I’m sitting on a park bench in the brand new playground near our house watching Ingrid explore. Glancing at the sky, I wonder how long we can stay before those angry looking clouds burst into the daily rainstorm here.
The park is deserted. It often is these days.
It’s the rainy season, so the neighborhood nannies (or mothers) won’t bring their kids to the playground. It’s too wet. It’s too cold. It might rain.
Even if they were here – I would still be sitting on this bench alone.
I don’t know if it’s because the nannies feel uncomfortable befriending a “senora” or an “Americana” or if it’s my fault for not trying to integrate myself, but even when the park is full of children and sunshine – I will be alone.
I can’t even say this is just my experience with Bogota, because I had this exact same scenario when we were living in Arlington. I would bring Ingrid to the park nearly every day, but I would be the only mother among the nannies – many of whom were foreign born, thus the language barrier is hardly unique to Bogota.
My experience with stay at home motherhood is one of loneliness. Endless days of routine and isolation that seemingly blur together and drag on for eternity. Counting the hours until Gray comes home and I finally have someone to talk to.
It was a similar feeling during my short three months of stay-at-home motherhood in the US. And although Ingrid was much younger and thus not interested in or old enough for things like the free museums or many parks, I had a running buddy in my mother-in-law, beautiful and plentiful trails for long walks or runs, and family less than 3 miles away whose doors were always open if I needed a break or just another adult to talk to. We had access to things like libraries, story-time, swim lessons, and just about a billion modern parks within a few miles.
Things are just different here. We have household help. I almost never do laundry and I definitely never vacuum or clean the floors. I am able to freelance very part-time and pay for help.
But, we don’t have trails for running with a stroller. There aren’t any libraries within 30 minutes of driving. Pools are not a thing here, and until a few weeks ago, we only had 1 park within our neighborhood that wasn’t falling apart or hazardous.
But things are getting better. I have at least one American friend in my neighborhood that we meet up with at the park, our daughters go to the same baby gym classes, and we share the same frustrations and loneliness of Bogota and motherhood.
I have forced myself out of my introverted bubble to make small-talk with some of the nannies I regularly see.
I joined an expat playgroup and have befriended several women there. I have made friends at church, joined a bible study, initiated play dates, dinner parties and meet ups. We’re over a quarter through our tour here in Bogota, and I am finally feeling at “home” and connected. Our last two moves, this feeling didn’t come until a year after arrival, and so I feel hope.
Hope for the next 18 months. Hope that it will hurt a little when we have to leave.