From international aid worker to stay-at-home mom

I still can’t believe I’m a mom sometimes. Just last night I was sitting on the couch with my 2-year old next to me and my 2-month old in my arms. I looked down at them and it suddenly hit me – holy crap, I have two kids! It’s not so strange considering that I’ve always wanted children and thought that eventually I would. It’s strange considering that three years ago I was living quite a different life than the one I have now – single with no kids and working as a development/aid worker in Africa (the two usually go hand-in-hand). At the time, having children seemed like a far-off and intangible dream that I preferred to keep in the back of my mind. I was 35, though, and I couldn’t help but think about the fact that I was not yet married or had children. However, doing so set alarm bells ringing, a panicky knot in my gut and the big question looming in my head “WILL IT HAPPEN FOR ME?”

Well, a lot can happen in three years (even in one year!). Looking at my life now – with two kids, a husband, and a house outside the city – my stint as an international aid worker seems like a lifetime ago. And even though the lifestyle of an aid worker is dichotomous with the one I have now, I enjoyed it immensely at the time. I was living my dream (one of them, at least). Sure, the living and working conditions were horrid at times. I was living in developing (i.e. poor) countries, staying in tents or compounds with my colleagues, taking bucket baths, using pit latrines, battling the elements (no a/c) and working 60 plus hour weeks.  However, I was doing something that was truly meaningful to me, and I never once had to question or quantify my life or career.

Now that I’m a mom, it’s easy for me to live in the sheltered and isolated bubble of stay-at-home motherhood. I definitely have been guilty of it since my son was born two years ago (and it’s even worse now since my daughter was born earlier this year). Whereas three years ago my main concerns were whether Sudan would break out in a civil war or how to convince the locals not to drink water directly from the river, my main concerns now are my toddler’s food allergies or getting my baby to sleep through the night. Although as each day passes and I get further and further away from my former life, it’s never too far away from my mind. I am constantly thinking about my time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan or development worker in Thailand and South Sudan. I guess the point in writing this blog is to take those experiences and somehow connect them to my life now. I’m not sure if I’ll have anything worldly or wise to say, but it’s a chance for me to reflect on my experiences and perhaps open my eyes back up to global issues and impart some life lessons to my children. For now, though, I’ll see if I can actually get a blog going (even that seems impossible to do with two young kids!).

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Andy
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 10:02:26

    I got something that said you had read my blog so i had a glance at yours. I have a question since it seems you have been where I am now. I am 31 and about to finish my time in the PC. What path did you take that led you to internation development work? My wife and I are interested in it but aren’t quite sure what path to take to get there. We aren’t completely sold on development work, but are interested in learning more. Thanks


    • Worldly Girl turned Mom
      Sep 17, 2012 @ 05:19:45

      Hi Andy, Thanks for checking out my blog. As for your question – I came to the decision to pursue international public health in my 2nd year of PC service. I was mainly teaching during that time, but I had a bunch of other projects as well. Teaching was pretty tedious for me, but with the other projects, I was able to do things that were more interesting and meaningful to me. One of these projects was organizing a kids’ camp. While at the camp, I came to the realization that these kids can’t enjoy themselves or do anything without good health. Once I realized that health is the most important thing to me, I looked into grad school programs for international public health and went from there. So I would say during your PC service, try to take on a variety of projects and see which ones are the most important/meaningful/interesting to you. But you don’t have to find your focus during your service. Most of my friends from PC went to DC to work, some went to grad school, and others went to other countries to work. It will come to you eventually as long as you keep exploring and doing things you enjoy. Best of luck to you and keep me updated!


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