Thursday, November 29, 2007

Learning to Ride

 Giving Up

Shortly after our arrival home after our huge European Vacation we decided our 4-year-old was well past the age to be learning how to ride a bike without her training wheels.  The kids in the Netherlands seem to be riding their bikes before they can walk.  Granted, you see the few who still have training wheels, but it always amazes me to see these kids who are no taller than their bikes who are riding right alongside their parents.  I don't know how they do it, but I think the Dutch were just born to ride their bikes.  Some friends who came up a month ago or so were amazed to see the rows and rows of bikes and lines of bike traffic weaving in an out of the auto and foot traffic.  It is often likely to find one or two of these small fry being escorted alongside one of their parents.

I am afraid to say that Squirrel Monkey did not attain Dutch citizenship this day.  She gave up after a few failed attempts and preferred to pose for the camera in front of the slide leaving her father let down and exhausted after his workout.  After a month or so of renewed attempts he resigned defeated and put the training wheels back on, albeit a little lopsided just for some extra encouragement.

Now I've got a "real Dutch person" teaching her on a smaller bike and with a little peer pressure as one of her little boyfriends learned how to ride just last week without training wheels (his mom volunteered for the task).  Still . . . she'd rather look all cutsie than show off on two wheels.


What a little stinker!  Think she'll ever learn?  Sure, but not on the Regular Dutch Standard Timeline.

Loving Baby Time

Bwunny en Bwocks

A few of my baby's favorite things.

This morning we went for a walk, my baby and I. A girlfriend informed me of a bad throat ache so I took it upon myself to bring her some of Grandma's famous cure-all tea. It gave me a chance to walk with my girl without the usual rush involved in transporting the other girls to and from school. We met some friendly puppies along the way and investigated dropped rose hips all mushy on the ground. She informed me in her baby Dutch language that they were "bahx", that last part being a lovely guttural "g". She's progressing about the way I did: I turned everything from "ck" to "ch" into a guttural "g" in my journey to incorporate it into my regular vocal sounds.

I began the process of teaching her the difference in paths, a vital survival skill here in the Netherlands. She has a tendency to wander freely between foot path, bike path, and auto path and there is no better time than now to start the training as to which path her own two feet belong. As we walked down these paths and I repeatedly pulled her off of the red-paved bike path and either scolded her, scared her, or explained the differences in colors and their meaning I watched the grandmas walking their dogs eye me in curiosity. Actually, I understood their look quite clearly (as you may remember all emotions are betrayed quite clearly on the faces of the Dutch women, good or bad); they were giving me the look which said, "Oh, I remember those days . . . if only they had lasted a little longer." And for once I was not looking back at them challengingly and wishfully thinking they could trade places with me any moment they chose to step in. No, I was thoroughly enjoying every moment with my little toddler. She'll likely be my last and I am not going to let these little moments slip out from between my fingers so easily. Likely, no matter how hard I try to hang on to them I'll always be one of those grandmothers walking her dog on the frosty morns gazing at a young mother and wishing time hadn't run away with me so fast anyway.

Last night after I gave her a hug and kiss before turning out the light and closing the door she held her bunny (pictured above) up to me to land a goodnight kiss onto as well. When I gladly bestowed a precious mother's kiss on her bunny she held up her other favored bunny for another. After I'd kissed them both she delightedly tucked each under her arms and prepared to sleep with a huge smile on her face. I am glad those simplicities still mean so much to her. The older girls were just as charming in the things which gave them a smile before sleep, but these were more mature. Spider Monkey felt happiness with a bit of pride over the breakthrough of actually liking school and her school work. Squirrel Monkey was just thrilled that her dress that Grandma Nett made for her still fits and a new discovery was made: when sitting on the floor with it on she can spread it out in a large and beautiful circle of satin around her. Both of these are precious, but there is something so sweet about a baby taking joy in the mother's shared kisses with her snugglies.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


1. Our toddler, Screech Monkey, discovered how to open the doors just after we bought a kitten whom we'd prefer to trap inside and on the first level of the house only.

