The Motherhood Letters is a new monthly feature written by author, Jessica Rios. Rooted in universal themes of motherhood, Jess shares the essence of her unique art of mothering through letter writing. You can learn more about Jess and her work in the author box below.
In the heavenly haze of the day you were born, your father and I held a clear dream. Before you turned five, we would live in his native country, Sweden, for at least a year.
It wasn’t just a cool place to go, where we’d play with gnomes and pick mushrooms and touch moss in the forest. Your grandparents lived there, they loved you, and we wanted you to really know them. We wanted you to learn your father’s native language and know his culture. Maybe one day you would want it to be yours, too. And so we left.
Early summer, seven months ago, you were four years old. It was time. A half year of intensive physical and emotional preparations behind us, we lifted off the shore near San Francisco and flew across the world.
Today marks seven months living abroad. Had I known the rigor involved in it all, I don’t know how I would have done it. The travel plans and logistics, that I could handle. But I never could have predicted the emotional and spiritual stretching required for me to lead and hold our family — and myself — as we have stepped into this dream. It was a big, bold move, one that’s helped me see why so many families who want to live abroad, may never do so.
Through our numerous moves and living from boxes, through navigating the city ferry, train and bus schedule, through figuring out what to wear in this new climate, how to keep my nose from painful dryness and get rid of my monthly migraines, through supporting your papa to spend more time with you here as he has so longed for, through researching where to take you for preschool and where to live, through month after month of being 5,000 miles from my dearest friends and family, you’ve held the bar high. As my skin has grown pale in the long, cold, dark winter, your spirit lights my life with color.
Without words, you remind me We’re in this moment now, Mama, let’s climb this boulder! Oh, OK, right. I can walk along this water’s edge without falling in, trust me Mama! Yes, OK, I can. I don’t want to go to förskola [preschool] today Mama. I want to be with you. But I need time to… Yes, I want to be with you too. Titta! Har kommer spårvagn elva! [Look! Here comes tram 11!] Totally! Here it comes, yes!
Presence, trust, foundation, delight. You keep them warm in your fleece-lined pink mittens. They’re at your fingertips every second, every day.
Your soul is a golden gem of giving, and by choosing me as your mama, you made my life a land of fuller possibility, adventure and courage. While pregnant, I knew that if I was fortunate enough to birth a healthy child, I’d be birthing a miracle. But I didn’t know just what a masterpiece you’d be. Thanks for your daily reminders, your daily teachings, and for setting the bar high so I could become a more confident, humble and radiant version of me.
Love beyond the seas,
This is so beautiful and so honest. So often in pieces about living abroad, the difficulties of such an endeavor are minimized in favor of a glossy, romanticized take. It’s truly a tribute to your daughter and your family to lay bare the work involved in providing this special experience.
Such wisdom in your words. Thank you Stephanie!
What an amazing experience for you all!
Yes… thank you! 🙂
My daughter you leave me speechless. I knew the day “YOU” were born you would be special as I had quite a journey with you. I love you, your honesty, your love for Hjalmar and Helena and for the amazing strength you have. A piece of my heart is missing since you left but soon we shall be together again……………….
Besitos…abrazos mi hija linda…. Mama
Just look at this love. Thank you Mama, my queen. We will be back home in 5 months and we will soak up your love like it’s never been soaked up before! Thank you times 50 billion galaxies, for all you’ve given me.