We are approaching our 1 year anniversary of calling Queretaro home this July 5th. And has it been a year! An overwhelming amount of changes have surpassed us. These realizations would have never existed without all the monumental events of moving to another country. I want to go back to the beginning when I had these expectations of what Mexico was going to be and what it was going to do for myself and my family. My children were going to experience a new culture and language. I was going to grow as a mother and earn the independence, along with the confidence I had yearned for. All while watching my husband’s career expand. Mexico was going to put distance between us and our family that I saw as being an opportunity for us to grow and like I mentioned before, I wanted my independence. We were going to be forced to solely to rely on one another and I was looking forward to this. Everything I was imagining sounded great and my expectations were nothing short of high.
Six weeks into our Mexico life our honeymoon stage had ended. The honeymoon stage, as I’ve been told last six months and then the newness starts to wear off. Ha, joke was on us our honeymoon phase was cut short. Our car had been broken into and my diaper bag was stolen out of it. This was an immediate feeling of despair. I was let down. How could someone do this to us? We were being watched and they were taking advantage of the fact that we were new and out of place. It wasn’t fair. After a few hours of trying to put the puzzle together and realizing what happened I had received a phone call from a complete stranger saying they had found my diaper bag at a restaurant sitting in a booth. The people that found my bag had ran across one of my old business cards, this is how they reached me. Not only did they call me in hopes to find the rightful owner they also drove the bag to our location and gave it back. That day ended up being what I believed in, that people can be kind and there are honest strangers willing to help. My bag was returned with almost everything in it. Around two hundred pesos were missing and an amber ring that I bought on our recent Colorado trip. My ID and credit cards were all there! You can imagine my sigh of relief and the tears that came when my diaper bag was put back in my hands.
I had recovered from this incident and was ready to tackle living as an expat again, until a few months later our home was burglarized. This topped it all, I was left in complete disbelief something like this could happen to us on this type of level. Not just things were stolen, but my family’s hearth was jeopardized. I was put in a position that made me feel so weak, anxious, lonely, and completely insecure. I had to put on a false sense of confidence for my two babies that I was ok and I was not ok. Not only for Henry and Matilda, but I also felt I needed to put this façade up to friends and family as well that everything was all right. I was strong, I can deal with this, and why would I want to make others worry. Seth was working long hours and it was not helping my emotions. I had no safe zone to go to. The distance between my family and I was really starting to become a harsh reality. Here this was the one thing I thought I was looking forward to having and at this point I was just wanting dependency. I couldn’t go and sit at my parents or in-laws home while Seth was at work to feel safe. I had to sit in this home that was just broken into, the home that was walked through by a stranger, the home that had all it’s drawers gone through, and our personal items taken from. How can I make this my safe place after this had happened? I would say this was my darkest moment in Queretaro. I was literally making myself sick, my stomach would be in knots all day from fear, I had extreme anxiety, and life was just overall tough. I had so many whys and had lost site of the lesson I was about to learn. These unfortunate events were teaching me that I can overcome fear, life returns to normal and I won’t always be scared of every little noise I hear or every stranger that passes my home. My imagination went to many dark and crazy places. I was legitimately convincing myself that these thieves had our pictures and would be keeping an eye out for us, knew our patterns, were lurking around the corners ready to take advantage again. Every Dateline or 20/20 I had ever watched, was in my mind going to be my reality. They were irrational thoughts when I look back on them, but they were so real at the time. Since then, I have forgiven the people that did this to us, maybe they needed it more than we ever did. It’s a difficult pill to swallow and it took me a long time to get to this place. A lot of praying and quieting my mind had to be done. I was so bitter prior, I was bitter toward every stranger that I thought looked like a suspect. This wasn’t fair, how can I look at strangers and be this way? I was an angrier person for this and that just isn’t my true character. I had to let it go just like Queen Elsa and find my resiliency, let it go, let it go. I can truly say I am at such a better place and forgiveness has helped me heal and get to this point.
It was a terrible first impression of Mexico for me. I was blaming this country for the bad guys that did this to us. As time went on I realized this is not Mexico, this just happened to be the cards we were dealt at the time and we could have had this happen to us anywhere in the world. It could have happened in our own back yard. I have come to love Mexico, this place I so badly despised at the beginning. The culture is warm and inviting, every person you meet they greet you with a smile and are so proud of where they come from. The people and their culture here have taught me a lot about myself and have helped me grow into a better and more kind person.
