Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mommy struggles in Shanghai, and everywhere else

I know this is good for me.  Whenever I am in an uncomfortable situation, I know it must be good for me.  I must really, really be growing as a person.

Living in a foreign country, especially one that is simultaneously modern and ancient as China, can be challenging.  Daily concessions are made, and all we foreign moms are really trying our best to manage each situation.  That said, I sometimes think that as Mothers, we are our own worst enemies.
     As a Mom, I can only speak for myself.  But I don't think I'm off base by assuming that many of us fret over things that aren't in our control (pollution, food safety, etc.).  We ponder, we price compare, we check our watches, we try to stay a step ahead.  Now, this is all too true in the US as well, but I feel like everything gets heightened living outside our comfort zone.
     I have met some incredible women here, some that I hope to be life-long friends with.  I have also felt the judgement and superiority of some that insist they "know best".  Ok, I get it, you are more organized, more adept at managing Shanghai, healthier, holier, smarter, etc., etc., - OK, you win.  
And sometimes I admit, that judgement gets to me: "Why am I struggling?  Everyone else has got it together".

I'm also not saying that I haven't been guilty of "judgement-itis".  Yes, I have shushed kids that were screaming.  I have stared down a Mom that I saw striking her kid at Carrefore.  I've wondered how parents can leave their teenagers alone so much, and be shocked when they get into trouble.

But I do get that everyone, EVERYONE, has a different experience that is solely their own.  Some families are here with kids, toddlers, infants or teens.  Some kids have allergies, some Moms are pregnant.  Some Dads are at home, and the wives are working.  Some are here, and their grown children are back in the US.  Some families have access to a personal driver, some have large spending budgets, some have a full-time Ayi.

I read a post about a Mom who got stuck in the rain with her toddler while shopping here in Shanghai.  Taking the Metro is not easy with a toddler, especially while carrying grocery bags.  I've had subway doors close on me, and I had to pry them open to get through.  But trying to catch a taxi in the rain here is really, really hard - they all seem to disappear.  So I'm reading this and picturing a Mom and little boy, stuck in the pouring rain, she's trying to hold groceries, an umbrella and the boy's hand, and trying to hail a taxi.  It's crowded, and windy.  And the taxi driver charges her double.    
     I know this same scene could play out anywhere, in any country, at anytime.  But I also know if it were my situation I was living in, I would want to cry, and struggle to hold it together.

So I need to remember this.  To try not to listen to the critical voices.  To cut myself a little more slack.    

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lucy! My name is Phoebe, and I work for Kate & Kimi, an online community-based grocer in Shanghai that advocates healthy, sustainable and safe food. Do you have an email that I could contact you with about being a part of our food community?