On looking forward...

>> Monday, 1 October 2012

I think I saw my future today.  Well, one possible version of it, at any rate.

At the consulate this morning to collect some documents, I was in line behind a young couple with a little boy of only a few weeks old.  The father was British, the mother was Russian, and they were there to apply for a passport for their baby.  When they reached the head of the very short line, the mother went to sit down and feed the baby, whilst the father had the following exchange with the lady on the desk.

"I'm here to apply for a passport for my son."  There was an expectant pause.  Which went on.  And on.  Finally, the clerk asked for the paperwork, at which point the father stood there a little longer before fishing it out of a plastic bag and handing it over.  From then on, all went smoothly.

I'm not quite sure what the (probably sleep-deprived and no doubt exhausted) new father had been expecting to happen on making his initial announcement, but remembering something of the extraordinary sense of pride a first-time parent feels in their offspring, I suspect he was waiting for the clerk to offer him her most heart-felt congratulations on the safe arrival of his no doubt brilliant child.  Perhaps, even, the popping of champagne corks and party poppers wouldn't be out of the question?

Needless to say, it was not forthcoming.  This lady probably deals with 5 - 10 such applications a day and was unimpressed.

You may be wondering why I think this little exchange could be a snapshot of my future.  Well, it's not - not directly.  But as I sat there watching this couple going through a key rite of passage for their baby son, it suddenly occurred to me that somewhere, probably back in the UK, there is a grandmother for whom this morning's events will be hugely important.  That this little boy getting a passport will mean she gets to see more of him growing up.  That she probably feels she's missing so much of his growing up already, and that when her son makes a call to her at some point over the next few days and tells her the passport application is in process, a heavy weight will lift from her shoulders and she'll start to make plans for their visit 'home'.

Last summer a good friend mentioned to me in passing that she wants to be back in her country of origin before her children are teenagers.  She feels that getting them back 'home' at that age is her best defence against her sons and daughters marrying people who will pull them not just one or two hours away from the family home, but a four or five hour flight away.  She wants the opportunity to be a part of her children's lives as they raise their own families, in the far off distant future.

This hadn't occurred to me before, but what she said stayed with me.  And when I saw a young family this morning who may or may not choose to make their home in Russia rather than back in the UK, it occurred to me that in years to come I might be that woman with sons who have married far from home, waiting for confirmation from them that being a part of my grandchildren's lives just got a little easier.

It sent something of cold chill through me, I have to admit.


Iota 1 October 2012 at 10:55  

Oh gosh yes. Living abroad is meant to widen your child's horizons, but we didn't want them to be so wide that they'd go away and travel the world and leave us, did we?

Potty Mummy 1 October 2012 at 10:57  

As ever, Iota, you put it perfectly! x

Mud 1 October 2012 at 12:54  

So very true. Of my friends who grew up as expats, I'd estimate that at least 50% have gone on to be expats themselves, or at least marry someone from another country and live there for a period.

Opening children's eyes to the world is a wonderful gift - but just might, as Iota says, give them ideas!

nappy valley girl 1 October 2012 at 16:00  

That's one reason I wouldn't stay in the States long term. My children would essentially grow up American, and probably marry Americans, and then what happens when you retire? Although maybe we'd just become American too....

Expat mum 2 October 2012 at 00:58  

Gulp. The Queenager is contemplating her study abroad semester for next year. There's a really good journo college in New Zealand she's heard about, While part of me thinks, "go for it", most of me thinks "No way - you might never come back".
Now I know why my mother cries every time I leave the UK.

21st century mummy 2 October 2012 at 04:18  

However hard it is on me, I still want my children to see the world. (ask me if I feel the same way when they are grown up and about to leave!)

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