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.
Where do I even start?! I haven’t updated this in over 3 months. I have a good reason—I have a beautiful, 6-week old baby boy. However, I’m getting ahead of myself….first to quickly recap the time leading up to our little Samuel’s birth:
My brain is mush now and it’s hard to remember. My days are filled once again with spit up, dirty diapers, sleepless nights and the smell of a newborn asleep on my chest. It’s hard to remember what they were like before. It’s as if he’s always been here. I feel strongly that we’ve been waiting for him—as hard as this time is, he melds right into our little circle of love, just like he always had a space waiting for him. He has.
Anyway, I digress, again. Get used to it! June was quite uneventful, other than preparing for Sam’s arrival and wrapping up my kids’ yoga classes. That was very bittersweet. It’s always hard to leave behind the known, the routine, and prepare for the unknown, the loss of control. I know at the time it’s happening that I want to return to teaching, but it’s also in the back of my head that I really don’t know what the future holds and I can’t say anything for sure.
We had our last little getaway as a family of four–a weekend in June on beautiful Stradbroke Island with friends. We saw lots of unique wildlife and enjoyed the busy two days immensely. Then we had our treasured friends from Boulder in town visiting their family, and got to spend quality time with them as well.
I had my first three nights and four days ever away from my little crew of men in early July for my yoga teacher training retreat. It was wonderful, although very demanding physically and mentally. It was great to be able to have that time to be away, and the boys enjoyed themselves immensely during their “vegetable-free days”. 😉
The retreat was over the 4th of July weekend, so for the first time in my life, I had to forgo celebrating the holiday, which was also bittersweet. It was a great reason to miss it, but also a little sad. Several people wished me a happy one, though, which is so kind.
We enjoyed a relatively slow paced two weeks of school holidays that included our first Disney on Ice. Also, thanks to the help of dear friends, Steve and I enjoyed our last date for a while—a low key breakfast out in Brisbane one morning. It’s funny—we were both enjoying each other, but could also feel the apprehension in the air as we were well aware of the uncertainty and changes to come, getting ready to meet the new member of our family.
My sweet friends threw a beautiful baby shower for me on the 11th of July. I have missed family incredibly throughout my pregnancy, so it was great to feel such an outpouring of love from my “family” here. It was my first truly girly baby shower, complete with a color scheme, games, fancy food and decorations, and I loved it! I am so humbled by the work they went to and the turnout.
It’s ironic—when I was pregnant with Drew I thought baby showers were completely lame. We bought our house a few months before he was born, so instead we had a combined baby shower/housewarming for all friends, men and women. It was fun! Then Zach was born so soon afterwards that our friends instead organized a meal delivery system, diapers and groceries for us, which was just what we needed. Now I cherish time I can sneak in with girlfriends and relished every minute of that shower. J
On July 23rd, my sweet Drew was officially diagnosed with asthma. It is nice in one sense to finally know for sure and learn how to deal with it, but also always sad to find out your child is less than perfect. I have to wonder if there’s anything I could have done to prevent it, if there have been times I didn’t help him enough when he was struggling to breathe. I am really bad with “What Ifs” and mother’s guilt. I’m working on it…..Hopefully, he will grow out of it, and even if he doesn’t, there are a lot worse things in life and we are very fortunate. It doesn’t slow him down–the two of them ran their 1st 2k race the Sunday before Sam arrived.
As for my pregnancy, it got a bit bumpy in July. On Sunday the 5th at my retreat, I started to worry about the baby’s movement. I remember being paranoid about that in my previous pregnancies so I ignored it, knowing that odds were that everything was fine and I was being psycho. I was still a bit worried at my next appointment that Wednesday, the 8th, which the whole family attended. They put me on some fetal monitoring and then reassured me that everything was fine.
I started to worry about movement again on Friday, the 24th, (37 weeks) and thought I was noticing quite a few painless contractions and feeling very nauseous. I figured labor was starting, but then nothing happened. I was about to call the doctor on Sunday if things hadn’t changed, but then I felt better. Monday and Tuesday were up and down. I was worried about all of the above, but then I’d feel better.
Wednesday morning, the 29th, started out good. I had an appointment and was worried about driving the hour each way alone with how tired I’d been feeling, so offered Zach a special “Mommy and Zach” day before baby came, which thankfully, he agreed to (he almost refused me!). We walked Drew to school and back and then I started feeling sick again. We drove down, had a nice morning tea and then went to the doctor. I told them how I’d been feeling and my doctor saw me have a contraction on the exam table (turned out I’d been having more than I thought I was—some of them, like the one he saw, I just thought were the baby sticking out on one side) and noticed baby’s heartrate was low.
He put me on fetal monitoring, which ended up lasting for about 2 hours, instead of the initial 30 minutes. They told me I was having regular contractions and baby’s heartrate was getting low often enough that we needed to do the C-section now. I was in labor.
Then everything started happening! My doctor’s office is connected to a hospital that I hadn’t planned on going to, because it was so far from home. Steve was near home, at work, and Zach was with me—what to do?! I have to say that in my teens and twenties, I would never have believed someone who said they could find comfort and companionship in a 5-year-old, but I absolutely did. My little Zach was an absolute gem during all this and it was wonderful having him with me. During the monitoring, he found a soccer game on TV (he’s a sports nut) and cuddled up next to me in the hospital bed to watch. When it all got chaotic, he was patient, well-behaved, unquestioning, trusting, helpful and concerned. It was beautiful and I will remember it forever.