Why is it that when I really wanted her to learn how to open the doors she would not? Rather, she would scream and throw a temper tantrum the minute she got to the door dividing our lower level to the entryway/stairs regardless if I was standing right on the other side or not. Suddenly, the moment we get a kitten and actually had a need for that door she can open it multiple times a minute out of sheer pleasure of the accomplishment, unfazed by the frantic yells and screams as I try and keep the kitten caged. Just as this new accomplishment is getting old she discovers the backdoor works the same way. This is actually convenient because . . .

2. Squirrel Monkey has suddenly formed a sleep walking habit.

We heard the girl wake up and walk downstairs in the middle of our peaceful sleep. We often joke about her because it never seems to fail; the minute we drift off she will awake and let out this long and dreadful whimper as she pitter patters as fast as her little feet will take her down to the toilet. This happens almost like clockwork every night and it normally gives us a giggle. This last time was void of the accompanying whimper, but upon her return to bed the whimper began in an additional state of panic. She'd returned to bed and couldn't find her blanket and worst of all, she had to go pee. Hmm . . . something just didn't add up. While she went to the toilet we searched the house for her blanket which was hanging out around the open first level door. Upon further inspection she'd also moved around some of the furniture (the cat slept through it, even when she was sleeping on the same chair which was moved) So, we'll be keeping those doors locked now. But this is not the only way she has amazed us lately.

3. It just so happened that the day my diaper dumping toddler decided to use her toilet training it was in the presence of her big sister, Squirrel Monkey.

This is what we heard exclaimed from the lips of our overjoyed child after the incident. Somehow the youngest let it be known that she required the use of her training toilet and the older thought it best to remove all lower articles of clothing along with the diaper. What to her surprise, her little sister sat on that provided toilet and used it for more than just the liquid excrements. She then proceeded to let the little sister run loose as she disposed of the little extras into the toilet, wiped it clean with toilet paper, and flushed. Then they both proceeded to storm the room with huge smiles expecting cheers from the stands. I knew I was putting off training that kid for a reason . . .

Friday, November 16, 2007

Battle Lines Drawn for Nothing

Continued . . .

So we've experienced the long period of expectation and let down concerning the addition of a little kitten into our already bungled jungle, but this was all for nothing.  As it turns out my man had already waved his white flag in the air, just where none of us could see it.  He knew the minute he walked through the door that night and saw the kitten in the house that we all needed a little cuddly kitten.  He's a very smart man, you've got to hand it to him.  I personally think he just wanted to see the lengths I would go to get a kitten because he has not been particularly happy with the cleanliness of the house the past few months and maybe wanted to see if any of us would or could forget about the little joys a kitten/cat could bring.  At some point in this train of events he began the secret hunt of a kitten to no success.  He had not put as much effort into the search as I had silently behind his back and did not know you could rarely find kittens in a pet shop and if you could everyone here knows you just don't get them from there because they are usually infested with all ranges of illnesses.  He unceremoniously confessed his failure in the search and gave me leave to take over for him.  He only requested to be able to pick up the kitten and present him/her to the family as a surprise on his way home from work so that was my aim. 

I had a girlfriend help me with (the Netherlands version of eBay which I do not particularly get along with) to see if there were any remaining litters of little kitten in the Netherlands.  To my utter surprise there were several "nests" within biking range giving me my choice of leads to follow up on.  It all happened rather quickly because I did not want to miss out on any of these last chance offers, so after we arranged a viewing ASAP.  My man had only one request: striped and friendly demeanor.  The baby and I were assigned to the project. 

