The first week here in Al Ain has been harder for me, emotionally, than I expected. I mean, I expected to have culture shock (although I had no experience with it), but I thought I would really miss home later. I thought I would be distracted with the newness of everything and getting set up and settled in. I thought the sad and the ache would come later. But it didn’t. It came sooner. Immediately, actually.
And it all really hit hard the day we received the keys to our new home. We took a cab to our apartment, went in and looked around, and I felt such a weight of disappointment. Not with the apartment itself, which, after mulling it over for a couple of days, is really quite lovely. It has 3 bedrooms, is brand new, still covered in construction dust, and all the space we really need. It was the location that was hard for me. It was much more isolated than I expected. Not in a villa complex, where many teachers are placed. Just a 2 story, 8 unit, new building in an old area. I believe an older building was torn down and this new one was put in it’s place. The surrounding space is quite desolate and it’s about 500 degrees outside, give or take a degree. But the thing is, it’s all quite sufficient for us. And I’m grateful. Truly.
I likely wouldn’t have had a hard time with our new place at all if I weren’t a mother.
Because I can handle anything for two years, really. I can make an apartment comfortable and familiar. I can stay in touch with my friends and family and slowly make new friends here. I can make my peace with what we left behind for a while. But, I mourn over what my kids have been pulled away from. I grieve the oodles of good friends and wide open spaces they used to have access to all day, every day. I miss the familiar streets for them to bike and scooter and the houses of friends which they ran in and out of constantly. And while I believe they will find a new way to play here and new friend’s homes to be in and out of, I can’t help but worry that I’ve totally screwed things up for them.
My head tells me this isn’t true. It tells me all the things I heard before we left. “What a great experience for your children. They will learn so much that they could never learn if they stayed put. You’re doing your kids a great service by exposing them to other parts of the world and other cultures and other ways of living life. It’s good for your kids to learn that hard things are possible – obstacles are surmountable.” My head still believes all those things. That they will be richer in many ways for this experience. My long-term mother’s heart wants them to face challenges and deal with life outside of their comfort zone and understand what it means to trust in God. I know these things will better prepare them for a meaningful life.
But right now, my heart grieves. I don’t want them to be lonely. I wish Josiah could still play baseball and street hockey. I wish Abby could start piano lessons and play to her heart’s content on our street with a gaggle of girls. My short-term mother’s heart wants them to have comfort and fun and security.
I guess the good news is that the long-term mother (LTM) in me made all the decisions over the last few months, so the short-term mother (STM) in me just has to suck it up, make the best of it, and trust in the God who led us here. Deep breaths, STM.