Immigrant parenthood

13 April 2010

I’ve mentioned before my main apprehensions about living in Sweden. Will the dark and rain and cold be tolerable or will I get cabin fever and/or become depressed? Is it true what all the culture guidebooks say, that no one will want to be my friend and I’ll never have a social life? Will I ever be able to express myself easily in Swedish, and if so, how long will it take? How will I ever comfortably go places and do things all by myself?

These are normal, reasonable concerns. What I’m just now pinpointing, though, is the added psychic burden of being Little Girl’s primary caregiver with all these uncertainties. It won’t just be me getting lost riding the bus and not knowing how to ask for help; I’ve done that before in various European and Spanish-speaking nations and came out okay–but Little Girl will be with me, depending on me to get her home. I’ll need to mitigate playground disputes or talk to her teachers. It’s up to me to make sure she gets exercise even when it’s below freezing. I’ll be the one trying to fill out her forms at the pediatrician’s office.

I never think of activities in terms of just me; nearly always I have my little buddy with me, and even if that’s unnecessary in the land of subsidized childcare and lots of extended family, I like it that way. But it means not always being confident in my ability to care for Little Girl according to my own expectations, which is, frankly, scary.

And of course millions of immigrant parents coming to the US have these worries, and more serious ones, like about security and affording food and shelter. Can you imagine?


4 Responses to “Immigrant parenthood”

  1. a Says:

    We’re currently at the stage where my 3 yo questions my abilities. Whenever we go somewhere, she asks me if I know where I’m going (and sometimes tells me she doesn’t think I’m correct). She tells me she’s in charge.

    You know, the bonus is that children learn these things so much more easily – so she’ll probably help you figure it all out. Yes, you may suffer the “Oh my mom is SO stupid” syndrome at some point, but your little buddy may actually ease your way into Swedish society.

  2. caro Says:

    Wow. You–others who take this on–are brave & will come out knowing things that the rest of us don’t even know we’re missing.

    I bet that in some ways LG will pave the way for you … partly because you’ll be forced, like you said, to find your way through all kinds of systems on her behalf … but then also because seeing you with a child will help you connect with other parents there. Nine days! Wow!

  3. coffeegrl Says:

    It’s not easy but at least it gets easier! I found the best peace of mind came from having a pre-paid cell phone in Japan. I didn’t need a lot of minutes for making personal calls (didn’t know that many people initially) but it gave me a lifeline to my husband or other help should I find myself truly stranded. Never needed it for that reason, but was oh-so-glad to know it was there.

  4. […] Antropóloga with Immigrant parenthood […]

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