The trip wound its way along canals and past old country homes and pastures of cows and sheep.  When we arrived at the address a typical Dutch farm house awaited us with large barns surrounded by large pastures, a pen of geese and ducks in the front yard and a rambunctious puppy to jump up and kiss our faces in welcome.  It very much reminded me of my childhood home . . . just another countries version of the same.  I never had luck taming the wild kittens born on my childhood ranch, but I was certain the farm breed was the best there was to find.  The kittens were born and raised in the farmhouse kitchen and a few greeted us by running to the door as we opened it and licked our hands.  I made note of these who showed the obvious signs of preferred social behavior and the first one to the door had caught my eye particularly.  I followed her back to her siblings and picked her up to see how she'd respond.  She purred and curled up in my arms long enough for me to become convinced I'd better put her down if I wanted to ever consider another kitten.  The kittens were of all colors and temperaments and I was particularly tempted in a beautiful white cat with blue spots, but was disenchanted with her shy temperament.  The dominant male of the litter was fat and happy and rolled over to let me rub his belly without so much as a nibble, but when I was informed he was actually the most feisty of the bunch and woke everyone up in the house with his howls at 6am I had to reconsider.  Screech Monkey was taken with every striped red male she could grab, but I did not want another cat which looked so much like my favorite childhood kitten so ignored her interests.  Then she found the kitten I had first laid eyes on and quickly nabbed her up by the tail.  Anyone in his right mind would have quickly grabbed the helpless kitten from the godzilla of a child, but both adults in the room held back their instinctual impulses to observe the outcome.  The kitten didn't resist a single bit and instead limply succumbed to the abuse while hung upside down by it's tail in the hands of this little monster of a child.  It was settled.  She was the cat for our household.  Mother cat cuddled her rescued kitten, the monster was reprimanded, a deal was made, and I left knowing I had gotten the pick of the litter.   Even the owner admitted she was most smitten with the very kitten I'd had my eyes on during the intercourse of the viewing.  Now I only needed to wait an extra week for the rest of the weaning to take it's course and my man could pick up the surprise.

I was all atwitter for the entire week of waiting and could barely keep my joy a secret from the children.  I dreamt of the kitten every night and could barely keep the smile off my face.  I secretly went to our friends pet shop, bought the supplies, and hid them.  We arranged the date to pick up the kitten but Mr. Monkey seemed shocked when I refused to let him carry the kitten in his jacket for the trip home.  Not only did I think neither he nor the kitten would survive the ordeal, but I'd gone and bought a carrier just for the purpose.  We do not have a car, but we have a bike cart; one that he couldn't reason into dragging behind him all the way to work and back when we could meet him at the farm after work.  It just so happens that the day we'd arranged to pick her up was the coldest, wettest, and windiest day we'd seen in the Netherlands all fall.   To convince the little monkey's the trip was worth it I told them we were going somewhere where a surprise was waiting for them.  They'd falsely assumed we were headed towards a theme park or indoor playground and at the sight of a farm at the end of our long and cold journey they were in no mood to be excited.  Our little adventure only charmed the Squirrel Monkey and she joined me in entering the farmhouse where a few remaining kittens lay in a box awaiting their new owners.  My precious dream of a kitten hopped into my arms and purred and my little daughter jumped up and down in excitement upon realization of a dream come true.  We tucked her away into the carrier and returned the long cold journey home.  I have to admit I was a little unsure that the long and cold trip was worth it after such an anticlimactic end, but once we were home and the man and his children were acquainting themselves with the newest addition to our family with smiles and giggles all doubts were forgotten.

Welcome home, Antje!


Six weeks old

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Long and Silent Battle

Continued . . .

The war began when he blurted I win every argument we ever have.  The object was no longer about a cat, it was the fact that he could pinpoint one of my major human flaws.  He was right.  I do normally win every battle there is to fight in our relationship, but for the most part he can manipulate me into thinking his way is just another avenue to get my way.  I set out to prove to him that I would not fight with him, because I really didn't want to be proven once again to get my way.  Did I want a cat?  Yes, but I did not want a cat at the expense of our relationship.  I'd much rather have a happy husband than a cuddly cat.  Did I secretly hope he'd love me enough to go out and steal my little kitty back from the afore mentioned undeserving household he originally came from or find another little kitten?  Yes, but I also knew there were other issues to be dealt with first. 

