Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Coping with change... or not, rather

Jemima has just stopped coming into our bed in the mornings when she wakes. Instead we find her sitting on her bedroom floor utterly absorbed in her books. In fact she spends more and more time each day doing her own thing. While I love to see her lost in her own play, I have to admit I struggle with how fast she seems to be growing up.

I have just come back from visiting my friend Tone’s new kittens. It was a beautiful sight. The mother lies still all day while her two skinny, wobbly babes scramble about her body, fumbling for milk. Their fragility reminds me of how it felt to handle my own new born babies, terrified I might do some damage with my hands – hands that suddenly seemed so huge and rough. I can’t believe how long ago that seems now. This week, time seems to be rushing by.

Having struggled for two years to get to grips with living in Cambodia, I suddenly find myself feeling incredibly happy and at home here. My Khmer is flowing, the children are happy and I am brimming with ideas about how I can throw myself back into the local community again after my year of time out with Bella comes to an end in September. (Given our mutual attachment to each other, whatever I do will no doubt be breastfeeding related.)

Yet it almost feels as though time is running out. Our contract ends at the end of next year, many of our friends are leaving at the end of this year and there are major changes afoot at Jemima’s wonderful pre-school. Buildings are being knocked down before our eyes, replaced by high rises and four storey villas. Everything seems to be changing around me and so much of it is quite beyond my control. I have no idea how I will ever thrive in this expat existence if I am so easily thrown by change.

Until recently I have always looked forward to the day we go back ‘home’ to live, so that I could resume my life. Today I surprised myself by feeling sad that we will one day have to leave this place. Honestly, I finally accept that my life is here and all I can do is worry about leaving in two years time! People say the ideal length of an overseas contract is four years. I think I probably need six. If it takes me two to settle in and two to prepare myself for saying goodbye, I’d jolly well like a couple of years in the middle just to be here, no looking back and no looking forward.

Then of course there is Jemima. I often wonder how she will be affected by all this. Will she care that her friends are leaving? Should she care? Should I be relieved that, so far, she does not seem to mind it much? Or worried that this is a sign she is already protecting herself and will probably have life long issues with forming attachments? (Oh goodness this should be a cry for help post on an expat mothers’ forum – if any of you out there are reading, please do share your experiences.)

At least Bella is too young to absorb much of all this, though she too is growing fast and definitely on the move. Last night I woke to find she had crawled out of her cotbed and was sprawled over my body, just like the kittens, fumbling around for some milk. It made me think – those kittens are just a few days old. It takes a human baby many months before they can move themselves towards their mother. Hmm, I could easily go off on another of my ‘this is why attachment parenting is so important’ rants here but I won’t. This post is rambling enough. I will publish it anyway though. That’s the best and the worst of blogging, depending on who is reading it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am a 'product'of expat parents. I grew up moving around every four years - new schools, new friends, new continents etc. I have to say that I have no attachment issues and neither do any of my expat friends. Quite the opposite for me - I made very tight friendships and am still in touch with friends from years ago even now (and even before Facebook). I wouldn't have wanted to grow up any differently. This is the best education you can give your daughters!