318 days into our expat journey I wrote my third blog post (read it here) reflecting on life as a stay at home mom. Almost 2 years later, I again find myself in a reflective mood (I’m sure it has happened a couple of other times in between). This time as the realization dawns on me that we may well be moving again.
We always knew that a return to South Africa was not on the cards, at least not unless it was under extreme circumstances that involved little to no choice on our part. It was always a distant prospect, the topic of long-term planning, career discussions, and school curriculum decisions. It was not the topic of short-term planning, frantic google searches (because that’s always a good idea right?) and heaven forbid it interfered with holiday planning 🙂 Yet now that far off blurry dream is now a lot closer, almost more in focus – we’ve almost reached the 12-week-tell-everyone-you-know mark!
This time around, however, I find myself reacting quite differently. When we first realized we were moving to the UAE, it couldn’t happen fast enough for me. I counted down the days until I handed in my resignation and then counted down the days until we were leaving. I eagerly sold all our furniture and belongings and rapidly started disengaging from life in South Africa. I understood we were leaving family friends, but this did not seem an insurmountable obstacle. This time around, I haven’t done a thing other than compiling a list of all the things we haven’t yet done in the desert! I’m loathed to discuss a move with friends and family. A 10-hour flight from South Africa for a visit seems infinitely longer than a 7-hour hop. I dare say, this time around there are no rose tinted glasses to observe a future life through and I’m beginning to think that is a normal side-effect of expat life.
With each move, you understand that while all the reasons that I love living abroad still exist, I can now also add all those niggly hassles that come with an international move. Niggles like finding a pediatrician when the monkeys first fall ill. The uncertainty of who becomes your emergency contact when all the numbers you know have international dialing codes. The implications of choosing the wrong school because now I’ve been there, done that and got the uniform to prove it! Have I become cynical living in the UAE? Has my outlook been irreparably been tainted by retrenchments, hotel apartments and being a stay at home mom? Or, and I can’t believe I’m admitting this, is this just a type of growing up? Am I now capable of making more informed and insightful decisions versus when we first embarked on this journey?
I’ve been churning this in my head for the last few days and try as I might I cannot settle on any one reason for why I’m feeling so uncertain and I think it’s time to make peace with the fact that it may not be a single one of these. It is probably an amalgamation of all of them and an added shot of an emotion that I just don’t comprehend yet. More importantly may be that in the greater scheme of things, it doesn’t actually matter. What does matter is that we’re going on an adventure. An epic and exciting adventure and if we choose to focus on the what if’s we’ll miss out on all the amazing that comes along with it!
Here’s to planning our UAE Bucketlist!