There is nothing “normal” about this photo. Thanks to creating a radical change in our family’s lives and immigrating to Mexico with our children in 2012, we no longer live under that paradigm of life in a 21st-century modern society.
I can remember being STUCK in traffic—more often than not—anxiously and impatiently tapping my fingers on the steering wheel, moving along inch by inch, so fed up with that being the “norm”, knowing in my heart that it didn’t have to be and feeling so READY for a change.
We were DONE with breathing in toxic exhaust fumes and missing out on active, joyful engagement in life, on hold in bottleneck traffic. That was not how we wanted to spend our precious, once-in-a-lifetime time. I would take pictures from the dashboard of my car to the sea of bumpers in front and send them to my husband with the message, “One thing I will NOT miss”.
And I don’t, not one little bit.
Immigrating to Mexico with Children
Since immigrating to Mexico in 2012, we have gone from daily traffic congestion and the frequent witnessing of road rage to driving on jungle roads and 16th-century cobblestone streets. We have traded in mind-numbing, lost hours in the car to engagement in more meaningful activities of our choice.
If one of my jobs as a Mother is to facilitate and nurture the emotional well-being and development of my children, then moving to Mexico has been one great step in supporting that endeavor.
We immigrated to mainland Mexico when our twins Liam and Mairead were eight years old, during the middle of their third-grade year. Within three months of our arrival, we became Permanent Residents of Mexico. The process went rather smoothly because we did our homework prior to our move and had all of our required paperwork in order. Patience, planning and having the right legal liaison were in our favor as well (for a referral in Puerto Vallarta and San Miguel de Allende, feel free to PM me).
Our twins were seasoned Mexico travelers prior to our move, having spent the first eight years of their lives adventuring back and forth between San Diego and Baja California. Frank’s firefighter schedule and my school teacher’s allowed us blocks of time off together as a family and we took full advantage of them to head South!
Mairead and Liam fondly referred to their Baja home as their “other home” and Mexico forever became ingrained in my children’s hearts as a place of fun, discovery and family connection.
Aside from the inevitable emotion of parting ways with our loved ones, the move and preparations leading up to our departure from San Diego were relatively easy as it was something we were all on the same page about and ready for.
We arrived in San Pancho, Nayarit on a Friday, and that following Monday our formerly homeschooled twins began their first ever five-day-a-week program at Escuela del Mundo. Surrounded by tropical trees and open green space, our children experienced freedom and discovery like never before.
While the Spanish immersion component of their new school was a bit of an initial challenge for The Reds, they acclimated rather quickly, having been exposed to Spanish in a border city for the first eight years of their life in San Diego. Even without that advantage, we all know how sponge-like children’s brains are, and if given the opportunity, are able to assimilate and adapt with great ease. I do believe they were the only Mairead and Liam their classmates had ever met, and their new friends and teachers warmly accepted them and made great efforts at learning and pronouncing their unique, Celtic names.
From San Pancho to Sayulita
After Escuela del Mundo in San Pancho, they went to Costa Verde International in Sayulita, Nayarit—a neighboring village just 10 minutes down the main jungle road, famous for its bohemian, surfing culture. Moving to another school was indeed another change and adjustment for our children, but one that they embraced wholeheartedly with the amazing, trusting, positive attitudes that they approach most things in life with.
Located a few blocks from the beach, Costa Verde is a bilingual, multi-cultural school that focuses on environmental sustainability and the advancement of ecological responsibility in Mexico…and surfing! In fact, it was part of their PE program!
Mairead and Liam continued to explore, discover and develop their own sense of community and connection within the larger context of their family’s move and immigration to Mexico. Their language skills progressed and improved to where at this point, a year or so into our move, they could easily flip back and forth between English and Spanish.
From Coastal Mexico to Central Mexico
After a year and a half of coastal jungle living, we were ready to experience another part of Mexico and set our compasses on something completely different. Sight unseen but with lots of research, we chose San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato in the interior of the country—the birthplace of Miguel Ignacio Allende, one of the leaders of the insurgent army during Mexico’s War of Independence. San Miguel de Allende was the first municipality to be declared independent from Spanish rule, and as such, life here is steeped in history, culture, national pride with one festivity after another.
Our children are developing their mental and physical capacities in a loving, nurturing and intellectually stimulating environment of freedom and growth, with two hands-on parents who are no longer trying to keep their heads above water in the rat race.
A Life Without Limits
They see a life without limits, that anything is possible, that dreams do come true, that carving one’s own way in this diverse world is not just possible, but doable. Our children have witnessed their parents reinvent themselves from Teacher and Firefighter to Writer/Relocation Consultant and Photovoltaic Designer. They have gone from being monolingual homeschoolers to bilingual life learners, interacting and learning with not only Mexican Nationals but also with many other adventure-driven families from various parts of this globe. Immigrating to Mexico with our children was the best decision that we could have made!
From San Diego to Mexico, we embrace our re-invented, re-inspired lives south of the border and give thanks daily for Mexico and her people’s warmth, hospitality, graciousness, and generosity…for welcoming and adopting us O’Gradys and allowing us to feel at home.
May the adventures continue!
From My Retired Firefighter Hubby, Frank: Immigrating to Mexico with Children, A Father’s Perspective
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