I didn’t grow up in the UK. I came here for university when I was 18. My dad is British, my Mum isn’t, so, while it’s part of my heritage and I’ve always called myself British (I have a British accent too), I don’t think I ever really expected to settle here for the rest of my life.
Cue Mr Bug, Surrey boy born and bred, walking into my life. My expectations about my future life have had to undergo quite a big change and I think one of the hardest parts of this change has been the realisation that I may very well br bringing up my children in the UK.
That’s really strange for me. Because it means that they won’t have the upbringing and the childhood that I had. I grew up abroad, in four countries – before moving to the UK. A big chunk of my identity has been growing up surrounded by different cultures and identities – the different-ness rather than the same-ness of those around me. I went to an international school which was a melting pot of nationalities – the common thing that bound all of us is that we were growing up in a country that wasn’t our own. Even now, people who grew up like I did ‘get’ me in a way that people who grew up in a small town in Scotland get each other. There is a commonality there, if that’s a word.
There’s lots of positives about my upbringing. There are also negatives: I’ve never had one place to call home; I’ve never put down roots; the answer to the question “Where are you from?” is always fraught with difficulty. But it’s such a key part of my identity that it’s odd to imagine that I won’t be passing this on to my children.
We live in Surrey at the moment, about an hour from where Mr Bug spent his entire childhood. There are lots of real positives about his upbringing. There are also negatives. But it’s the negatives that scare me because they aren’t MY negatives, they aren’t the drawbacks that I can identify with as the same drawbacks I went through, growing up. I worry about navigating my children through these because I have no experience of them; they are foreign to me.
I worry that I’m being too prescriptive. I guess the main issue is that I know my childhood was a good one and I know it worked because I lived it. I imagine it’s harder to guide your own children through someone else’s childhood, through someone else’s life. You want what is best for them and, often, what is ‘best’ (in your small world view) is what you have tried and tested yourself.
This is how I feel now, who knows what I’ll think and feel when Baby Bug actually turns up next March? I will just have to wait and see.
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