In fact a complete stranger has taught me a very valuable lesson. Seth and I frequent a convenient mart that is near our home and every time we go we are greeted by an elderly man standing outside the door selling sunflower seeds. He always smiles and we always smile and say hello. He may even help us get the door. One day as I was taking Henry to school down our roller coaster hill, as Henry likes to refer to it as, I see the elderly man walking up it. For my local Brookville readers, this hill is steeper than 101. Here he was walking with his backpack and cane the entire way to go and stand outside this convenient mart all day long selling sunflower seeds, all while doing it with a smile! I do not know his name, I do not know his age, where he comes from, if he has a family, or what kind of life he may have lived prior or now. But, what I do know is that he has taught me such a valuable lesson that no matter what life has given us we need to go about our days with a grateful heart and be kind. He really radiates gratitude and it’s clear he does not have a comfortable life. There are days I want to just go up and give him a big hug and tell him thank you. I like to support him by buying his sunflower seeds and hope that it helps his day to be even better. To the elderly gentlemen that stands outside OXXO, thank you for helping me see that no matter what there is always something to be grateful for in life.
I came to Mexico with a lot of high expectations along with big fear’s too. One of the biggest fears I had was someone becoming sick and passing away while we were so far from home. Unfortunately, this became a harsh reality and I lost my grandfather while we were here. I was faced with a decision I had to make and that was if I wanted to try and return home before he passed away. For whatever reason this decision took me so long to make. The result was me having a phone conversation during a layover to only find out he was gone. I was instantly mad at myself and angry that I didn’t make it in time. It’s something that I can not take back, but yet once again something to learn from. It’s important to me now to make decisions and stick to the choice I made. This particular moment really tested my decision making and it made me realize how poor I was at doing it. Since then I have really been working on doing what I truly want to do without feeling selfish, doing what I really believe in, and having zero guilt. Why should I feel guilty for something I truly believe in or be worried about what others may think ? Along with becoming more confident with my decision making skills it has also helped me to became a lot more confident as a mother.
Living away from home has given me a new found independence. I have pushed myself completely out of my comfort zone. I was now doing things with both kids that even back in Indiana I wouldn’t do. I often had a helping hand when I needed it at home, whether it was my mom or mother-in-law stepping in to take Henry or Matilda when I needed to go run an errand or maybe had a doctors appointment. Not here, I had to figure it out. It made me so nervous. I did plenty on my own at home, but this was different. Doing it alone in an unfamiliar place was intimidating. It wasn’t the fact I didn’t think I couldn’t manage my children while we were out, it was the fear of not knowing the language, the road system, or putting us in a predicament that would be dangerous. I finally had to suck it up, I was literally becoming a prisoner in my own home. I eventually pushed my fears aside and slowly started getting out. Then with each day it became easier and easier. Now, I look back and think what was I so afraid of? Why did I sell myself so short? I am so proud of myself for overcoming that hurdle and really pushing myself to just do it. I now know I can not put limits on myself but yet push myself to just do whatever I am trying to accomplish and just do it. It was an uncomfortable feeling but it had to be done.
This seems to be very accurate over all for me. I have been put in so many situations that have pushed me extremely out of my comfort zone. Mexico will now forever hold a spot in my heart. Reflecting back on the hard times, it’s helped shape me into this new person I am now. I feel so much more independent. I have let go of the feeling of having to need someone for help and have found the confidence I’ve always been searching for. Along with being much more confident in motherhood and decision making. I have realized the importance of strong relationships with friends and how distance doesn’t matter at all in this regard.
I recently was walking around downtown with Seth and said “you know, soon this is all going to be a distant memory” and it is, this year has flown by and it will all be over before we know it. Despite our rocky start, it has taught me so many valuable lessons and life here now isn’t so bad, we have had chances to see places we may not have visited before, make friends that now will be forever in our lives and most importantly grown as a family. I certainly miss our friends and family back at home! And things like starburst and sour patch kids. Ok, but seriously candy here just does not compare to the candy at home. I have grown to like the flavor of tamarindo candy, if you get a chance to try it you’ll probably question my sense of taste, but I swear it grows on you. Mexico has certainly enriched my life and it’s hard to believe our one year anniversary is so quickly approaching!
To put it simply, you don’t grow when you’re comfortable.