Steve got moving and this is when the incredible outpouring of love, support and help from our friends began. It would go on for the next several weeks. I arranged friends to bring Drew home with them from school. My doctor is a friend of ours and his family offered to take Zach and so did one other friend in that area. However, thankfully, we reached our dear friend’s mother, who lives an hour away and who was set to come watch the boys on August 4th, the date my C-section was scheduled. She dropped everything and left right away to come get Zach, and then headed off through rush hour traffic to our house, where Drew met them and she stayed the night. She made them lunches for school the next day and took excellent care of them. The same friends that kept Drew that afternoon, picked up the boys for school the next day as well, and then this dear woman cleaned our house and did our laundry before heading back home. Just incredible!
After Zach left, it wasn’t long until I was prepped for surgery. I have to acknowledge that preparing for the C-section was terrifying. I will never go through that again. With the one I had with Drew, I had been in labor for so long that it was all a blur. This time, I was alert. Everything is so sterile and medical. It doesn’t feel like you’re about to bring life into the world; it feels like something bad and scary is happening—you’re about to be cut open. I hated it. Thankfully, yoga and meditation helped me—the idea of impermanence. I focused on breathing through the scariness, remembering that it was just a brief time and at the end of it I would have my baby.
The surgery itself, body being cut open and stitched up again aside, was the most beautiful, peaceful birth I’ve had. They lowered the sheet so I could see my precious boy just as he came out, and then I was able to watch everything else that happened, including Steve cutting the cord. I didn’t get sick from any of the medications this time and my arms were not strapped down. Therefore, they were able to bring Sam to me and I held him on my chest while I was stitched up. He even started eating! That’s the only time I’ve been able to hold my baby to me so soon after his birth and I will cherish the experience.
The scary part is that our precious Samuel Sullivan Charles was small, too small for so late in the pregnancy. It turns out my placenta was not in good shape—much of it was dead or inflamed, and they were surprised the little man was getting any nutrients at all. He was also covered in meconium. It is just perfect that I had such excellent care and I had my appointment that day and he came out when he did. He is our little miracle and we couldn’t be happier to have him with us.
Because of his size and because he was slightly early, he had a bit of trouble with his blood sugar initially and some jaundice, but nothing major. He was able to stay with me the entire time I was in the hospital and the stay was pretty uneventful. Sam was born at 5:35 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29th and we brought him home on Monday, August 3rd.
We Face-Timed Patti and the boys as soon as we could that evening after Sam’s birth. They were thrilled about their new brother and couldn’t wait for their visit the next evening to meet him. We called the next morning before school as well and she told us that all morning they had been talking about Sam, wondering what he was doing as they got ready, how he felt, etc. Gorgeous.
Several people have asked me to compare the birth and hospital experience here to the ones in the U.S. I received excellent care in both countries and overall it was much the same in each. There were a few minor things that I preferred over there, and a few little things that were better here. We are very fortunate to be able to live and give birth in such safe, wonderful places, so we have nothing to complain about.
I had been worried that by having the baby in this farther away hospital, I would be lonely during the stay with it being too far for friends to visit. I was pleasantly surprised and touched to find out this was not the case. For one, my stay included a weekend, so Steve and the boys were able to be with me more, which was great. We made sure the boys were our first visitors on Thursday evening and Steve and I enjoyed the time before then to get to know our new son. A couple friends did make the hour drive to see us, and then a couple others that we knew in that area were now able to come as well. Steve’s family lives in that area and was able to be more involved this way also.
In the hospital and since we came home, as I said before, we have just been overwhelmed by the kindness and help from friends. We have had numerous home-cooked meals and baked goods brought to us as well as gifts. People have been helping me with the school runs, so I have not actually had to do them too often this term. I have had visitors, friends giving advice, listening to me cry, helping me to get out and run my first errands with Sam and even trying to do my chores. They’ve also watched our big boys for us to give us extra time to rest.
As I said, my friends are now my family and I am so grateful for them. I had been so nervous to have a baby without my parents around and I have really felt their absence. So many little things that we never even realized they were doing at the time to make things easier for us, are now apparent in their absence. Therefore, the fact that we have been so surrounded by love, support, kindness and generosity has been an even bigger blessing.
My Mom isn’t even approved to fly this distance since her hip surgery until sometime this month. I keep hoping they’ll just show up on our doorstep, but I know that won’t happen. Just 12 ½ weeks until we leave for the U.S. and in the meantime we are all so thankful for technology. Face Time and texts get us through.
A positive for me, is that this experience has made me feel like a big girl, a grown up. As with the move overall, having a baby in another country has made me realize that Steve and I are a good team and we can do anything. Our little family (well, not so little anymore!) has become a tight knit unit and we are there for each other and help each other through whatever life brings.
Along this line, I have been so impressed by what big boys my big boys have become. They are so helpful and amazingly understanding about how I need to spend my time right now. And the love! The love they have for this little baby is unbelievable. I have to say that’s been one of my favorite parts so far about having another baby, watching the unconditional love and devotion they show to this little person. They make it clear that he is truly a part of our family that just hadn’t arrived yet. He belongs with us and we love him to bits.
So there we have it. It’s been three months—6 weeks of preparation and anticipation, and 6 weeks of complete whirlwind and adjustment. Sometimes I can’t believe that a vegetarian yoga teacher is a mother of three boys—in 10 years they’ll likely be getting into fights and wanting to eat steak all the time and I’ll be telling them to meditate and offering them green smoothies! 😉 We just don’t know what life will bring us—heck, it’s also hard to believe that I’m even 38-years-old, a mother at all, living in Australia, teaching yoga—all of it—who would have known?! But what a beautiful life it is.
