Monday, September 10, 2012

Mommy Mondays: When in Russia

I've been in Russia for a couple of weeks now, and I've already noticed a few ways in which Russian mommies differ from their American counterparts. For one thing, they're freaking hot. I saw a gorgeous brunette in the department store yesterday, wearing an impeccable black skirt suit and black stilettos, her hair pulled back into an impossibly neat French twist, pushing her infant in a shopping cart. For a minute I thought to myself, "Wow, this lady must have come straight from work. At a modeling agency." Until I remembered it was Sunday. Glancing down at my jeans and hoodie, I was suddenly grateful I didn't have Jack with me, and found myself hoping for the first time ever that people did think I was a teenager. A few minutes later I saw a rail-thin blonde wearing skinny jeans, white stilettos (yes, Russian women really do go to the grocery store in stilettos), and a short pink leather jacket, with her equally fashionable baby chilling in the shopping cart. Note to self: being a mom is not an excuse to be frumpy - or fat - in Russia.

The moms here also eschew strollers for prams. You know, old-fashioned four-wheeled baby carriages (most of them are fancy modern jobbers, but I can't say I've seen a single umbrella stroller in this joint, and I'm pretty sure I have the only BOB in all of Yekaterinburg). I'm curious to see how these strollers handle the sidewalks in winter. (I'm also curious to see how the stilettos handle the sidewalks in winter...)

But mostly, the one thing that's really stood out to me so far is the fact that Russian children are bundled up like tiny Michelin men in snow suits, hats, mittens, and snow boots, in September. And no, it's not already snowing here. It's in the fifties and sixties. At home, I'd have Jack in a sweater and a light jacket, maybe a newsy cap if I was feeling particularly jaunty that day. Snow suits, in my humble opinion, are only to be broken out in the SNOW. But on Jack's first outing with our nanny, K, it became abundantly clear that sending my child out bare-headed simply wasn't going to cut it. Of course, I had no winter apparel in our unaccompanied baggage, so the only hat I had available was John's beanie. I held it up questioningly to K, who seemed to think it would suffice if I had nothing better, and off we went to the park. The first child we encountered was wearing a puffy jacket and a hat with a massive pom pom on top. So was the second child. And the third. I believe the fourth was outfitted in full-up Arctic expedition gear. I knew then and there I needed to buy Jack a hat, stat.

Jackie sports his new hat (and a black eye, bc I had to give the locals something to stare at).

The next day, I went to the mall and purchased a warm hat with the biggest pom pom I could find. I knew I was golden when K approved. Jack christened it on our trip to the Europe/Asia border (for the record, we live on the Asia side, so I really don't think this should count as an Eastern European post), when the weather totally didn't warrant it but I felt like I was that much closer to fitting in with the natives regardless.

I just pray the weather doesn't take a turn for the worse in the next two weeks before the rest of our crap gets here, because I don't think I'll ever live it down if it gets into the forties and I don't have gloves on this kid. In the meantime, Jack better get used to wearing that hat, because it's not coming off until the local kids' do.

Which should be some time in May, by the look of things.


Anonymous said...

Stilettos in the winter- that I'd like to see. I'm afraid I'd never make it as a mother in Russia. I'm frumpy more often then not and kind of like it that way. Jack looks cute in his new hat!

ExpatEliz said...

It's funny, every time I see a mother in stilettos and a pencil skirt AT THE PARK, it turns out she's Russian. It's true Europeans have this thing about bundling up their kids (the number of babies I've seen in snow suits in the fall & sporting an angry heat rash...) I think it comes from the old advice to dress your kid in one more layer than you dress yourself. Early on, I discovered I get a lot colder than my kids do. Of course, I get a lot of dirty looks from moms whose kids want to take off their coats after they see mine running around without them.