Thursday, 28 January 2010

Prisoner of Mother England

Since coming to New Zealand seven weeks ago Dan and I have engaged in many introductory conversations. People ask us where we're from, which is more difficult to answer than you'd think. Yesterday Dan told someone that although he was born in Auckland, he was raised in Hong Kong and England. The guy said, 'Ah, yeah, thought you sounded like a pom.' I cracked up, I mean, who calls someone a POM?!

Dan later translated that a pom is an Antipodean term for Brits. I don't think British people LOVE being called poms, but Dan assured me it's not too controversial, like calling an American a Yank or something. Some say that 'pom' originated from the British convicts first shipped to Australia back in the day who were called Prisoners of Mother England. What I find hilarious is that Aussies and Kiwis are still calling Brits Prisoners of Mother England today.

After four years, there is a special place in my heart for Mother England. I have many great friends and fond memories on that island nation. It was my home, I am very thankful for it and it was definitely where I needed to be. But after leaving England for good, I can finally say... THAT WAS HARD.

I'm not disrespecting England here – it really has little to do with England - but I will admit that my time there felt like a four-year season of being stretched. Of being slightly, but constantly uncomfortable. For some reason, and not for lack of effort, it was a place where I personally found it difficult to thrive. And since I'm into thriving, that was hard. Sometimes, in the midst, I felt like the season of stretching would never end.

But it has. And it's only dawning on me slowly.

So while I don't take the shipping of prisoners across the world to populate a colony lightly, I have to admit the term pom makes me smile. Because only now am I starting to feel free from Mother England myself and all the difficult, but important, lessons she had for me. I smile because I can feel that England is losing it's grip on me. A few weeks ago it was still in me, but now I feel it fading.

It's taken me a while to realise that England is no longer my framework. After four years of pressing on and trying to stay positive, it's difficult to believe I've crossed the finish line. That hopefully I have learned something. That I am in a new season.

I'm not sharing all this to gloat, but because I know quite a few people who've been in similar seasons of stretching where it's felt like it would never end. And I wanted to state a truth: seasons end. They are for a purpose, and they end.

If you're in a stretching season, keep it up and remember that it's not forever. If you're not in a stretching season, enjoy it. If, like me, you've just finished, then well done. Here's to the next season.


amyrenee said...

A great reminder, Pom. I'm in a stretching season at the moment, so I will envy your time on the beach, knowing that summer is in sight for me, too.

So, if you are an American, do the Kiwi's feel a kinship? Or, do they call us Yanks, too?

Nadine said...

Beautiful post.

It's wonderful when you realize that a door has closed, even though sometimes the effects take a while to wear off.

You write so beautifully - I hope a book is in the works!

Jenny said...

hooray for the end of stretching seasons! i think i was in one that first 11 months of motherhood :)

alisha said...

Hooray indeed for the end! Jenny, I'm glad you're out the other side and have a beautiful (mobile) boy to show for it.

Amy, the summer IS coming! And it's amazing. :) Btw, the only place I've felt a remote sense of kinship is Scotland, where anti-Englishness just slightly trumps anti-Americanism. Haha...

Nadine, thanks so much for the encouragement!

La Dolce Vita said...

I am with Amy and I definetely NEED (for my mental sanity) to come out of this stretching season too. It was also one of my new year's resolutions...but I have to admit that what you wrote is seems it never ends...but for sure it will. ;) And can't wait to start over again a new season!

alisha said...

Mario, here's to your next season too!

Matt and Joey said...

I have a good (American) friend in a long-term relationship with a Brit. She likes to tease him by breaking into this sing-song chant: "All Pommies are bastards!" I think it comes from somewhere, but I have no idea where.

Yes, Jenny, I concur. Parenthood is stretching and I'm not just talking about my waistline for nine months. Even though I know I'm in the midst of it, there are so many sweet moments, so many quiet times as my little newborn sleeps, that I can sometimes forget that this season is so unlike anything I've done before.

It reminds me a little of C.S. Lewis' description of how we experience eternity and joy in this in-between time after Christ has come and yet we're not in heaven: "Already, but not-yet." Summer breezes in the off-season. I'm being stretched, but there's beauty here too.

TheLadyWhoLunches said...

This post really resonates with me. I am there right now. I see the light, however, and am confident I can make it. I'm working on building a writing career, making money, building social groups and staying positive. I can't wait to feel what you must be feeling right now...and you're right, it's not exactly England's fault. It's more America's fault perhaps for making me an American. Less than a year to go...

Di said...

Bro you've gotta watch those poms eh.

I have a very strong feeling that I will be feeling this exact feeling if/when I leave the UK.

In fact the fact that I even just said that means I'm already considering it. Shh. Don't tell anyone.

xx Di

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