In a little over three weeks we will all be boarding a plane back to the UK for the summer. Four days later my husband will board another plane and come back to Qatar. On his own. Myself, the four year old and the two year old? We won’t follow him for another nine weeks.
This summer, in theory, I am abandoning my husband.
And I’m OK with that.
Before I moved to the Middle East I was aghast at the thought of becoming one of those expat wives who packs up and leaves her husband over the summer. No sir, not me. We were a partnership, a duo, a team. He stays, I stay, we stay.
Four years later and my trips home have gotten longer and longer each year, much to the
horror delight of my mum who we descend upon for the whole time we are home.
The first year I stayed in Dubai the whole summer.
The second year I headed home for ten days during Ramadan.
The third year I braved solo travel with two children and headed home for three weeks.
The fourth year we left Dubai thinking that we were headed home for good, to find out instead we were actually off to Qatar. So stayed home for twelve weeks waiting for contracts to come through and official sign off. Though to be fair a lot of that was with my husband.
This year we are home for nine weeks, though potentially extending that for another two. (Sorry mum)
The me from 2013 wouldn’t have been able to comprehend the time away from home, from her husband. She wouldn’t be able to understand why I would choose to do it. The me from 2017 knows all to well why.
It’s getting hot in here
Temperatures are rising. Daily. We’re now confined to the house, to soft play, to indoors. With a four year old and a two year old?
They need to be free, to run wild, to exercise. And yes, they can get out in the evenings where it’s still hot but there is no risk of sunburn. Yes, we can get to the pool. But is it enough for them? Is it enough for me?
It’s getting lonely in here
The thing is pretty much everybody leaves for the summer once school is out.
“If everybody else jumped off a cliff, would you?”
And no, I wouldn’t. However when you’re stuck indoors at the same soft play day after day, with your husband at work and no one around it is boring. It is lonely. Not just for you but for the kids.
“I want to go play with my friends”
I don’t blame him. I want to go play with mine too.
It’s a little less homesick
The great thing about living here is that we are close enough to the UK to head home when we want. Seven hours on a plane, at the time feeling like forever, really isn’t that long. And prices are affordable.
Whilst expat life is something we love, something we dream of. There is a call to go home, to see friends, family. And really see them. Not just fly in for a week and out again being visitors and tourists. To be there for the little things as well as the big things; nipping to the pub for a quick glass of wine, a catch up after a long day, a parkrun together.
It’s the eating of food that I grew up with – and pork, all of the pork.
It’s showing the boys England, where they are from. Introducing the culture. The ways. The lifestyle.
But what about my husband?
It’s true, we will fly solo for the summer. He will be here in searing heat, heading out to work, training for a marathon the crazy man. I will be there facing the battles of parenting without my partner in crime.
Yet we’ve worked it in such a way that we won’t be apart for long. With a visit at the start, a holiday in the middle, and potentially a collection at the end we don’t think it will be for any longer than eighteen days.
Eighteen days with Skype, with messages. It’s manageable.
So while I might be without my partner in crime, who will be busy gorging himself on takeaway as the most he can cook is a baked potato or a pasta bake. I will be busy running round after the boys, in the fresh air, making holiday memories to tell Daddy all about.
2017 me didn’t even blink at the thought of going home, just goes to show that what you think you know you don’t. Time changes us all, people change, circumstances change, and as always, you put the kids first.