I debated on writing about this because it feels too personal. I carefully walk the line between light-hearted and completely open book blogdom because I think there are some things I’d just like to stay ‘in house’. But as it is incontestably the most difficult thing about being an expat, and the complexities of it increase when you’re an expat parent, I know I can’t avoid the topic. Family. At some point either me or the Husband (or both) will have to be away from one of (ooor both of) our families. Happiness, concerns, milestones, joys, emergencies, the everyday will have to be shared over the phone, text or via webcam. It does make me appreciate technology because I know that not that long ago we would have been limited to a dodgy phone line and a paper and a pen, but it still doesn’t replace a face-to-face talk, the real life tightness of a hug, or being in the room when something incredible happens (even if it is The Duchess’ 50,000th smile).
Last weekend we were faced with a medical emergency with one of my family members back in The States. Different family members sent texts to keep me in the loop, but that night I struggled to sleep as I not only worried about the person involved, I was also considering what I would need to do if I had to fly back at a moment’s notice. I would have to bring The Duchess with me because she is breastfeeding and I don’t have any frozen milk at the moment. The Duchess doesn’t yet have her passport. But the worst thing was the worry about if the worst should happen. I was stuck in England while all of my other family members were there at the hospital supporting the person involved. The difficulty of that is inexpressible.
I’ve already thought about things I’d do differently in retrospect. A) Have an emergency stash of frozen milk if the baby wasn’t coming B) Get a passport for the baby as soon as I can after birth C) Maybe even have a prepared packing list for the baby so I can do it quickly, but even with finely executed preparation I can’t change the crux of the problem. I live far away.
Emergencies remind me of this, but in everyday, non-emergency life I know we are making the best of it. We send weekly picture texts and try to Skype every week, but there will always be a bit of sadness wherever we live because whether in joys or concerns, the remarkable or the mundane, any way we slice it someone is always missing out.
If you live far away from your parents or in-laws, are there any things you do to support or to help include the ‘missing’ party?