My expat life is glamorous.
It is foreign travel, amazing functions, often with diplomats and Ambassadors. It is amazing shopping, beautiful photo opportunities and a pretty stand-up education for our children.
It is phenomenal attire on the women that adorn the sidewalk at pickup time. It is being chauffeured around the city without a worry or a care. It is lunching and dining at brilliant establishments. It is having your sundries delivered daily and your home cleaned by someone that you employ.
It is fundraisers with floor-length gowns, saris and more bling that you’d ever think possible.
It is Indian weddings, Chinese celebrations and claddagh dancing. It is personally knowing friends that hail from more than 50 different countries.
It is wall decor that captures images of camels, nose piercings and vivid cultural celebrations. It is cupboards full of TimTams, cup’o noodles from various locations in Asia, coffee mugs from four different international schools and spray cheese from the United States.
It is remarkable volunteer opportunities where you can either teach English to barely literate children or physically rescue girls from the sex trade.
It is a new group of amazing friends every three years (on average). It means an ever-widening circle of phenomenal people to meet up with in the future.
It means an ever-widening circle of phenomenal people that will inadvertently teach your family how to say goodbye – in time- without tears that cloud your vision.
It means uprooting an entire family and reassuring them repeatedly, the whole time that it will be ok.
It is boxes that are packed over and over, favorite items that are tucked away with sachets of lavender and those packets of plastic balls (I’m still not really sure what they are for). Those packets often end up ripped open and you find them invading your basket of tea bags. Tea bags are indeed an awesome place to find little balls of fake, plastic preservatives.
It is trying to remember to pack the important things in your suitcase as opposed to the box that is unpacked LAST by the moving crew. It is stressing out about your poor dog who has to reside in an unfamiliar quarantine facility for longer than you could ever stand to do the same.
It is navigating the bowels of managing finances from different time zones and trying to remember important due dates and birthdays (FOUR weeks before the day comes so that cards arrive on time), and planning ahead for the Halloween costumes (purchasing one size up in April, and hoping that they still fit, come October.
It is spending more time away from your beloved than you ever thought should be allowed.
It is getting used to the cycle of a 10-12 day business trip, with 2 days home in between. It is adjusting to having the family under one roof – just for a weekend – just in time for the suitcase to be repacked, and the taxi called, and goodbyes said again.
It is flying solo when it comes to parenting, so much so that you forget how to parent together when the time comes again.
It is about missing special days because of a work obligation, forgetting to change your time zone on your phone and missing flights, and paying out the nose for a bottle of wine because you forget to buy from duty free.
It is about finding fellow expat wives whose husbands travel just as much so you can feel normal around them when you decline an invitation to a couples’ dinner, on a repeated basis.
It is invigorating, addicting and satisfying.
It is lonely, sad and exhausting.
1. full of glamour; charmingly, fascinatingly attractive, especially in a mysterious/magical way. 2. full of excitement, adventure, and unusual activity.
If you use only the above definition, my life IS indeed glamorous (yet not extravagant or exorbitant). It is choosing to live a life of raising children abroad, giving them the world, and learning more about yourself than you might not have gleaned otherwise.
It is worth it. It IS glamorous.
Contributed by Naomi Hattaway. After living in several states in the United States, Naomi and her family moved overseas to Delhi, India and then Singapore. Now back in the United States and living in Loudoun County, Virginia, she enjoys making an impact - even if only with a small corner of her world - for the better. She is the founder of 8th & Home [http://8thandhome.com], a boutique real estate and relocation company and also blogs about relocation, life with itchy feet and living your best life at www.naomihattaway.com