9. Fast Forward 4 Weeks

Today marks one month since we’ve arrived in New Zealand.

Despite my best efforts to provide “up to the minute reporting”, this next post might explain the gap in my writing.

I’ve needed to put all of my energy into living these past 4 weeks in order to rewind – and be able to translate clearly – what this experience so far has been like for me, for us and our children.

I’ve come to realise that the first 2 weeks can be confirmed as a “honeymoon phase”. Week 3 is a “fighting those feelings phase”. Week 4, for me at least, has been a “slap in the face, this is reality, is this for real?”, kinda phase!

In the very first week of our new life, we are on vacation but we don’t know it. Everything is shiny and new. The weather is fantastic, everyone from the train conductor to the pizza delivery guy is a potential new best friend, our eyes are sparkling with reflections of unimaginable natural beauty.

Our children are enthusiastically adopting colloquialisms like “Jandals”, disposing of the urge to call them “sandals”. They giggle endlessly at new pronunciations like “Eleven times sucks is sucksty sucks (meaning: 11 x 6 is 66).

We embrace the Kiwi way of life and now take off our shoes when entering ours and anyone else’s home. We leave old worries behind us in SA for new ones: like wearing matching hole-free socks and making sure our toes are nicely manicured!

In week two, my husband starts his new job. Excitement mounts as we drop Daddy off at the train station – where the trains are working, running on time, are clean and people step on in an orderly fashion. We spend the rest of the school holidays drawing in the volcanic beach sand with pieces of driftwood lying abundantly on the shore. We trawl the local mall, buy fancy new coats and visit Daddy in the city. We try not to stare for too long at the moms with their blue/pink/purple (choose one) hair and knee-length canvas sneakers and the Maori men with full facial tattoos.

When we drive around our little suburbia, we see Dad’s with their sons playing ball in their fenceless gardens and kids on skateboards. We see moms pushing strollers and geese roaming on the sidewalks. More importantly is what we DON’T see. When reversing out of our driveway we are concerned about children that might be running in the street behind us. When leaving the door unlocked we are concerned about the wind blowing it open and letting in a chilly breeze. When our children run free in the parks, we are concerned about them falling and grazing their knee.

In week three, the children eagerly arrive at their new school. With the new 9am start to the school day, we are all three fed and refreshed, ready to begin a new chapter in their little lives.

Brand new school bags are packed, loaded with stationery and books and funky new lunch boxes, not to mention NO school uniforms!!. Before I know it, both are clutching the hands of their new found friends and rushing into the opposite direction…

And this is where my own personal “honeymoon” ends and week 4 (reality) subtly pushes its way in.

I am home. It’s 1pm in the afternoon. While my husband works busily in the city an hour away and the children are in school: I have cleaned. I have vacuumed and polished. I have done four loads of laundry. I’ve watched an episode of my favourite TV series. It is quiet. There are no more children in the street. There are no Dad’s playing ball in the gardens. There is not a soul on the beach. You will not “bump into” anyone you know in the supermarket. It is raining. I discover that ironing is overrated (I momentarily think about a possible blog post entitled “Ironing – You’re over thinking it”). I find out that almost nothing kills New Zealand flies – but that after emptying a full can of environmentally friendly, non-toxic, pretty smelling aerosol spray on a single fly, they seem to die in true NZ style: slowly.

I learn how to use a garbage disposal and locate the nearest dump after forgetting to take the trash out on the correct day. I try to cook a decent meal for my family against “foolproof” recipes and fail (over, and over again).

The only things I “bump into” are new species of horrid insects I’ve never seen or heard of in my life before.

This week has been more difficult than I imagined…and I’m pretty sure this phase will be much longer lasting than the previous. I am not used to, nor do I enjoy being alone all day long in a brand new country. I don’t enjoy housework or learning to cook and messing up my family’s dinner more often than not. I don’t enjoy not being able to pick up the phone and call my mom, my sister, my dad or a friend back home in SA during my hours of boredom and loneliness (yes, because they are all asleep)! I now understand a sense of solitude that I never did before.

However, and there always has to be a “but”… After 4 weeks – would I change anything? No. Because it’s the things we DON’T see that are important and are the reasons we love New Zealand. There is no price. Only value. There is only value in knowing that the sudden sound of ice blocks dropping from your refrigerator into the ice tray below is in fact NOT a gunshot in the dark.

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18 thoughts on “9. Fast Forward 4 Weeks

  1. Zita says:

    Wow Loren.
    I have truly enjoyed hearing of your experiences in NZ.
    Being a friend of yours though… I am saddened to hear of your lonliness😓. I have faith though that Soon enough some soul is going to meet you and instantly be blessed with the amazing being that you are and all that you offer. We miss you and your beautiful Girls immensely.
    Thinking of you♡♡♡

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lily Hayes says:

      Loren,

      I’ve met you a few times at the school. Ypu seem to be a lovely, bright and happy person. I just want to extend my hand of welcome to the area.

      Reading your posts Brings back the memories I have of my first few weeks here in NZ. Dauntig, Exciting and exhilerating all wrapped up in a shiny new place to call home.

      I hope you find you niche soon.