As it turned out, he had begun a cold the night he stepped through the door, saw the kitten, and sneezed.  So it was still unclear as to the status of his allergies.  I did some research and found out you can drastically reduce the symptoms by cleaning daily and using special HEPA filters via vacuum or air purifiers.  We did not have anything HEPA but I looked into them (along with the prices of return tickets to the states, the cost of shots, food, litter, and passport).  I also began the routine of daily cleaning according the standards it would take to keep the allergens down to minimum.  All this I did in silence.  Though I have to admit I hoped he'd notice the cleaning.  He did and when he asked I mentioned the fact that I'd looked up how to keep allergens to a min.  He said nothing more.  At some point I became ill and, satisfied that I could keep to the rigorous cleaning schedule and that he was no longer interested in my attempts, I stopped.  Why clean so hard when you don't actually have the allergens to deal with in the first place?

The kids were set on a kitten though and brought up the topic repeatedly.  They also were rebuked by their father and soon they held their heads as low as mine, but I would often hear them mumbling amongst themselves solemnly, "we can't get a cat because daddy is allergic."  I refused to encourage them and started bracing myself, like them, never to have a cat.  Okay, so I wasn't completely silent about the issue.  At one time I do remember mentioning something along the lines of "I will never have a cat, at least not until you die or I'm stuck in a nursing home."  But surely he understood that as an irrational outburst during an overdue heated conversation about this silent issue, right?

I refused to blame him for our lonely circumstance.  He had not shown signs of allergy to cats after he'd been taking the allergy shots for a while, but you never know if the trick worked until you've tested it after having not had the shots for a while.  He also had experienced the same wild and obnoxious trailer park cats and certainly that memory still weighed heavily on the side against getting a cat.  He was also reasonable to consider the cost of a cat and the difficulties it could bring in finding a place to live once we get back into the states.  Though ,after talking with a friend back in the states who has two cats of her own, I had my friend have her husband send my husband an email detailing their easy experiences with finding an apartment.  Surely it was just happenstance that we broached this topic and upon hearing my yearning desires nothing could keep her from forcing her husband to write this letter . . .

Maintain my silence I did.  I kept quiet until I was quite certain the time of kittens was long gone and even if he did want to surprise us he would never be able to find a kitten until next summer.  All hope was lost and I began my silent mourning.  It was painful to know I would never have a kitten, but I would not let him know.  I would only let my tears fall silently down my cheeks in hopes that he wouldn't see.  He did and mentioned that he'd even considered getting us our own kitty, but that I didn't seem to be able to keep the house clean.  Maybe a normal wife would have gotten on her knees, begged, and promised to keep the house clean if only she could get a precious little kitty.  Instead I took quite an offense at this and seeing as the time of kittens had already passed I opened the floodgates and began the argument anew. 

"I will not barter to get a kitten.  I will not promise to keep the house spotless in return for payment of a kitten.  And why keep the house spotless when the house is barren of kitten presence anyway?"

Famous last words . . .

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Cat For a Day

As you know, I had been dealing with emotional up's and down's as the honeymoon phase with the beautiful Netherlands wears off.  There have been instances in my life when I experienced mood swings or bouts of insecurity, but I never felt the need for anything extra to help me cope.  No, I will never be dependant on anything else to make me happy because I am a happy person and will fight my way through any circumstance life my throw at me, although I would consider a natural element proven to calm the distressed soul and smooth the moods: a cat.  I'd grown up with cats and loved them until we'd lived in a trailer park overrun with senior citizens and their armies of unkept cats.  The experience left me disgusted at the thought of ever owning a cat but, as fate would have it, something recently happened which made me reconsider the possibility.

