Wednesday, March 20, 2013

On my heart: home

I don't know whether to celebrate or cry - yesterday marked one year since we moved to the USA, and a little over three years since we said our goodbyes in Australia. So, it's no wonder that home has been on my heart a lot lately. Where it is, what it means and where our future is headed...

With our time in Holland and our brief stint living in France, we've actually only lived in Australia for less then 2 years since 2007. It's no wonder it feels foreign to me when we visit. As distant as the life we once had there may seem, Australia will always have a special place in my heart. When it all boils down, home is wherever my little family is, but Australia is also home. It's where I grew up. It's where my husband grew up. Oliver may have a citizenship certificate but he has no idea of the land we love and I want him to know it. The funny large island called Australia that lately, my heart has been longing for...

I'm full of mixed emotions right now. I love our life in California. Yes, I miss people like nothing else but this life here has become so familiar. I love my friends here dearly and for the first time in a very long time, I feel like I'm a part of a community. A community that includes a christian community - for the first time since my teen years, I have friends who share the same beliefs as I do and although it's certainly NOT a pre-requisite for friendship, it's encouraging and I feel that being here has helped me grow on so many different levels. However, in recent months I haven't been able to shake a certain feeling. Not exactly of discontent, but more of feeling disillusioned. I've lived internationally a number of times; the expat life is a familiar one so I tried not to have great expectations of what life would be like here before we moved. Yet as much as I love our life here, there are certain aspects of it that make me question whether this is the right place for us to raise our family in the long term.

We came here one year ago with no idea of what we were doing and where we where heading. For once, this wasn't a contract position and that's a scary prospect. When people ask me how long we are going to be here for, I can't answer that question. We both knew it was a good time for us to come live here - while our son is still young and we don't have to worry about him changing schools. We felt that we had 4-5 years up our sleeves before deciding where we wanted to settle permanently. I knew that if we had moved back to Australia when Mitch's post doc was up, like we had originally planned, we'd probably get itchy feet and up and leave again in a couple of years anyway. We came here because we're globetrotters, we have a strong desire to see the world and experience different cultures. And, my husband works in a very specific field where the job opportunities in Australia are very limited but are in abundance right here. Mitch loves his job. In fact, I know he'd quite happily continue working there til he retires. He loves the environment, he loves what he's working on, he loves the challenge, but work isn't everything in life.

What I didn't know when we moved here one year ago is that I'd already have a strong inclination of where I want to spend the rest of my life. A deep longing for the country that was our home for so many years. To be honest, I had been keeping this all to myself. Mitch and I are both open books and love to hash out anything and everything on a Friday night over a bottle of red, but I knew that discussing this particular topic too soon might not allow him to come to his own conclusions. When he recently voiced such similar thoughts to those that had been whirling around in my head for months - well, I felt a sense of relief: we are on the same page here.

It's funny how your perspective on life changes after having a child. If it were just the two of us, we probably wouldn't settle. I wouldn't feel the need to put down any roots; I would have been perfectly happy to flit from country to country, living the life of a modern day nomad. I am an adventurer, I take delight in the unknown. But now, I'm on a different adventure. The somewhat challenging but rewarding journey of parenthood. Since having Oliver, I have felt such a strong desire for him to know his extended family. I love my nieces & nephews so dearly and I hate that they only get to play with him over Skype. I wish that my Mum could sing him his special song in person. I wish that he could grow up knowing hot Christmases, the early morning summer cicada sounds, the smell of a snag cooking on a bbq while listening to the sounds of family chatting, the joy of walking along an Australian beach late in the evening (I'm sorry, NOTHING else compares to an Aussie beach). I also miss my 'old' friends. Some of whom are like family to me, irreplaceable - friends to grow old with.

In addition to finding our feet as parents, we're also raising a third culture kid. Oliver is a funny case. He was born in Holland but has no real ties to the country other then a half Dutch mother and a Dutch birth certificate. He is growing up in America but has no real rights here - he's not even a permanent resident, let alone a citizen. He's technically an Australian by way of descent and has a piece of paper from the Australian embassy in London to certify this fact but he has only spent a little over a month of his entire life in Australia. I love that he is our little globetrotter and I desire for his knowledge of the world to not be limited a small box, but for him to know and respect other cultures. But at the same time, I would love for him to have a real connection to a country like his parents do, a sense of cultural identity.

So, one year in - what's the verdict? We're not ready to up and move countries again. I feel that God opened up doors for us to come to America for a reason, and our time here isn't up yet. I do feel however, that when our visas come up for renewal, it's time to sit down and seriously think about where we want to be in the long term. It's a scary thought. Personally, I feel that provided we tick enough off our travel list here, I will be ready to start a life in Australia again. Maybe that's a feeling of homesickness talking brought on by spending time with old friends again? Maybe not. Only time will tell. But what I do know, something I didn't one year ago, is that I want our children to grow up in the land I love. When the time comes, there is a lot we'll be leaving behind so I know it won't be easy, but whether it's in 2 years, 5 years or 10 years, I want to go home.

Australia, I miss you.


8 comments:

  1. Wow, what a tough, beautiful, rewarding journey! I'm partial to the US, so I would say one year here is more sweet than bitter but at the same time, I could not imagine moving everything I know to another country. You guys are brave :)

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  2. Aw, I'm sorry you're homesick! I can't say that I understand, because I've never been away from family for as long as y'all have. I do understand how your perspectives change after kids though. I think I'm a completely different person than I was before I had LP.

    Anyway, I'm so glad that you and your hubby are on the same page! I've always wanted to visit Australia, so once y'all move back, I just might have to plan a trip! ;)

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  3. Its funny how children change our perspective.
    After my dad died, my mom 'sold' her house/property. This was where my brother and I grew up. We both had dreams of our little boys tromping through the woods, learning about how we grew up, and getting into trouble.
    I understand being homesick and longing for that familiar place to raise your children.
    Thank you for sharing your heart, I am glad you and your husband are on the same page.

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  4. We are going thru the same thing! I love Texas and I finally thnk we have found our feet limping here after 6 years. But after having A, I have had thoughts of moving bck to Chicago where we are big from so that A can know HS family better. He'd choices ahead!

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  5. I guess you have to leave sometimes to figure out where your roots belong. I love that you are adventuring as a family - something I wish we did more of.

    And you will find your way back home exactly when you're supposed to.

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  6. 100% understandable! I get this feeling, the feeling of wanting to settle with your family, while still figuring out the nomad spirit within. It's confusing, and yet I think it's great that you're talking and discussing openly now and figuring out your options. I changed A LOT too when we had Cruz, and all of a sudden "home" is something that I want to define. I hope you can find peace and contentment while you wait and process and look for God's direction. xo

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  7. I feel the same way about Texas, but also about Hwaii. My heart is split. And it sucks. I feel like there are pieces of my everywhere and I can never be whole.

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  8. we miss you too Lu!
    Love lots, Martine

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Thanks for reading, your comments make my day :-)

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