My son was born in Indonesia – the world’s largest archipelago and fourth most populous country. To my husband and me, it might as well be a deserted island. We were in the midst of foreign surroundings with our loved ones thousands of miles away, submerged in an entirely new culture, and faced with communication gaps at every bend. As a first-time mom and a new stay-at-home mom (SAHM), I felt alone and was nothing short of terrified.
I started browsing social media for mom groups, and came across a post by a fellow expatriate mom looking for someone nearby to have a playdate. She lived in the same area and had a child just a couple of months older than mine. I was elated and immediately replied to her. After a few more replies, we scheduled a playdate event on Facebook, which led to us forming a separate group dedicated to expat moms in our neighborhood and a Whatsapp group.
This group of moms, comprised of fine ladies from all corners of the world, quickly became my motherhood lifeline.
We fed off each other’s positivity and pooled together our mustered up energies to encourage, support, and empower one another. Our group was a safe space for venting, for expressing concerns, and for asking questions without the fear of overstepping cultural boundaries. We made each other feel less alone. We were all in it together.
We checked out new play spaces as soon as they opened, tried out different restaurants and cafes to find the best places that reminded us of our respective hometowns, and offered to pick up items we couldn’t get in town when one of us went on a trip. We laughed helplessly with each other and watched with swelling pride as our babies rolled over / crawled / pulled themselves up / stood without help / took their first steps, side-by-side.
Together, we celebrated many of the most important milestones within the first 2 years of our babies’ lives.
There were a few moms whom I trusted unconditionally and vice versa – we had each other’s best interests at heart, and each other was all that we had. It was an unshakable bond of sisterhood. Even though we each had our own mom anxieties, we gave each other peace of mind throughout our motherhood journey. We cared for each other’s babies as we would our own.
Although our group of moms came from different countries and across various continents, we never diverged on our dedication to upholding the role of being support pillars to one another. Newbies were always welcomed, and farewells – something that all expat communities need to go through more often than they’d like – did not signify the end of friendships; instead, it meant that you now have a friend you can count on in a place that is now on your family travel bucket list (if it wasn’t before).
We may be miles apart now, but I’d always be grateful for the friendships I’ve made at the start of my journey as a mother. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, and I’d make sure to share with my son all the wonderful stories about his very first friends from all over the world.