We’re home. About four months now. As I type those words I’m wondering how that is even possible? Where has this time gone? The beautiful summer days? Just gone in a fog of tiredness, stress, anxiety, worry and then the wonderfulness of catching up with family and friends. The joy of being close to home for family occasions, the girly catch ups and the family support.
The repatriation back to Ireland has been ok. But hard. I didn’t expect it to be easy and I went into it with open eyes and that definitely helped. But we arrived back to a country with a housing crisis. With high rents, lack of availability in housing and childcare and its definitely been a stressful time readjusting. Add to that then that Rob has a huge amount of travel in his new role and that he was gone 6 out of the first 7 weeks that we were here and I realise now that during that time, I just about kept my head above water.
Anyway, here we are and we are in our new home two weeks. We love it! It’s ideally what I would build. We are hoping to buy a family home in the next year if we decide to stay in Ireland long term but for now we are just happy to be in the area that we want in Galway so that we can focus on the kids and getting them registered for schools etc.
For me, I have been so consumed by them and in such a sleep deprived fog that I haven’t taken much time to think about my own transition and what’s next for me. I’m starting a post grad in digital marketing in the coming weeks and thinking that in early 2019 I will return to work full time. It all feels very strange having only worked part time and when suited me over the past four years. I feel a bit redundant, like I’m starting again. An ole wan, with no career – the kept wife. Clearly my confidence has also taken a blow by being out of work to.
I guess that leads me onto the main crux of this piece. What does the trailing spouse do when you’re home? You’re still trailing. You’re still picking up the pieces. Organising the shipments, the unpacking, the schools, the daycare.. Planning the lives of your family and trying to ease the transition as much as you can for everyone else. But you’re not the trailing spouse anymore. Before you’ve even had a chance to catch your breath family and friends are asking when your going back to work? The moms at the school gate ask what do you do? The mortgage broker wants to know what your plan is for the future… I haven’t stopped spinning and I don’t know the answers right now. My support system of expat friends is gone. My friends that kept me sane and called over for coffee no longer live down the road. It’s all new for me here. I don’t have many friends in the area. No one to call upon for advice about childcare or keep me company while Rob is away with work and I have the kids alone for 10 days straight. His family are close and they’re wonderful but I can’t rely on them all the time. I need my own community. My own network. I need my returned expats who understand what we are going through.
It’s weird being home in Ireland and feeling more foreign than I did in my third year living in Puerto Rico. In so many ways my heart aches for the sun, the beach, our friends and the people. Yet, my head knows that home is home and it’ll feel like home again. It just takes time. Like starting an expat assignment all over again.