Lately each day that I’ve gotten to the end of, with my family clothed and fed and the house standing, has been a success. Whew—I forgot how tired early pregnancy makes me—especially with a family to take care of already! It’s made me miss those days when I was pregnant and all I had to do was work an 8-5 and then come home to a quiet house each evening. How times have changed!
I can’t believe I haven’t written this in almost 2 months, but I just haven’t had the time or energy. Although I’ve wished there wasn’t such a huge age gap between these kids, it’s actually been very fortunate that my first trimester hit primarily over the summer break when Steve was home, and also a break where we had no plans—just relaxed, easy family days. I felt so nauseous and tired most of the time that I doubt I could have kept up with our crazy work and school schedules.
I did make it through two short camping trips, which I feel proud about. A new symptom with this pregnancy was carsickness, so I was especially worried as we headed off on our 2nd one in mid-January, particularly because the heat and humidity have been tougher for me to take than usual, and these were Very hot days. But the place we went, the Bunya Mountains, actually felt somewhat like being in “real” mountains—the air was crisper and cooler—what a relief! It turned out to be a great little trip.
I also taught my first yoga workshop—a 3-hour class. My typical children’s classes are either 30 or 45 minutes long, so I was a bit nervous for this, but I loved it! I felt like I still couldn’t get it all in and I hope they liked it as well.
My 38th birthday came and went last month. It was perfect. I have still been struggling a lot with homesickness and feeling like we are missing out on all that our family is dealing with—so much going on right now, and much of it sad. I just feel like we’re stuck on some island in the middle of nowhere with no way to participate in any of it. But on my birthday, I felt so much love. My little family here made a great fuss over me. It was actually my first day home alone with both boys in ages, as it was Steve’s first day back at work. They wore me out—holy moly! But they were great and we all went out for a quick dinner that night, which was fun.
Friends and family near and far truly made an effort to make me feel special. I even got one card in the mail! I miss mail. My sweet friends here planned a dinner out that week as well. It was all just lovely—couldn’t ask for more.
At the end of January, Drew began 2nd grade and Zach started Prep, the equivalent of Kindergarten, which is every day, all day here. They are both doing great. We just had Parent-Teacher conferences and Drew’s teacher said he needs to learn to focus—his mind is clearly moving very quickly and handling a lot, but he needs to focus on the task of learning to read and write and follow instructions. She said she’ll likely be moving him to a desk near hers, so she can keep an eye on him. (He lost his 8th tooth this morning! How that beautiful mouth is changing….) 🙂
And Zach’s teacher said he is very easygoing, never bothered by anything and pretty chilled out every day, all day. She said he has his friends he enjoys and other people like to come up and chat with him, but he doesn’t seem too concerned about them. I’m glad both our boys seem to have such good teachers, who have already figured them out after four weeks of school! Ha!
Yoga teaching has been going extremely well. I feel like my teaching improves as the length of time I’ve been teaching increases—makes sense. I’m receiving positive feedback and significant interest. Steve’s new job has been going very well also—keeping him Very busy! He is doing great at it!
My only big surprise has been my lack of time. I work very few hours now (probably less than 2 full days per week if you add it all together) and I have no kids at home for six hours a day, five days a week. I worried I would be lonely and bored, but so far, I can’t find the time to get my home projects done and am turning down social invitations—weird! I don’t get it…..
All I’ve gotten done is kept up with the yoga business, groceries, and family bills. I’ve finally had the energy to cook more these past couple weeks, but I’ve still mainly done that on weekends, like I used to. Even with cleaning, I’ve pretty much stuck to my former “routine” of Friday afternoons and/or weekends.
When I think about it, we’ve had 19 days of school and I’ve had a kid home with me five of those days. Drew’s asthma was really bad two weeks ago and he stayed home for two days. I gave Zach one day off recently because he’s been so tired with his new schedule and then he had croup last week and had to stay home two more days—he was sick on his 5th birthday, poor little man. I’ve had three baby appointments, which have taken up most of those days (incidentally–I’m 15 weeks now and the apple and I are healthy and fine). 🙂 And, I am working two days each week, basically. So, I guess that’s where all the time has gone.
I’ve also been better about knowing my limits and sticking to them with this pregnancy—I guess 3rd time’s the charm! My first day teaching two yoga classes in one afternoon tired me out so much; I didn’t do much outside the house the next day. I’ve been making sure I squeeze in a half an hour nap each day, no matter what, which still doesn’t seem like enough. I’ve cancelled coffee dates or said no to lunches when I just don’t have the energy, particularly after a sleepless night due to nausea (thankfully, those nights have been rare).
We’ve been fortunate this school term that all of our after school childcare needs are taken care of through swaps with friends. It saves us a great deal of money, even though it’s taxing on my energy levels. It’s giving me good practice at having more than two kids in the house! Currently, I watch friends’ kids Monday and Wednesday mornings before school and Wednesday afternoons. I teach Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. So pretty much all of my energy is spent on children—thankfully, they’re all beautiful! I also walk the kids to and from school as often as I can. Oh, and completely, unrelated, but I do start my adult yoga teaching training next month—I’m very excited about that!
I can’t end this without mentioning what’s been pretty constantly on my mind these last few weeks and that’s the death of my cousin. She was a distant cousin, so don’t think I’m grieving the loss of someone close to me. It’s more that I can’t stop thinking about the sadness of the situation and the unfairness of life. I think pregnancy makes me feel emotions even more deeply and I often find myself imagining how people close the situation feel, to the point where I even seem to “feel” it myself, to some degree I guess. I’m sure that sounds weird, and I think that it’s even more pronounced during pregnancy.
