I’ve always had a deep respect for anyone who picks up and moves to a new land, whether because they have to or because they want to.
My mother left her home province when she was just a teenager and moved to a much busier place than she was used to. She followed her brothers and a sister, so she did not arrive alone. But she did arrive cut off, for the most part, from what she left behind: family, friends, the only way of life she had known.
My husband did the same about 30 years later. He also followed his siblings to another, busier province in search of his future. He did not arrive alone and he was not as cut off as the generations who came before him. But he still faced a new way of life, albeit not as different as what he’d come from compared to my mother 30 years before.
Having grown up in a province that offers me everything I could want, it has never occurred to me to leave. I’m not really an adventurous person. I’m mostly content with staying close to home. And if I’m completely honest, the unknown is scarier than I mostly want to admit. And so I have a deep respect for my mother and husband who both made a conscious choice to uproot themselves. I grew up here and continue to stay here because of their long-ago choices.
I was recently chatting with the mother of one of my daughter’s friends, She and her family moved to Canada a short time ago and, as we were chatting about mundane things, it really hit me how very different and potentially difficult her life might be. I don’t know what prompted her to move her family to Canada or why they chose Canada, but while chatting about my daughter’s birthday party, a school book club and other very common things to me, it occurred to me how very different life here is for her.
She has had to learn a new government system, understand a new education system for her children, become accustom to a new language, new shopping habits, new products, new weather patterns, new foods, new customs and traditions, and her children are learning things at school about this country and not the country they came from or their roots or their traditions, and all while keeping their own language, customs and traditions alive for their family. That’s a lot to manage.
In our chat, it struck me that she has had to adapt to a whole new life all while managing the same parenting, work, family and social issues that I deal with. What must that be like?
There are days when I can barely cope with the things that I have to do to move my family and myself forward, and I’m doing those things in an environment that I am used to and around people who are essentially the same as me, with no language or culture barrier. Layer those very basic and simple daily activities on top of having to do it all in a foreign country where everything is different than what you grew up with and where your natural support system is reduced or non-existent. That woman has my respect.
I chatted easily with her, enjoying her company, all the while in absolute wonder at how gracious she was as she apologized that her daughter could not make it to my daughter’s birthday party. I don’t know what her life is like. I don’t know what it’s like raising a child in a country where I didn’t grow up and facing different expectations from my child because her friends get to live differently. I can’t imagine it’s easy. But I have the deepest respect for her efforts and a new intention to get to know her better.