I’m losing track of weeks, but we’ve been here a little while now. And while it’s still early we’re getting a glimpse of how life might play out for us.
Joel is gone in the morning before we wake up, utilizing every minute of planning time and throwing himself into school (at least until his needy wife demands him home).
The kids and I are trying hard to maintain some semblance of routine, but it is difficult. Especially on days like today when culture shock, or homesickness, or whatever it is hits mom unexpectedly and hard.
I think I figured after so much time I somehow missed the worst of it. Perhaps I adjust better than I thought, or this was so meant to be that I would never look back.
I was wrong.
It was building, I think, but we were too busy to notice. And then it was too late.
It’s normal. And without a friend who repeatedly warned me that this would be the case, that it happens to everyone, and that sooner or later it will end, I may be packing my bags instead of writing this post.
Truthfully it feels more like exhaustion than shock. Like I want a break, but just can’t find it anywhere.
Home is stressful with the boxes in need of unpacking, floors in need of cleaning, and children in need of dressing, feeding, and entertaining.
Trips to the grocery store or bakery are preceded by an unyielding tinge of fear that perhaps someone will talk to me.
Driving, while always a bit stressful, leaves me sweating behind the wheel here. Perhaps a result of my first solo drive where I stalled out five times (just leaving the driveway), ran into our gate, knocking it off its hinges, and cracked our hubcap when I panicked on a narrow street and ran into the curb. (On our next trip Aiden exclaimed, “You did it Mommy! You didn’t hit the gate!” as I successfully pulled out of the driveway.)
Joel is managing well. Certainly not avoiding all the pitfalls of an international move, but supporting his family, excitedly preparing for a brand new school year, and successfully navigating his wife’s many and varied moods.
The kids are adjusting as well. It’s hard to remember because they can’t tell you which tantrums result from acclimating to a new environment, and which ones result from the true and unadulterated desire for more cheese.
We are lucky though because we are not alone here.
Whether arriving in the last week or the last decade everyone possesses some idea of what we are going through.
And they are all so willing to help. They realize this is something we need to go through. We hear a lot of “Hang in there’s” and “Give it some time’s.” Offers to call day or night, to take us out for a beer or coffee.
I’m still waiting to hear someone tell us it took less than six months to feel settled, because right now that feels like an eternity.
But if it is anything like these past weeks there are plenty of good moments to help temper the harder ones.
Hearing the kids scream with joy as they play in a dancing fountain. Using the school’s free babysitting to enjoy cappuccino and croissants with a friend. Watching Joel play ball with the kids as I actually enjoy cooking in the kitchen (which to anyone who knows me is a true miracle).
I wish I could leave this bittersweet theme to all of my blog posts. But I suppose these dueling moments of contentment and strife add a little color to our lives, even when black and white might be a welcome change.