Has the COVID-19 Pandemic changed the way I feel about expat living

Prior to moving to Dubai in 2013 I was adamant I did NOT want to be an expat. No way. It was difficult enough for my husband to persuade me to move to London.

Seven years later and I am well versed in being an expat wife. On our second country now in Qatar and having expanded our family from three to five.

family of five by red wall

I love living away. I love the life we lead and the travel we were able to do. Our community and friendships here are more than I could ever dream of. In short, prior to coronavirus, I often looked around and pinched myself.

So much so, it was only last summer that I had the first hankerings of leaving the sandpit heading for England’s green and pleasant lands.

And now?

My perspective has changed somewhat.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love living as an expat, but something inside me has switched.

Maybe it’s because for the first time this summer I won’t be headed home with the boys to beat the heat as we aren’t sure whether we’d be able to return in time for school to begin, or indeed whether I’d be allowed to do hotel quarantine with the three boys on my own. And it’s not a risk we were willing to take. Being separated for an indefinite amount of time.

But it’s making me miss home.

Maybe it’s because we had such an amazing summer planned (all of which has been cancelled) with friends and family. Incredible holidays in Italy, annual barbecues, catching up with my brother and his wife.

Friends for a reason, a season or a lifetime

But it’s making me miss home.

Maybe it’s because we’ve finally taken the plunge, found a house, and actually have a five year plan to return home to said house. A place to stay whenever we are in the country now we spill out of my mums house.

But it’s making me miss home.

Maybe it’s because it’s currently hotter than the sun and the energy from the boys is at a level I cannot even comprehend.

Three boys off on an adventure

Gone are bike rides, running round the compound. Yes, we can still get to the pool but that’s pretty difficult on my own with the three of them.

And in turn the energy leads to fighting.

But it’s making me miss home.

Maybe it’s because it seems to be one step forward here and one step back. Something opens, yet the school plan is still up in the air. I have no idea if they will be going back into a school environment in the coming weeks or whether plans will change again.

And it’s making me miss home.

The uncertainty surrounding what will and won’t open, both in Qatar and the UK, has me constantly questioning our decisions.

Should we, being myself and the boys, take the hit and move into our forever home (provided we complete soon!), moving away from my husband and not knowing when we will see him again. Will the stability of going to a school every day (fingers crossed) and settling into village life be more beneficial to their mental health. Or will they end up struggling more if we take them away from their Daddy.

It feels a lot like the grass is greener situation.

And I am at a loss as to what is best.

My boys need school. They need routine, education and socialising with their peers.

But they also need their daddy. To go from seeing him all day, every day in lockdown, to viewing on a screen with no idea when they can be reunited?

COVID-19 has changed my view

It’s muddied the waters on what I think is best for me, the boys, my husbands. It’s blurred lines on the acceptable length of time to go without seeing family.

COVID-19 has ripped many families apart, through illness, through borders closing, through changes in circumstances.

If you ask me today whether I want to go home, because of COVID-19, my answer would be yes.

If you’d have asked me yesterday it would have been no.

A constant coronacoaster of emotion, of good days, of bad days, of terrible days.

The only known is the unknown.

Until then you can find me wrestling with my decisions, doubting myself, and crossing my fingers for the best.

On beach, mum three boys

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