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Hauling her family from the Philippines to Canada was no mean feat, but in this article, Lorena Abano shares her struggles, challenges, and little victories about her journey as a stay-at-home mom in a foreign land.
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Ever since I was a young girl in the Philippines, the lure of
traveling always beckoned to me. Call it a perennial case of wanderlust that could
never quite be satisfied. And I did good on my resolve, always making sure that
I traveled to a new place at least once a year. But it wasn’t enough.
I didn’t want to just travel. I wanted to live abroad. Not
because I didn’t love the Philippines. But because I believed moving to a whole
new country would really help me grow as a person and shake me out of my small,
I was fortunate to find a partner who shared the same dreams
as mine. And so after we got married, my husband and I began the process of
applying for immigration to Canada, where we both had extended family residing.
And with their help, four years and two kids later, our Canadian permanent
resident visas arrived in the mail, giving us 7 months to pack up our lives and
get ourselves to a country halfway around the world.
And all of a sudden, I was scared.
The set up in the Philippines for middle-class families is
that the parents work nine to five jobs and leave their kids in the care of
nannies and grandparents. I lived right next door to my parents, a stone’s
throw away from my husband’s parents, and my kids had one nanny each. The
extent of my mommy duties was expressing breast milk at the office to bring
home to my babies and directly breastfeeding them when I was home. The rest of
the dirty work was relegated to the nannies.
In other words, I was spoiled. I was comfortable.
What was I thinking? Move to another country now, with two
small children, one of whom wasn’t even walking yet? Quit my job, take two
toddlers on a long-haul flight, and settle in as a full-time housewife and mom
with no nannies? To be alone all day with
two kids, while my husband went off to work? Did I mention my biggest fear of no more nannies? The thought of
deliberately throwing myself out of my comfort zone was giving me sleepless
And I guess that was precisely why my subconscious was
telling me moving abroad was what I needed. What my family needed.
So we did
it. We packed our bags, drove to the airport, and after tearful goodbyes to our
parents and siblings, we hopped on a plane and were off to Canada. And boy, was
it a rocky start.
toughest part was cleaning my kids’ butts and bathing them, two things I never
did back home. Yup, that was tougher than struggling with homesickness, though
I did battle with that, too.
few months were hell. I was forced to be a whirling dervish every day, cooking,
doing dishes, feeding the kids, putting them to bed, cleaning up after them.
And that was just the physical stuff. I had to make sure I helped their mental
stimulation, too. I read to them, helped them paint and draw, sang to them,
brought them to the playground, and when I was just too tired to do all that, I put
them in front of the TV or iPad. Yes, I let technology babysit my kids
sometimes. Better than me losing my sanity and taking it out on them.
set in and I was completely thrown off guard by the below zero temperatures and
thick blankets of snow. At the height of winter, we didn’t have a car yet, so
we got around by taking the bus. And it’s no
fun to push a double stroller through sidewalks covered in thick, muddy
On some days,
I’d just cry in frustration and wish I was back in my tropical comfort zone
with my parents and the nannies. I couldn’t join my kids and husband when they
frolicked in the snow, making snow angels and building snowmen, because I was
too busy getting stressed about the wet clothes I had to take care of after.
slowly, slowly, things got better. We’ve been here a full year, experienced all
four seasons, and I gotta say, summer is still my favourite. I guess I’ll always
be a tropical island girl at heart.
the thing with us Filipinos. We’re resilient. We’ve weathered natural disasters
and other forms of hardship like no one ever has. We can survive anything. And like my countrymen, I've managed to make a mean lemonade from the
lemons thrown my way.
abroad is not for everyone. It’s a conscious decision that both you and your
partner have to make together. And you have to keep in mind that you’re in it
for the long-haul. Because if you always have that thought at the back of your
head that you can just go running back home anytime with your tail between your legs,
you’ll never be able to embrace your new life.
But I tell
you, it’s totally rewarding. We’ve learned to be more independent, raising our
kids on our own without having to leave it to extended family. Even our kids
have become more self-sufficient, doing simple chores and not having a nanny to
pick up after them.
I think the
best benefit of all is that the four of us have gotten much closer. A simple
game of hide-and-seek around our little apartment is the highlight of our
evening before bedtime stories, prayers, and slumber. There’s no better way to
make memories with our little ones.
This time, as
winter approaches again, I’ll don my snow boots, gloves, and mittens and play
in the snow with my husband and kids. And I’ll think about the wet clothes
Lorena Abano is a former marketing professional in the banking industry and is currently a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom. She is married with 2 sometimes naughty, but most of the time sweet little ones. Writing has been a passion of hers ever since she was 10 years old. She also loves reading, traveling, singing, and dancing.
Very well written!I totally agree...living abroad makes your family closer to one another, you arrive at a deeper understanding with yourself and with your spouse, and above all, being away from your comfort zone makes you even more closer to our Creator. :) Good job Sis! Praise God!
Posted by user_8686 on Sep 26 '14, 11:45 a.m. |
| Flag as abuse
Me and my family (with four kids, all below 10) migrated here in Canada too, we arrived from the Philippines just last year. And yes, you are definitely right, being away from our comfort zones is really hard, but we have to be stronger, more patient and more dependent to God, for us to survive living on our own in a foreign land.God bless, Lorena!
Posted by user_8693 on Sep 27 '14, 5:43 a.m. |
| Flag as abuse
This was a great article. Thank you for sharing Lorena.
Posted by Raquel M on Sep 29 '14, 9:49 p.m. |
| Flag as abuse
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