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Expat mama has meltdown on playground

“No, STOP, uhhhh, nay….don’t do that, blah!” Ok, maybe meltdown is a strong word, but in the moment, it’s exactly how I felt.

Chey here. Anyone else here living in a country that they didn’t grow up in?

All the time, I am faced with new challenges due to the fact I am living in a country, with a culture and language, that is SO different from my own.

One such recent experience is when I was at the park with my son, Mason. Where he is being raised bilingual, and I am about 70% fluent in Dutch, neither of us are 100% THERE with speaking yet. We often take our 12 year-old small dog to the park with us – and he’s quite the hit. There’s often pre-school classes there with many children just dying to pet him. However, our dog is old and small – he easily feels overwhelmed by all the attention.

And this week, when taking him and Mason to the park, another little boy asked me to help him up on the ladder. Where, my mama heart said absolutely, and I started to help him, at the same time, Mason ran in one direction & 4 kids were circling our dog in the other panic rose within me – “Oh no, I HAVE to stop these kids. Humphrey may bite them.” 

As I was trying to speak Dutch to this little boy to make sure he was ok, he demanded I stand by him and help him to the next play areaAll this was going on while I was also asking my 18 month old to stop running and share with the kids around my dog that he gets scared and may bite them. I just couldn’t get out enough words. And not enough that were correct. 

Ultimately, we made it out of the situation with the little boy safely getting down, no kids were bitten, and I was able to get to Mason before he ran too far.

However, I was exhausted and overwhelmed in my heart. Where it was one little situation, it reminded me of many others I’ve had in the almost 3 years I’ve lived here in Belgium. In many ways, I can’t be my FULL self here, no matter how hard I try. We all face this in many situations in life – where our circumstances change or we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. So, what can we do in the middle of not feeling our complete selves but needing to keep on living and showing up for ourselves & our families? 

Be kind. Let stuff go. Process internally AND externally. Open up to a friend who will just listen – and encourage you. For me, that’s my husband. If you are in a similar situation, and find yourself having no one to talk to, I’m here. Us expats gotta stick together.

Together, we get through. Together, we thrive. 

Feel free to download the FREE guide I created to help families THRIVE while living abroad:

Keep in touch & talk soon,


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