To my boys,
Expat life, it’s all you’ve ever known, the ultimate expat kids. From the biggest being 6 months old when we first left the UK headed for the desert in Dubai, the Baby arriving in Dubai, to now where we embark on our new life in Doha. You boys have spent more time out of the UK than in it, something which I never imagined when I was pregnant with you.
I imagined a childhood similar to my own. A childhood surrounded by the lush green countryside we are so blessed with in the UK. Of summers filled with days out to the zoo, country walks and trips to the park. Autumns kicking leaves and running free. Winters spent wishing for snow, then despairing if it actually arrives. The promise of springtime and budding flowers. Of running outside. Of cosy weekends by the fire. I imagined you heading to pre-school, then primary school, then secondary school with the same circle of friends. Friends you had known from babyhood, grown up with. The same life path that I had trodden before you and imagined that your children would tread after me. Then Daddy got the call and we were off to the desert. First as a three, then as a four.Instead you both have a life that is ever revolving. New cities to explore, to conquer, to live in. Putting ourselves out there, meeting new people, new friends, on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. Making friends and then saying goodbye, so long, farewell, when they leave or you do. Maintaining relationships through ever advancing technology, photos shared, emails sent, Skype conversations had jumping over time zones and across the miles.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s too much for little ones to bear, whether the constant change loses it’s adventure-like nature and they long just to settle. The time it takes to move, settle, then move again. The very nomadic nature of existence even when you have a house filled with all your possessions (which I don’t at the moment, a house, yes, possessions, yes, in the same place, no….) living in a country where you ask permission to stay, renewing visas every two years, living on borrowed time in a sense. Sometimes I wonder if we should head back to what we know, to repatriate, knowing in a sense that repatriating may in fact be harder than being an expat. I consider giving you both the childhood I experienced.
Then I remember why we are here. Why we have chosen this life for you, for us as a family, to experience and learn. To grow.
We are here…
To go to school where you are faced with different cultures and different backgrounds to your own. To learn of others who speak different languages, who practice different religions, who hold different beliefs. To teach of your language, your beliefs, your religion. To realise that at the end of the day people are just that, people. That the important fact when you are 3, nearly 4, is who is your favourite Paw Patrol character (Marshall, it’s always Marshall) and do you want to play are the most important questions you can ask. And as you get older the questions don’t really change, you are still asking people to play, to be friends.
To explore new surroundings, discover new places, both at home and away. For you to realise that the world is more than the bubble that you occupy, that great people have gone before, great people walk the Earth now and great people will walk in the future. That the world is a big place, waiting to be explored, to be travelled. That you can marvel at the sights on the internet, that you can read about them in books, but that nothing will ever prepare you for the things that take your breath away. Those things don’t have to be big and monumental, they don’t have to be the Angkor Wat, the Machu Piccu of the world. Those things can be as simple as exploring your surroundings safe in the knowledge that Mummy and Daddy are there. As simple as walking through the streets of home, absorbing and remembering.
To be lucky enough to enjoy the life where I can be a stay at home mum, be the one to take you to school and pick you up. To be the one who is able to suit her working hours around you. To be able to bake with you, play with you, read the stories and generally enjoy the good days with you as well as struggling through the tough days, the tears and the tantrums, the sleepless nights (and days), the days where you feel alone.
To savour and experience new things together, sights, tastes, smells.
To wonder, to wander, to be.
To expat. Even when I didn’t want to.
I hope we instil in you a love of the world, a depth of understanding that there are many people who make up the world, of all colours, sexes and religions. I hope we ignite a fire in you that never dims, that there is so much to discover you simply never have enough time.
I hope that your expat life will help shape you into the men you will become in all the positive ways it has shaped me. Giving you confidence, the ability to adapt to any situation and a thirst for knowledge.
To my expat boys, I love you.
x x x