It has been 4 years since we relocated to Frankfurt. The move wasn’t too difficult. We were (and still!!!) young, made friends easily and enjoyed our new environment. Life, which was easy as pie, got a little more challenging when Theo came along. There are days when tears flow freely down my cheeks, and days when my husband and I get so snappy with each other that you’ll be worried that we might kill each other. On those bad days, I feel like all my energy has been sucked out and I’ll be dead soon. But I’m still alive and kicking. After two years (soon!!!) of parenthood, we’ve come to cope by ourselves.
1. My child, my say
No one can easily throw criticism at me based on what feed my child or how I discipline him. We get to raise him the way we believe is good for him – no spanking, lots of love and as little negative statements thrown at him as possible.
2. Dan and I are a team
There are times when we say “We need to prioritise family over everything else”. Even as a Stay at Home Mum, I need to be a fully functioning one. If my child falls sick, we take turns in the night to care for him. We’re in the same team and I’m grateful for a husband who places his family first.
3. We make our own plans
I have a huge extended family. One weekend will be someone’s first birthday, next weekend will be a wedding and the following will be a Christening. There is always something going on. Being our little family away just means we get to actually do activities that we enjoy as a family unit. We don’t have to attend functions just to “give face”.
Here’s why parenting without support sucks:
1. No time off
I’m not even talking about date nights. The fact that 2 sick adults will just have to suck it up to look after a sick child just sucks big time. We experienced that in winter and it was awful. A cold that would usually take a week to recover now takes a month before we’re hit by another virus.
It gets terribly lonely. Our child doesn’t get to grow up with regular play dates with his cousins because he can’t play with them in person often enough. Even with FaceTime, he can’t be cuddled and hugged as much as everyone would love to give him. While I do enjoy our own family time, it gets quiet during the festive seasons (especially Chinese New Year) and birthdays.
3. No reliable childcare
I’m one of those mums who don’t believe in engaging nannies, especially when so many in Frankfurt claim to have the experience when they lived elsewhere in the world. Anyone can write anything on their CV, how can I verify if any of it is even true? I could even have the nanny look after my child while I’m at home (so I can supervise) but who knows what will happen when I’m not around. If I’m not leaving my jewellery with a stranger, why would I leave my son with one? Paranoid mum, perhaps?
I do find my friends who have family support really fortunate. I’m envious they get the occasional time out from being mummies and daddies. But I won’t deny the highs of parenting without support either. This isn’t about who’s leading a better or easier life as parents.
As my husband put it across during dinner this evening, “I’m constantly tired but I’m filled with so much happiness to be with my boy“.
We’ve somehow learnt to manage our family life and are still learning as we go along. We mess up every so often but that’s ok. We aren’t perfect parents but we’re the best for our boy. These 2 years of raising Theo has uncovered the hidden strengths and determination we have in us (even when we’re exhausted) to make things work. And I think that immeasurable strength comes from our lovely little Theo.