Thursday, 18 September 2014
Women And Lunch Time Conversation
Today I met the new breed of expat wife .... she's young, very well educated, has embarked on a career and agrees to move with her husband to a new country with no family support or friends so his career can flourish.
They are yet to start a family, and may very well do so earlier than planned simply because their circumstances allow for it to happen that way. Mums and MIL's will fly over and help them for a few weeks/months when the time comes (they're not pregnant yet but are 'trying). A couple of families at school in Japan had 4+ kids - the mums reckon there's not much else to do but have kids, especially when living in SE Asia and UAE and other places where home help is the norm. Now, even if they are joking, there's some truth to it for sure.
We met over lunch today.
There was 16 of us around the table at MrsH's house for the first Pot Luck Lunch of the year.
We varied in age from late-20's to early-70's.
We were from Australia, Columbia, Ireland, USA, England, Spain and France.
We'd all been 'away from home' for different lengths of time - two months to 20+ years.
Some of us had moved around the world many times, while others only once or twice.
A couple of ladies moved to Ireland for University, met and married their husband and have spent their time between two countries, tho the majority of their time here in Dublin.
There were mothers and a few grandmothers. We were all aunties. One older lady had step kids, and the two newlyweds don't have kids (yet). There was two of us with young school age kids, 3 with university aged kids and the rest were empty nesters.
Professionally, there were 3 lawyers, a couple of managers in various industries, an operating theatre nurse, stay at home mums, high end finance investment funds manager.
One lady has had a stroke a year or so ago, and has lost her speech, but it doesn't stop her listening intently to what's being said and writing on her notebook when she has something to say. Someone's sister had a mild stroke last week.
Each of us bought a dish to the Pot Luck Lunch. There was pumpkin risotto, a pasta salad, a rice salad, quiche, breads, cakes and fruit.
Some had wine with lunch, while others had sparkling water.
The thing that I noticed was that despite our differences of age, career path, nationality we all shared a lovely lunch and did not stop talking! It's not the first time we've had a pot luck lunch but it's the first time I've really observered the ladies present.
Maybe because I sat next to one of the newly weds, who is also new to the Club. She's delightful and eager, and keen to be involved, to be part of something as she's left 'so much behind' (her words). As we talked, and she asked me questions about where we'd lived, for how long, how do we do it with children, do I work, how do I feel about that (not working), how do I fill in my days ....... it dawned on me that ms-havachat does have a role to play, no mater how small, in helping newbies find their feet the way some of my older friends who I met in Dublin the-first-time-here did for me.
I love that Karma is alive and well!
I love being able to pay it forward.
The conversation covered summer holidays, weddings and honeymoons, trying to find employment, settling into life in Dublin, the benefits of learning/speaking another language, the virtues of living in hot climates vs cold, the report from New York Fashion Week that low heels are back in vogue, the Clubs Charity Bazaar in December and who's hosting the next Pot Luck Lunch.
We talked about the Club and ways to be involved. In fact, I invited the two newly weds to join me on the Sub committee for the Charity Bazaar to which they both beamed with joy and said 'really? I'd love to!'
It dawned on me, while sitting back listening to a conversation about 'sunny Wexford' being shared between an older Irish lady, a Brit and an American that this eclectic mix of women is what being an expat is about.
We support each other despite our age differences, nationalities and experiences.
We listen and care regardless of what's going on because we know it could be us needing the shoulder one day.
We find things in common to celebrate and bond us, and we learn something new with the differences we bring to the conversation.
We laugh. Boy, do we laugh! The observations of our new home, something as simple as grocery shopping or the frustration with going for a drivers licence can have us in stitches.
I guess, depending on how the friendships go, we might even shed the occasional tear.
We are strong. We have to be.
We bond over silly things and very important things.
We seek out people to be our surrogate mums, grandmothers and sisters, whether conscious or not. We are surrogate mums, grandmothers and sisters to others - whether we know it or not.
Some of us are quiet.
Some of us are loud.
Some of us are highly social.
Some of us would rather curl up in a ball than say BOO!
We accept a more traditional role in our marriage's as expat life tends to be more patriarchal, tho living in Ireland which is part of the EU, many of the women arriving here from other EU countries can work (lucky them), it's just those of us from non-EU countries that (usually) have a T2 visa (can't earn an income)
Accepting this traditional role, not feeling guilty for not contributing to your partnership financially, frustrated at no longer working, or angry that you've 'stopped' your new career bring you down big time and cause huge issues at home.
If you've chosen this life, embrace it for all it's worth.
For it could all be over tomorrow and lunch with be a quick hour if you're lucky.