Q: Good Morning. How old are you?
Q: Are you married? Do you have any children?
A: I am married and I’ve got two children: a boy and a girl.
Q: How old are they?
A: The girl is 16 and the boy is 19.
Q: Your husband is an emigrant, right?
Q: Where is he?
A: He was in Spain for three years, but now he’s in France. He’s been there for seven years.
Q: Why did he emigrate?
A: He went to Spain with the company that worked here. It was a transport company, which was distributing food products. They opened a branch in Spain and as the salary was very good, my husband decided to go. We had two young children and it was a great help for the household expenses. He was expecting to stay for one year, but ended up staying three.
Q: Why did he go to France?
A: While he was staying in Spain, we decided to buy a house. We asked for a loan from the bank, and since my husband’s salary was quite good, we agreed to pay a high monthly installment to the bank. However, suddenly, everything changed. The employer where my husband worked closed the Spanish branch and he had to return to Portugal and earn half of what he earned in Spain. We held out for a few months, but then they offered him work in France and he had to go. Otherwise it was not possible to pay all the debts.
Q: So, he only emigrated for economic reasons?
Q: How often does he visit you?
A: Three or four times a year. He comes for Christmas and New Year, Easter, summer vacations, and for some special occasion. It depends.
Q: How does he travel?
A: Usually by car. Rarely by plane.
Q: How do you usually communicate with him?
A: By Skype and telephone. We talk every day. Usually he is the one who makes the call, because, as he is an international transport driver, he calls when he stops to rest and knows that he finds us at home. He likes to talk to everyone at the same time. My children are still studying and my husband tries to talk to us at dinner time. So we can tell how our day was and he can tell us how his day was. When I need to talk to him alone, on some more private matter, which I do not think I should mention when my children are present, I send him a message on his cell phone and he calls me as soon as he can.
Q: Do you always tell him everything, or do you wait to tell him a few things when he comes home?
A: My husband comes home a few times a year, so if I want him to continue to follow the upbringing of our children and be a part of our lives, I have to keep him in the loop. At the beginning, when he was in Spain, and later, when he moved to France, it was more difficult, because it was expensive to call and the Internet was not accessible to everybody. At the moment, with all the means of communication that we have at our disposal, it is easier to maintain a constant contact.
Q: Are you familiar with the Internet? How?
A: I have to be. First, because I have to be modern and I have to know how to use the Internet to keep up with my children. The Internet is something wonderful, but it can be dangerous at the same time. I need to know what I’m dealing with, so I can advise my children. I know how to search on the Internet, I have Facebook and Instagram, I know how to use my email, I pay my bills online, control my bank accounts online. When I have doubts, I ask my children for help and they help me. My husband also knows how to work with the Internet.
Q: Do your children use the Internet to communicate with your husband?
A: All the time. This way, they feel closer to their father.
Q: Do they understand why their father had to emigrate?
A: They do, but they wish he could return soon. They miss him very much and it is painful for them whenever he comes home and has to return to France. My elder son wants to start working instead of going to university because he wants to help with the home expenses. He was 12 when my husband emigrated and it was a very difficult time for him. When my husband left Spain and stayed with us for a while, my son thought it was for good. When my husband went to France it was a shock to my son. By that time he was in full adolescence and very angry about the situation. His school performance dropped a lot and he failed the year.
Q: What about your daughter?
A: She was younger and not so close to my husband. It wasn’t so hard for her. However, she also wishes to have her father at home.
Q: What about you?
A: I’m tired of this situation, of course, but I know that we wouldn’t make it any other way.
Q: Have you ever thought about going to France with your children?
A: Yes, I did, but it is complicated, because of my husband’s job. He is traveling most of the time and I don’t want to go there and be alone with my children all the time. I prefer to be here where I have my family and my friends that can help me.
Q: Do you think that your husband will return soon?
A: I think he’s going to be there for another three or four years. Then maybe he’ll come back. I’m not sure. He will only return when we have paid all our debts. Besides, my husband is already 54 years old and if he came back it would be very difficult to get a job. I think if he returns, he won’t continue to work, but will finally rest.
Q: What is your job?
A: I’m a secretary in a construction company.
Q: Do you like your job?
A: Yes, very much.
Q: What are your wishes for the future?
A: I want my children to go to college, to get a degree and be able to work here in Portugal. I want to pay my debts and have my husband here with me. I’m not very ambitious. I want to be happy close to the ones I love. That’s it.
Q: Have your children ever asked you to go live with their father?
A: As I said before, my son suffered a lot because of my husband’s emigration. He was very angry and asked many times to go to Spain to live with his father. He thought we didn’t go simply because I didn’t want to. He says many times that he wants to go to work with his father, but my husband doesn’t want him to. My husband’s life is very hard and he doesn’t want our son to have such a difficult life. My daughter is younger and never said she wanted to go with her father.
Q: Thank you for your time and cooperation.
A: Thank you.