Lest you think that moving your family to a foreign country is easy, let me enlighten you. Is it hard being a stranger is a new culture? Yes. Is it hard not understanding the language? Yes. Is it hard not knowing where to find things or finding that things are just different? Yes. Is it hard to navigate through all the differences and new things? Yes. But all of that pales in comparison to the emotional struggle-most of which involves our children. On an almost daily basis, we struggle with one or more of our children as they attempt to cope with the changes their lives have undergone. As a result, on an almost daily basis, I struggle with the guilt of whether or not this was the right decision, or if I have systematically altered my children’s personalities and changed the course of their lives in a negative way forever; and that’s a lot of guilt! This constant state of living in an emotionally charged existence puts a strain on yourself and all of your relationships. It’s a whole different level of hard.
The good news is that if you look and open yourself up, there are other people who are going through or have gone through the same thing. I’m not sure how I would survive these ups and downs if we hadn’t connected with a group of other expats through the school. Just being able to talk to these women (and laugh a little) and hear that they have gone through the same thing and that their kids have gone through the same thing and displayed the same behaviors, lightens the load a little. Will this solve the issues? No, of course not. Will this make all of my guilt go away? A wonderful thought, but no. But, at least for a few minutes, it might help lessen that guilt and provide a ray of hope that this will pass; that we will survive and that someday our kids will be happy and thanking us (not murdering us in our sleep over unforgiven emotional scars)! So, for now, here’s to friends, empathy, support and someday!