I’m not sure that I strictly believe in ‘signs’. But something is definitely at play. Whenever I’ve been having a wobble something happens that shows us we are on the right path…
As we left London on the underground, I felt sick and shaky. It was time to make the jump. Was it right for us? Was this going to be ok? Then by chance of fate, a family sat down opposite us on the train. The mum was wearing a two year old little girl in an ergo and a four year old boy was sat next to her. Naturally, we got chatting. It turns out they were an Australian family on their way to Heathrow returning to Canberra after having been travelling around Spain, France and the UK. They were us, but at the end of their journey, all in one piece and at peace. I took it as a ‘sign’ and started to relax into the leap of faith we were about to make.
Our first day in Oman had been a little tricky. We were tired after a lost night’s sleep, wrought with emotion. We had been questioning our itinerary free travel choice, wondering if we had created a situation that was more stressful than necessary. Then at the summit of Jebel Shams, in a country where rain is so rare, we chanced upon a beautiful rainbow. Chasing rainbows indeed. We were on the right path.
A night in Muscat in an apartment with WiFi had allowed me to connect with some of my most loved friends. Long conversations full of laughter and tears had helped heal my aching heart. But the next day, I wondered again if what we were doing was the right thing; we would ever find friends like these on the road. Would all connections merely be superficial? Would we meet any families like us?
We decided to fill time on our last day by letting the children play at Qu’rm Park. We had only been at the playground for 10 minutes when slowly 4 English-speaking families started to arrive with children similar in age to Megan and Marley. Megan could her their language. She wanted to play! She has been playing with local children, but had been frustrated by their lack of response when she asks them their names and ages. I watched her start to connect with a little girl obviously the same age as her. An instant friendship was formed. I had been sitting writing a letter, but I closed my notepad and stood up. There was something familiar about these families.
When we had Megan, we hadn’t thought too much about what kind of parents we wanted to be. You don’t really. You focus on the pregnancy and then all of a sudden you have a baby, and you realise you’ve not prepared for this part at all. I had some ideas. I knew I would use washable nappies, breastfeed and keep her close by carrying her (babywearing). Everything else happened organically; we practised elimination communication without even knowing it was a thing, we favoured organic foods and natural products, we turned to homeopathic and other natural remedies to ease her sickness, we brought her into our bed when she woke at night. We were child led in everything. All these things made me feel a bit of an outsider at baby groups so I mostly wrote the groups off, resigned to my own little hippie ways. It wasn’t until later that I realised that my ‘crunchy’ ways were the preserve of a huge number of other mums. After Marley was born, I was privileged to meet many other attachment and natural parents on my parenting journey. I felt reaffirmed by their assurances and support, I became a much happier mum, a much happier woman, because of their company. My life at home was mostly spent in the bubble of these wonderful friends who I had connected with through our shared feelings on how we raise our children, but I remained more than aware that we are in the vast minority. Most people follow a more conventional path. And that’s more than fine with me; to each their own journey.
But here in this park in Muscat, I could feel I had stumbled across kindred spirits. The telltale bottom of a cloth-clad toddler, the organic Frugi clothing, the amber necklaces, the way one mum was talking to her children while they explored their world…
It’s not my style at all, to ask direct questions of strangers, or even to label parenting styles, but I asked one mum if she attachment parented her girls. She was visibly delighted with the question and called over her friends to tell them what I had asked her. It turns out that Bethan, and her friends Lauren, Kay and Nikki all take an ‘earthy’ approach to parenting. Apparently the Muscat ex-pat scene in general favours a natural approach. Good to know!
They were so warm and welcoming, inviting us to share their food and offering us homemade cake (always a winner!), whilst we spent a lovely afternoon in their company, and our children in the company of their beautiful children. It was exactly what me and the children needed. And when it was time for them to go home, noting that we were at a loss until it was time to go to the airport, we were extended invitations to their homes.
We followed the lovely Bethan to her house and enjoyed a long conversation over coffee whilst the children played with her daughter. Easy free-flowing chatter about children and travel and life. I was sad to leave (not as sad as Megan who clutched her gift of a drawing from Bethan’s eldest to the point of boarding the plane!), but my heart was singing at this gift of a chance encounter and I left Oman with a smile on my face and a slightly fuller heart.
Bethan, thank you so much for your hospitality. Small kindnesses are always taken as big gestures by me and my family. You gave me hope that there are many soul sisters waiting for me on the road. I will always have my amazing friends at home, but wonderful people like you are also out there, waiting to walk with us for a while and make the journey that little bit more comfortable.
So, signs, gifts, twists of fate, serendipity. Whatever you want to call it. It does seem that I am being given exactly what I need at just the right moment. Of course it could just be complete coincidence. But I think I prefer to believe otherwise. After all, who wouldn’t want to think the universe has their back? 🙂