Home > City mama, motherhood > Decisions, if only theoretical

Decisions, if only theoretical

The Husband, some years ago, applied for a job with the IAEA, the International Atomic something or another. He didn’t get the job — he wasn’t really qualified for it — but it was a fun couple of weeks while we talked about what it would be like to live in Vienna.

The job’s come up again and this time he’s actually fully qualified. So he asked if he should apply again.

The job is great. It would look stellar on his resume, open up new doors. It’s more money. Not only is it more money, it’s not taxed (!) and the job includes a housing allowance, health care, and moving expenses.

And The Child would benefit so much from living in another country. She’d learn another language. The educational system, especially for young children, is world’s better in Austria. She could go to a Waldorf school! And it’s Vienna — how cool would it be to grow up, even for a few years, in Vienna?! A loft on the Danube! How fucking cool would that be?

It’s obviously better all round for The Husband and The Child.

And I would be a stay-at-home mom in a foreign country. I would have no friends, no family, not even a smattering of the language. (I like to say I can eat in ten languages, but German isn’t one of them.) I can see where it would be a great time — don’t get me wrong, I love the idea, in the abstract. Another culture, another country, anther world! And the food! The museums! Europe! But I can also see becoming isolated. Depressed. Lonely.

And there’s the fact that it’s Austria. My entire knowledge of Austria is based on very outdated information but I do know that racism is still an issue there. Not a problem for us directly — we’re fair skinned, light eyes, light hair — but I’m still very deeply uncomfortable with the idea of exposing my daughter to that kind of racism so early. I’ve gone through a lot of trouble to combat racism, picking one of the few integrated neighborhoods in the Northeast.

And finally, there’s the family thing. My family would not react well to the idea of us taking The Child away. It would be like a nuclear meltdown, frankly.

If McCain wins, it’s a no-brainer. But assuming the country suddenly becomes sane and elects Obama, then it’s a really difficult choice. It’s best for The Husband. Great for the Child. But it’s a 50/50 good/bad thing for me and if the bad thing happens then it’s really bad. I don’t want that fear to hold us back but I don’t want to martyr myself either.

Of course, all of this is purely theoretical. The chances that my husband will get the job are low. He’s an American with only a little German, and frankly his nationality counts against him more than the language thing. But there’s still an outside chance and I’ve got to contemplate it.

Categories: City mama, motherhood
  1. October 28, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Do it! You won’t be the only American expatriate in Vienna. There will be a whole community of them, and in my experience expat communities tend to me more diverse and inclusive than any communities back home. You’ll be stressed, you’ll go through the stages of culture shock, you’ll make friends, you’ll get homesick, you’ll travel, you’ll experience, and you won’t regret any of it. At least that’s my prediction. Good luck with your decision!

  2. October 30, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    I’d do it too, especially when you child is young. No friends to tear her away from, perfect opportunity to learn German fluently, and so many opportunities to travel. I did my college semester abroad in Vienna and found it an outstanding diving board to travel east and west in Europe. I can’t speak about the racism…I know politically there are hmmm, interesting things happening over there too with who’s in power, etc. But you will find many expats.

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