A tale of two countries

Single mom Felicia Dewar on raising your child in "two countries" and becoming the ambassador your children need

Photo by: Felicia Dewar

The title of this post really resonates with me. I was at a “Single and Parenting” class when I first heard this analogy. When a separation occurs, typically, children will move back and forth between homes. The frequency of this is variable and unnecessary for the purposes of this illustration.  Each separate home is its’ own country — different leaders, different rules, potentially different customs. And as such the diplomacy between the two countries becomes really important. The facilitator likened it to that of an ambassador (I call it taking the “higher road”).

Before blogging, before children, before the thirty extra pounds, I had plans, big plans. I wanted to be a Canadian Ambassador. I was at university majoring in International Business and I began studying for the Foreign Service Exam. At the time, the International Business Undergraduate Degree was the only program that the federal government recognized as being able to take the exam without a graduate degree.

I had been working for four years towards this goal — the ability to travel the world, interact with different cultures and represent the country that I truly believed (and still do) was the best on the planet. Then everything changed. A car accident, a pregnancy, a horrible first and second trimester and suddenly I was a single parent.

I never did take the Foreign Service exam and I pushed my dream of ambassadorship to the dark recesses of my brain. Many years later as I listened to “the tale of two countries” I realized that I had become an ambassador after all. I am the ambassador of my home, my children and of course, myself. Having researched the pathway to be successful in the foreign service, I discovered that a number of “behavioural psychologists would administer tests aimed at gauging your adaptability, flexibility, judgment, teamwork skills, interpersonal skills, oral communication and many other skills.”*

Reading this list is like reading a manifesto on being a single parent. The ability to be adaptable and flexible are paramount when your children have different rules, discipline and guidelines at the other parent’s house. Choosing your battles or using sensible judgment, is necessary especially if you have an ex-partner all too willing to destroy the peace. And communication and interpersonal skills, well let’s just say that diplomacy does not only relate to members of parliament.

Now when I send my children to the other country, I recognize three things. First, I have no control over that part of their life and therefore griping, complaining or worrying does not do anything positive for myself or my children. Second, my children deserve peace in their life, peace that enables them to feel good about spending time away (even if it does seem like the other end of the earth) and peace about coming home to share their experiences in the other country. And third, all that studying in school really did have a real-life use!

Single parents, what’s it like for you when you send your child(ren) to that “other” country?

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