Sunday, 31 July 2011


Lately, I've been thinking about the lives I have lived.  Not, of course, in the metaphysical sense but rather the specific passages of my life.  In the early 1990's I was newly-graduated from University, forging a path in the non-profit sector in Montreal and living the life of a single footloose and fancy-free young woman flush with my own money, dating freely and joyfully with few real cares beyond my rent.

By the late 1990's I had met and married him, moved to Calgary, travelled extensively with my consulting business, explored the western Canadian great outdoors, and raised my dog.  The early 2000s brought late and beautifully unexpected  motherhood, amazing friendship, my family briefly united in the same place and then a leap of faith into expat life.

It has been both complicated and a privilege being a trailing spouse for the last six years.  Geneva was an incredible life experience, J was so little and for a few years, I  happily embraced a professional sabbatical to raise him in our tiny idyllic Swiss village.  I wrote, I read, I raised and I revelled.

No more snowstorms, no more -30, no more frigid 5:00am cab rides to the airport, no more waking alone in hotel rooms.  For us, the global financial crisis offered a surprising port in a storm.  C2's job with the mothership survived and his travel was greatly reduced.  Together, we explored Europe,  relished in family life, inhaled other cultures, and exhaled insight and elucidation, and have been enriched in ways I cannot even begin to quantify.

Last year, I began to experience something I can only describe as 'squirminess'.  Restlessness, a stirring in the back of my mind that I needed something more.  J didn't need me quite as much, he would be ok.   After several months of squirminess, I arrived at the conclusion in mid-July after our summer holiday that it was time to rediscover my professional self.  Two weeks later, C2 announced that we had been asked to relocate to Australia.

I have described the difficult wrestling we did before deciding to make the move and I don't regret it for a second.  I have loved discovering this part of the world, we have adapted extremely well to our adopted new home.  The climate is fantastic, the culture remarkable, and the lifestyle has much of the charm of Europe with the ease of North America.  Six months in, though, I'm squirmy again.

For the last five years, I have been principally defined by my roles as wife and mother.  While that role is within a 21st century context as I, thankfully, have a fully-engaged 21st century husband, I also have a husband who travels 80% of the time.  How then do I balance raising my son, ensuring his needs remain my priority,  child-management during the two-week school term breaks every 2.5 months, our travel and discovery ambitions, our return visits to Canada in order to ensure that J knows his family, my personal desire for professional fulfillment as well as wanting my son to recognize me holistically as more than just his mum?

Anyone got the answers?


Anonymous said...

Set up a home office with flexible hours. I write textbooks in my 'spare' time... Useful as a college professor, and (fingers crossed) it looks like I might get published in the near future. You could write too, I am sure. Fiction... That's how Harry Potter got to be. Many women in the past turned to writing for self satisfaction while still caring for their family. I believe Jane Austen did... Just an idea... Big hug, and until soon!

Lyne Marie

Melissa Miller said...

I know EXACTLY how you feel! I've been there. It's not an easy balancing act, this expat experience, especially when you try to work in a second career and family into the equation.
If there is one thing I've come to accept is that there is some necessary imbalance when one is trying to find a new equilibrium. It's uncomfortable and scary. Is this what you really want? Is it the right thing for the kiddo(s)? For the family? I'm beginning to see the light of my own new equilibrium not far in the distance.
Consider volunteering somewhere, just to get your feet wet. Volunteers get to set their own hours and you always get time off when ever they need it! Your non-for-profit experience has got to be needed somewhere!
big hugs,

Jen said...

I think the previous two comments capture probably your best options for dipping your toe in, testing the waters so to speak. You love to write, and volunteering can be relatively light as far as commitments. Both have the potential to be incredibly rewarding, and may help provide relief for the your 'squirmies' while you seek to discover the proper balance...I wish you luck my friend, because balance can be difficult for us moms to achieve....

Debs H said...

You have a way with words my friend. I love reading your blog, your words have a peaceful, thought provoking flow. Carry on!... And ditto the above comments!

Anonymous said...

I hear ya sista!!
I also think the combination of writingand /or home work, and volunteering is a wonderful idea. Remember my mum - the Queen of Volunteers for most of her adult life. She has benefited so much from the experiences and challenges and in return the organisations have been very blessed with having my Mum at the helm. Also, I have cut out an article called "9 ways to make us happy". One of them is Altruism. Great way to meet and help local people and have some self worth. Go girl!! LOL Sx