Anyway, the 29-year-old daughter of my Dad’s cousin went into the hospital in late October to give birth to her 2nd baby—a joyous time for all of their extremely close family. They found out she had cancer while she was there and she died last Tuesday. I cry about it so much. I think of her mother, who not only lost two of her own siblings when they were young, but now has lost a daughter. I think of her brothers and sister, who lost one of their closest friends. I think of her husband, a widow at age 30, with two young kids to care for and his life partner gone so quickly, how a celebratory time turned so tragic. I think of those poor babies, aged 3 and 4 months, who lost their mother and they don’t even know it.
I see a life insurance ad on TV and I wonder if she had some. Every time I got up to comfort and help Zach this past week, I would think about how she just has to hope someone else will do that for her babies—get up four times a night to soothe their coughs and fevers and then snuggle with them all the next day, while monitoring their fluid intake. Who does that besides a mother?
As I’ve planned what to serve at Zach’s 5th birthday party and how to make his cake, and watch his delight as he opens his presents, I think about how she has to entrust all of that to others and will never get to see it herself. When I’m trying to sleep at night, I wonder if she knew she was dying, that the treatment didn’t work and there were no more options, before she slipped away from her loved ones. I hope she knew, because I hope she had the chance to tell her loved ones about her hopes and dreams for her children, what songs her daughter likes at bedtime, her favorite outfits. Maybe she got to write them letters to open when they’re older, about what she’d love to tell them if they were old enough to understand—how it was absolutely not her choice to leave them.
I’ve been emailing a lot with another cousin who lost his mother in a car accident when he was a baby. She definitely never had that chance. I hope Angela did.
My husband and I watched a show the other night where a couple dealt with the news that their baby wouldn’t survive birth and had to deal with the loss of their hopes and dreams for a new family. He asked me if I needed to turn it off. I said I was ok, because, when I think about it, if I lost my baby, yes, it would be devastating, but I do have two children and I’d still be around to take care of them, to watch them grow, and we would move on. For two babies to lose their mother, for a mother to have to leave her babies, entrusting their love and care and growth to others, is just worse somehow……it’s heartbreaking.
I know to be thankful for what I have and I am definitely squeezing my babies and my husband tight these days. It’s just that I don’t understand why I get to raise mine and others don’t—who decides that and how? It’s just not fair.
2015. Another year begins. It’s amazing how many differences a year can bring. We rang in 2014 with sweet friends in a little mountain cabin in the snow. We rang in this year with different sweet friends at a poolside BBQ. Wow. We are blessed.
We spent the first 10 days of 2014 in Colorado enjoying the familiar comforts of close family and old, dear friends. The rest of this year afforded us two short camping trips—in April to Girraween National Park and just two weeks ago to Springbrook National Park. It’s wonderful to watch our boys develop the same love for the outdoors and for travel and adventure that we both have.
July gave us a long weekend in Noosa, one of our favorite places on earth, where we enjoyed family time exploring in the sea, on a river and on land—fantastic place. And in September we were able to spend a week up in Cairns, exploring rainforests, beaches and the Great Barrier Reef. That’s pretty incredible, I think, to be able to have getaways like that within one trip around the sun. We are very fortunate.
In March of 2014, I had a miscarriage (it is still tough to say that). In May, I became a children’s yoga teacher (it is still cool to say that). In July I ran a half marathon (who’d have ever thought?!). I also lost my part time job in a construction firm, a job I have not missed for even one day, but the loss of which has raised a slew of uncertainties and financial instability. In October I began teaching yoga at a beautiful studio in Samford, one of my favorite places around here. And in November, I got pregnant.
Yep, we are crazily expecting our 3rd child in August this year. I am only 8 weeks along, but after hearing the heartbeat and seeing my little blueberry at the doctor this week, we are starting to break the news to family and friends. I guess a few of you will find out this way (and I ask you to please only share your feelings about it with us at this time—thank you, dear ones). All 3 boys came to the ultrasound and as I watched Drew look at the screen to decipher what he was seeing, I was overcome with emotion, remembering the 1st time I saw him in those pictures, and thinking about how he now reaches up to my shoulder. A big grin spread over his face and he jumped over to the bed I was in and wrapped me up in a hug—precious little man. Steve was holding Zach, who was overwhelmed and stunned by it all. He’s not too happy to be getting a baby, but if he has to, he at least hopes it’s a boy. Drew wants a girl.
My little Drew turned 6 in 2014. He celebrated with dear and generous friends around him. In June he was hospitalized for asthma—one of the scariest experiences of my life. In September he held a treat stall to raise money to help save the Great Barrier Reef and then he got to snorkel for the first time in the waters he now cares so much about. He’s grown about 6 inches, learned to read and write, and loves to tell us facts about animals—in the water or on land, living now or from prehistoric times. He completed 1st grade, ran his first 1k, has become an excellent swimmer and discovered a great enjoyment of gymnastics. His enthusiasm and love of life inspire me; his energy amazes and exhausts me, and his bossy and sometimes downright nasty side scares me. I love that child.
Zach, our cuddly music man turned 4. Not to be outdone, he also got his first ambulance ride this year, for croup. It’s a wonder my hair’s turning gray. He completed preschool. He loves every sport he can learn about and is pretty much always singing. If there is someone in the room to cuddle with, he is with that person, and he adores learning about anything with a motor. I adore watching the new and imaginative Lego creations he brings out. His big heart and love for his family fill me up; his appreciation of the littlest things humbles me, and his rudeness and tantrums bring me to my breaking point. I love that child.
