The jet lag has finally cleared, although it’s taken over a week, and we’ve settled in to a routine at last. For the first time I feel like a true expat ‘lady of leisure’ (if you can call it that whilst caring for a three month old baby), as I flit from coffee morning to baby group and back home for an afternoon nap. Before Matthew was born I had a range of activities which almost resembled a job, but now I’m a full time mother and only volunteer for a couple of activities still – rather badly at the moment I have to add! I am enjoying myself, though I still maintain that I wouldn’t want to be a full time lady of leisure and wouldn’t attend nearly so many coffee mornings if they weren’t a good chance to get out of the house and allow my son to socialise (or stare at) other babies of his age. As it is, we are both glad of the company as it can get a little claustrophobic with just the two of us alone in the house all day. But I still look forward to the times when I have slept well enough at night to forgo my nap and spend forty minutes writing or doing something to stimulate my poor, rotting brain – unfortunately amidst a pile of clutter that I really should be tidying up instead. Sadly, such opportunities are still few and far between and I usually end up typing with one hand whilst breast-feeding, which makes for very slow progress but which is better than nothing. Hopefully as time goes on I’ll get a little more freedom, but having said that I wouldn’t want to give up singing the wheels on the bus for the tenth time in a day or spending five minutes trying to get a smile.
Being in such a small community with a small baby is lovely, there are lots of first time mums like me who are desperate for some socialisation and who start up groups or meet up for coffee every week. I wonder how my experience would compare if I was living somewhere like the UK, where people live further away from one another and less people know who their neighbours are. I may be wrong, but I think I would have been very isolated had we stayed where we were living before – I don’t imagine there would be the same support network that is forged out of necessity in a community where everyone’s contracts are temporary and there are no family support networks. It would of course be lovely to have our parents closer by so that they could see their grandson regularly and for the odd bit of babysitting – that’s my biggest regret in living out here (the contact, not the babysitting). But the chances are we wouldn’t live that close to our families even if we were in the UK and we spend more time visiting home now than we used to thanks to more generous holiday allowances. We’ve spent five weeks this year in the UK – though this is more than we would usually spend – and of course Matthew usually sits in on our Skype sessions when we call home each week. So, although we haven’t had much chance to travel elsewhere this year, at least we’ve managed to spend some quality time with our families and they can see our son’s progress week by week wherever we are in the world.