Vacation was over, the man was back in work, the kids were back in school, and I was settling back into my routine days.  We were preparing for bed and, as I am always the first one done with the evening hygiene routines (my man can take longer than a teenage girl in the bathroom) I lingered next to the bedroom window for some brief reflections while looking out into the dark backyards before tucking under the covers.  While I was observing the quiet neighborhood I heard the tiny cry of a kitten and I thought to myself that one of the neighbors must have gotten a new kitten while we were away.  I waited to hear the response of the happy owners back door opening to let the little thing in but it never came.  The kitten continued to cry and I couldn't shake the feeling that the cry was coming from our own backyard.  So strongly did this haunting me that I snuck downstairs, peeked my head out the door and gave a quiet "here kitty, kitty, kitty" call.  After no response I shook my head and returned to warm the covers, but was awoken early the next morning with the same small cry.  I do not pull myself out from under those warm covers easily, but for this little cry I did.  Again I peeked out the window and saw nothing.                                                                                                                  

The morning progressed as normal.  My man ate and ran out the backdoor to hop on his bike for a long ride to work.  My children ate and I rushed them out the door to get into their classes on time.  I returned and loaded my littlest onto the bike and off we went to stock up on the daily groceries.  Upon return I again heard that small cry.  I was sure it was only wishful thinking that the kitten was in my own yard and continued to unload the groceries, again waiting to hear the kittens owners respond with the opening of a backdoor.  There was no response and I couldn't ignore the cry any longer.  I started digging through the jungle of a backyard garden that we have and grew increasingly certain that the kitten was indeed somewhere in my very own yard.  The bushes were thick and I had a hard time digging through them, but deep in the center of the thickest growth was a beautiful and terrified kitten.  Once the way was opened for him he bolted into our home via the open backdoor. 

This kitten received all the sympathy any abandoned kitten could have wished for.  He got pampered and loved and fed and naturally made himself at home.  He was a smart cat and responded to "nee" (no) and loved to snuggle.  I knew I couldn't get too attached because we might find his owner, but he really was a great cat.  We got our neighbors involved in the search for his owners and at the sight of him even they wanted to keep him.  The kids knocked on doors to no avail.  The kitten would stay with us until we were sure it's owners wanted him back.  Or until the master of the house returned from work . . .

He has many allergies, one of them being cats.  When he had his allergies tested the cat allergy did not show up as one of his most severe, but he got shots for the allergy along with the rest just so he could enter a friends house who owned cats without going into fits of sneezing.  He's been off the shot treatments since we moved to the Netherlands and we have not had a chance to see if they've stuck, but we've always resigned ourselves to the fact that we'll be a household which will never have a cat.  This was again confirmed when he walked through the door, witnessed a kitten in our house, sneezed, and tossed it out the door into the rain.  I had promised my neighbor that I would be a proper caregiver of the cat, more specifically, I would not put the kitten out into the predicted evening rain.  I begged my man not to leave the kitten out in the cold rain and he proceeded to accuse me of always getting my way in any argument, which immediately turned a little cat spat into a full blown argument. 

While were were bickering about anything within the range of "will we ever be able to have a cat" to "why can't we pull the poor kitten out of the rain" my neighbor heard the pitiful cries of the rain-soaked kitten and took him in herself.  They debated themselves whether or not to could keep the perfectly cute little kitten until a call was made to their own man of the house who knew of a neighbor who recently had a litter of kittens.  She took the drenched kitten to this house where a man opened the door, unfeelingly admitted to be the owner of said cat and took him back.  She reported to me later that she felt bad giving the poor kitten back to such a house which didn't even seem concerned at the loss of him.

Cat Door

To be continued . . .

