those will have kids at some point.
Then maybe we can create a new tolerant and inclusive “westerners” that will think the distinction between “expats” and “migrants” is old-fashioned and will redefine the concept. We definitely need more people like that in the world.
It is so much worth the pain
I think it is now time to take a hard look at our expat mum lives.
We know becoming and being an expat mum can be hard and lonely. We know, however, that we are doing our kids (and ourselves!) a big favour.
I’m certain that if all expat mums make the effort to preserve their own culture while immersing their kids in their host culture(s), to show them the beautiful differences that we can find in the world, then all that can sum up to bringing up a new generation of truly global people who will take the reins from us one day. And when that day comes, the more “second-generation expats” take the reins, the better the world will probably be.
We need more expat mums in the world, just like yourself. Please think about what I’ve written and try to implement it in your everyday life. Maybe if we all do it we’ll be able to change the way westerners think. Let’s take advantage of our expat condition to shape the world a bit closer towards one where there are no distinctions between expats and immigrants.
There are so many expats in the world, that if we were all to stand next to each other and hold hands, we would circle the Earth. I think that’s a beautiful image and it represents the spirit of my post perfectly.
Do you want to join the revolution?