Why do I feel lonely and lost these days? Why can’t I seem to figure out what my professional contribution to society can be? Why do I not seem to have friends here that I really connect with, who get me and who I get? Why am I so homesick?
I have three beautiful, happy boys who bring me joy—they truly do. But as any parent knows, they also whine a lot, they seem dissatisfied with much of what I work so hard to do for them; the two older ones argue with almost everything I say and with each other, seemingly constantly sometimes. I find myself stopping to listen and smile when I hear them playing well together—it seems more rare these days and I can’t seem to defuse their frustrations with each other effectively, no matter what parenting articles I read.
Unlike so many mothers whom I have always greatly admired and felt somewhat jealous of, I need more in my life than full time mothering. I lose myself when I only attend to everyone else’s needs. I need appreciation for a job well done. I need recognition, measurable progress in what I’ve accomplished each day. I wish I didn’t, but I can’t really get around the fact that I do.
I think that’s why my work/career/professional struggles are getting me down so much lately. For 14 years before this move to Australia, I worked in retirement communities. I was good at it. I enjoyed it. I was respected in my field and I made good money.
Since I’ve come here, I just can’t figure out how to get back into that field. Now, I realize I haven’t tried as hard as I should. Life gets in the way. I’ve sent online enquiries to senior living companies asking about their jobs in marketing and sales, with no response. I’ve sent a few online applications for activities/recreation/volunteer positions, with no response. I’ve called one nearby community and asked to volunteer—no return call. I’ve asked the few people I’ve met who work in the field about the positions, and they don’t seem to know anything about them—maybe they don’t exist here?
I keep telling myself the best way to find out is to just drive around and walk into communities and ask. But, I’ve always had a kid in tow, or was about to have a kid in tow, so I just never got around to it.
Friends at home say I’m awesome for moving to a new country and learning a new profession and starting my own business. But it doesn’t feel very awesome. I learned the new profession partially out of necessity. I never wanted to run my own business. I don’t enjoy it and it’s not going well. In fact, right now, it seems to be failing miserably. I’m paying to do it. Try as I might, I can’t get people interested in it.
I do love yoga—it’s been a passion of mine for years, and the more I learn about it, the more passionate about it I feel. But people in this area, just don’t seem to get it. Yoga is not as popular around here—I don’t even know many people who do it, or who are physically active as a priority at all. I think that’s partly why I feel disconnected from the friends I’ve made. I’ve rarely been to a yoga class here with more than a handful of people in it, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I can’t get many people interested in my classes, much less my classes for their children.
I just have a hard time fitting in with people who don’t prioritize healthy eating for their families, who don’t prioritize fitness on a regular basis and who don’t get the purpose of yoga. I hope that doesn’t make me sound snobby. I don’t intend it to. I’ve made friends for the past 4+ years with people who are different to me in those core areas, but have other things in common—being a mother, living in a foreign country, but I just don’t feel connected, so I’m guessing that’s the reason why…??? I could be totally off base. I do admit I have met a few people who are health and fitness oriented and am still not clicking with them either.
It often seems to me that people don’t like me over here. I never seemed to have that problem before moving. It is very likely all in my head, but I just seem to rub people the wrong way when I don’t intend to…??
I know I could connect well with my husband, but he’s frustrated in his job, too and we don’t see each other until late in the evening when we’re pretty much too tired to talk about much. He is wonderful and we do try. We both know we need time together. But it’s difficult, because that costs money. And when I’m not making any money, I feel bad spending $80 to go out for two hours together and get a drink each and an appetizer to share—bleah!
I keep meditating and reading about creating my own joy, realizing that my life is just as it should be in this moment and to find peace in the present. I’m honestly trying! For whatever reason, it’s meant to be right now that I’m paying to try and teach yoga, that I’m contributing nothing meaningful to my community in terms of professional employment and that I’m working my tail off for no positive outcome. That’s hard to embrace! But I will keep trying…..For now these musings of a crazy person just help me to get it off my chest.
It was Father’s Day here last Sunday and it was heartwarming to witness the boys’ excitement over treating their Dad and the beautiful, simple, honest gifts they made him. As with Mother’s Day, Drew’s school went all out. The Prep classes held a Motor Show for the students and the fathers, inviting the fathers to exhibit their family car or anything else “cool” with a motor that they felt like bringing. Of course, all we have is a 2001 Corolla hatchback, so Steve thought he’d just attend the event, not exhibit. But Drew was SO excited and proud of our car that we decided to go all out.
