Arriving in a new country, you often don’t know anyone. Sometimes you don’t speak the language. You don’t have your house or car; you don’t know where to buy groceries. The kids have a new school, but you have to take them in a taxi. “Don’t let them rip you off,” people warn about the taxi. But how could you possibly avoid getting ripped off when you speak none of the local language, and haven’t quite figured out the currency and conversion rates. How much should temporary housing to the store/school/husband’s office cost anyway? I know I have shoved a hand full of bills at a taxi driver and hoped that he would give me the appropriate change.
Your husband goes off to work, and you are left to figure it out. When we move to a new city, my husband has learned that he probably shouldn’t ask how I’m doing unless he wants an earful those first weeks. But if he doesn’t ask I get mad that he goes off to his great job and doesn’t even care how we are doing! This is lunacy at its finest. Those first few weeks are rough.
The kids must be first, you think. You unpack whatever things you brought to make them feel at home. Toys, maybe their own sheets and blankets. Eventually, you get the school uniforms, the giant list of school supplies that has to be bought at 14 different stores, and the kids start school. You find their classes, chat with the teachers, and do your best to make friends for them. “That boy looks nice! Tell him your name! Can you ask him if he wants to play with you?”
You get home, and it is quiet, messy, and empty. You haven’t figured out the weird smell in the plumbing yet, or the best time to take a shower that won’t freeze or scald you, and that has enough water pressure to rinse out the shampoo – the last bottle brought from home. Once you get an internet connection, you respond to every facebook post in your feed, skype friends and family whenever they are on-line, and long for your previous life.
What now? What do you do? You pick up the breakfast dishes, you try your language study books. You try to plan a meal with ingredients you can find or pronounce. And you realize that you are exhausted. And lonely.
While those first weeks may feel like an eternity, they do pass. Eventually you get a home, a car, maybe a few friends made at school or through an expat group. One day, you arrive at the grocery store, and realize that you drove there without thinking about it.
Being an expat mom can be a pretty tough gig, but I want to tell you that you can bloom where you are (trans)planted. This can be the best adventure you could possibly imagine. In this new space, I’ll share what I’ve have learned about self-care, routines and rituals that can make your family more resilient, and simplicity that will make your expat life feel… well, simple. Let’s do it together.
Please, will you take a moment to tell me what you’re struggling with today? Use the contact form to drop me a line – I can’t wait to hear from you.