Donna and I were recently talking about what it is like to have lived in different places from where you were born. Donna was born in England and lived in various places – including another stint in England from age 10-12 – as her father was in the US Air Force. Her family finally settled in Texas, where her English-born mother still lives. I was born and raised in England, but left when I was 20 to go to college in Germany before moving to the States in ’96, where I have been ever since.
|Donna and her mum.|
All this moving about is fun and character building and gives you a wonderful broad view of the world, not to mention all the experiences that you encounter along the way. You also end up with friends in lots of places, which, if you can find the time and money to visit, is a great advantage to all this moving about too. Sometimes it’s even fun being the foreigner: We always laugh when we’re traveling in the US telling people we meet that we are from Boston using our best English accents. We are usually then met with a look of confusion! However, Donna and I both agreed that sometimes you do end up wondering where you belong!
|Me and Mum.|
I definitely try to have that “Wherever I lay my hat . . .” kind of approach but sometimes it’s hard to keep the stiff upper lip. Case in point: My mum returned back to England this weekend after visiting for just over two weeks. We have such a great time when she is here and considering my kids have always lived 3,000 miles away from her they have a wonderful relationship. We are very lucky that she is able to come over twice a year, and she tries to coordinate her visits with special events and birthdays if possible. We do try and do some new things when she comes but it is also nice that she gets to be part of our (hectic) day-to-day life. We are truly able to appreciate the time we have together. A friend said to Mum while she was here that she thinks Mum spends more time with her grandkids than the friend’s mother does who only lives an hour away. My mum was the brave one who got on a plane three weeks after 9/11 for a visit that was already planned. I was never so pleased to see her. I do see all the benefits of these visits and the “quality time” we have, rather than just popping in and out if you live close by. But then, the day always comes when she has to leave and it is very hard to say goodbye knowing that usually it will be at least three months before we see her again.
|With Mum in NYC.|
The question then arises in my mind as to whether we should be living in England. If you live abroad people constantly ask, “Do you think you will ever go back?” The answer is, “Who knows.” 17 years ago when my husband and I moved to Boston we came on a three-year visa and we just assumed we would head back to Europe when the visa expired. But one thing I have realized is that you never know how things will turn out. We got a dog, then a Green Card, had a baby, my husband changed jobs, we had another baby, moved house, made lots of wonderful friends and have been fortunate to have lots of regular visits from family and friends from across the pond. We have made a life here in Massachusetts and it certainly feel likes home.
We are very lucky that we usually get back to England to visit once a year. And when we are in England all the family gets together and we celebrate like it’s Christmas in August. The key is to focus on the being together, not whether it is a specific day of the year. Donna also gets back to Texas whenever she can, and her mum recently surprised Donna with a visit for her birthday. I helped
Donna’s daughter plan the surprise, was there to witness it and it was fantastic! So it’s a trade off. And for the most part it’s all great – right up until I have to say goodbye. Thank Goodness for Facetime and Skype! It makes the distance seem so much closer until the next visit . . .