Steve worked so hard this year, supporting all of us in every way he could. He received a promotion and will head back to school this month as the Head of Special Education. He sure deserves it.
And, to close out our year, we bought a car yesterday! We spent 1 ½ years here as a one-car family with our little Corolla and the year and a half before that as a one and a half car family, with Steve using a scary, loud contraption that I wouldn’t let the kids in, to get around, mainly to work. We now have a modern Subaru outback and are just thrilled. The boys feel like rich men when they push a button and the window goes down! What I find most ironic about it, is that after leaving Boulder, I take up running, become a yoga teacher and buy a Suby—all those “typical Boulder” characteristics and I don’t get them until being out here—crazy!
So, it’s plain to see that we are blessed in every way and lack for nothing. We have just closed out a year full of learning, growth, beauty, family, friendship and love, and 2015 looks to be full of the same, as each year should be.
That is why I’m ashamed to admit that I want to go home. I know my emotions are a mess right now and I’m exhausted just getting through each day, so hopefully this will all pass. But right now, I believe that after a couple more years here, I need to be back in the U.S. I don’t even know what home looks like anymore, or if any place will ever really “feel” like home, which is ok, as long as our family unit is there, healthy and together. I just want that home to be in the U.S. somewhere.
I’m tired. I feel like I’ve done all I can do, worked as hard as I can, and it’s just too hard. It’s too far. Weddings, deaths, new additions, milestones—-sharing them virtually is just not enough. We’ve pretty much decided that the best time for us to visit this year is Christmas, which is two full years since the last visit. That’s too long. I don’t like it. It all makes me too sad.
I guess I just feel like I’ve proven myself—I’ve shown that I’m strong and that I can create a happy life for myself and for my family anywhere. But now I’ve realized that I want that happy life to be in my home country, not on a small island on the opposite side of the world. Can I live here forever? Sure, I can. I’m a mother, a woman. I can do anything. Do I really need to though?
But on the other hand, there’s so much I love about life here and would miss. The slow pace, the naturalness of it all, the time people make for each other–all of that really suits me. It’s a beautiful part of the world. But is it for me forever? If it was closer to the U.S., it very likely could be. Geographically and logistically, though, I unfortunately don’t think it should be.
My feelings worry Steve. And they scare me, too. The economy has improved in the U.S., but we’d still make so much less money and both need to work more and be around our children less to make ends meet. Is it worth it? Plus our children could get shot a school!!! Seriously?! Or have to pass through armed guards every day just to walk in and out of school. Just thinking about that makes me blood pressure increase. Why would I knowingly put my children in that situation, when I can protect them from it? Am I being selfish?
But I also believe they’d have more opportunities over there in several ways, in school and sports and opportunities for learning and exploration. I know they have roots here, but it seems like they have more there, more connections. They’d get to experience all four seasons, the mountains and the beach.
I don’t know. I understand these are the ravings of a hormonal lunatic. And it’s nothing to act on now anyway—I would never deny Steve’s new job opportunity, and have decided with him to evaluate how we both feel about it all in two years. He of course is hoping I’ll change my mind. I’m hoping for gun control and continued improvement in American teacher’s wages!
For now, I just need to get back to living in the moment and treasuring my beautiful life. This year, this month Zach starts Prep, Drew 2nd grade and Steve a new job. Hopefully, I will begin my adult yoga teacher training in March and grow professionally in ways yet unrevealed to me. And, most importantly, I get to enjoy the miracle of new life growing inside me for the last time, and prepare to meet this little one in the flesh later this year. Cheers to 2015!
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!
I need to get a few more of my thoughts out related to this recent trip and our dual-hemisphere life. One of the biggest differences I noticed from this visit to the last is this: For the last trip, we had only lived here 9 months and I felt like I was bringing my boys back home, back to their familiarity. On this trip, it was painfully obvious to me that I was bringing the boys out of their home, out of their familiarity, to a fun place to visit. They are no longer American boys living in Australia; they have seamlessly become Australian boys who were visiting America. It was kind of weird.
The whole experience was a big, exciting adventure for them. One of their odd fascinations was with American toilets. They flush with a lever on the side as opposed to a choice of buttons on the top, which Zach loved because it meant he could flush the toilet with reckless abandon, not needing to close the lid and climb up to reach the top first. American toilet bowls are also filled with much more water than Australian toilet bowls, which swirls around and around, along with all of their contents, on its way down. Both boys would repeatedly flush the toilet and then stand and watch the subsequent show in awe. I think this activity took about three weeks to lose its appeal and become commonplace.
Another fascination was light switches. As it turns out, they are more often placed lower on the walls, again making them easier to reach for Zach. The switches themselves are also in a couple different shapes. Turning lights on and off therefore became another fun pastime for them and I don’t think it lost its appeal over the entire 5 weeks, which succeeded in annoying almost every person whose house we spent time in.
A third source of new fun was found in door stops. They’re on the end of a spring in the U.S. and make really fun loud BOINGGGG sounds each time they’re flicked. It’s amazing the little things you stop and notice when you’re in a child’s world.
Their Australian accents REALLY stuck out. I knew they’d picked them up, but it wasn’t until they were the only ones around who sounded like that, that I realized just how strong their new accents are. That was more a source of entertainment for everyone they were around! A couple people here have already made comments that some of their pronunciations are more American. That made me a little sad, thinking, “Are my little guys going to draw comments for the way they sound no matter which country they’re in on an ongoing basis?” Everyone means well and I think they’re not affected by it; it’s just my sensitivity. I’m happy to report that it was unanimously pronounced that my accent has not changed one little bit! I’ve got to keep something from my “past life”, don’t I? 😉
It’s actually pretty funny over in the U.S. because Americans love accents and would try to imitate the boys. Everyone in my family ended up saying rubbish and bin instead of trash, as well as footpath instead of sidewalk. The funniest was listening to my Mom playing Dominoes with the boys one afternoon, when she kept loudly saying “My go.” Such good sports! I love them.
