Time to Grow Up

From my garden in Copenhagen. It’s Spring today!

I’ve been dreaming quite a bit recently. I remember them when I wake, try to puzzle it out a bit, roll over, fall back asleep and forget all about it. The other morning was different. I did the dreaming, the puzzling, the rolling over, the forgetting but as I drifted off to sleep I was left with a thought. I don’t think it was necessarily mine.  “It’s time to grow up.”

As of a few weeks ago, I’m 38. I have a couple of kids, debt, credit cards, a husband, fancy shoes, cookware, loads of appliances … all the stuff you associate with being a grownup. I even wear make up on occasion. I kind of thought I had grown up. I was being responsible. The kids turn up to school each day with lunches, clean clothes and happy smiles (most days). I may not have a current paying job but I do know what one looks like. Where was this thought about growing up coming from? Seriously!

I can’t say exactly when I worked it out but I did eventually. I think the thought sat in the back of my mind being slowly churned until I finally had the ‘aha’ moment. Now, not everyone is going to agree with my next comments and they don’t necessarily apply to all expats. However, I think they probably do … to some degree.

Initially I thought coming home would mean the end of some of the luxuries we had become quite attached to. It has but it has also meant a certain mind shift. It is as if now that we are home we need to take life a bit more seriously.

Serious is not my middle name and I generally prefer to steer any serious conversation into less weighty waters. However, I can do it. The seriousness of life? Not so familiar with that one. It is a close cousin to ‘planning’. I’ve met planning. In actual fact, I married the embodiment of planning. My husband LOVES lists, spreadsheets, forecasts and all long term paths that lead to a goal. I like the daydreaming aspect of that process.

Serious planning about our future has never really come up before. Knowing where we will be in ten years time is completely outside my understanding. Working out where the kids will be going to high school and making plans accordingly. This is the work of true grown ups. Up till recently, whenever I was asked how long I planned to be in any one place, my response was, “till I move.” This time we have arrived with no intention of moving. I’m happy about it but not sure that my head has caught up with many of the ramifications.

So I now wonder what growing up will look like. Is it the end of flippancy? Will it change me? Reshape me? More than likely. Moving certainly did.

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3 Responses to Time to Grow Up

  1. I’m glad that moving home has worked out for you and helped you identify your own internal desire to grow up. However, I assure you, many expats (most?) are and have been living their lives in a very grown up state. We take life seriously and plan as much as the next person, in fact probably more so than many. And most of us certainly don’t consider ourselves in limbo until we can repatriate. Life is full of choices which we all must make, and we consider carefully those opportunities, trade-offs and decisions. I certainly have never considered living overseas a ‘flippancy’ but then again, I’ve never measured my life in terms of luxuries.

  2. Laney says:

    Hi Linda. I apologise if my post offended. It wasn’t meant to. However, I am glad that you responded in the way that you did. It led to a discussion with my husband which made me take an extra step towards working out what it was I was trying to say.

    While we were overseas I never did consider that we were not planning nor that we were living a flippant lifestyle. I would have argued the opposite. Making a conscious decision to move home and commit to staying in one place has made me feel that the decisions we made in the past did have a certain flippancy to them. Unfortunately I can not really explain why or what exactly I mean by that. Not even verbally to my husband who knows my mind quite well.

    I did consider that flippancy was the wrong word to use but I do think it adequately describes how I feel. Generalising about expats is unfair. I am aware that expats come in all shapes and sizes. That the definitions of expat vary widely. There are also some who I might define as an expat who don’t see themselves that way at all. There are also people who never leave their suburb who approach life with a degree of flippancy that I would find disconcerting.

    Perhaps my feelings will crystallise over time into a more coherent thought that I can adequately explain. Perhaps you will still disagree with my perspective. I think this is a grounding that I am feeling which I have never felt before and brings with it an added weightiness to it which is affecting how I view life.

    Kim

  3. Kim, please no need to apologize at all! I found your post thought-provoking, and understood it to be a candid reflection of coming to terms with your own recent repatriation. Was I surprised by it? A little, but more so by the aspect of taking life more seriously than by the flippancy remark. Offended, no, certainly not personally. It’s your story, your feelings, your perspective. Besides, you specifically warned it might be misunderstood.

    Deciding to move ‘back home’ is a big decision, spurred by myriad reasons including, as I understand yours was, the desire to offer your children the kind of educational stability in a system of your preference. I get that. As parents we often find ourselves making decisions that we might not necessarily make if we didn’t have to factor them into the equation. It’s funny but I saw your post more as a mother of growing children, coming to terms with their fast approaching middle/high school years. It certainly does feel different than more ‘carefree’ years (flippancy?) when they are younger and seem more ‘portable’ and we feel that as long as we’re all together, all is good. Some people never deviate from those beliefs, and others decide to hunker down for stability’s sake during high school (as we have) or head home or to a new place they feel is best suited for their family, their life, at that time.

    I know that many of us start to chafe at feeling ‘locked in’ by our own decision to commit X number of years to staying put wherever we are while our children finish school; it’s not that we necessarily mind or think we’re giving up great opportunities (after all, it was our decision in the first place), but more the feeling that by committing to doing so we’ve somehow lost some of our potential for carefree decisions. But we needn’t worry. A few years is but a blip (hopefully) in terms of the passage of time. When they head off we can entertain all sorts of possibilities, even if we have no intention of taking them up.

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