9.3.09

Coffee Mornings

The first time I was invited to a coffee morning, I was insulted. Newly arrived in Houston, married only two weeks, 27-years-old. What would I be wanting with a coffee morning?

A coffee morning? I mean how retro, how sexist, and what a waste of time. I associated the term with housewives; housewives with not enough housework to do, and with a penchant for gossip but with little of interest to talk about. That wasn’t me. Coffee mornings were a throwback to my mother’s generation and further, weren't they? I was a career woman, without a work permit at the time, but a career woman, nonetheless, above such idleness. I only gathered with people when there was a specific agenda or alcohol, or preferably both, on offer. Yada, yada, yada crap. I didn’t say any of this aloud, you understand, but politely accepted the invitation and produced such a diatribe to bend the ear of my husband.

I also used to think that any woman who didn’t work clearly wasn’t ambitious and that absence of ambition was worthy of derision. I once said that I wasn’t going to send my children to the international school too.

So this morning I went to a coffee morning for parents of Grade 1 students at the international school and was grateful that I didn’t have to rush to an offce after school drop-off. There was one dad there; a brave Swede. I can’t imagine many Irish men turning up at such an event (but could in fact see my Danish husband yapping away with the ladies if I ever earned enough to keep us in the style to which I have become accustomed. Yeah like that’s ever going to happen). I had a nice time. I have embraced the merits of such a gathering.

Maybe I’ve grown up and divested myself of my ‘I’m-never-going-to-be-expat wife’ (expletive removed) chip on my shoulder. I clearly remember the evening I made that declaration by the way, only a few months after I started dating my husband. (You’d think he’d have had the sense to run).

Or, have I just become an expat wife. Mmm. What do you think?

11 comments:

iver said...

I linked to your blog via the Expat section of the Daily Telegraph... I enjoy you view on Norge. I lived there a few years ago while attending UiO and would never trade the adventure... mvh

Melissa said...

I'm sorry.
Would you even explain the "coffee morning" soemwhere in your article
Or must I read another tired list of charming complaints of living an envied expat life?
No, really, I read your article looking for articulate insight; came away still not knowing what a "coffee morning" is. cheers, melissa

GutsyWriter said...

Sounds like we have both traveled a lot in our lives. Glad you enjoyed the coffee chat. I understood that you no longer work outside the home, am I right? I think blogging is like chatting too. Don't you?

OSLO said...

Iver. Thank you.
Melissa. What a lovely comment to wake up to. It's not an article, it's a blog posting. Where was the 'tired list of charming complaints of living an envied expat life'???? In your head, maybe, because it wasn't here. A coffee morning is merely a gathering of people to share coffee and conversation. What happened to your sense of humour?

OSLO said...

Gutsy,
I do still work outside the home when my freelance work requires it - interviews and meetings mostly. Most of the editing and writing work I do, I do from home. It's really not possible without family back-up and a husband who works normal hours to work full-time. It isn't because I haven't wanted to.

Irish Mammy said...

Hi Oslo

That is so funny because I can associate with all your ex-pat hang ups. Right now I don't have a job (lost my job) and worse still don't have a circle of coffee morning drinkers!

But there was a time I too scoffed at such a gathering as I was "working" and far too busy to join such a thing. It is strange beng a SAHM, new experience for me. But due to finances it won't stay that way forever so I will re-join the working brigade after baby no.2.

Enjoy your time with your kids, it is precious and goes too fast. Just because we are SAHM doesn't mean we are "on the trash heap". At least De Valera valued us ... *tongue in cheek*.

JEDA said...

I took my kids out of the International School in Bergen two years ago. I kind of miss the coffee mornings. Kind of. I never much liked the round of "My husband does this. Oh but my husband does that, and next year we might get to do it in KL with a driver!" that opened every meeting (mostly, I guess, because I'm not, nor ever have been, 'oil' and could never compete). But there were always a few of us who packed up and went out to lunch after the polite chit chat. That part I miss.

And, by the way, I wouldn't have pegged you as a serial complainer. I mean, sure there was all that whining about the snow a few weeks ago. But, God! Who wouldn't complain about that? How is that mountain of snow? Any smaller?

OSLO said...

Irish Mammy. You're absolutely right about the trash heap - or at least feeling you're not on one forever - and I have come around to the fact that I'm fortunate not to HAVE to work as I can spend time with my children and not be stressed out all the time. I've friends at home who do the same. It's not just an expat thing. Often childcare costs/job losses dictate that women need to be SAHM, don't they?
I have a friend in Drumcondra pregnant with her third so she'll have 3 under 5 when the baby comes in June. If you are anywhere near there, email me as she's a lovely down-to-earth person.
Jeda - thanks for the vote of confidence. Even Norwegians are complaining about the weather this year. It's certainly not an expat foible, is it? Our snow mountain is beyond big now. Absolutely crazy. Know exactly what you mean about the coffee morning scene; sounds very like my first experience. As you say though, often you have to wade through such gatherings to meet the people you click with, especially when you are new in a place.

GutsyWriter said...

I understand what you mean about husband back-up. It's important, plus you have a young kid to take care of. My youngest is now 14, but he still needs me, and I'm writing at home in the afternoons when he gets back from school.

Batgirl said...

If she doesn't like the blog, she doesn't have to read it :-) I quite enjoy it, and reserve my right to complain on my own blog as well. It's all part of the dark and dreary winter season in Norway. (And boy am I glad I'm not the only one who has worried about becoming an expat wife!)

hexe said...

I'm not an expat, but might have in the past made some statements about how I would never be a SAHM and how "they" don't have enough to do and need to get a job. Karma is a bitch isn't it?