To clear my head, I also need to get down a bit of a list about what I miss and what I have found a new love for. I’m not sure why, but I do.
-My family. Obviously.
-My friends. Again, duh.
-The mountains and all the views.
-Driving on the right side of the road.
-Colorado’s affinity for fitness and outdoor sports and activities, and deference to pedestrians and cyclists.
-The food: Specifically good microbrews, margaritas, tortilla chips, salsa (pretty much all Mexican/TexMex/Southwest cuisine), healthier grab and go snacks, greasier and cheesier pizza, fresh berries of all kinds, a plethora of vegetarian options at restaurants and grocery stores
-The sports. I miss skiing and hiking. Also, it was so fun being around for college bowl games and college basketball and even hockey. One of the things we didn’t fit in was getting to a sporting event. Next time….
-The weather. I miss the seasons. I had forgotten how mild Colorado’s winter is. I miss snow with a blue sky and bright yellow sun to set it off and fall colors. Plus my skin cleared up within days of arriving. It got dry and cracked as well—ahh, tradeoffs.
-The holidays. Hardly any of them are the same and the ones that are, are celebrated so differently that they don’t hardly seem the same.
-The prices. I went out for a glass of wine and dessert the other night here and spent almost the same amount as Steve and I spent on an entire dinner that included four cocktails and an appetizer.
-The language, or I should say, dialect, and the accent. I can understand everyone, and it just all makes more sense to me and makes me feel more comfortable and at home.
-The vegetation and the animals. No special reason. I just love them both and they’re familiar to me.
-The customer service. Don’t get me started.
-Americans in general. I can’t put my finger on it, but I am becoming convinced that there is a difference in the way we interact. Whatever that difference is makes friendships seem to gel more easily and interactions just make more sense. I remember no one “got” Steve’s humor when he lived there and how difficult and frustrating that was for him. Even though I can’t put my finger on what the difference is, after living in both places, it definitely makes sense to me that there must be a difference, quite a large one. After all, we literally inhabit two different worlds, as the above list testifies to. Anyway, I love the positivity of Americans, the tough can-do attitude, the friendliness, the openness, the easy laughter, the creativity, the confidence…..still can’t put my finger on it.
Now, for what I’ve come to appreciate here and why this will likely remain our home:
-The people. Kind, generous, open, supportive friends who are so quick to lend a hand and extend an invitation. People here have just welcomed us, made us one of their own, no questions asked and I love that. They put up with me! All my homesickness, American snobbiness, whining and weird habits and they still come around. I have to pinch myself to believe it’s true!
-The beach. Going to the beach used to be a summer vacation for us and now we can go for the day, or just for a picnic dinner. The water is so soothing and beautiful to watch. I have always loved to regularly sit and watch waterfalls, babbling creeks or river rapids, but watching the ocean waves was a rarer treat. Now it is reversed. It’s nice to spend 35 years of one’s life appreciating some things and then the next several appreciating other things.
-Fruits and vegetables that taste like fruits and vegetables. I was appalled by how bland and tasteless produce was in the U.S., after what I’ve become accustomed to here. I had no idea what I was missing! It’s easier to eat healthier when the food is packed with that much natural tasty goodness. Plus now we eat what is in season. Seeing fresh pineapples and berries served in land-locked Colorado in the middle of winter made me realize that our carbon footprint is now less than it used to be. Americans are GOOD people with good hearts and good intentions and in most cases don’t even realize how our typical way of life USES so much more than people in other parts of the world do, without even batting an eye. How much energy and resources do we use flying those types of food in so we can eat them whenever we feel like it, and pay low prices for them as well? Things we do daily and take for granted, like using a clothes dryer in such a dry, sunny climate, are not done in the rest of the world and we don’t even realize it.
-Brown eggs and white cheese. White eggs and yellow cheese are NOT normal! That can’t be good for us!
-I’m not a huge fan of the sports here yet, but I do admire that pro athletes here are not paid obscene amounts and elevated to god-like statuses. The main take-away related to this topic that is a reason I like living here is:
-The wages. I like that people can work hard at a fulltime job, no matter what that job may be, and earn enough to support themselves. I hated watching housekeepers and food service employees in the retirement communities I worked in bust their tails for over eight hours a day and then head straight to a job at a fast-food restaurant for another six hours and then come home to six people in a two-bedroom apartment. It’s just not right. I like that my husband and I have more time with our children now and don’t feel guilty about taking more time off for them when we need to, yet we can still support ourselves and save money for the future. This point leads me to another one:
-The work-life balance. It was ironic here to come back and hear people complaining about not getting much time off over the holidays and naming off the 5 or 6 days they got in addition to weekends. I thought about all our American friends we’d just seen who only had Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off. People are less stressed out over here and I think that’s where the laidback reputation comes from. They work hard when they work. But everyone understands that “life” is more important, including employers. Again, this point leads me to:
-Free health care. I believe that good health is a basic right, right up there with “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It has helped our family tremendously that we are able to spend far less on good health care than we were prior to moving here. In fact, whenever I complain about Australian prices, I remind myself that we pay so much less for quality healthcare that it likely balances out. Plus we are making Australian wages. And someone here pointed out to me that prices have to be higher when people are paid living wages, which I clearly support.