I gave him a day off school that day because we had a follow up appointment with his ear doctor (everything is fine!) and afterwards, my two babies and I had a day out shopping for clothes for them and a nice lunch out. It was so special. We also bought streamers, balloons and ribbon to decorate our car and had a ball that afternoon getting it all ready to show. Drew was bursting with excitement and pride as he and Steve drove off to the show; Steve not so much. 😉 I loved it!
They gave the Dads write ups about what they loved about them, as well as their paintings of something with a motor—Drew’s was of a submarine. The next day, the school hosted a breakfast (they charge us for all of this, by the way; it’s not a gift) for the fathers and kids and then the kids brought home little handmade gifts. Zach’s daycare also had them do handmade gifts and cards where they answered questions about their Dads.
We then had a lovely, lazy morning at the farmers markets and then combined forces for a joint BBQ with our neighbors that evening. The weekend was also made especially celebratory for me by the safe, healthy arrival of our first nephew, Nick, on our Saturday/U.S. Friday. I am so grateful after all my brother and sister-in-law went through during her pregnancy that they had a healthy, beautiful boy and are now beginning their new journey as a family of four.
After such a wonderful, family-oriented week complete with gorgeous weather, the next week proved surprisingly difficult. Sunday night, Zach started coughing most of the night and could only seem to get some solid rest when I draped him over me and sat propped up in his bed. That left me exhausted to start the week and sadly, made me inordinately grouchy and emotional as well. I stayed home with him that day, the benefit being precious snuggle time with him and the chance to follow my Buffaloes first game online. The benefit was even greater when they actually finally won and Zach enjoyed playing our musical buffalo and singing the fight song with me for each touchdown. I so love and miss college football!
Zach did pretty well during each day but didn’t sleep well at night for four nights, then got one good one and now two more less- than- ideal ones. Steve and I both felt extremely tired and overwhelmed and started to take it out on each other, which we both know we shouldn’t do. Thankfully, we got through it and had a really good discussion on Friday.
However, everything combined that week to make me feel extremely homesick. I miss my family SO much that I really don’t know if I can handle it. There are two sets of nearby friends that have grandparents visiting them right now and watching them all together has been making me so sad. One set traveled from South Africa, which involves about a day and a half of travel. Knowing how excited my friend was to see her parents, and then seeing her Mom with her at school pickup when the little granddaughter literally jumped up and down with excitement, made my eyes brim with tears. I am insanely jealous.
I don’t like the thought of not being able to hold my nephew and hang out with them and the cousins play together. REALLY unfortunately, this comes at a time when I am truly starting to enjoy it and feel settled here. I like the slower, less busy feeling lifestyle. I like the financial security and the opportunity we have to explore and do things we enjoy. This week I started sitting down to a cup of tea with the boys after school and I cherish that time to sit and visit with them like that. I like that I have been having some success at figuring out different career paths for myself and acknowledge that I likely would not have enjoyed such self-exploration without this opportunity. While I miss a LOT about home, especially at this time of year (football season, fall leaves and pumpkin patches to scratch the surface), I realize that I have enjoyed all of those wonders for over 30 years, and it is amazing to have a chance to enjoy all the natural beauty around me here.
I think I’ve said before—if it was only an issue of being near family, there would be no issue and it would be obvious where we’d be. But, it doesn’t just come down to that. So, then I start thinking, “Do we live near family and have to work more and be busier and have a more hectic life, as a tradeoff for the benefit of being near family?” I thought, “What if we move to a place like Oregon or Savannah, GA– places we’ve thought about trying out?” Then we’d likely see them at least 3 times a year. Once every 18 months is NOT enough and like I’ve said before, NO ONE visits us here, and no one passes through to see by chance. It’s a very isolated feeling. Then I think, “What if we move to the U.S. somewhere while we still have my parents around, and then move back here?” I can’t stomach the thought of losing them, but I know from watching them go through it when I was young, and now watching my friends go through it, that it is a reality I will have to face.
Then I think, “But I want to just settle! I want roots somewhere! I don’t want to keep picking up everything and going and what if we don’t like wherever we choose in the U.S. and go again, or bounce back and forth between countries? I want to stay put!”
