I was only 23 when I went out to Kos on holiday with the girls. Typical girly holiday. We fell in love with the place and on our return to the UK quickly realised that we wanted to go back.
I quit my Job as a Business Development Manager and stopped the purchase of a house and jetted back out to Kos 3 weeks later to have some fun!
I remember thinking……..’if I do not do this now I never will’. So my friend and I jetted off into the sunset.
He was younger than me, and no longer had we got together he was whisked off into the Greek Army to do his national Service. By this time my friend had gone back to the UK but I stayed, I had something to stay for.
His parents were not overly impressed that he was seeing an English girl. You have to remember that many English abroad give some of us a rather bad reputation, and I understood their initial concerns, but soon put those to rest.
His family are traditional Greeks, big into their religion and beliefs and this was huge culture shock for them to have a foreigner lurking about. His brothers were great as was his father, the mother is a different story. I was ‘stealing’ her boy.
When we got engaged his Mother went crazy. We didn’t do it the Greek traditional way you see, we did it OUR way. She ranted and raved for a bit and eventually came round. You have to remember Greeks are known for this ranting and raving thing they do…..having a normal quiet conversation is not do-able…..it has to be loud with lots of hands and arm shaking!
After a while I was being accepted into this family. They had met my parents and his mother was pleased to see my father wasn’t covered in tattoos (her words).
When we announced we were pregnant having been together nearly 6 years, his Mother flipped again. We were about to approach the whole “you must marry immediately” debate. I knew this would be a good one.
I will not be bullied into anything, and certainly not by my mother in law. Nik and I had no intention to rush down the aisle just because we were about to have a baby. She was very insistent, but we continued to say no.
His parents have never been off their tiny island all their lives and know no different of the world. What they do know, generations of their family have done before. However, what they fail to realise is that it was not me who changed their son, it was time.
We moved to the UK when I was 4 months pregnant after some early complications.
When I had the baby, I waited for the next debate of the childs name and baptising/christening. It is traditional in Greece to name your children after the fathers parents. This is very true of the Fathers name but not the mothers. So when I had baby girl we chose a name we both liked and that was EVA. Yet, his mother still insisted on sending cards etc addressed to my daughter as ELENI, which was her name. Hmmmm, not happening. She finally gave up on all this when Nik told her no more.
They came to the UK to visit not long after I had the baby (just what I needed). They were amazed by the UK and were in complete awe of the place. The houses, the way we lived etc. They could not understand why people would leave the UK to live elsewhere. They were under the impression that so many Brits lived abroad because English life was poor. Now you have to have lived in Greece to understand this, but unless you are extremely wealthy in Greece you mainly live in poverty as did we. The houses are damp, no heating (yes winter is cold out there), expensive supermarkets, expensive household bills. His parents could not understand why you would give up the luxury life to live in Greece for example.
Now, when we had a Son two years later, I went along with the whole ‘after the father’ name. He is called Christos. This went down really well and I got lots of Brownie points.
Then the rows about Baptising the kids. This was a tricky one as Nik too would have like them Baptised in the Greek Orthodox Church but I didn’t agree. I said if they grow up and turn round at 15 and say thats what they want, they will have my blessing 100%, but I was not going to choose their religion for them. Nik agreed with me, but his parents certainly didn’t.
However, this is all in the past, as these Greek Grandparents adore our kids and that is all that matters, and they too have come to realise that. It is not all about traditions, what will the neighbours say etc, it’s about what we have now, which is love and happiness. They realise that we have a good life, our kids are amazing and we’re happy and all those rows and debates were actually their battles with change………. not with us personally.