My husband is from a small town in Ireland. He and his family can trace their roots back pretty far. And each time N, my husband, tells me about an ancestor, he always throws in some kind of exaggeration. For example, my husband told me a shillelagh (pronounced sha LAY lee) was a walking stick used to beat people, back in the days of the old IRA when no weapons were allowed. I mentioned this to a friend at work (when I worked in Dublin) and he flat out said, “He’s takin’ the piss out of yeh.” To which I replied, “I’m going to kill him.”
However, I have since learned that this is, in fact, true. I have yet to reach out to my friend and tell him he was wrong, but it doesn’t really matter. The point of this story is that I am always paranoid that N is lying to me, to enhance the story and whatnot- he’s a great story teller. That’s part of the reason I fell in love with him, because he had so many amazing stories of his own. He has been places- real places, like Africa and Thailand. When we met, I had been to about 15 of the states and Cancun, Mexico, on spring break (if you haven’t been, it’s like Florida with men with machine guns asking you questions at the airport). So everything he was saying was so exciting! Safaris, scuba diving, Australian beaches- seriously, I couldn’t even dream up what he was saying. Anyway, we met at a bar one rainy night in May and were engaged two months later. It was the literal “Love At First Sight.” One year later (to the day) we were married in a church in my home town. The first time I met my in-laws was at the airport the day they flew in for our wedding (I will die if my children try and pull this on me). They were understandably trying to talk N and my parents out of the wedding, but my hard-working, tough as nails Pittsburgh parents weren’t about to lose out on $20k- wedding was happening (and, my mom loves N way more than me and she was certainly not about to let the best thing that ever happened to bragging rights slip through her fingers). But we were in love and the wedding was beautiful. Nine months later we had our first son, April 21st we said goodbye to Portland (ugh, I cried the whole flight) and May 1st we landed in Dublin airport.
The first thing that I noticed was that there were no skyscrapers. It looks like there’s 50 shades of green- I’m sure there are. And the airport isn’t the most up-to-date place, but it’s comfortable and worn in. The first drive from the airport to Kildare scared the shit out of me.
The car is the size of a small four-seater, we’re driving on the wrong side of the road, it’s one lane in some areas, I’ve got my two month old son in the back, and there are sheep scattered everywhere- for added driving fun.
N was so sweet and had an apartment all set up for us when we got there. It was beautiful and new (weird things happened to me when I was alone there), and I was excited to settle down there. But it soon got overwhelming, not knowing where to go to pick up groceries and not recognizing any brands. This was really difficult with a two month old, because then I started relying on my mom to send his formula over to me every month, which didn’t work out in the end. I had to ask my mother-in-law everything because I didn’t have any friends over there. I’m 5’7 with curly dark hair and in Ireland, I would say most girls are 5’3 with poker straight hair, just a gift from God to them for having to live in consistently wet weather conditions. My hair is naturally curly and frizzy. It looks best on cool fall days with zero humidity. In Ireland, there is no good hair day for me. This is just another quark that added to my already out of the ordinary appearance there. Add an American accent and I’m a walking oddity.
Where am I going with this? I guess it’s just to show you a little of what was going on in my head while trying to figure out how to be a new wife and a new mom in this new place. It was stressful. And then I decided to get a job, which made it better or worse, I have no idea. Anyway, I want to put my experiences down somewhere where my children can read about them, and where new moms, who are travelling to Ireland or somewhere else abroad, can learn about what to expect and get some tips about life with children outside of the U.S.