Emigration is emotionally taxing. As mothers and wives, we tend to carry the emotions for our entire family. We “keep it together” through all the preparation, through the physical move, and for as long as we can after we arrive. It is the most difficult and most thrilling time of our lives.
Today I thought about the things my family and I miss the most. It isn’t the Biltong, or “South African Marmite”. It isn’t Woolworths or the luxurious cars we used to drive. When I asked my children what they missed the most, they said, without hesitation, “our old house”. We never lived in a fancy house…so I had to think a while why they’d say such a thing. I realised that it’s not the house they missed at all. It was all the memories. It was our first family home. Our children were raised there for 7.5 years. It was their happy place. We had birthday parties, Christmas and casual Sunday braai’s at the pool. We had friends and family who’d be at every one of those occasions.
After 7 months in our new home country, it occured to me that once I saw my children settling in and knowing that they’d eventually be OK, it was time for me to allow myself to feel OK, to let go of the weight of everyone elses emotions and see my family as someone on the outside looking in.
…and that’s when I realised that I don’t care about South African groceries. I have found substitues for almost everything and have adapted so well to them that I don’t feel the overwhelming need to have family send over my favourite chocolate or breakfast cereal. There is nothing I need that I don’t already have.
Suddenly my phone rings, and I have Facebook post “Likes” during NZ daytime hours. “During NZ daytime hours”….This means I have friends. Right here in NZ: I have friends who care, who have become a part of my life and some who have been an absolute saving grace on some of my darkest days.
We all know about the freedom that NZ offers us and our children. The beauty of our new surroundings, the peaceful sleep we now have at night, the parks our children can play in, the streets they scoot around in….but a good friend once told me that to make the most of our journey, it would be up to us to write our own new history, to make our own new memories – because THESE are the things that build the foundation for a true home. Looking back over the past few months, we have made SO MANY! Our 8-seater patio table can now be filled with good friends, and our braai burns almost every week. We have bought a car that fits 7 people, because we need it for our new tribe, and our grocery cupboard is filled with all of our now regular NZ favourites.
Like falling in love, suddenly, and all at once, I realise, we are home.