This is a bit of a vent, but I'd like some advice too if anyone has any.
I am a single mother with a mixed European/American background. After living in different countries on three continents throughout my life, I have now kind of settled in Eastern Europe. When I first moved here, I liked the country and felt good here. My children were both born here and I have a job that I enjoy. Moving is not an option at the moment. I have been here for almost five years and more and more, I am realizing that me and this culture are just not a good match.
Patriarchal attitudes prevail, and women are still much more limited in what they can and cannot do than in my home cultures. As a single mother, sole breadwinner, and feminist, I find this very hard. It seems like whatever I do, I walk into a brick wall - "women not allowed". While this hasn't effected my actions, it doesn't feel good. My oldest child, a daughter, is four now and she is starting to understand these things. As an example, she wasn't allowed to join the local kids' soccer team because "that is for boys". Mothers are not valued at all. My neighbors, though I don't have very much to do with them, make me feel like a freak and a broken person simply because I am a single mother. They make hurtful comments whenever I leave my house. From friends who are also single mothers, I can see that I probably actually get less of that because I happen to be a foreigner.
I am fed up with feeling like this, and I am worried about how both the culture's attitude towards me and my family, and my attitudes towards the culture, will affect my children. In the long run, I think I'd like to move - but I have no idea where, and I do love my job and am happy that working part time hours allows me to make a comfortable living. Spending time with my kids is a priority for me, and I can do it because of the low cost of living here.
Has anyone else dealt with something similar, and how did you handle it?
well kinda. i was the child. growing up in my culture in asia.
i never learnt soccer because my 4th grade there was no girls team.
it IS hard for a single women to survive there. ESP> without any family support.
one time my dad yelled at me for watching the world cup at 3 am in the morning. 'why are you a girl watching soccer'.
many of my relatives treated my brother and me differently.
you decide as a teenager which side you want to be on. i chose to be the black sheep, my cousins chose to be the traditionalists. looking back it depends on the support. i was super independent even as a child. i felt and still do that alone i can do anything. my dd is the same way (as a toddler she felt she could do a lot of non age appropriate things. i gave her the chance. she was able to some, but some not). however even amongst my friends here i find many follow family rules. coz they need the support. its not a good or bad thing. it just IS.
you are seeing it extremely magnified, but here in the US i have noticed the same thing. for instance SAHM mothers here are not valued at all i would say. if you were a SAHM on welfare - OMG you are the scum of the earth. never mind you are doing that because you want to be with ur little ones.
i would handle it by staying connected to your children by talking. but you must remember you cant change them inherently. you can bring them up one way, but they will have a mind of their own. i was brought up one way but i chose another way to live. when people make cruel remarks to me and dd notices i talk to her. i look at the whole situation and try to see from the other persons point of view. being able to see both sides really helps dd because i am not judging anyone. no one is good or bad. it just is.
I am sorry you are dealing with this. I haven't had my baby yet. I feel like, living in a sterile American environment, what I will miss most in my community is a support system. And I am American, but my family is all distant. You need that support if you can get it, no matter where you are. That is REALLY HARD in the USA, and probably even harder wherever you are. You sound like a strong woman, and that might be all you need to get through this, for your kids to see that is huge. But if you aren't happy, no job security is worth it, because your kids need to see you be happy.
That's my simplistic and inexperienced answer, FWIW. There is nothing wrong with needing a support system, a social network, Etc. It is really ignored in western civilization and I feel essential for most (but not all) women to be ablew to raise their kids.
Just reminds me of all the things that I take for granted that are not available to the majority of people in the world.
Well, mama, I can relate, because I spent a lot of time in Japan and really never felt "at home" there -- I eventually ended up moving away. The thing that did it for me was realizing I didn't want to spend the rest of my life there -- it's a wonderful country, with lots of fantastic things about the people and the culture, but the thought of living there for the rest of my life, raising my children there -- I just couldn't do it. It might help if you ask yourself a question -- do you want to stay where you are and grow old there? Do you think your kids can be happy growing up there? Could you learn to accept the cultural differences forever? I think if you stay you have to make your peace with the differences and accept them as what they are and not try to mentally fight against them, or you'd probably end up unhappy and resentful. Looking at the long term seemed to clarify things for me; maybe it would for you too.