And then I received a huge, blessed lesson that came in the form of my children’s yoga teacher training yesterday. It was a concept I’d learned before, and have not yet been able to fully embrace, but I re-learned it at a time when I really needed to and that is grace. The lesson is: Embrace impermanence. That’s it. So simple and yet so hard to do. But strangely, it calmed me down, for now anyway. And it’s so true. There are no guarantees in life and we know what we hear about the best laid plans…..I need to embrace life in the moment, make plans as we go along, but always be ready for change. Our family will be fine if we never move again and we will be fine if we move to six new cities within the next 10 years, as long as we love and support each other.
Also, what I’ve written here before that my dear friend in Colorado taught me before I left, still rings true, and each day I realize it more and more: Starting over is not that big of a deal. The only thing moving can do is add to your numbers of friends. Your true friends are always with you wherever you go and you will only make more when you go to new places.
So, if we decide in the next couple years that we need to be near family for now, fine. And if we decide three years after that, that there’s another place we’d rather be, fine. And if we decide to stay right here in this rental house in Mitchelton for the next 20 years, that’s fine, too. And there we go—I’m fine. I miss my family more than words can express, but I’m fine.
As for the yoga training, it was just beautiful and it made me so excited for future possibilities and filled me with the desire to bring yoga to all children! What a cheese ball, I know! The whole day felt slightly selfish, but mostly awesome to have the chance and the support to spend a whole day pursuing my own interests. It took me back to my “career” days, when I’d come back from conferences full of new knowledge and ready to put numerous new ideas into play. I am going to try and start volunteering to lead some short classes at my playgroup and my boys’ school and daycare and look forward to the next level of training in November. It feels wonderful to be so excited about something and feel empowered and equipped with the tools to actually see some success in it. Here’s hoping!
Sweet Steve brought the boys in towards the end of our day to participate in a full children’s yoga class with me. It was gorgeous. I bought a cd of some of the music and they have been singing songs about love and kindness ever since. I love how they enjoy yoga with me one day and are now both outside hammering wood together to make a box with their father. If our kids could receive the best of both of us and none of our negatives, wouldn’t that just be perfect?
This morning I trotted all that karmic joy out for a jog (which I’d decided not to do since Zach kept me up part of the night again, but then he was up so early in the morning, it was easier just to get out for a bit!), and fell victim to an Australian attack that I thought only existed in legend! I was swooped and nailed hard on the head by an evil, giant magpie! It was crazy—thankfully I always wear a hat, or I may be bald right now. So scary! Now, living here, I’d heard all about these weird birds and this little habit they have while nesting. Steve reads the online report of spots to avoid and apparently, I was headed to a very safe place. It’s funny—cyclists around here were these crazy zip ties hanging out of their helmets to scare them off and I have just always thought they looked hilarious and were a bit overzealous in protecting themselves. Runners and walkers never seem to do anything different, so I always assumed I’d be fine. I still had to get home and came close to peeing my pants every time I saw a bird fly by the rest of the way. I got home and said to Steve, “Now what do I do?” He told me to just deal with it; the season ends in December. I swear these Aussies are tough people! I remember we dealt with plovers that would swoop on us during nesting season in Alaska, but that was in a national park. I think if this were happening in a major American city, people would shoot the birds! I’m serious! He told me he remembers in primary school not being allowed out into their playground for a while one year because a nesting bird was so bad. Instead of getting rid of the bird, they kept the kids away! He said kids would dare other brave kids to walk under the tree and get attacked and not flinch. Crazy people, I’m tellin’ ya!
I need to wrap this up. I’ll close with some kids’ news. First, Drew was seen by the speech therapist at school last week, and she apparently said he is making more sounds correctly than he was when she initially recommended he be seen, but we’ll get a full report in a couple weeks. Doing this through the school system seems to be a long process. However, while his doctor thought it was a good idea when I told him about it, he hasn’t recommended that we seek therapy privately and hasn’t brought it up on his own as a major issue, so I feel ok about it all.
Lastly, today, on another gorgeous day, we took the boys for a bike ride along a path at a cute coastal town. It was a great place for them to get some good practice. Zach is getting pretty fast on his balance bike and Drew is getting really confident on his bike. I just love to look at his face when he starts off. It shows such determination, focus and then huge pride as he succeeds. That is such a beautiful look to watch on our children’s faces.