In my very first post, I stood staring at my feet and up at the sky on a winters morning in a freezing cold playground, dreaming of travelling the world, hot weather and a sweet taste of exotic freedom. This time round, 4 years later, I’m stood staring at my feet again.
They’re unpedicured. The mink gel polish from a distant spot of luxury pampering so far back I couldn’t even give you a ball park. They’re on the beach though, the sands of Redcar in the North East of England. How on earth did you get there? I hear you mumble. And why on earth? The cold tide rolls over my tootsies and I’m having a moment of clarity. One of those that brings you full circle and you feel pretty present but at the same time somewhere else. There’s something about the ocean that does that isn’t there? Gone are the days of riding around on my little scooter in the 38 degree heat on the tiny island of Taiwan. I close my eyes, take a deep breath and look up. It’s been a long 4 years since my last post and my feet, body, mind and soul are in a completely different world now.
I’m a Mother and a fiancee. No longer a teacher, just a humble housewife ‘doing’ lunch, playdates and laundry. I drive a car, mix formula and puree fruit and vegetables. No more lesson planning, staff meetings or book marking. No more class assemblies, report writing or -dare-I-say-it- creative history lessons about the Romans and Tudors (those were seriously my fave).
As the tide rolls out, there’s a babble from the baby in my ear. He’s propped on my left hip, true Mum style. I’ve settled into life here. The last 5 months up north have been a serious adventure. We rented our home in London, took to the road and made it work. I threw myself into baby groups and mummy meet ups, I went on long walks around my new sparkly-green-friendly-as-they-come neighbourhood. Andrew would work from 7-7 and by the time he got home I had somehow managed to put the baby to bed and make dinner. He’s tugging at my hair now and I sense he knows I’m off in a reflective daydream, taking in all of the colossal changes of the last year. I jiggle a bit, mums will know what I mean and it settles him. A tiny reminder that I’m still with him and dedicated to entertaining him 24/7. The water is freezing, not like the bath-like seas of my old little island and I step backwards heading back towards our ‘buggy and towel’ base.
Just how long will we be here? Not much longer; the winds of change are blowing wild again and we are going to need to pull all our mental, physical and emotional strength together to do the next big move. Andrew’s job moves us from place to place and although we don’t know where yet, we know our time here is limited. The cold Northern wind blows in an angry gust, as if it too is fed up of my momentary flashback. It brushes across the back of my neck where my one and only tattoo is. It’s made up of 2 Chinese symbols reading ‘Mao Shen’. Roughly translated as ‘Adventure’. 6 of us got them done in a dark and deserted alleyway in a beach town south of Taiwan. Back then it had every ounce of substance; my carefree, live for the moment lifestyle. The baby is moaning again.
Perhaps the next big move will test my real sense of adventure. The real challenge of moving to another city, another country, another continent with a small child and all our stuff. Perhaps this is the real Mao Shen? The purpose of the tattoo in the first place. A reminder that life is unpredictable but try to embrace it. I breathe deeply again and the baby ups his volume. Motherhood and expat life? Watch this space.