      I’ll still be the one with the sheepish smile and wave at school, honestly I’m far too shy for my own good.

      Welcome again fellow new to school mum.

      Lily. 🙂

      Like

  2. Hilary Cross says:

    Welcome to my world. I started working and it seemed easier until one Monday morning I woke in tears with a pain in my chest from missing family and friends. This is after three and a half months not sure when it gets easier. But I too still would not consider going back. I commend you on your blog so few people are able to express just how tough it actually is… even if for all the right reasons. 😆

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anonymous says:

    Enjoyed reading your blog! Must say it’s v tough for those that you leave behind.I missed my little family that left for Sydney and i still feel so heartsore 3 years down the line! Hang in there!!! Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mandy Howard says:

    Loren it’s so familiar reading your post, we can almost all relate. I was home for 8 months but one bubs at home and one at kindie. My husbands folks and sister is here but I have nobody. One and a half years down the line, the pain is still the same. I had a few days last week, it’s not even the whole homesick thing. It’s like you say just feeling isolated, can’t even call anyone they all sleeping. You head off to the shops, and think it would be nice to have a cuppa with your bestie. People are very friendly here, but it’s not easy making new friends. I found it a bit easier since going to work, its nice have that interaction.

    But again, like you say we wouldn’t change it for the world. Don’t regret anything.

    Chin up, keep sharing and know that this is all part of the process and will get easier.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Herman Pieters says:

    As South Africans we were not brought up with a volunteering attitude. Considering joining a organisation in the town you are living and offer some of that free time that brings on the loneliness as a volunteer. You will meet kiwi’s who will embrace you and make you part of this wonderful country.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jenny says:

    I too am a South African who can identify with all you have to say but have been in NZ now for 22 years and it is truly home. However, your longing for home, friends and family never goes away. It definitely pays to volunteer or find a part-time job as it gets you out of the house and meeting people. Good luck as you settle into your new country. Jenny

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lauren R says:

    Hey Loren, that was a cool read. We’ve been here 8 years this year, and I remember all those emotions you are feeling like it was yesterday. I can especially relate to that feeling of solitude you experience when the kids are at school and dad is at work. It can get very lonely. One can only do so much cleaning to fill the hours! But you will find, over time, that you will meet other mums at school, and through the kids sports activities. Kiwis are a bit different to us and it can sometimes take a while to integrate fully, but they are lovely and over time you’ll make some good friends, trust me.

    I’m not sure where you are living, but where I am lots and lots of mums go walking or for a run after school drop off. Just look for peeps in their ‘active wear’ ha ha. You may find a group of mums from your child’s class who you can join for a walk and gossip! It’s the best medicine and that half an hour round the block will change your day. I also joined an adult dance class which was a fantastic way to do something for me and have great fun with some awesome ladies at the same time. There are heaps of Zumba and crossfit and other classes on the go all the time. I also have a dog and so joined the dog club and am now learning agility with her – a dream I’ve always had since I was a kid! There are so many fun things to do here that you wouldn’t necessarily have had the opportunity to do in SA, and I recon you will love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Corlia du Preez says:

    I too suffered from that solitude feeling until I started to join the embroidery guild, patchwork group and did some volunteer work like meals on wheels etc. One event/activity a week may change a lot for you. You are putting in words what a lot of us can relate to.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Cathy Drew says:

    Hey Loren.
    Well done on writing your feelings down. After reading what you have written, I can only say it’s normal. We immigrated from SA 6 years ago. I had all those feelings. I smiled at your attempt to cook a meal that previously never failed – same! The first year is a roller coaster. Many highs and lows. Keep writing as you’ll get though and one day look back and smile at how far you’ve come. Get involved in the kids school. They are always looking for parent help, even if just to help some kids read. You’ll soon meet other mums and make new friends. These new friends won’t have the history, but you will make new memories. Congrats on your move and good luck.

    Like

  10. anon says:

    Hi Loren , and welcome to NZ. We landed here from SA 29 years ago next week. Your post brought back so many memories of those first years. All those same emotions and experiences. We feel blessed that our children could grow up in this safe, beautiful country, and now our grandchildren are too. You will always have gaps in your heart, sad days and bad days, loneliness and an ache for Africa, but you are brave and you have made this move for the right reasons. Feel proud of yourself. We have never had regrets, but I know that if we had stayed there, we would have had many. Good luck. The good days will far outweigh the bad!

    Like

  11. Jonathan Swadling says:

    Got brought here by the Stuff article. Welcome to my neck of the woods, we moved here three years ago from much closer (Johnsonville) and love the coast. Kiwis are a friendly bunch, so I think the loneliness might not last as long as you fear – there’s also a substantial SA ex-pat community. If you’re walking along a beach and you see a giant, familiar looking breed of dog feel free to say hello. That’ll be me with our Rhodesian Ridgeback, apparently we got him just to make South Africans feel at home…

    Like

  12. Raewyn says:

    I also found you via stuff and I am so glad I did. I have share your link with my daughter who has married a SA in Oz. They are hoping to move here next year. You blog is so precious, sharing your experiences help others, not only those who are also moving but those of us who are trying to support them. Thank you xxx

    Like

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