The idea of being away from a career, a precious little world made of lifelong best friends, and all of the familiarity of a home country might often seem to outweigh one's need to be with her husband abroad. As you might know, a lot of women choose to do a long-distance marriage for such reason (among many others, I don't judge, really). However, moving abroad might still be 'appealing' if your husband is being assigned to work or to study in big cities like New York or London. But what if he is being allocated somewhere more remote and unpopular? Will it be a deadend?
Not to this hijabi mother-of-two, it's not! She bravely decided to follow her husband from Indonesia all the way to New Bedford, Massachusetts (never heard of the city before? Same here! -moz) about 4 years ago with a 4-month-old baby under her care. She is not afraid of the unknown. Even better, she subdues the unknown and make it familiar. She has inspired me to be proactive in enjoying the city I'm in. And I hope she'd inspire you too, as you read along.
A lionhearted wife, a dedicated mother, and a charming blogger, Here is Chica.
On being a Momma
I am the oldest of 6. My youngest sibling is 13 years younger than me. So I am used to the responsibility of being my mom's right hand when it comes to taking care of younger kids. Even so, becoming a stay-at-home mom has never occurred to me before. In fact, up until I was in year 6 of elementary school, I didn't know what a stay-at-home mom was! Because the mother I knew growing up was the kind of mom who was very much a career woman.
Many years later, at the start of my relationship with my husband, Ara (then-boyfriend) expressed his desire to marry me under one circumstance : I should be a full-time mom. I clearly rebelled against this! I was a student at one of Indonesia's top universities, dreaming of working for an oil company with a paycheck of thousands of dollars after graduation! I couldn't end up staying at home!! Besides, I have always been active, I could never sit around at home all day! (turns out, being a SaHM never allows you to just sit around, right? hehehe). Anyway, we got engaged and then got into a 2-year long-distance relationship when my then-fiancee decided to pursue his master's degree in Germany.
As time passed us by, I started to realize that being a full-time mom does not mean forsaking my degrees (she got a master's degree from University of Indonesia, and her bachelor's was from ITB - moz). There is a greater cause to fight for here! I am obliged to excellently play my role as a wife and as a mother, especially during these golden years of their growth as children, and our development as a family. This does not mean forgetting my long-term dreams and goals either, for Ara fully supports them. He has been my bestfriend since we were in college, by the way.
We finally got married! Our firstborn Malik Azka Sagara Hakim (4 y.o) came when we were about to move to the U.S. Ara went first, then Azka and I flew together a few months after (yes, that long flight, just the two of us!). Afterwards, Khalif Arana Razzaq Hakim (2 y.o) came into this world, being the first American in the family.
Raising two boys can keep you really busy. Alhamdulillah my dear husband accommodates my need of some "me time" by allowing me to have at least 1 hour away from home chores and the kids. You know, to work out, ride a bike, take photos, and to write. It helps keeping me balanced.
On Moving to the U.S.
I was so excited to move to the U.S. ! I can clearly recall that one time back in 2005 when I told my friends that I wanted to live in America with Ara and our own little family when they asked me "Where are you going to be in the next 5 years?" Alhamdulillah, by the power of dream, the universe conspired to make it happen!
To be honest, the early days of living here were not easy at all. I was thrilled to go on an adventure in America, but then I had to adapt with my life as a new mom, which could be really stressful. Besides, the absence of relatives and family really made it harder. I was overwhelmed. Back then, we lived in an empty apartment, we couldn't afford a furniture so we needed to borrow our landlord's. I couldn't even cook while eating out would be expensive. We didn't have a car so we had to ride buses everywhere. Ara even had to walk to his campus during hailing snow in winter back then! And in summer, our non-air-conditioned apartment would get very hot. Can you imagine?
But through all of these tough times, Ara would always say to me "enjoy the process"...
So we did, and we are stronger for it today.
On Enjoying New Bedford
It's a good thing that I have once worked as a researcher and that I am always eager to check on things. So for example, when the management of an apartment we wanted to move into told us that we were not illegible to do so because of our citizenship, I went online and looked for legal statutes to prove them wrong. As a result, the management agreed that they were being unfair and that we could move in to that apartment! It is much cheaper and it comes with good amenities and benefits! Thank God, I did the research right?
I then looked up ways to get involved in my community and to make the most of my time in this city. I started going to public libraries and museums while volunteering here and there, like in the picture below for example, when I volunteered for the National Park.
I signed up to various different communities and I just try to connect and make the most of everything that I have on my plate now. Volunteering is a great way for me to channel my energy and skills on a positive outlet, and in the future I really want to establish a volunteer-based organization to make changes, because I believe everyone has got something to give.