-The plants and animals. They’re all new to me and utterly fascinating. I love the multitude of flowers and their heady scents. I love how green it is and am fully aware that you need more rain in order to have more green, so it’s ok. In fact, I learned something interesting on our visit home: I probably annoy people (especially those who think I grew up in an ice cave, which is well, everyone) when I complain (often) about missing sunshine, because I am from a place with 300 days of it per year. Well, when I was jogging one day a couple weeks ago in Colorado, thinking how beautiful and sunny it was and how I wish I could bottle up that sunshine to take back here with me for all those rainy days, I decided to actually look up the amount of days of sunshine in each place. Well, guess what? I need to quit my whining, because they came out quite comparable, with Brisbane slightly ahead in the article on each place that I read. Ok, I’ll shut up about that one now!
-Gun control. Now I believe that several of the factors listed above lead to the lower rate of violent crime here, as of course the mind-boggling-ly smaller population, including free health care, improved work-life balance and higher wages. However, I think gun control adds to it. Now, I get annoyed sometimes with what I consider to be “freedoms” that I feel are impinged upon here. But we are safer here and there is no getting around that. Through mutual friends we know a student and a teacher at Arapahoe High School, and at one gathering the subject of the shooting there the week before came up and we all heard about how each of them got out of the school, found his parents, kept her students safe, etc. That broke my heart. People shouldn’t have to experience a school day like that. What broke my heart even more is that every single person we spoke to, without exception (well, Texans), including my most conservative right-wing friends, would like to see some basic regulations. They’re sick of it. And it’s sad that those regulations could very well likely never come….so so sad.
So, there it is. Those are some pretty big issues. As much as I love Colorado and the United States and all that they both have to offer, and all their people, it looks like we are staying here for the foreseeable future. And it sounds like I should spend a little less time being homesick and a little more time being grateful. Waaahhhh! I will. I will. I promise! Writing this has also helped me realize that some of the things I miss the most about home are some of the most fun new experiences I have currently available to me and I need to make the most of that.
Anyway, this is super long, but important to my head. Our two weeks back have been great, really. Friends have been so kind and happy to see us and I had three days with my two boys all to myself. It was funny—I felt like through all those 5 and a half weeks of traveling, I wasn’t really WITH them because it was so busy. I adored those three days and am very thankful for them. We have had a lovely three-day weekend as a family as well, including an “all you could ever ask for”, perfect, relaxing fun Australia Day holiday yesterday at the beach with good friends. And school starts tomorrow! First grade for Drew and preschool (kindy here) for Zach two days a week. My babies are growing up on me. Again, waahh! But beautiful at the same time. A summary of my life, eh?
“Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” This is what my son told me at the Denver airport last Saturday afternoon when I asked him what the Dr. Seuss quote was that Nana had just texted me that she had told him in a special conversation that morning. He remembered it so easily, after hearing it from her just that one time. He knew just what I was asking and told me in a very sincere, earnest voice. Such wonderful advice, yet deceivingly hard to follow.
I know I have nothing to complain about. People all over this world are going through seriously tough stuff and my family and I just came off a blissful, relaxing 5-week vacation filled with love and laughter and beauty in all its forms. Yet, I’ve still felt a bit melancholy this week. Yes, “a bit.” Apparently, that is an Australian phrase that I have adopted “a bit” too easily, a fact which some girlfriends picked up on after about 20 minutes of being around me and spent the next month teasing me about! Man, I love those girls.
It’s not that I don’t like it here. In fact, I consider my family exceptionally blessed to have citizenship in two amazing countries, both with abundant freedoms, incredible opportunities, wonderful lifestyles and gorgeous people. Most people in this world don’t have the benefit of the choices we have.
I’m just melancholy because I wish there was only a 4-hour flight separating the two countries, at a cost of around $400 per ticket. And because, even though, technically, we all speak the same language, I just wish SOMETHING else was the same, ANYTHING. Just give me the same seasons, or the same holidays or driving on the same side of the road, or the same sports…..anything? Anything? Just one thing that I feel an affinity for, a comfort and security in knowing it’s what I know, what I’m comfortable with, where I’m not SO foreign and clueless. Well we all know that’s not possible and that’s why I’m just “a bit” sad this week.
So how do I give a quick recap of our spectacular adventure? We started off with relatively smooth travel until arriving in the midst of a crazy Dallas ice storm, which result in Steve managing to drive us 17 miles in 2 ½ hours (over 4 times the amount of time it would typically take) after 30 hours of travelling to reach a dear friend’s house late that Friday night, the same day we left.
Once that was over, we enjoyed fresh, hot, home-cooked food with kind, generous friends whom we hadn’t seen in years. We rested. We visited. We stayed an extra day because Dallas had come to a standstill. We left on Sunday for San Antonio after a homemade hot breakfast and a packed lunch in our rental car, not knowing when or if we’ll ever see these friends again. She and I both believe we will—it just seems to happen.
We then spent 4 days sightseeing, resting, enjoying time off together as a foursome, doing whatever we wanted to do whenever we wanted to do. We caught up with more friends that we hadn’t seen in years, met each other’s families and therefore we all made new friends. We laughed. We ate. Chips and salsa. Guacamole. Margaritas. Microbrews. Our staples for the entire trip. We shopped. Again, said goodbye hoping to meet again one day.
