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In 2012, my family and I packed up our bags and moved overseas permanently. By permanently, I mean we obtained visas as Permanent Residents in a brand new country – the United Arab Emirates. My husband’s work meant that we were to reside in Dubai and in 2015, we still call this place our second home.

 

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You always miss home. You always get a pang when family back home are doing something fun and nostalgia runs wild when loneliness is rife (usually during holiday season and kids hitting a certain milestone. Photos also trigger tears).

 

There are also times that you will feel like a foreigner, especially when you asked for tomato sauce or when people snicker at your use of the term ‘thongs’. However, there are 5 main reasons to counter-argue any depressing feelings you might have when you move abroad.

 

1/ Making friends.

 

Especially in a transient place like Dubai, you will master the skill of making new friends and saying goodbye to friends. Ofcourse with meeting new friends comes learning new things and experiencing different cultures. My friends nationalities range and I have met people from every single continent in one birthday party event. Do you realise how large the world is? You won’t, until you leave Australia and move abroad.

 

 

 

2/ You will learn about the literal meaning of unpacking your bags.

 

This is a big statement, I know, but it’s valid. In my first year away, I waited for happiness to come and knock on my door. I was in a brand new place, with magical opportunities at my doorstep. You would think joy would rain on me, right? Wrong.

 

I realised that the moving part wasn’t the hard element. I needed to get outside of my box and start living. I needed to put my old life behind me and start this new chapter. Old habits die hard, but I kid you not, they do diminish. I order with an American accent (no one understands Aussies) and I love the monarchy here. Crazy, I know.

 

It took me nine months before I purchased my first pot plant and it was then I realised that I kept worrying about not staying here. I kept wondering about when we would pack up and move. I made the choice to embrace the new opportunities that lay in front of me and put my Australian life on the shelf.

 

 

3 years later......

To a new beginning

To a new beginning

 

<—- The plant today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3/ You will have a TON of time to spend with you spouse/partner and children.

 

This is especially the case if back home you had to divide your time amongst 497 extended family members. When we first arrived, we just stared at each other and thought “HOW MUCH TIME!!!” So, we did things we never would have managed too. We took the kids to the desert for a picnic, we travelled (see next point), we played board games every single night for a year, we hung up the phone every evening (due to time difference) and we were free.

 

Eid mornings were pretty special – the children were able to come with us to the mosque and were able to open their gifts quietly and play with them.

 

As for marriage/relationship, it is an incredible booster. It doesn’t get monotonous, don’t worry. You begin to appreciate your partner because they become the foundation to your life. It’s deep.

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4/ Travel.

Being in the middle of the world (and not the bottom) is INCREDIBLE for your travel desires. My 10 year old son’s passport is pretty impressive and I am proud to have ventured to places I could only have dreamed off.

 

In our second year of living in Dubai, we decided to Road Trip around the UAE. Before you scoff at the small size of the country, you cannot put into words how it feels to jump into a wadi surrounded by caves, camp on a beach or meet remote Bedouins.

 

In 2014, we trekked through 5 European countries and with 3 kids it was quite a feat. I will never forget riding our bikes past the Amsterdam Canals and picking up Danish scrolls in Copenhagen. There was the time we were stranded in Sweden, stuck in a massive rainstorm without shelter. Or the time we felt heaven on earth at Huvafen Fushi in the Maldives. Did I mention how cheap tickets are over here?

The lines that outline Dubai.21012015_image5_R2150 The beach

 

5/ The value of family.

 

Being far makes you softer, your edges become less jagged and it’s marvelous therapy for a frazzled mum-of-3 (me) and a corporate junkie (hubby). We stopped groaning when our mothers called, and realised the importance of hearing about small, bizarre stories of childhood our fathers retold us. We prayed for Skype calls like someone prays for the lottery and when we receive a photo of family, we dissect it like we are in a laboratory.

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If the opportunity arises, go for it.

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image1.PNG-3Hey there young man who happens to be my firstborn, the kid that made me a mum, the lover of most things I DON’T like and one who truly keeps me on my toes,

You asked me yesterday why I was always teaching you things. I was offended for 3 minutes but then I realised that is just the way you are – honest.  I took a moment to reflect and realised that I must seem like a blabbering, crazy, woman/dictator in your life. So I have reverted to my comfort zone. WRITING.

 

Bear in mind as you read this, I love you but you drive me nuts.

 

[PLEASE NOTE: All lessons to be learnt are highlighted in bold. I know how often you claim to be “bored” so please feel free to just take in the highlighted parts. (Or, you can shock me and read the entire thing).]

 

Here we go.

 

I was 20 when I got married. By the time I was 21, I had you. In fact you came 1 month before our first wedding anniversary! Back then, I was the first amongst my circle of friends to be having a baby. And I really, truly thought it would be a walk in the park. Parenthood is like trekking through the Amazon jungle. In the dark. Without shoes.

