The second amazing woman I'd like to introduce to you is Molly, an art teacher and freelance worker, mother of one gorgeous boy Benji (1.5 years ), an Icelandic mama living in Santa Marta, Colombia. Here she shares some moments with us.
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1. Describe what the word motherhood means to you?
A steep learning curve, a test of patience, a surrender of freedom & the biggest commitment you will ever undertake... basically no stroll in the park.
At the same time the most precious, unique, mind blowing experience/bond you could ever encounter; the pro's most definitely outweigh the cons.
2. Tell us a bit about the place you call home?
Our house sits in a leafy green street in the historical centre of town; the front door & a big window open up to the street & like most people we leave them open all day (locked with grate) to keep the air flowing. Daytimes in the street are pretty noisy and lively; street vendors pass by all day with their wooden push carts shouting out what's on offer- selling anything from fruit & veg, 'tinto' (tiny shots of sweet coffee), fresh fish or 'bolis' (homemade frozen popsicles in small plastic bags). You will always hear the humming of salsa or 'vallenato' (local music) coming from the corner shop or cars parked in the street and the yammering of the guy who earns his keep watching the parked cars in the street.
The house is a beautiful old colonial house with ridiculously high ceiling and old checkered green & beige floor tiles floor. As most of the houses in these streets; the house narrow but long and opens up to a patio at the back, there is a whole ton of space for Benji to race his tricycle a chase the dogs around.
I am painting a pretty picture and I do love the house but it is also HOT, daytimes here are a pretty sweaty affair.
3. What are the ups and downs of raising a family in Santa Marta?
Although somewhat overbearing; living in the Caribbean heat has its ups- Benji's daily attire consists of a pair of shorts, a tee and trainers, so leaving the house couldn't be quicker and less complicated. Having kids is complicated enough and I often think about how lucky we are to be clear of the added layers; thermals, socks, long trousers, jumpers, jackets, scarves, coats, wooly hats, gloves... argh. As much as I miss distinct seasons (and I really do), living here means we can spend pretty much all year round outside.
Strangely enough, although Colombians are big family people Santa Marta doesn't cater much for babies or toddlers - within the city there is a distinct lack of things to do as a family... I mean an interesting playground or a museum with a decent kiddy definitely wouldn't go amiss. To be honest the city itself isn't exactly a place I would chose to raise a family- but just outside the city there beautiful beaches, forest, rivers, waterfalls, jungles- and those are the things that make this area a great place to raise a family.
4. What is your favourite thing to do in Santa Marta with your kid?
As I said getting out of the city and into surrounding nature is really the best things to do with kids here. On days off we get to swim in crystal clear waters, spending all day playing in the sand or picking mangos that have fallen from the trees surrounded by iguanas and other strange creatures- absolutely incredible.
5. How has becoming a mama changed you?
I am not sure whether motherhood has changed me per se, but what I can say is becoming a mama changes pretty much every aspect of your life; what your focal points are, how you see & plan the future, the way you spend you time & who you spend it with, down to what & when you eat, when & how much you sleep, what you read, what you watch (...if you have the time)- yup, its absolutely nuts how this little bubba becomes the new owner of your life.
That said, in terms of change I can say that although I wasn't unhappy before I feel happier now, I love being a part of this little guys growth & his learning & his 'becoming'- its incredible that at some point every day he leaves in complete awe.
6. How does the cityscape influence your parenting style?
Uff... that one is a pass for me. I am not sure if my 'parenting style' would be any different in a different place, sure, I imagine living back in Europe our time would be spent differently but I wonder if your actual ‘parenting style’ is something that comes from within regardless of location?
7. How do you achieve a creative work-life balance?
Since Benji was about 4 months I had been squeezing in a little freelance work here & there but when he turned 8 months I started a new job as a primary school art teacher at a bilingual school here in Santa Marta.
I thought it would be the perfect job; working creatively with children, daytime hours, weekends off & long holidays... perfect, no? It turns out that this is not the best time to make a career change. Being a first time teacher with 200 plus students in 10 different classes I found myself bringing work home most evenings & weekends, feeling endlessly guilty about the time I wasn't spending with Benji & most of the time I did spend with him I would be over stressed or amazingly tired. Sure, over the year I did less and less work at home- but all the same this time taught me that I want to do everything in my power to prioritise my time with Benji over work , so once again hello freelance design work.
On the upside, the experience taught me a million and one things about children & given me a clearer idea of the road ahead, plus Benji has his very own in house art teacher which can't be a bad thing!
8. What's your favourite thing to do in the city when you're child free?
Dinner with friends & glass of wine or two where conversations arena interrupted with 'hang on a sec', 'what were we talking about', back in a sec'.... yup, thats nice.
9. How would you describe the childcare in Santa Marta?
We were really lucky to find a great lady who looks after Benji when his dad or I are working- she adores Benji & adores her. All the same, with Benji turning from baby to toddler I started to really look at the pre-school options and even though there are some good places they are few and far between, they come at a cost and involve a lot a travelling.
We have a few close friends with babies/toddlers of similar ages and we have decided to put pre-school to one side for the moment and get the little ones together a few times for a playgroup in alternating homes or out for trips 3 or 4 days a week. We are really lucky that we all work flexible hours so we can make this happen.
10. What's the best bit of parenting advice your parents ever gave you?
Well my dad won't be winning any awards for this one, but when Benji was born he told me to try my best to get through the first couple of years because after its easy & fun ... yeah, good advice dad.
Thanks Molly for sharing your thoughts with us. If you missed the first Oh Mother interview you can read it here.