Dear Our One-Year-Old Growing Little Mouse,
This week you turned one! Your first year has both flown by and yet also I can recall every little step of the way, every week with every little new change that happened between last summer and now. It has been one of the greatest years of our lives, being together with you and seeing you grow.
Your parents traveled to the Czech Republic over ten years ago – we decided to embark on a big adventure, partially because of the yet unsatisfied curiosity of wanting to experience living in another country and have some international adventures. I felt that there was always some element missing to my life that I thought I could find elsewhere and went to see if I could find it.
A couple years of an adventure abroad turned into realizing that the pace of life and what this country could afford us were in some ways very unexpectedly better than what we experienced before, living in the United States, specifically, in recession-era Seattle. In our adopted home, we had never had so much free time to spend together because of the favorable work-life balance here and interesting cultures and places to visit were never this close as when we lived in a more isolated corner of the country. We truly never expected to stay this long or that life could be so good across the world from where we came from.
A couple of years quickly turned into ten years and we realized that remaining here in the Czech Republic would actually be the best and most practical place to start our family. The reasons were well-thought out. This country affords its inhabitants universal healthcare at a high standard. The maternity leave is among the longest in the world (and is paid)… that meant between two to four years to be with you and see you every step of the way of you growing from a baby to a toddler. I don’t have to worry about making ends meet while I take this time to care and be with you and we can have our own daily adventures together. We can also meet other mama and baby friends who experience the same. I’m always there to see every new thing you do, to go to swim classes and the park with you. The culture here in your birth country is incredibly family-oriented, meaning lots of activities for you. We don’t need a car to go places. It is the seventh safest and most peaceful country in the world. A real “live and let live” sort of place, which is why we feel so content here. All of these things were so worth staying here in the Czech Republic for you.
That being said, I do want you to know where you come from. Roots and identity are very important to me and I hope to show you your “true” home country of your citizenship as often as I can manage. I sometimes worry about the consequences of you growing up in this peculiar third culture mix…. different than the United States that we grew up in, and different than being a Czech in the Czech Republic. Although the United States of our youth arguably doesn’t exist as it used to (as things have changed so much in the past twenty years), I want you to know it as well as you can and where you “come from” and what makes us Americans. I know you will come to feel very at home here in the Czech Republic but my hope is that you can feel that way equally about two places and know many ways of life. At least it won’t be boring!
It isn’t lost on me that the reason you were born in a different country than your and our home country is that we wanted to experience life differently. You will have had a different kind of childhood than you would have in the States but whatever decision we make, wherever we go and wherever we live, we are doing it for the good of our family and what’s best for all of us as a unit. It will all be so good.
We love you more than you will know, our peek-a-boo Mouse.
Happy first birthday to you <3