When I was a young girl I used to torment my mother with the promise that one day I would live abroad. London truly is the most magical of cities when you aren’t using the central line during rush hour forty eight weeks of the year and I wished to experience it as a tourist instead of commuter. I counted down the days until I left school, happy to leave the uninspiring confines of a local education committed only to the most unruly and utterly lacking in ambition for the rest. When I started working it was in an environment full of foreigners with different experiences of life, in the heart of the big city and I loved it with a passion.
At twenty one on a solo trip to Vancouver, I met my Norwegian husband and thus began my life away from London and home. Fast forward sixteen years and three babies and my own children are beginning to form their own desires about where to live. They are receiving the kind of education I would not even have dreamt of at their age and they are doing so surrounded by children from literally all over the world every single day
They have family homes in Norway and England, formative memories in Copenhagen and teenage summers of freedom in Germany. Each one of these places has the potential to become their ‘home home’. Yet the possibility exists that they will choose none of the above, leaving us to plan our holidays around their locations just as we have expected our own parents to do.
The fantastic thing is that we all have friends across the globe, connections and networks built from a young age so that where ever they are they will hopefully never feel adrift. This is the gift of an International Education. They are also equipped with experience in international relations that would give the UN a run for their money and a knowledge of the world that no frequent flyer system can rival, simply by going to school. They can grow up surrounded by cultures different to our own, hearts open to the differences that become so torturous to adults. It would seem entirely normal for them each to head off to countries far and wide as adults because they probably already have friends there. As parents we are giving them a choice to be global citizens and we must obviously live with the consequences.
My Mama bear heart selfishly hopes that the ‘home home’ they find is within an hour or so of each other. As brothers, sharing life and experience together as always because they are lovely and there is no greater joy for me than to watch them together.
I must however emulate my brave mother who is continuously so selfless. Never asking us to move home because she knows that ‘home home’ is actually the life we have made and not the country we live in. Only ever sharing the excitement of her trips abroad to visit us and, rather fabulously, for pretending to be a tourist in London with me when I get to go back…
Illustration from A Ball, a Book and the Butterflies; A story of International Transition