People often ask me why I decided to raise my children in Mexico. They are usually smiling when they ask me, but I’ve learned that most people smile most of the time when they are talking to people that they don’t know very well, even if the question itself isn’t all that smiley.
Now don’t get me wrong, not everyone asks me that is necessarily questioning my sanity. Many people wonder where I got the gumption to have children away from my home country. Some even consider me rather adventurous. That idea makes me feel kind of proud of myself, because, if I see my life from inside their heads, I see a mom who hangs out on virgin beaches with her surfer kids and a musician spouse strumming guitar all day on the beach. She’s really tanned and has great shoulders (from the surfing). Her house is a big ol’ palapa with a thatch roof and tiles she bought herself from the manufacturer in Puebla.
But then it’s a bit of a letdown to go home to my house with a regular (but still as leaky as a palm leaf) roof and a boring kitchen because I haven’t been to Puebla in seventeen years. Also I’m not tanned and my kids hate surfing. Oh and my shoulders are regular because I hate it too. My husband only plays off-duty guitar if he’s practicing a song, and then he’s only playing the solos OVER AND OVER AGAIN because those are the tricky parts. Plus what kind of musician wants sand in his guitar?
The other kind of people want to know why I’d raise my children in a country that is not only not my own, but has a reputation in the news as sometimes being a little unsafe. Not only has it had a bad rap for violence, it tends to get hit with weather you might read about in sites such as the National Hurricane Center or in books like the Old Testament.
And I get it. I really do. I didn’t set out in life with the idea of raising my offspring in a country where you can’t buy a Coke Slurpee. Or Timbits. Or Smarties (American friends, you just don’t understand).
I didn’t plan on worrying about whether my child was ill with dengue, or typhoid. I thought those were diseases you got in the 1800s. And I was pretty well convinced that I’d never have to rid my child’s shoe of a giant cockroach or shoo a gecko out of his favorite cereal box (why do they find a bag of Cheerios so cozy?).
To be completely and plainly honest with you, my life has been a pretty non-linear sort of scatter plot as opposed to an actual plan. I suppose the loosely cobbled together idea was that I would be a teacher in Mexico for two years. But I never decided to meet my husband, who swept me away over the cliff of Best-Laid Plans and into the ocean of Let’s See What Happens.
So now I’m here with my three Mexican family members. I’m the only blond person in the house, and I’m the only one who grew up around delicious things like Slurpees and Smarties. So the question really is: why wouldn’t I be raising my kids in their home country, which is Mexico?
I understand the questions people have, because I am always curious about other people’s lives and the interesting choices they make. I find it fascinating when people have a real plan for their lives and not a scatter plot at all. I also think it’s cool when they really are surfing on the beach with guitars (and I ask them to please talk to my husband).
Most of all, I think it’s really amazing that we all have these different worries, and weather, and families. And yet we all seem to end up here on the beach with a nice, strong margarita and fascinating conversation.