This article was originally published in the FAWCO (Federation of Women’s Clubs Overseas) magazine. Inspiring Women Magazine – Summer 2020 “We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day. We’re not scared. Oh no! Grass! Long, wavy grass! We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh, no! We’ve got to go through it. Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy!” It’s never been my favorite children’s book or song. I know. Call me a Bad Mom. The repetition is good for kids, but it is just the kind of chant
It has been a muddled few months. I’d moved houses, my children were at home, and the Coronavirus lockdown oppressed the city with its depressing quiet view. The only lights flickering through my days were the gorgeous spring weather and my WhatsApp messages. I’d barely gasped for air between unpacking boxes before Ariadna, the American Women’s Club VP of Membership reached out to me – “What do you think about this?” I give authority to whoever has a good idea. “Go for it,” I said, and I went back to laundry/homeschooling/the Board Meeting agenda. About a month ago, I clicked
I’ve been struggling and released. In darkness and light. Lonely and yet, never alone. This is the impact of Coronavirus in 2020. “You know Mama, they said at school a major pandemic happens every 100 years or so,” my 10-year-old daughter told me. Really? This is news to me. “This is the most major illness since the Spanish Flu,” a friend of mine had texted me when debating about the pros and cons of canceling the March Monthly Meeting for the American Women’s Club of Antwerp. After consulting with one of our Programs and Hospitality Directors, we canceled the meeting
This morning, in a lovely little restaurant called Presence in Schoten, forty-two women gathered to celebrate the American Women’s Club of Antwerp’s 91st anniversary. With feathers in our hair and jazz music twinkling, we embraced, remembered, and honored our members celebrating mile-stone anniversaries and our club. Ariadna, our 2nd VP of Membership, worked tirelessly over the past few weeks to create the most amazing program. Constant phone calls and whatsapp messages flew between us. “Where are you now?” I’d ask as I sat at my computer updating luncheon payments. She was hopping all over the city – collecting videos and
A festive vibe energizes the city. I’m on the number four headed towards the Nationale Bank stop. The passengers are filled with excitement despite the drizzle accumulating on the ancient tram windows. Darkness fell hours ago. I check my phone. 6:07 p.m. This is winter in Antwerp, days before Christmas. The tram eases to the stop. I descend the steps and walk on the glistening cobbles. The darts of moisture are in that in-between-stage, as any seasoned expat knows – it would be self-indulgent/wimpy to open an umbrella, but I left my hat at home. I glare at the rain
I walk to my friend’s house with a pot of bright pink flowers in my hands. I press the doorbell. Her shadow steps over a baby on the floor, points to her daughter on the couch, and approaches the door. She smiles. But not really. I give her a fierce hug and hold the flowers out to her. “I thought you could use these,” and tears brim in her eyes. “Is it that obvious?” she asks. “Um, yeah,” and my eyes water – her weepiness is contagious. She’s the second friend I’ve talked to in a week that just returned
“I can’t even imagine. . .” my friend says to me as we weave our six children across the road – dodging bikes, buses, and cars. The De Valk windmill – the symbol of Leiden – towers above our chaos with indifference. My friend has just returned to the Netherlands after a five year stay in America. We met years ago when we both lived in the Netherlands and had only four kids between us. When she messaged me a few months ago announcing her family’s plans to return I did a little happy dance. I’ve found that American Moms
“Have you heard of the Two Fat Expats podcast?” my Australian mom-friend asked me as she sips a cup of coffee. She has a baby on her hip while our other four children are running around my kitchen. “Go outside, guys! Outta the kitchen, this is mama-talking time,” and my three children lead her little girl out into our garden. I flip homemade tortillas and scramble eggs. “No, I haven’t. Fat Expats?” and I laugh. “Yeah, yeah – they’re brilliant,” and I make a mental note. Two Fat Expats. That will be easy to remember. The next week I’m ironing.
The minutes tick by on the dash. “Where are we going? Where are we going?” our children chant from the back seats. “Nowhere, yet,” my husband mumbles. “And don’t say anything, in case we don’t make it on time,” the GPS estimated arrival time edges closer to our destination’s closing time. “You think I don’t know that?” I roll my eyes but release an anxious breath. The sun is blinding as it descends during rush hour traffic. “Don’t worry,” I whisper. “We’ll make it,” and I pat my husband’s hand. “And if we don’t, well. It just wasn’t meant to
My phone alarm sounds at 11:25 a.m. – ding ding ding ding ding. I throw on my coat, adorn my earphones, and head into the cold – popping a King Mint into my mouth as I haul the empty stroller down our front steps. The sun is shining – that bright globe I’ve missed so much. My boots click on the cobbled road as I cross the street, passing by a lane of Antwerp city bicycles ready to transport anyone from here to there. I walk at a clip place – I have a habit of always cutting it close.