We arrived in Denver at 7:30 the following Thursday morning and I couldn’t hug my parents tight enough. We were finally all together! We played in the little snow that was leftover from a previous storm without coats on, enjoying a beautiful sunny day. We hibernated. We just hung out, were together. Finally, the following evening my brother’s family came over and we meet the new baby cousin. The older cousins hadn’t skipped a beat and enjoyed each other like they’d seen each other yesterday. After all, when I told my niece how great it was to see her, she said, “We see you on the computer.” We do, and I am incredibly thankful for that! I’m so grateful we did not make this move 20 years ago!
Saturday afternoon we started catching up with friends. More chips and salsa. More good beer. More laughter. More hugs. More of that weird feeling like no time had passed at all. We’d never even left.
Here’s a bit of a highlight reel (boy, I do say it a lot!!):
-I got to spend an afternoon with just my brother and our 4 kids, just hanging out. It was beautiful.
-My Mom took us to the hospital where she volunteers to see the Flight for Life Center and we all got to sit in the helicopter (that was more of a boy highlight, mainly the big boy!).
-I got a night out with my girlfriends in Boulder, where I tried seven different types of salsa and lost count of my margaritas. Then I got to spend the night with one of them and meet a bunch of them again the next morning at the gym where the whipped my butt and reminded me how crazy fit they all are! I hadn’t had a girly overnight in over 2 years and it did wonders for me. Girlfriends are a true necessity!
-Speaking of girlfriends, I saw several! And their kids! Gorgeous mini-versions of them and their spouses, with time to just visit and chat while the kids played. And eat. Chips and salsa.
-The 4 of us went to Red Rocks one day to explore and Drew lost his 6th tooth while eating an apple in the car. The tooth fairy found him at our friend’s house that night—she definitely redeemed herself from the time she forgot to come!
-We went to Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo on a FREEZING cold night that was still enchanting, not only because of the amazing light displays, but because we were with my parents, my brother’s family, and dear friends.
-The boys went ice skating for the first time. They sledded. They built a snowman as well as the snow crocodile and snow caterpillar they had planned ahead of time. They skied (first time for Zach and first time on a chairlift for both). It turns out Drew is an adrenalin junkie in snow as well as in water, and Zach is just a tough guy. He persists; he’s careful and he learns how to do what he wants to do.
-We spent 5 nights midway through the month at a friend’s house in Boulder while they were out of town, so we not only got to soak up all beautiful Boulder has to offer (shopping, vegetarian food, chips and salsa, microbrews), but we had our own space, which really helped on such a long trip.
-I got to lay on a blanket out in the sun on a gorgeous day and just BE with a dear friend. We got to escape together and climb a Rocky Mountain (a small one, but still—man I miss hiking! I know there’s hiking here, but unless you’re from the mountains, you cannot possibly understand that it is just not the same. It’s like saying Colorado has water and beaches. Sure, there are both of those, but come on! They’re not real!).
-Steve and I got to jog together 3 times, shop together twice, have a morning coffee date and one date night where we ate chips and salsa and drank margaritas. See the pattern? 😉
-On Christmas Day, my parents had all 3 of their children and all 4 of their grandchildren in the same house. It was beautiful.
-We rang in the New Year in a cozy mountain cabin with lovely friends.
-I got to ski with my Dad on a warm, perfectly sunny powder day. I hadn’t realized how much I miss that, too! Man, those mountains are gorgeous! They take my breath away. I think I actually did ski some runs shouting “Whoooooooo!” the whole way down! There was just nothing else to say.
-We got to enjoy après ski at a great bar with a live band where I watched my Dad step pretty darn far outside his comfort zone to dance with my Mom who just can’t keep her feet still.
-I got to be with my Dad on his last day of work ever and share in that poignant life-changing moment for both of my parents.
-I got to introduce my Mom to a dear friend and mentor of mine and enjoy a special ladies morning out.
-We got to explore two seemingly endless Denver museums with friends and family.
-We swam in an indoor pool and sat outside in a hot tub with a mountain view.
-People came out of the woodwork asking to see us and made tremendous effort to accommodate us and make that happen.
-I had another night out with two of the most special people in the world to me.
-I got to celebrate my upcoming birthday with so many people that I love, smiling and laughing together. That was beautiful, too.
And then we left.
So much beauty, so much love, so much laughter, so much soul-filling joy crammed in to 5 weeks. How is it possible? How do you come down from an experience like that? I started sobbing as our plane lifted off into the air from Denver. Knowing I won’t see that beautiful place and all the beautiful people there for close to two years just tore my heart apart. I still tear up every time I think about it. This is a HARD move!
But, guess what? Then we came back. And a friend picked us up from the airport. And another friend dropped off our car and had mowed our lawn the day before. And another friend dropped off a meal for us that night, knowing we’d be tired. And another friend had our mail and took care of the house for us. And another friend housesat for us and cleaned our house and did our laundry for us. And it’s beautiful here. And people are happy to see us. And we are happy to see them!
I was all set to write tonight about what I miss about home and what I like about here, to compare it all and remind myself that I like both places.
However, my heart took me in a different direction. But I think it got me to the same place. What I take away from this experience is how INCREDIBLY BLESSED my family and I are! Our cups truly runneth over. Just writing about the number of friends we have and remembering the experiences we shared with each of them on that trip, and the kindnesses the ones here showed to us upon our return and during our absence, absolutely blows my mind. I feel it should be mathematically impossible to cherish this many people. But I do! I wouldn’t trade a single one of them.
This move is hard, incredibly hard. But it’s also blessed me in numerous ways. It’s opened my eyes and taught me about what is truly important in this life. It’s all about love and cherishing each other. I think my heart will always feel ripped in two. I’m not sure there’s any other way. But as long as it’s as full as it is, I can handle the tearing.
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.