The Winter Olympics bring back so many memories for me of Zach’s birth. I remember at 35 weeks and 5 days (as the doctors taught me—I just thought I had a month to go!), being home after work with Drew that evening and really struggling to bathe him and lift him into his crib that night. I did not feel well and something weird was going on. I remember lying on the couch and watching the Olympics until Steve got home that night and telling him I felt really odd.
He was born the next afternoon, February 19th. I remember spending a great deal of time alone in my hospital room, pumping milk and watching the Olympics. My little man was in the NICU and I missed him and was scared. Steve was at work and Drew was in daycare(consistent with the U.S.’s absolutely atrocious maternity/paternity leave policies, since Steve had taken the day off for the birth, he only could get another 4-5 days, so we didn’t want to waste those with Zach in the hospital). My parents were an incredible help. But still I spent many hours alone in that hospital and the Winter Olympics provided a great distraction for my mental angst.
Now, four years later, we live in Australia, and my stubborn, literal little man is as healthy as can be wearing a crazy bright yellow t-shirt with an excavator on it, with red and blue plaid shorts. He told me he wants to compete in a water slide competition in the Olympics when he grows up. What an incredible 4 years it’s been!
Everything is great here, but mentally and emotionally I’ve had a funny few days. I’m quite homesick. There’s a weird feeling of “this is it” with nothing planned to look forward to. Our trip is over and no one is asking about it anymore. That’s a good thing in some ways, because most people only asked me how cold it was, as if being cold was akin to being tortured, and it drove me more than a little crazy. But it’s also bad, because I don’t get to talk about it at all anymore, even just to tell people we weren’t that cold and we actually enjoyed the weather. No one wants to hear that you’re homesick; they just want to hear how much better it is here. Steve had the same issue in the U.S. in reverse. It can be an isolating feeling.
Through no fault of Steve’s, I’ve been feeling like we are back to the situation where it’s all about him—I work my life and schedule around his job and the boys’ schooldays, his family, his friends and more frequent invitations and opportunities for socialization, his country, his comfort zone. Our time where it was more about me is over and I don’t know when I’ll have it again. That appears selfish when I write it—we all know marriage is never 50-50. He spent 8 years in my country and I’ve only been here two. Well however selfish it sounds, it is how I’ve been feeling and it helps me to verbalize it.
We have no visitors coming, no next trip planned. We’d love to go to part of Asia late this year and to the U.S. mid-late next year, but the reality is that we can’t afford to do both. If I have to choose, I choose the trip to the U.S., so it looks like we will wait another 18-20 months for a week off. Woe is me. I know; I know. Yes, I would like some cheese with my whine. Oh well. I’ll get over it. Again, it’s not that I don’t like it here; it’s just that I feel so far away and isolated sometimes.
It sounds terrible to say, but sometimes I actually feel like we’re in exile, that of course we’d live in the U.S. if we could, to be closer to family, but it’s not the best for us financially so we’re here until….forever. A sentence in a way, where the punishment is isolation from family and my culture and people. Isn’t that terrible? I need to re-read the list I made last month of why we’re here. I guess if you think about it, Australia began with people serving a sentence that grew to like it! Haha—that’s actually good to remember!
I kind of want to see the counselor again, but I am doing pretty well on my own. This may sound completely nuts, but part of what I want is more kids around. It doesn’t make logistic sense at all—we would have even less money for vacations and opportunities to visit family. But I just want there to be more of us. I’m not ready to have both my babies in school full time, which is approaching next year. One of my goals is to look into the possibilities of adopting/fostering. I think our family could really help others in some way. Anyway, ideas to ponder…..
I know part of my struggle has been my job. It is draining me and putting my brain to sleep. After nearly two years there (hard to believe!), I still don’t know what they pay me for. I don’t know whether to be proud of myself for sticking with it so long to help us out financially, or disappointed in myself for staying so long and not looking for something else. I know part of the reason why is that I have never searched for jobs in another country and the prospect is daunting, particularly when I need to take my little man with me when I look around. It’s also hard for me to make sense of it all when I get online, so things seem to take twice as long as they should.
I am hard on myself (no different than most people—we are our own worst critics), but I do acknowledge that I have made some progress. Just this week I got insurance that allows me to teach yoga to children and I got set up as a legal Australian business, a sole trader. Believe it or not, what turned out to be quite simple processes once I actually completed them, actually took quite a while to figure out! I will keep plugging away……I have SO many ideas! Sometimes I get frustrated by that and then tell myself it’s so much better to have several ideas and little time to pursue them, than to have no ideas and lots of time.
Overall, it’s been a great few weeks. Drew and Zach have settled in beautifully to their new school years and we have friends helping us with dropping off on the two days that I go to work and Zach goes to school. We’ve had a couple picture perfect, super fun beach days on the weekends. The friends we loaned our car to while we were gone took us camping last weekend to a beach resort, so we had the great fortune of a getaway not even a month after returning from our last one.
We are all back smoothly in our routines—Steve has had a great start to his school year, the best yet, which is wonderful. The boys are back in their summer swimming lessons; I am back to my yoga, continuing my training and back to my morning exercise routines and cooking/baking. Zach and I are enjoying our days together running errands, doing chores and visiting friends.
Valentine’s Day is not a big deal over here for children and in schools, which makes me a little sad. Although my friend in Colorado said I should be thankful I don’t have to spend all the time and energy preparing for the day for the kids at school as they do! We made it fun for us and I was pleased to see that Drew did come home with some heart-shaped crafts that day.
Our best news thus far was finding out that Drew’s 2nd set of ear tubes have fallen out and his ears have healed normally. That means unless he starts to have any more ear infections or problems hearing, he can swim without ear plugs and swim caps and has no ENT appointments—hooray!