Dear ex-pat Mom,
Are you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or maybe like you have lost your identity?
I know the stress you are feeling, I feel it every day still but it is getting better. After finally finding work online, I am working on balancing home and work. Fortunately, the commute is just to the next room.
Let me tell you my story. I am from the U.S. and we have moved to Serbia. I began writing this blog on another platform on my first short-ish trip. Then the writing got real on our third and longer venture. We had a small child. I wrote to share life experiences and cultural revelations.
At that point, writing became my thing. I wrote mentally even when I wasn’t writing physically. It was an outlet that inspired me and gave me mental stimulation when I felt like a human milk maker and baby carrier. The little’s naps gave me a tiny bit of freedom. I used that free time to write. That wee bit of writing helped me to become something new.
Winter was cold. Venturing out was exhausting. Bundling up was a chore. Walking flights of stairs to leave and return often was mentally discouraging. Then there were the outdoor challenges of language and pushing a stroller on uneven pavement and through markets and stores narrow aisles. My local friends also had little ones so the isolation was the same for them.
Time differences and sleep schedules made calls to home complicated. I was really lonely.
Later, when we were back in the U.S. I was hiking a trail and came across a Viet Namese woman who was in much the same boat, just on another shore. We talked as we walked and shared our stories. She expressed the same feelings I had when I was a foreigner in Serbia. I realized as I met others like me, that this was a common international problem.
Over time, I came to see this was a common occurrence. Women are often the caregivers and the trailing spouses become isolated by language, culture, and family responsibilities.
During this time of transition, stress, and turmoil we often get lost, overwhelmed, and struggle to keep our heads above water. The challenge is real.
I am here to bolster you. This transition is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT! Be patient with yourself. Be patient with your spouse. Find things that you love, and find a community even if it is only online to help you feel connected. This connection is crucial to a healthy mental state.
Once you make it through this complicated transition, you will never be who you were. You will BECOME more. Stronger, smarter, more empathetic, and learn tools to manage you never could have dreamed of in your past life. You are in transition. You are the caterpillar transitioning to a beautiful butterfly. You will soon fly.
Let me give you examples from my life, I started writing. I never had words to put to paper before this reincarnation. And it really is a reincarnation.
I painted a mural (still in progress) on my barn. I am an amateur, but it was an amazing creative outlet. Like this blog, I used the time putting color on the grey cement walls to fill my brain with positive feelings and inspire me with my accomplishments.
I got a teaching Certification! I hit the books hard. I studied and completed the task while burning the wick at both ends. I learned to teach English. The end result, I love it. This is my greatest pleasure. Adults, children, professionals, and students alike are a new challenge. I want to find a way to help them all.
While I focus on helping medical professionals, I have extracurricular English goals. One of my favorites is working with children. I love teaching children baseball and doing other fun activities in English. I am on a journey to discovering a new me. It is Exciting.
If you have been an ex-pat mom or are on that journey, let me know where you are. I would love to hear about your adventures, cultural experiences, and enlightening moments.
If I can help you learn English, don’t hesitate to ask.