Expat Life: Reality of Raising My Child in USA, Spain & India
You know how sometimes we can’t see what’s right under our noses? And as parents we don’t realise how quickly time passes until it’s too late? Well that was me. My little angel was the best thing to ever happen to me. She was my greatest joy and my deepest frustration, sometimes in quite equal doses! Her father and I divorced when she was just 1 year old and anyone who has done it can attest that being a single parent isn’t easy. Yet she made that life we shared a true joy and she always made me proud to be a single mom.
Sure there were moments over the years when I wanted a countdown calendar to the day when she’d go off to uni. Honestly, a teenage girl is a hotbed of emotions and difficult to handle at times, even when the relationship is close, honest, and strong like ours was. Yet I should have seen the signs and realised more clearly what I was counting down to … and how much of myself I was going to lose the moment she walked out our door.
I always just thought of how exciting it would be to live a new phase of my life…
When She Flew The Nest
We were living in India when she headed off for uni in the UK. I ended up moving to China and then Hong Kong, and that’s where the empty nest syndrome really hit me. Before I realised what was wrong, I spent 6 weeks in my flat without ever going outside once. It was pretty bad. Luckily I realised it after a spell but WOW it hit me hard.
Almost two years to the day have passed since then and I’m now in Malaysia.
As the tears stream down my face now, just 8 minutes shy of my baby’s 22nd birthday, I realise that a part of me wishes I had lived a more stable life and she was actually just a few kilometres away, instead of a few time zones away in England. I would love to be there today making a birthday cake and giving her gifts in person. Instead, she had a ‘love box’ from me that luckily arrived today, and a gift that I’ve sent for her. But I’d love to hug her, wish her happy birthday, embarrass her in front of her friends, and tell her how proud I am of her in person.
I don’t have any desire to live a traditional life except when it comes to my daughter. The funny thing is, she has grown up to be an independent, adventurous, and travel-hungry human who doesn’t see a ‘traditional life’ as her path either. That makes me so very, very proud (but also a bit worried for where I’m supposed to go when I’m old!).
My Daughter Is Already More Stable
It’s now 00:02 and my baby is officially 22 years old. When I was 21 I dropped out of uni, hopped into my Jeep Wrangler, and moved to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico because of a cute guy I had met on holiday named Daniel. At 22 I bought a one-way ticket to Europe and ended up staying four years, marrying a Catalan, and having a baby in Barcelona during that time (yes, exactly 22 years ago). I have it much easier than my mom did because at least my baby is abroad for uni and not simply rambling about on a whim. Although she travels and continent hops more in her spare time than I did at her age!
No life is perfect and I know I can’t have my cake and eat it too. I can’t desire a nomadic expat life and also to spend all special moments with my daughter. Well, even if I could afford to do that, I didn’t raise my daughter to want to! She views available time as ‘time to explore exotic new destinations’ just like I do.
What I do know though is that if I could, I would repeat the entire 18 years I had my little birdie in my nest. Every adventure. Every misstep. Every moment. I’m still crying right now … but I wouldn’t change that either. I can’t hug her today but I can feel her and her love all around me as I toast her birthday from Kuala Lumpur.
Angel … Mommy loves you.
Here are a couple of pieces I’ve written over the past 2 years. One on living life an extraordinary life as a single parent, with some fun pics of my daughter and I on trips from Africa, Europe, and Asia. And this is one partially written by my daughter on how living in India changed her life forever
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