Expat Life / Little Miss / Me / Our Life Now

“Home isn’t a Place, it’s a Feeling”

IMG_4071Living abroad has been a way of life for Mark and I for 11 years now, (for me, since I was 18) it’s just our life, and as cliche as it sounds “home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling”. We choose this life every year, with every new contract, even when it’s not easy, and for the most part we’re happy with it.

It gets complicated though when your life choices as parents start to negatively affect your kids.

Now, I know we’re not really hurting Little Miss too much, and this life will be something she will thank us for when she’s a little older to understand, but for now, for her, every time we leave Glasgow, it gets a little harder to understand; it hurts a little deeper. Leaving Glasgow on Saturday morning, then last night and again this morning we had tears. Why can’t we just stay? Why can’t we live in Glasgow? Why, why, why? She loves how her family make her feel. She feels at home in Glasgow.

See, the thing is, we also feel at home in Glasgow but for very different reasons. (Glasgow Banter!!!) We’re old enough to process our feelings and understand that what we want from life isn’t in Scotland. Mark can’t work there, it’s as simple as that, he’d have to start a new career, in a completely different field.  Yes, our family and friends are there but they’ll always be, whether they/we are in Scotland or not. wpid-IMG_20130217_100300.jpg

We all have transactive memory, so we leave little parts of ourselves in other people’s memories throughout our lives; but of course a 9 year old doesn’t yet understand, nor accept, this.

Our (almost) 9 year old hasn’t transitioned well to our new town, she often tells us she wishes she lived somewhere else. Her day-to-day is fine, she goes to school, plays basketball, plays (read: fights) with her brother, etc, but overall I have the feeling that she isn’t completely happy, not like a 9 year old should be. She once told me when we arrived in Orange that no-one ever laughed here, like belly laughed, and had fun; she said everyone looked so serious, and didn’t look like they were enjoying life. I guess she recognised that we (I’ll say as Scottish people) have a different sense of humour to French people. Whilst I don’t completely agree with her; I’ve had some great laughs with some of my basketball girls, I do see where she gets these thoughts from.

We do things differently, and that’s why I think a lot of her troubles and stresses are situational; the French education system, where kids spend the majority of their young lives, doesn’t do the best job at developing happy and well-balanced children, but that’s a story for another day… img_0414

She’s growing up so bloody fast, changing before my eyes…daily. Is this what happens when they reach 9 or double digits? I noticed it more-so this trip after a few days “off” from parenting, she seemed to be so much more independent, occupied herself so much more freely. Walked with a little more swagger.  It makes me feel proud but scared at the same time.

Where am I at? I hope once we move to the next place, wherever that will be, she will settle again, but I still have a niggling thought at the back of my head that our lifestyle has a lot to do with how she deals with and processes her emotions; our choices are directly affecting her little existence in a huge way and I don’t know if it’s good for her.

This parenting malarkey is tough, isn’t it? So, how do we explain to our daughter that our home; a place where she should feel safe and loved, is a place where she doesn’t feel those things as strongly outside our four walls?

Has anyone else experienced this with their kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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