I’ve been an expat for several years now and one of the great realisations that came from leaving my country of birth was just how special it was to me. We all take things for granted one way or another but it took going away for me to appreciate just how reinvigorating and fulfilling home could be.
I recently decided to take a trip home, alone – with no husband or child alongside me – I was to experience life in a similar way as I had done prior to pregnancy and becoming a parent some 3+ years ago.
In the days leading up to my flight, I felt anxious and unsure about my decision. The (lack of) luggage reminded me just how easy it once was when I didn’t have to think about snacks, toys, dummies, milk, bottles, nappies and spare clothes – but I also felt somewhat incomplete. Once I had settled into my seat with my customary red wine and passive movie, I was ready to fall asleep and actually enjoy some uninterrupted adult time, even if it was on a plane.
Since arriving I’ve enjoyed a lot of good family time; cups of tea, lunches and the funny exchanges between my brothers feels as if I never left. What has been remarkable is not having to run by anyone’s schedule but my own. Without a toddler to entertain and hungry husband to feed at 2 hour-intervals, I’ve been able to float from reading a book to a country walk, shopping, restaurants, and even just sitting by the fire (it’s Autumn here and +9 is pretty damn cold to the unaccustomed expat of the tropics) and it has been truly liberating! I would even go as far as to saying that this degree of autonomy and freedom has already been greatly beneficial to my wellbeing even just a couple of days into my trip.
Sometimes we all just need silence. Time to take deep breaths, hold them in and exhale – to really savour a moment in time and reflect on what has been in our lives. I’ve been away from my child for more than 48 hours previously and yet I get the feeling I may be doing a lot more of this going forward. This is of course not to say I don’t miss my child or husband, and certainly not to say I don’t enjoy my life abroad, I do however think there are a number of elements at play which make this whole experience necessarily therapeutic: Being alone, being at home and being flexibly in control, with no dependents and all at one’s own pace. I am glad that I am able to do this and it has only been made possible by complete agreement and reinforcement of the home schedule with my partner. I am also grateful for his support which helps immensely with the ‘mother’s guilt’ that creeps in from time to time.
Tomorrow I am going to take in some museums and be a tourist – I can’t wait to explore my home City again with new eyes and context! I’ll be sure to write soon 🙂