 

Naively, I didn’t read many books about pregnancy, birth or beyond and regrettably I went into parenthood resisting the natural callings of being a mum. Knowledge is power. Arm yourself with knowledge.

 

Admittedly, I suffered from what I now know as Hypermesis Gravidarum (and then suffered again with your sister and younger brother). So in fairness to me, for 36.5 weeks I was what your dad would call “a zombie”. Daddy was amazing, despite having no idea what was going on. When you become a husband/dad, the power of empathy is intense. In fact, empathising with anyone’s plight is humbling. Try it.

 

No body around us had had sickness like this, and consequently, I just “put up with it”. Never “just put up with something”. Find answers, ask ask ask!

 

And suddenly, we were a family of 3. I became responsible for another human being! You occupied my heart and mind 24/7. You became our guinea pig. You were the tester to our parenting skills, and you still are. You will always be the first in our family. Please share your life experiences with your siblings.

 

And this next part is where I say sorry. I’m sorry that you will have to endure this, probably foIMG_2880r the rest of your life. I am sorry that it will always be asked of you “to look after your brother and sister”. Or “Come on son, your older than him/her, just give it to her/him”. Or “Please set a good example to your siblings.” And so on. Please set a good example to your brother and sister.

 

I kid you not, at 8 months old I had you signed up to gymbaroo and Osteopathy sessions. I even decided that the usual kindergarten wouldn’t do, and would drive 40 minutes to a Montessori Kinder. F O U R T Y minutes. And because I didn’t want you to whinge, I would bring the portable DVD player along with us (this is of course pre- amazing – iPhone -days). Don’t make life harder than what it already is. 

 

And then there was the whole sleep thing. I just never got it and ultimately we suffered together. By the time I “chose” to put us on a routine, I was so strict that life became boring. I needed to you to eat, sleep and drink at the exact time of the day, every day. And if something clashed with our timetable, then we simply would not compromise. Routine is helpful, but there is always an exception to the rules.

 

Of course listening to a million different opinions DOES NOT help. Like “oh, you should stop breast feeding, he’ll sleep through the night quicker on formula.” You were 4 weeks old when I stopped you from nursing. How rude of me to suddenly “need” you to sleep through the night at 4 weeks of age. First listen to your gut instinct. Then ask your mother. And THEN research. In. That. Order.

 

And then I heard that reading is great for the baby, so, rain, hail or shine I dragged out those books. Often you would kick and scream and want to “play”, but I was determined. How mighty of me to enforce something that you would end up loving, when I let you be? Everything happens in good time.

 

You were 2 when your sister was born. And suddenly you had to “be quiet, your sister’s sleeping”. Because she too came early (by 27 days), suddenly you were placed in a big bed! There wasn’t any warning, chat or even a slight indicate that you were getting evicted from your room. Communication is important.

 

At the park, you loved the swing. More than anything I have ever seen. But I would always set you a limited time on the swing. Timers are for baking, exams and random game apps on the iPad. Not for things like having fun on the swings.

 

The thing is son, first children will always be (possibly) for the rest of time, the same for each parent. They will always be the ‘unknown’. You are a big reason of why I now parent your siblings the way I do and thanks for that. When your little brother chucks the biggest tantrum, I breathe and remember – this shall pass.

 

So before you think that your childhood/infanthood was sh*thouse can I take the pleasure to remind you of some things I did for you?

– We lined up for 2 hours once, to get Ben 10’s signature at some show I paid a gazillion $ to watch. TWO HOURS.

– You have never missed a birthday party. I call it First Child Syndrome. (Your baby brother got a home made cake on his 1st birthday).

– Homework time is entirely dedicated to you and the betterment of your education. Your sister gets the leftover time I have before I need to prepare dinner.

– I once sat on the plane floor, while you took my entire seat to sleep. It was an 8 hour flight. You’re welcome.

 

And so, I can choose to look back and feel that hindsight is so painful. But I am here to tell you: hindsight is wonderful. Live, learn, discover, learn again and move on.

 

Now please stop hatin’ on the fact you are the eldest when in fact you boss those siblings around and you love it.

 

Forever, mummy xx

Everyone who knows me well knows how much I dread homework time here in Dubai. They give kids a truck load of homework, and especially more so when there is a school inspection coming up (which isn’t a total surprise because the school gets told when the secret inspection is going to occur. Go figure.)

And now that my little girl is in Grade 1, it seems like my homework schedule has quadrupled and I almost cried. Excpet I couldn’t fully cry because I maintain a “we love homework” policy in my household. *sigh*

So today, these were things that crossed my mind (in THIS EXACT order).

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I lost another friend today.

It happened quite quickly, but it normally happens like that. My friend and her family packed up their bags and headed back home on Sunday and I was crushed.

There is something so grieving about living in the most transitional country in the universe (not a true statistic but it feels that way). The news of her leaving also happened as quickly. The week before she left, this was our conversation