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Blogging Backwards

This is one of those entries which has been written and rewritten several times over. How do you begin to write about normal life again after all those exciting entries of a glorious European vacation? Not that our normal life is anything close to boring, as you know it never is, but there are still those remaining feelings of let-down. I wish I could say it was just that. Let me be frank at this point and say that in each and every blog I've written to capture our "normality" has began with humor and smiles and ended in oozing with words from the pits of despair. No matter how hard I try or how smiley I am in the first paragraphs it always comes back to the same ol' depressing lines at which point I follow a wandering trail of rants until I can no longer listen to my pitiful cries and I walk away from the computer to finish another day. This time I am trying a new approach; I'll work backwards. Let's see if it works shall we?

We passed the day which marked our one year anniversary of our move to the Netherlands without mention or celebration. It slipped by in a frenzy of days which were jumbled together and unworthy of a backwards glance. It was just over a year ago that I found myself frustrated with the family, friends, and even strangers who would look at me with pity etched on their faces upon the announcement that I'd be taking my young girls and following my husband along his career path into a foreign country. The remark was almost verbatim from one person to the next: "And how are you with that?" I was irritated and angered at the thought that they should consider me some little wife who takes no part in the household decisions. We discussed our options together and made the decision together. Yes, I was the one who took the opposing position of the argument for months or weeks, I cannot remember which, but I was convinced of reason by the end and welcomed the inevitable adventure with open arms, just as I had our last assignment in life. (History Note: After graduating from undergrad with Cum Laud with a double major in Physics and Physics Engineering my husband was offered a very prestigious and high-paying position at the local Hewlett Packard and I was more than happy to settle down in a house with a back yard and a few kids right where we were; he was not. The position offered him little enthusiasm and he claimed he'd either be bored out of his mind in 5 years or have been laid off only to have to find some position who knows where, so I followed his dream of becoming a neuroscientist under the premise that it was only four more years of school and he'd have his dream job. Not long after arriving at said school person after person laughed in our face when we mentioned the nice round number of four years; the program may have said four, but nobody actually made it out that early and "haven't you ever heard of post-docs before?" He graduated with his doctorate after six years in the program and we're off to finish the first of his 2-3 post-doc positions, the first of which we decided to do in the Netherlands, and I'm still dreaming of the house with a backyard, a minivan, a cat and a dog; the kids have passed from dream to reality and wait with me in the cue.)

So, how am I with that? If I've never confessed to having a tendency of naivety before this, I will here and now. What I should have taken as a warning from those friends, family, and strangers I took as fuel for burning tenacity. Unfortunately, that fuel has run out and I find myself sitting in a foreign country with no self-esteem and even less will power. Those friends and family seem like a mirage I don't even have the courage to look back over my shoulder at, but I've no lack of strangers and they're of a finer breed than what you can get in the states. These strangers come from a culture which doesn't know the meaning of "zip your lips". I was once confident in myself and sure of my steps, I knew how I wanted to parent and if I didn't I had the resources to find the answers. I also knew what I wanted to do in my life and how I wanted to get there. Suddenly I don't know any of that any more. A strangers slightest reprimand or disapproving look sends me shaking back into the dark and deep cavern I peaked out of. How did I transform into an unstable freak from the confident young woman I once was? I wish it could be summed up in one little paragraph, but try as I might the experiences and feelings which got me here cannot be contained in such a defined and simple space. If you read through these blogs over the last year you may find some of the veins that this corrupted blood has traveled, but likelier than not you'll just see the smiling mask we so like to hold up for the common passerby to see. I wrote a blog somewhat along these same heart-felt lines not too long ago and, other than the few brief comments, I got an email from one friend back in the states. This should encourage me but rather I only remember her advice that I should take some time for myself (us mothers know how easy that is) and instead of writing my heart into a blog maybe I should "just keep these things more private" and start writing in a journal. How come that last part bothers me so much? This is all I can say, I did not began this blog just so passersby could return a smile towards my mask. If you come here looking for the life of an expat you'll not be tricked into the assumption that all is rosy; you're going to get the truth here and if that means you'll bump into the few rocks we've hit, so be it.

