Challenges Of an Immigrant Mother in the US.

Keeping my hands busy

Motherhood is challenging no matter where you live. I gave myself an extra level to the challenge by raising four children. No, you didn’t read it wrong. I’m a mother of four, Lucas (19), Daniel (17), Gabrielli (15), and Manoela (9). As any mother, I wish the best for my children and I do whatever I can to help them achieve their full potential.

Some people call me crazy, some call me brave for moving abroad with four children. I believe you need to be a bit of both to embark on this journey since challenges begin much before you move and many questions pop into your head.” How are they going to receive the news?”, “ Will they make friends easily?”, “ Will they suffer with prejudice?”, “Are they going to fall behind in school?”. These and many other questions ghosted me for months before my husband and I made up our minds and pack our bags.

Challenge #1 - The things we didn’t know

What can be complicated about enrolling your kids in a school? Well, the process was not as smooth as I thought it would be. I found out my kids needed to have an updated physical. What a heck is a physical? (I know now, it’s an annual medical “check-up” requested in order to attend school and practice sports).

So I innocently tried to schedule an appointment which led me to my second discovery: Health care is VERY EXPENSIVE in the US, the average cost for a pediatric visit is $300.00, in my case multiplied by four (No, I didn’t pay that). I’d need health insurance.

Long story short, before my children start school we had to go through:

  1. Enroll a health insurance
  2. Find a pediatrician that was accepting new patients (and our health insurance)
  3. Schedule the appointments
  4. Update their shoots (I like to predict any threat and act in advance so we moved to the US with all the shoots taken but I didn’t know the protocols here were different from my home country.)
  5. Take a TB screen (Ya, our home country is a high risk of Tuberculosis)
  6. Take English placement tests

The process took approximately 3 weeks.

Challenge #2 - What no one could predict

They attended school for some weeks. I was relieved because they seemed to enjoy it and they were making friends. Then pandemic hit the world.

All the experiences I wished they lived here were threatened. Having four children studying online from home was the biggest challenge I faced as a mother in the US. I understand the whole world was sensitive but as we had just landed here I started to regret the decision to move.

A month became two, two became six, six became a year then step by step things started to return to normal. They returned to school, first hybrid and later fully in-person. As a mother, I always push them to try different things so they played football, wrestling, ice hockey, and rock climbing. They studied culinary arts, music, and Spanish.

So far they are doing very well and they are happy it’s what matters the most to me.

Challenge #3 - Learning the ropes

After three years of living in the US,  we still struggle with some cultural issues. There is uncertainty about what is “normal” and what might be seen as odd, for example, “What kind o present is more common for a kid's birthday?” “Should they attend events by themselves or should I escort them?” and so on.

Beyond the daily little challenges, I reinforce daily to them to don’t be sorry about what they don’t know but be proud of the ones they know. Don’t be ashamed of the differences but hold them proudly, enjoy the experiences and opportunities life brings and be happy.

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