When I turned 30 I had assumed my friendship making days were long gone. I accepted the fact that whoever was apart of my life around the moment I had Isaac and entered into motherhood, were the ones that would see out my adult years.
It wasn’t until I moved abroad that I realized I would need to put on my social hat and start to make at least one connection to get me through expat life. It’s probably the most challenging aspect of moving abroad, realizing that your not only moving away from family, you’re moving away from your closest friendships and having to start again.
My first year in Dubai was quite lonely. Being pregnant with an 8 month old didn’t make matters any easier. Every morning I would try and set myself the goal of getting out of the house to take Isaac to the park. Every morning I failed. I just couldn’t find the motivation or courage to put myself back out into the world. It took almost a year for me to find my feet as an expat mum.
I finally came out of my shell, realized that this was not only unhealthy for me but it was unhealthy for my children and I needed to start living my life like I would if I were back home. Since then I’ve met some extremely wonderful woman and mothers. People from parts of the world I’d only ever dreamed of. I even used Instagram as a means of reaching out and putting myself out there and have made some incredible friendships as a result.
Today my daily consists of meeting up with my next door neighbor, a Spanish expat from Barcelona. Her 18 month old and Isaac play in one of the newly opened cafes in our area which caters perfectly for mums with children. It has become my favorite part of the day, chatting, laughing, de-stressing and there’s no shame or guilt in any of it. We drink our coffees and inhale some of her homemade cookies (she’s a special talent at cookie making) and we often reminisce of our homes and wonder what life will be like in our remaining years in Dubai.
And it’s connections like these which make the experience of being an expat mother so much more enjoyable. It’s what keeps you sane and keeps you going, it’s what makes up our days and teaches our children the importance of social interaction and relationships. It shows them that you never stop making friends, it’s a life long experience. It’s what shows them that “me time” is NEVER wasted time. It’s time spent to recharge and recalibrate, it’s time enjoyed in the company of the people we enjoy. I refuse to feel bad about being a “stay at home mum” who can have a latte or two every morning with her neighbour. In fact I dread the day that this won’t be a reality for me anymore and I return to the hustle of 8-6pm work – life down under. Where all I hear are stories of how there at not enough hours in a day to get things done.
I’m quite happy enjoying this life for now, unapologetically.