I am now over the illusion that I can achieve the status of perfect parent, perfect spouse, perfect daughter, perfect sister, perfect neighbor, perfect friend, perfect anything. Did it take screwing up? Nope, it took realizing there are forces out there even I cannot compete with. I came here under the assumption I could catch whatever the adventure could throw at me, but here I stand with a couple black eyes and a shattered soul. As bad and lonely and depressing as that sounds, it is not, for I know my eyes will not be sealed shut forever and I will glue that soul back together with the darkened cracks to show what I have learned and to remind myself that I can pull myself together again and get through the few rough spots one can encounter in life. Even the ones I've thrown myself headlong into with full knowledge of what I could be getting myself into, because it is not the unexpected mishaps which bother me the most. It is the situations I expected to encounter and fully expected to conquer. I expected to walk away from this with a life defining moment or two, I just didn't fully grasp what it would take to get those results. Here I sit in the midst of that moment, the confidence is gone, only blind faith keeps me getting out of bed in the mornings and some clearer definition is awaiting me at some point down the path of my future. I hope it does not take too long as I've began to realize I cannot keep myself stable in the shadow of this valley. My children will attest to that and my husband will confirm with a rolling of the eyes and any number of peculiar antics to recall, but out of it that blind faith will lead me and I'll probably tell the next young couple I meet, just as any veteran mother might tell an expecting girl that the pain of labor is worth it, that the experience of moving overseas is an experience one should never omit in a life. Though, if you'd ask me at this very moment I'd have a list of reasons to stay home. Wanna hear 'em? I'd list them, but like me you'd probably shrug your shoulders, say something like "'tis to be expected", and board the plane anyway. Much like labor, you never can know until you've lived through it yourself. I could relate the transitional periods, the moments when you want to drop your bag of groceries, grab your kids and run the the 5 kilometers to the next flight home without stopping, the time you'll give up on ever speaking the language and swear you'll never utter another word of it your entire life, the time you delude yourself that the friends you've made have each become your enemies over night because one of them has turned a shoulder away for a moments breath away from your pain, or the time you yell at your children for stupid childish antics only because of your own frustration at life and then yell at yourself in the mirror for stooping so low below your own firmly set moral standards. I could list the bureaucratic loop-holes and the daily irritations which steal time and sanity from your deluded sense of order, but they'll remain unexplainable to maintain my current state of remaining sanity. Besides, you'd only laugh at me and tell me it's just all part of the game anyway. Some will even recall their own expat experiences in an attempt to relate or bring me a sense of cheer and prove to me that you can live through it and exit the other side with enough sanity left to remain seen as a normal human being, but like the woman in the midst of her labor I can only see two things: the pain of my current circumstances and the desired end to it all. These pains a friend could not comfort as not even my husbands valiant efforts have succeeded, it is a battle within the walls of my own limitations which only I can end. It takes a great amount of effort and strength to pull ones self out of their own weakness, but I think I've got hold of the rim. Just don't let one of the strangers or, worse yet, a friend come and give me a kick because the slightest insult could send me spiraling again. How degrading this has been. I admit not all expats could be in for the same experience as this may have just been the time in life for my own reclamation, and no better of a time could it have picked.

There are those days when I peek over the rim and see the sunshine and blooming paths of my future jungle and it gives me hope through those days when even trying to reach the rim seems impossible. Fortunately, I have many more days with views of bright paths and even the warmth of rays which reach my cheeks and it is those moments which I will focus on from here. If I slip into another reverie of despair just know that it is all part of the process and something which needs to be looked into to ensure I am not stepping into a false reality. So, onward ho! We will march across those rosy fields and seed some sunshine from where once it shone, because it has warmed the paths of this family on many more than one occasion since our return.


Here's to turning head and gazing in the direction of the son instead.

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