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Friday, 5 April 2013

A Very Special Friday with Christi of Learning to Be the Light

I have met Christi through the Multicultural Kids Blog, and she immediately offered to help. She send me this beautifully written, thoughtful piece of writing where she reflects on how it would feel to live somewhere else and raise her children there. I think she has done a great job of describing all that goes through your head prior to a move- the beaurocracy, the uncertainty, the fear and the doubts, but also the hope and the feeling of privilege that comes with raising multicultural children. And she has done so in a  way that is witty and touching at the same time. Thank you! I believe Christi's blog is definitely a place to watch!

There we stand before the Great Immigration Judge and await a decision that, no doubt, will change our life's trajectory something fierce. I try to exude grace and class and all things sophisticated, but my palms are sweating and my toes are clenched like fists inside my Jimmy Choo stilettos. I desperately try to read the judge's face. He's stoic. The next words out of his mouth will either clear my husband for US citizenship or they will banish him from the US for a unknown period of time. This day has been 7 years in the making and while I always knew it would lead to this, actually being here is petrifying.

 I'd gladly go back to those dark weeks when we first received notice that our petition was denied. At least then I had a direction to spew my fear and frustration. This limbo thing, yeah it's not for me. But here we wait. That scene has not yet taken place. It's scheduled to go live in the coming months. I wish I had an answer for you, but I don't. Here is what I do know: I am fascinated with expat moms. Probably because I could very well be one sometime soon. My husband is from South America, I am from the United States. We live in Florida. But times, they could be a changin'. Immigration is set to hear our story in the coming months and decide whether or not we will stay here in the US or move abroad. This is just a little nerve wracking for me. 

Enter expat mom bloggers. Women like Olga who write these wonderful blogs about raising their multi cultural children away from their own homelands give me hope. They show me that the United States is not the only place that I can live my life and raise my family. It's silly to think otherwise, I know, but there it is. The glimpses I get into their lives reminds me that regardless of where we reside, we are so much more alike than different. These women teach me that wonderful people live beautiful, full lives outside my country's borders and I should not be afraid to embrace a different lifestyle. When I feel the panic start fluttering around the edges of my heart, I pull up a picture I saved to my phone of one such expat blogger's kids. It's evening and the sun it setting. The kids are in the driveway playing with colored chalk and neighbors are strolling the sidewalks, happy as can be. It's Anytown, USA. Only, it's not. It's somewhere in the heart of Europe.

 That photo full of simple pleasures gives me peace. It's my visual reminder that moving abroad would not mean family destruction, just family re-structuring. As a blended family with shared custody, I don't know what that would look like for us, but it's certainly not the end of the world. Moving beyond our comfort zones, whatever that looks like, is a vulnerable step. It's also the first step in a story that only we can write. New beginnings are liberating if you let them be.

Are you an expat parent? How did you get to that decision? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Christi Madrid is a Florida based blogger who grew up in Northern Michigan. Together, she and her husband strive to rear their daughter to be a globally-minded citizen; confident and empowered in her world identity. Christi blogs about step parenting and her personal passion of Learning to be the Light at ChristiMadrid.com. You can also catch her on Facebook.

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  1. I too am a huge fan of Christi and I really like this article! We decided to move to Europe five years ago. I am American and my husband is Italian. We were ready for a change and were super excited to move abroad, even though we had barely visited our new home country. We moved one year later (academic moves give you LOTS of time to prepare) with a 6 week old baby in tow and have never looked back. We are now moving again to another country that we barely know and really have no qualms about it. We have learned that family is pretty much family life, no matter where you physically sit on the globe. It was a much bigger change for us to go from 0 kids to 1 kid than to go from San Francisco to the Netherlands.

    Just remember, you bring your life, your stories, your culture and your values along with you wherever you go! Good luck!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Lynn! I loved your closing words- "you take your culture and your values with you!". If it's OK with you, I'm going to share it on my FB and Twitter pages! I feel just the way you do- I've never looked back when I moved to Germany first and then to the Netherlands. In fact, it was the only decision that actually made sense!

  2. Lynn!! What prompted your upcoming move!? I'm always so excited to hear from expat moms ;)

    1. I hope Lynn won't mind me answering the question, Christi. It's because her husband was offered a new position in England! I will miss her!


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