We’re profiling one mother from every country on the planet. (Current tally: 17 down, 175 countries to go!)
Meet Virginia Calderon.
Life before baby …
I was always a free spirit all my life. I never had a set plan. I just did things in the heat of the moment. Always just doing what I felt like doing … which kind of explains how I moved to Prague on a whim.
Before I moved to Prague, I lived in New York City. I worked a lot, put played a lot too. I loved living in the city, going out a night, hanging with friends.
My ideas about motherhood …
I never thought about having children, I always thought if it was meant to be it would happen organically … and it did. The only thing I did know was that I wanted to travel and see a lot of the world before I settled down, which I was able to accomplish. It was only when I got into my 30s that I thought about settling down and having children.
Then came baby …
The first couple of months were pretty hard because everything was so new. I did read some books, but I’m not sure how much they helped as I don’t even remember what was in them. The biggest change was the amount of sleep I was use to getting. Even when I was pregnant I was able to sleep pretty well. When Max came along, that all changed and I was completely sleep-deprived. Now 14 months later, I’m still sleep-deprived, although I’ve gotten more used to it.
The most challenging part of motherhood …
Giving birth was really tough for me, even though it was a smooth as could be — only five hours. I had no complications and a very easy pregnancy. But when he was born, I was scared that I wouldn’t know what to do. After all the nervousness goes away, though, you just do the best you can. (I just want to be able to sleep in one day!)
On balancing work and life …
When I moved to the Czech Republic, it was hard for me to get a regular office job because my Czech is not very good. So I did the only thing I could do: work freelance. I did PR and marketing for international clients. I worked a lot because that’s what I was used to doing coming from New York where I use to work 15-hour days.
Then came baby … and things changed. Now my Number One priority is Max. After he was born, I stopped working and became a stay-at-home mom. But now that he’s 14 months, I decided I wanted to work again, so I work part-time for a company that I founded. We’re just getting off the ground, but I have a great partner who doesn’t have children and is a very hard worker and understands that I can only work two days a week.
The best part about raising a child in the Czech Republic …
It’s very baby-friendly here! It’s not strange to go to a restaurant and see babies in strollers or mothers breastfeeding. When you go to malls, there are always pink parking spots right next to the handicap spaces for parents with babies.
Also being in Prague (Central Eastern Europe) you are surrounded by so many different cultures and languages. We can get in a car and be in a different country with a different language and architecture within three hours! We are bordered by Germany, Slovakia, Austria, and Poland. But it’s very easy to even drive to Switzerland, Croatia, Hungry, etc.
The healthcare system in the Czech Republic is beyond great and healthcare is very affordable! They have one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world, much lower than the U.S.
Also, while community-style parenting is alive and well in the villages, Prague is a major city and like major cities around the world it’s hard to know all your neighbors. Prague is also a very transient city, people come and go.
The parts that I wish were different …
At first it was hard living here because the Czechs, one could say, are cold. They are just not very inviting … but it’s part of their culture. However, once you get to know how people are, you get used to it. Also the language has been difficult, my Czech is TERRIBLE!
And I miss my family; they still live in Boston. Extended family plays a big part here in CZ. You always see grandparent with babies walking in the parks.
Best piece of advice I ever heard …
You’re never going to get everything perfect. Just do the best you can.
If we could jump into the DeLorean and race back in time …
I would tell myself to RELAX — it does get easier. I remember in those first three months thinking that it was really really hard and that I wasn’t sure how I was gong to get through it!
We’ve got over 170 countries to go (yeah, whoa.). So if you would like to nominate a mother who is living and raising a family abroad to be featured on MMM’s Global Mamas series, do let us know! Drop a line to: get[dot]msmack[at]gmail[dot]com.
Also, be sure to join the fun over on Facebook. There are giveaways, random polls, jokes, and more. Don’t miss a beat; Like us!