On becoming more English, or something

England expat life travels

I wonder how much of me is me by dint of who I am and how much is American made and irrefutably so. I have found myself becoming more British in some ways, whatever that may mean. I say “hiya”  and “alright?” to my co-workers and people I meet in the shops instead of “hey” and “how’s it going?”, as one is expected to do (and as I’ve complained about before). It’s a little thing but it comes easily now. I often find myself craving a nice cup of tea , especially after a hard day at work or when the weather’s gloomy. It still hasn’t overtaken my love for java though. On the other hand, I am still, without a doubt, the most emotional person I know, in a very extroverted way. The loudest, the smiliest….all of those things. Vaguely brash. Obviously American.

Teaching at a school where I am the only American, but where that often isn’t noticed for a while due to the students being second language learners, has created an interesting environment. It happens so often-a student I’ve had for a few days or weeks will finally ask me “Are you American?” and when I say yes I look for a little glint of disappointment or something, some sort of acknowledgement that yes, I am a little different than the others here, and is that okay with you? I can never tell if it’s okay or not. I always assure them that it’s okay, I married an Englishman and I live here now, and I make sure to use British English, but sometimes I feel like they’re worried-like, they paid to come to England and learn English from English people, so why is this fraud my teacher? No one has complained though.

A few days ago we sat talking and I told Jon about a little fear that is inside me, that I will lose my identity, or the American part of it, if we have children and raise them in England. That my future kids will just be annoyed that they have a mother who makes them learn the US national anthem and makes them celebrate Thanksgiving in November even if they don’t fly to the US to see the American contingent of relatives. That they won’t see themselves as half English and half American, but just English because, from the outside, American and English seem so similar and what’s the point of making a big deal out of the differences, and kids seriously don’t care anyway-and teenagers care even less and get annoyed when you tell them who/how to be?

These are just the things I worry about. And maybe, hopefully, I’m just being too dramatic and by the time these are legitimate things for Jon and I to worry about I will have a) figured out a solution, or b) stopped caring so much. Sometimes I think it’d be easier if Jon and I came from vastly different cultures. If I was Spanish or Chinese, I could teach them my language and how to cook traditional foods, the most basic, most memorable parts of a culture. But that’s not an option really. And as it is, we’re both white as a cracker, looks-wise, so there’s no bonus to having a child who looks like a mixture of two different cultures-just whitey white white for us. So I get scared of being unable to make my future children recognize their dual histories, the two cultures that make them who they are.

I don’t have those future hypothetical kids yet, so I guess I shouldn’t let myself worry. But I do continuously worry about myself, and what I’m losing while I’m gaining so many other things in this life.

7 thoughts on “On becoming more English, or something”

  1. My friend Suzy growing up had an English mother and an American father, though she was born and raised in Ohio. As a teenager I found her mother’s Englishness cool and cute, and Suzy’s bicultural access and perspective enviable. Her mom made us sausage rolls and tea after school and Suzy threw a Boxing Day part for her friends at her house every year and we thought it was so cool. Suzy was and is very much American, but was really proud of having a foot in both camps, so to speak. If she was ever embarrassed by her mom it was for normal teenaged reasons.

    I know it’s not the same. But I just wanted to say that with no disrespect to my own family, I was super jealous that Suzy could go over to England for weeks at a time during the summers, and that she could claim more than just whitebread Ohio suburban roots.

    Your unborn kids are lucky!

    1. Evie! Woman, you warm my heart. It is wonderful to hear of someone who has done this and worked it out, and well. I seriously know of no one in our situation that I can even vaguely relate to. Thank you.

  2. It’s not about where you’re from or nationalities. It’s about what is in you.You are a proud American and Jon is a proud Brit. you will bring this across to your kids just fine. And if I am still around you can bet your red, white , and blue ass I will make sure those kids know they are American!!!!

  3. Ashley the way you feel is understandable and normal you have been going through alot of changes. I think you are your surroundings you will never loose your identity. you will be an amazing mom! your kids will be fine and blessed to have parents that are from different places in the world.It will be a fun time. You will always be AMERICAN!!

  4. Aww lovey!!! I’ve met several friends from work and even some of Rob’s friends that have American parents and NONE of them resent it. In fact, they seem to hang on to that bit that makes us so unquestionably American and are just a little bit louder and a little bit prouder than their British half 🙂 Our hypothetical bubalas will love having the excuse to boast about being different, because let’s face it – every Brit wishes they had that extra bit of attitude in them but they won’t say it aloud for sake of being British 😀

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