Next week we will celebrate our six month anniversary here in Belgium. Honestly, immigration is a bit like becoming a parent. You read and you listen to ALL THE ADVICE and you plan and you make goals. You know it will be hard but you think you can do it. And then it happens. The baby arrives, the plane lands. And it’s just what you expected, but also nothing like. It’s harder but also easier than you thought it would be. Full of such difficult hours and days that you wonder how you will survive, but then there are the unexpected moments of beauty and connection that leave you breathless.
I am becoming a different type of parent here in Belgium; it’s fascinating to see how your environment shapes your response. In South Africa, the threat of violent crime made me an ever-vigilant mother. I didn’t like my kids out of my sight when we were out of our home. Even in the supermarket, I didn’t dare to turn my back on my trolley in case my little guy was snatched while I was reaching for the can on the top shelf. Crazy, hey? Here, that low level buzz of anxiety has left me. We live in the countryside, surrounded by farms and forests. People leave their doors unlocked here, even wide open in the summer; young kids cycle in groups to school or to the playground. My daughter, the observer, tells me “Mom, I’m safe here, let me go.” I let her cycle to the farm a few streets down to get eggs from the honesty box (but still keep an eye on the clock to make sure she doesn’t take too long – still a South African mama at heart, I guess).
My work too is changing. HypnoBirthing is not so well known here. My Dutch is passable, but nowhere near good enough to teach childbirth education classes yet. I cannot support births as I don’t have the childcare or family support I had at home. I’m ok with all this – I taught group classes in my home for five years and I loved every single one, but I think it might be a new season for me. I loved supporting births, but it took a toll on my family. I am re-imagining what my birth work might look like in the future and it’s exciting. I have started offering virtual (via Skype or Zoom) consults and courses to South African families and that’s been fun. This year, I’ll also be redesigning my brand, website and offering some downloads for sale. This big change in our lives feels like a good time to change up Gentle Welcome too and I can’t wait!
Thank you to all of my clients who have sent messages of support and encouragement, and pictures of their cute babies too! It means the world to me.
Lots of love from a chilly Belgium,