About Me

Well, hello there! Meet a Third Culture Kid (TCK) who was born in Switzerland and grew up in France to a British mum and an American dad. I’ve lived most of my life in France, but also in Germany, the UK, Switzerland, China and the United States.

I’ve been married for almost a decade to a monocultural American I call “Tall Mountain”, or TM for short. We fell in love in Malaysia and were married in Europe (in France and in Switzerland) where we were living at the time and then, six months after getting married, we sold everything we had to move somewhere new to him and new to me – neither the US nor Europe. We chose Shanghai, China. It was a really unique season in our newlywed lives to pour into one another and make new friendships, to grow stronger together despite culture-shock… AND to make the important realization that the other’s culture wasn’t so dumb and backwards after all. It was there in China that little orphan kids decided to name the tall white laowai, “Tall Mountain”.

In 2009, we moved to the middle of the United States and boy, was it ever a shock to the system. I hadn’t lived in my passport culture (one of them) for twenty years. I sounded like an American but felt no sense of belonging to the US. I was a so-called “hidden immigrant” and buried within me was so much grief. At the time, I found great relief writing about the TCK tensions I was faced with during my ongoing transition. Perhaps those brutally honest reflections will one day resurface in the form of a book or something else. In the meantime, blogging here has a similar therapeutic purpose for my day to day life as a TCK mama.

My blog allows me as an Adult Third Culture Kid (ATCK) and a mother to three children to first and foremost remember and mark my journey as a young mother. We often call the threesome by their middles: “Ayodelé” (8yrs – means ‘Joy is in the house’ in Yoruba) and 6 year old girl “Délice” (born on Christmas Day – name means ‘delight’ in French) and then there is our littlest boy “Amani” (‘peace’) born December 2015. So, I’ll readily admit it, my blog serves a totally selfish purpose. I want to record the changes in myself and in my thought process and to be able to look back on how I navigated the tension of wanting to raise my children to be multicultural, multilingual and most importantly global-minded in a monocultural setting.

Today, we are back in France. We’ve been back for four years already! How time flies! We moved to a village in the French pre-Alps in June 2016. We all speak English, French and we have more recently been actively inviting Mandarin into our home. German to follow suit. I get excited about language, culture, travel, trail running, natural birth but also delicious food and gorgeous design or deeper topics like injustice, adoption, faith and freedom I have found in following Jesus. If any of these things interest you, then welcome to the virtual dinner table conversation! You can also follow me on twittter: @tckmama and Instagram, where my handle is @thirdculturemama.

Feel free to drop me a line anytime here: thirdculturemama[at]gmail.com

Photos by Miriam Kunz

29 thoughts on “About Me

  1. blog identity crisis… I think not… “So, I’ll readily admit it, my blog serves a totally selfish purpose. I want to record the changes in myself and in my thought process and to be able to look back on how I navigated the tension of wanting to raise my child to be multicultural, multilingual and most importantly global-minded in a monocultural setting.” You even gave us all a warning, to record the changes. You’ve changed.

  2. Esther, you write so well! I can see your thoughts and reflections helping a lot of people to process their own experiences. Huge hugs, we miss you guys!

  3. Guys, we miss you so much! Where are you based these days? São Paulo, Geneva, ailleurs en Suisse? Thanks for the encouragement and if you are in CH, we need to get out families together! What do you think about that?

  4. Dear TCKMama,

    I came across your blog today and I was over joyed! We are South Africans in Japan, with a little 18 month girl born here and now going back to South Africa with a little one who has three English words and the rest Japanese. I have really enjoyed and been encouraged by everything I have read. A most serendipitous find as I mull over what relocation and what a possible future move for our wee family will mean and how it will play out. We are resigned to hope! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and life vignettes.

    1. Oh Laura, thank you so much for stopping by! What an exciting journey you are on!
      You know, I have often seen blogs or websites writing about the Third Culture as being resigned to accept a lifetime of rootlessness, bitterness and unresolved grief – but that is not the end of the story. If there is any more of a hopeful message I can leave you with then for me, this blog is entirely worth writing. There is no regret in growing up between cultures for me. In fact, we both long to raise our kids as TCKs one day if given the opportunity. I just wanted to add that I have been to South Africa and briefly to Japan (we stopped over on Monday actually!) and realize how vastly different these two places are in so many ways. But even if your daughter is little, she will ask about these times in her life and want more details about the photos you have taken.. and these experiences will most likely trigger a wide open window onto the world around her. What a gift you are giving her. Well done, mama, and take courage for the transition ahead…

  5. Hello Esther,

    I’m Kyejin Kim and I am contacting you on behalf of KidsVsLife.com and our parent company InnovativeLanguage.com.

    I came across your page thirdculturemama.com, and think you might be interested in our children’s books and videos, which are completely free. I believe your audience will find our content very useful. Here is the link to our Kids Vs Life site: http://www.kidsvslife.com/

    Kids Vs Life is a website dedicated to introducing mature concepts, places and things to young children using interesting stories and music videos. And again, all of our stories and videos are 100% free. Some of our more popular titles that you might want to check out include Kids Vs Rain, Kids Vs Planets and Kids Vs Dark.

    Would you be willing to write a review of our website? We’re always looking to improve our content, so we’re very interested in hearing what you think about our website and any suggestions you might have for us.

    In return, we would be more than happy to offer you a free Premium subscription to one of our 34 language sites for your effort. Here’s the list of the languages you can choose: http://www.innovativelanguage.com/online-language-courses. We could even work out some sort of cross-promotion if you’d prefer.

    Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to read this. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

    Kyejin Kim

    1. Hey Kim, I am terribly selective about what I accept to review and if it isn’t something I can 100% jump on board myself, I prefer not to write anything on this platform. However, I’d love to check your website out and see if it could be something that could be of interest to me (and therefore TCM readers). Do you have an email for me to be able to get in touch with you?

