Sunday, October 17, 2010


Try to imagine that you've recently moved to a new country and you've discovered that you're pregnant. You can barely speak English, have no friends or family here, very little money and absolutely no extravagances. But, the excitement stemming from the new life inside you gives you hope for the future.

Your husband takes on more work shifts and you scrimp and save what money you can, getting by on much less than most people could ever imagine. You scope out discarded baby furniture and toys left on the side of the curb for garbage pickup and bring them home to clean up as well as you can. 

You continue working your butt off for minimum wage at the local fast food place, exhausted from standing on your feet all day. You live in fear of being fired by the no-nonsense manager who narrows his eyes each time you run to the washroom, nauseous.

Thankfully, you manage to stay under the radar and once your belly begins to show, the boss actually starts treating you nicer. But there's always that look of frustrated annoyance when you're trying to explain something and the words get stuck - never quite rolling off your tongue properly. And you feel like you'll never truly belong here. Thoughts of your baby console you. You'll hang in, maybe take an English language course once you're on maternity leave.

You and your husband soon come to the realization that there's just not enough money for you to take the full one-year mat leave. You decide to stay home for three months after the baby is born and then return to work. But then there's the cost of daycare and it just doesn't make sense to work and have to give up most of your salary.

You are completely torn. If only you had family nearby to help out, but there's no one. You desperately wish your parents would consider moving to Canada to stay with you, but they're older and perfectly content living in their little village, thousands of miles across the ocean. 

After many late-night discussions, most of which end in tears, you and your husband come to this conclusion: You will spend the first four months at home, after which you will journey across the ocean with your precious baby, back to your native land, where he will spend the first 4-5 years of his life. Without you. Raised by his grandparents until he can start school.  Where you, the mother who will never see him take first steps, or speak first words will become forgotten, all but erased from his tiny newborn memory. 

This is a real story of a man my husband works with. When he told me, I just couldn't stop thinking about it. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, tired or just plain sorry for myself, I try to imagine myself in these parents' shoes. But, I can only imagine up to the part where they decide to leave the baby with his grandparents, and then I can't even begin to comprehend. Would you even consider giving up your 4-month-old child even for the chance of giving them a better life? Such a sad story, my heart aches for the mother, especially.


Cheryl said...

Wait. What? This makes no sense. So she'd leave the baby there? For what? So she can sling burgers? And then traumatize the child when she, a stranger, comes to take him to another country when he's 5?

Why wouldn't she stay with the baby in England or wherever they are?

I'm all kinds of confused.

The Empress said...

You know, it's hard to think straight when you;re in a crisis. You just grasp at straws, when you're desperate.

Poor good answer in times like those.

You're right, we are so blessed.

Bibliomama said...

Well clearly it's not England because she barely speaks English. And presumably they left their home country for better opportunities. I knew quite a few Filipina nannies who looked after people's children here while their own children were back home with their parents. It's heartbreaking. I wish there was a better way.

Pamela said...

Cheryl: They're actually from China, I should have been more specific, but I worried about revealing too much info. Yes, they left their child back there with his grandparents until he is old enough to go to school because they couldn't afford childcare. I know, it's very difficult to comprehend; I keep trying to put myself in their shoes.

Empress: You're right, we're extremely blessed to never have to experience such an ordeal.

Allison: It is so very heartbreaking that they originally came here for a better life. I can't even imagine how difficult it must be for the women looking after other people's children when they can't even come home to see their own.

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded said...

That is heartbreaking. I can't imagine having to make that decision.
It can be hard enough to get by these days without being that disconnected from close family.
Count our blessings indeed. This is a good reminder.

The Mayor! said...

That IS so heart wrenching! And no, I couldn't imagine. Yet, it truly speaks to the sacrifices we are willing to make for our children, & to the purest love we have for them.

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