When I Became a Dad in a Foreign Country
Updated: Sep 16, 2020
I was 30 years old when my first son was born and had been living in the UK for 7 years at that point. Looking back, I never imagined while growing up in my cosy family unit in Cape Town, that I’d ever wanted to raise a family of my own anywhere else in the world. Least of all because it’s such a beautiful place, but I always had a very strong bond with my sisters and close relatives and from a very young age I always had this ideal picture in my mind that my children would one day experience what it’s like to grow up in a big family, spoiled with love and affection from everyone around them.
When my son was born, it was just me and my wife, on our own in a foreign country with no family to call on for support. It was one of the most bittersweet moments of my life. When we came home from the hospital with our son for the first time, there was no welcome party or family queueing up with well wishes for the new arrival and I guess I wanted it to be a big fuss, after all, it was a huge turning point in our lives and I wanted to celebrate it with the one's dearest to me.
The person I missed having around most of all was my mom, I needed her to give me the assurance that I was doing a good job and allow her the privilege of spending time with her grandson. It took me a long time to come to terms with this, still today I often think about what life would be like, had I never left my family behind to see the world and explore new things. I guess we all pay a price for the choices we make.
"I think all these things was subconsciously in the back of my mind, influencing my decisions all along"
The plan was always to travel for a few years, enjoy the experience and eventually return after we’ve had our fill.
On the other hand, the attraction of being in a place like London is that you are presented with such a great opportunity to succeed in life and build a life for your family and I guess we got sucked into the allure of it all. Never before coming to the U.K. had we seen such convenience and access to things being offered to people, like the education system, transport, benefits, healthcare and travel to name a few. These are things I’d never seen or heard of before. I remember the very first time we arrived in London, I couldn’t fathom how the tube was able to run underneath the River Thames or even the Eurostar, taking people underneath the entire Channel to another country, all these things completely blew my mind, I was dumbfounded and equally fascinated.
Growing up in South Africa as a person of colour, I had heard many stories about segregation, people fighting for freedom, a corrupt government, lack of opportunities and even worst, and sometimes I think all these things was subconsciously in the back of my mind, influencing my decisions all along. We all want more for our children and want to give them the best start in life, and I felt that we could offer that to them by staying in the U.K. My eldest is 11 years old now and we live a comfortable life with my wife and youngest who is 7 and we’ve adopted the U.K as our home, but one day we hope to return to SA to once again reconnect with the family and the place we once called home.