Of course I’ve assimilated…. I can spell Mom can’t I? by Vicky Dal Molin
“To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born…”
…. in a relatively small country town in Australia. However 8 years, 6 months and 18 days ago a much younger, much less wise, much taller (thankyou Mr Blahnik) version of me landed in Manhattan, NY – Party of 1. 8 years, 6 months and 18 days later a now party of 3 find themselves living in the ‘burbs (otherwise known as Queens, NY). Or as one would say when making a NYC restaurant reservation “Dal Molin +2”.
I couldn’t have chosen a more opposite place to live at the time and as I was disembarking that plane in NYC I would never have predicted that I would still be here after 8 years, living in what I used to call outstate NY and Mum to a fabulous 17 month old boy. But life happened, wonderfully so, and while I find myself living away from my family and friends I am now raising my own family in this NYC crazy and being filled with more love and joy than I could have imagined possible (gushy moment: which if you ever met my son you would completely understand… he is the most joyful, fun-loving bundle of sweetness… and I get to be his mum!).
To this day I still consider myself Aussie. How Aussie? Well I still eat Vegemite on toast (and frankly anything resembling toast), I still sound like Pauline Hanson whenever I say “No” (unfortunately), my Uggs are only ever worn at home and I still sing in my head “I Still Call Australia Home” every time I see a Qantas plane flying overhead (which is often given we are right near JFK). Yep that Australian!
But I also see myself as having embraced the American lifestyle and culture and I think I have integrated into this city. I look left then right before crossing the road, I just hung up Valentines Day decorations, I can order a Starbuck coffee and pay for it with my smart phone in less than 13 seconds and I send a card to my son’s grandparents for every Hallmark fabricated holiday (Groundhog Day? Seriously?). Yep that American!
Judging however by the comment my partner made last night I think he may have another thing to say about all this. “You never want to latch on to anything American. It annoys me. You need to assimilate.”
What you ask inspired such a strong statement? Well I apparently had the audacity yesterday (which also happened to be Superbowl Sunday) to state that the Seahawks were indeed NOT the “world champions” of anything but merely the “American” champions of a US only football competition. That maybe a team actually had to compete against at least another country before they could classify themselves “world” anything. Now I know I was being controversial but it did get me thinking about it from a broader perspective – is there maybe a small iota (or maybe dare I say it a medium level) of truth to his statement? Have I not assimilated over and above the superficial and more importantly how does that impact raising my son over time?
When I first moved to Manhattan I started writing about the experience, about the differences and about how crazy yet wonderful I found it here. It really wasn’t until my son was born however and I made the decision to move to Queens that I appreciated just how different. I’ve gone from writing about superficial “they say it this way, we say it that way” to now appreciating that the differences are significantly more deeper than that. That in some ways what is valued and what is most important to me doesn’t always align here, or that what I took for granted as not being big issues growing up and raising a family in Australia – I now have to seriously think about and try and resolve. I find the same question going over and over again in my mind…. How do I raise my son the way I was raised when it really is so different here and there seems to be so many barriers to achieving that? Oh and if that wasn’t enough of a challenge – how do I do that, while being frankly speaking an “older” by way of age Mum.
So that’s the journey I want to explore with you all that read my blog…. Have I assimilated? Do I have to assimilate? What does that really mean anyway when it comes to raising an Italian/Australian/African American child in America, with an American Dad and his very Australian Mum? Big/deep question… who knows maybe we will find some big/deep answers as we take the journey together.