We’re doing fairly well with our adjustment to the UK, so far. Being the compulsive (obsessive? OCD?) researcher I am, I’ve read all sorts of articles about what to expect with children on international moves; about homesickness and signs of depression (college sites usually have good articles on this); about making mum-friends in England (or being prepared for it to be hard); about staying in touch with family and friends back home (thank you Skype and Google Video Chat); how to integrate as well and quickly as possible to a new country (Expat forums are helpful). I’ve been the grateful recipient of advice and suggestions from other Americans who have made the move. (Keep it coming!) And, of course, we have the luxury of being in a secure country with a (mostly) common language, a home, food, internet, choices — we’re not displaced, we’re not in crisis.
Still, some mornings I find myself getting weepy because I’ve deleted the ‘local’ (state side) stations on the radio. (No more Kojo Nnamdi?!) The shirt at the bottom of the luggage that smells like home gets an extra sniff. (Mmm, Tide.) I order ridiculous baking mixes from King Arthur Flour because I want to hold something familiar in my hand and remember my connection to home. (Doesn’t hurt that it’s delicious.) You just want to walk out of the house and be normal, instead of what you are: a whacked out bipolar hot mess who is up one minute and down the next. Look, a gorgeous castle! Wah-ha-haaaa, I miss my cats! Wow, the best scone I’ve ever tasted! Wah-ha-haaaaa, I can’t figure out the bus timetables! It’s like a never ending game of “What Good Luck, What Bad Luck.”
Not never-ending, of course. Six months, eighteen months, we’ll be all sorted, right? Oh dear.
My kids are inspiring. Every morning the older two walk into the real-life of the photo above — a large play yard filled with kids they don’t know, running and yelling before classes start. To me, this would be absolutely horrifying. Been there, done that, had therapy. But, my kids? They call out ‘Bye’ with their backs already to me, arms wheeling, faces shining, running to get in as fast as they can. They are fearless. I love them.
Knock on wood. I know they are stressed, and I’m keeping an eye out for their emotions, which have been tender. They miss their friends and their familiar worlds, too. But when I have a bad moment, I think of their faces running into the play yard and think: “Yes. Be that.”
Homesickness will come. And, eventually, homesickness will go.