      1. Just having wee thoughts myself on how our stories effect our worlds..especially when they are world-creating counter narratives. From Bruner: “a consoling story is not one with a happy ending, but one in which the comprehension of plight, by being made interpretable, becomes bearable.

  6. Hi,
    I just read the article you wrote for MOPs about Remembering the Sabbath. I enjoyed reading it but isn’t the Sabbath on Saturday not Sunday?

    1. Hey Elaine!
      In Western cultures, we stop on Sunday. The Jews would reserve the Saturday, and the Muslims the Friday. I think the very critical idea is that the Sabbath isn’t really about a day in the week at all, but a lifestyle of slowing down, of setting aside, of entering in wholeheartedly, of meditation and mindfulness. We could get all hung up on what day to stop our work and when to start again, and miss the whole point, don’t you think?
      So glad to see you here. Thanks for popping by!

  7. Hi TCK – interesting read. I moved back to Holland during a mid-life crisis, had a hell of a horrible first six months, and then realised it was the best thing I ever did. Everything takes time.

    You might like my bilingual children’s books – kids being brought up with two languages love them because they’re NOT translated (makes some parents crazy, but never mind!). Betty shares her thoughts with the reader in one language and Cat, in another. I believe this better reflects the way today’s kids play with language: switching back and forth as the need and the mood moves them. To see how it works, have a look at bettyandcat.com or Betty & Cat Bilingual Children’s Books on Facebook. (I’m in SE France, too!) Enjoy your stay.

  8. Found your blog through the piri piri lexicon (is that right?) and just had to drop a line when I saw your first child has a yoruba name! I’m yoruba myself, married to a German but living in Norway with our kids.I’ll be reading more articles on your blog, for now hello from here! ?

    1. Hey Lola, I am so glad you popped by after visiting Annabelle’s wonderful site. I love how multicultural your household is, wow wow! How long have you lived in Norway for? Yes, we fell in love with Ayo for Ayodele and it has just stuck ever since. 🙂 All the best to you and your family. xxx

  9. Hi there,

    My ATCK husband and I recently relocated to a French village in south Eastern France! We have one child born in Qatar and another born in Tuscany. My husband is British born but moved to NZ when he was 10 and I am a first generation Australia. We love it when we get asked where we are from. Phew!

    I love your blog and everything it stands for and often feel as though I wrote it myself.

    It’s 4.53am here right now and we’re all suffering with horrid jet lag having just returned from the Antipodes on a 6 week whirlwind tour. Many said the kids were too young to go (3 and 1) but we can now see how this trip has developed both little characters.

    Would love to meet you in person if you’re anywhere near us (we’re in the hills in between Cannes and Nice).

    Keep up the interesting topics!

    Kate xx

    1. Yeah, I bet you love when they ask you where you are from! 🙂 Thanks so much for your kind words. It’s been really cool to discover all sorts of like-minded families come out of the wood works as we share our common joys and struggles.
      We’d love to meet your family as well if the opportunity arose.. we are a bit further north, not too far from Geneva, Switzerland. Blessings on you and your fam’, Kate, hope the jetlag has subsided by now.. xoxo

  10. I follow http://www.suzannehines.org and happened to come across your survey. I love that you’re doing research about tcks and relationships. It’s always nice to get to talk about yourself and the things that are important to who you are.
    I look forward to checking out your blog more and the survey results!

    1. Hi Mary, thanks so much for taking the time to write. There is a lot of good data coming out of the survey, hopefully useful for all types of TCK relationships. I have really appreciated the interview series for my own sake as well, really pleased you enjoyed them too!

  11. Hello Esther!
    First, thank you so much for this blog! It’s amazing! You write so well. I found your blog as I was looking for ways to get French books for kids and even for adults like myself, into the U.S. I am from Cameroon and my husband is from Ghana and we have a two and a half year-old daughter. We live in the US, precisely in Oklahoma. I am from the French speaking part of Cameroon, so I speak French as my first language. I also speak my tribal language (Bassa’a) and of course English. My husband speaks English, Twi and Ga (both Ghanaian languages). Our little girl at this point is sort of immersed in French and Twi as we have family members here with us, a francophone community, as well as a large Ghanaian community. I have been teaching her French at home with the little ressources that I have. At this time, I think she speaks both French and English at an equal amount, and she understands Twi.
    I just wanted to introduce myself and tell you that you’re doing a great job! Your blog is truly inspiring.
    Thank you!

    1. Dear Jacqueline,
      Thank you for taking the time to stop by and share your story. I love that you have found a francophone community in OK (wow!) and the wealth of languages and cultures that your daughter is immersed in. What a GIFT! She is one of the blessed citizens of the world, certainly poised to be a bridge-builder.
      Thanks for your kind words about the blog. I have considered stopping several times, but I am fueled by parents like you who are going through similar things. looking at similar resources, seeking connection. That is what makes it all worthwhile.
      Bises, Esther

    1. Hi Kelly, thank you so much for your interest! You can sign up to receive blog posts in your email by submitting your email address on the “Email updates” right hand bar. Not sure you can see it if you are on a mobile version since the site is responsive. Let me know if you have any questions!

  12. Just found your blog after googling TCK and marriage and found your survey etc. Fascinating stuff. I am a TCK (American dad, Canadian mom, raised in the Netherlands) married to a sort of monocultural Canadian (his experience of his extended mennonite family which still speaks low German in the older generation is like having grown up in an immigrant community, except they were a dominant culture where he was). We live in Canada with our four kids and I am recently returning to questions of identity and culture as I climb out of a bit of a mommy crisis. Your blog is a real treat and a wonderful reference point for doing my own processing. Thank you!

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