The Times of Amma is happy and proud to kickstart the Star Moms series with an interview of Star Mom Aswathy Kumar.
Currently based in Myanmar, Aswathy is a former journalist turned full time mom to a super smart 8 year old. Aswathy writes travel columns and is an aspiring novelist. You can follow her and read more of her work here.
I've had the pleasure of knowing Aswathy before she became a mom and after and I can easily say that she is an inspiration to moms everywhere.
Here she is on the challenges and joys of being an expat mom.
1. Apart from your family, what would you define as your passion?
Has Motherhood affected your career decisions?
Writing is my passion. Motherhood has definitely affected my decisions.
Before being a mom, I had always seen myself as a career woman. I was a full time journalist and not once had i envisioned myself as being a stay-at-home mom. But for me the decision to do so was rather easy. I knew it almost immediately that there was no part of my baby’s growing up, I was going to miss.
2. How do you balance your passion to write with your parenting?
I have been extremely lucky that I have chosen a field/ interest that is rather easy to balance with a child. In fact I feel I finally got to write about topics that I wanted to after I had her. Thanks to her, I started a mommy blog, then a cooking blog and finally a travel blog. I was finally doing what I really liked to do.
3. How has being an expat influenced your parenting?
One of the best aspects of being an expat mother is that you get plentiful opportunities to meet and interact with women from different countries, cultural backgrounds yet going through similar struggles. I have learnt a lot from these women which also to a certain extend has influenced my parenting style. For example, my parents never read to me as a child or talked about Santa and Tooth fairies. These are all things I picked up observing other moms and till date religiously do for my little one.
4. Do you think it is harder being an expat mother than an expat dad?
No…firstly I wouldn't even want to term it as difficulties. Instead they are challenges that both partners’ face. I think for both of us the biggest challenge is to make the whole transition as easy and smooth as possible for our little one, whether it’s in terms of the home we live in, the school, meeting new families with kids her same age, etc
5. Do you think you would have been a different kind of mother if you were back in India, living close to family and friends?
Probably. I was back home in India, for almost a year after Vedika was born. I was always being told what to do and how to do it when it came to raising my daughter. From how to bathe her, to what to feed her, to ways to rock her to sleep and what not. They were all being said out of love and concern and keeping the best interest of my child in mind. But I needed my space. I wanted to find out on my own what my baby liked and didn’t. I wanted to make my own mistakes and learn from it. And I am glad I did.
6. What are the three things you love about being an expat mother?
(a) Firstly the space and freedom. (No one telling me what to do and how to do it.)
(b) Discovering all the fantastic things about our new home be it the culture, people, lifestyle, together with my husband and daughter…
(c) Making new friends especially mothers going through similar situations like you
7. Do you celebrate cultural occasions with Vedika?
Of course. The best part is that we celebrate all festivals now. We started celebrating Eid thanks to my Somali and Pakistani friends. Since we lived in DC and Christmas is so big there, we started celebrating that too.We put up the christmas tree, leave presents from santa and do the whole thing…This year in Yangon, We even celebrated the light festival and lit floating lanterns. I also feel that we started celebrating Indian festivals like Onam and Diwali a lot more after I moved out of India to give my daughter a feeling of home and sense of belonging …
8. Most expat mothers have to multitask beyond most everyday multitaskers. What is the one time that you remember doing the most tasks at once?
In DC and thats probably why I call it my most difficult posting of all. Having lived in India and Nairobi before our shift to DC, I have always had help at home. But in DC, I was on my own. I had to cook, clean, shop, run errands and at the same time keep my four year old entertained to ensure that the change wasn't hard on her. That would mean cooking and cleaning the whole day and pretending to be a crocodile by the end of it.
9. Any tips for new expat mothers?
Just have an open mind and find things that make you happy before you start taking on the role to keep everyone else happy. And also remember once you make your circle of friends, any place will feel like home.
10. What is one piece of advice that you wish you had received as an expat mother?
I guess not to feel guilty. Like I said in DC, i used to feel the constant need of entertaining my child to make things easy for her. Thought I had to make everything perfect right away. But I was making it very hard on myself and feeling guilty all the time. I wish someone told me it is okay to feel upset, lost and okay if things weren't perfect right away.
Aswathy, thank you so much for being an inspiration to us fellow expat moms.
Vedika is indeed lucky to have you to look up to as she grows up as a third culture kid.
For more conversations with inspiring moms like Aswathy, follow the Times of Amma on Facebook and Instagram.
We'll see you there!