Life is strange here and so different. In some ways it is much harder than New York, surprisingly. But I think that’s due to our circumstances: living in temporary housing without our personal “stuff” (e.g. kids’ toys), no school for the kids, no one to help when the hubs and I need a break (although most of the time it’s just me that needs the break since husband is working 24/7). Shit is hard. And then, of course, there’s the logistics of moving to a foreign country that we have to circumnavigate daily—the new bank accounts, the visas that are still in process, the cars we need to buy, the new cell phone and what to do with our old cell phones. Blah, blah blah. The list feels endless. And I find myself in these moments feeling bogged down by it all, on the brink of despair, having to remind myself, “but you’re living in a foreign country! It’s so exciting!” Like I’m having a conversation with my 38 year old self, the one living back in Brooklyn that was craving a life of adventure and would’ve given anything to experience the daily thrill of something besides kids, work, and more kids.
Why am I struggling? I constantly ask myself. Is it because living 6K miles away feels hard and strange and lonely? Perhaps. Or am I struggling because the reality I’m living is profoundly different than the one I expected. A part of me (yes, the naïve part) expected to arrive here and feel instantly energized and thrilled by living abroad. That merely being in such an exotic locale would somehow transcend the daily drudgery of raising of two kids. But the reality is that raising kids abroad is filled with the same dejections and hardships as it is in raising kids in New York. No matter how exotic it sounds, living in Dubai means there are still lunches that need to be packed, dishes to clean, mouths to wipe, laundry to fold, and tantrums to be quelled. Maybe somewhere in the back of my mind I had convinced myself that those things wouldn’t loom so large in the face of “adventure”, but what I’m finding is that not only they do, but they dominate the adventure itself. There will be no adventure without the drudgery, I have learned. The two are inescapable. So perhaps the adventure lies within the banal—finding new ways in which to live within the same boundaries, seeking new perspectives on performing the same tasks, and doing it in a way that is irrefutably different than how we did it in Brooklyn.
Since I arrived in Dubai there have been many days where I thought to myself, “perhaps I’m just not built for adventure anymore.” But maybe I’m not looking at it the right way. Our time here will be defined not by what we did differently, or what we could experience here that we wouldn’t have been able to do elsewhere in the US (trips around the region that will fill plenty of scrapbooks) but by how we lived the familiar in the most unfamiliar way possible. How we taught Will to ride a bike on a desert road, how Gavin learned to swim in the Persian Gulf, how the boys attended a school where 22 different languages were spoken. That is how we’ll remember our time here. And so I better change my own perspective or I’ll miss the real “joy” of raising kids abroad.