A Letter to My Friends and Family Back “Home”

To my dearest family and friends in America,

In a few short days, we will be making the second most difficult flight we, as a family, have ever made. The first was in August 2009, when we left all of you behind to start this amazing adventure. The second is the return flight back.

We are looking forward to seeing everyone again and re-establishing our life in B’ton. But.

This is not an easy transition for us. We are leaving the friends and “family” we have created in Wales over the past 3-1/2 years. For Pea, who was only three when we arrived, THIS is her life – the one that she remembers.  We are all leaving behind the life that we have built for ourselves. We are sad and a bit anxious.

It is difficult to say that we are totally “happy” to be returning. Yes, this day would eventually come, however,  in the backs of our minds, we have been thinking we had until July, at the least, so this move has come up far too quickly, and we aren’t quite ready for it. Even with our belongings on their  way back to the US as we speak, we STILL aren’t mentally prepared.

We love you, and we have missed you, but we are mourning all we are leaving behind. So I need to ask for your understanding and help as we re-settle back into American life.

Please do not ask us if we are “excited to be back”.  We are…and yet we aren’t. Yet. We are not moving back into our house right away because it is still rented out for a few more months; we will not fill “settled” for some time. The kidlings are moving into a new school – with possibly entirely different teaching methods and expectations – in the middle of the school year.

Please DO ask us about our experiences. Ask us about our friends, what our life was like…we need to talk about it. Probably the biggest difference between the move to Wales and the move back will be that, in Wales, we were a bit of a curiosity, and people didn’t hesitate to ask us where we were from, why we were there, what we thought of it (even now, 3 and a half years on) – and all this somewhat helped with the transition.

We are not the same people we were when we left. Our experience here has changed us. We are now members of the “third culture” – stuck between never quite belonging here in the UK, and yet feeling like we don’t quite fit back in neatly when we return.

For our kids, who now have Welsh accents – and who will have friends who will remember them NOT having these accents, or others who while wonder why they have these accents when they are American – everything feels uncertain. Boo dearly remembers all his  preschool buddies, but he is going to think things will pick up right where he left them – and that may or not be the case. Bottom line, they were 3 and 5 when we left, and are nearly 7 and 9 now. They have lived a life and seen things and experience things that I would never have dreamed of for them.

They are excited. They are sad. And a bit angry. (A lot upset with us, to tell the truth.)

The kidlings may NOT remember all of you, unless we have seen you frequently on our trips home. Pea has forgotten nearly all her cousins, and confuses the names of the ones she has seen more frequently still, because you have changed so much while we have been gone, too. If we re-introduce you to our kidlings, please don’t be offended.

Life is going to be a bit overwhelming for all of us. Less walking, more driving everywhere; more traffic. More noise. Seeing fewer stars in the sky because there is so much light around us. Busier, where we are used to a much slower lifestyle. Re-acclamating will take longer than you might think it should.

Life has continued on since we left, and things are different with you. We can’t just drop back into life as it was before, and we get it.

And we’ll be homesick. Because Wales is home to us now, too.

So please, call us. Make plans. Hassle ME if I’m not getting back to you – of everyone, I think I’m the least mentally prepared for this move: when I left B’ton, life was baby play groups and training pants and life with preschoolers. Now I’m an official stay-at-home mom, who gets to “do” lunch with the girls or go on coffee dates – but most of my friends are now either back to work, or have new babies. For me, it’s going to be more than a little lonely.

Be patient with us. We want to see everybody, but it will take some time. If you offer your help, be prepared that I darn well may take you up on it. Also remember that I’m not very good with asking for help, even when I need it. We will be stressed out, living on top of each other in a small corporate rental with little of our personal possessions on hand other than our clothes and a select number of the kids toys.

Part of us IS very excited about the move back. It just might take a while for us to be there, fully.

And we hope you understand.

 

Comments

  1. Jenn – very touched by your thoughtful post. It is so true that you will all need time to re-adjust to life in the US and your friends over there now will have a good idea of how to welcome you back. It is also lovely to read of how much at home you have felt in Hay on Wye and how your kids have felt that this is where they now belong. I wish you a happy homecoming and time to process all the experiences in the UK and your trips to Europe too. What an education (in the real sense of the word) your children have had these past three years!

  2. Wonderful post, my friend. I’m going to miss your posts about Wales and your life there. I wish life was like that here. My biggest regret is not getting off my lazy behind and planning a trip to see you and letting my kids have that experience. Sometimes I am a little too laid back and procratinate too much. I have missed you even though I never saw you much. Hopefully we have learned and will purposefully make time to see each more. I know it’s hard when we live hours apart and have work and kids. Even if we meet in the middle and take the kids to Starved Rock a few times a year…

  3. Dear Jenn, such a beautiful post, so true. It is a bittersweet return, leaving the things you love and coming back to the things you love. The four of you are together, and have experienced all of this together, so lean on eachother. Parents are the models for how children will adjust, and you know all the mixed feelings they’ll have as well.
    Safe landing, and take time to mourn and then to enjoy old friends and family.

  4. Hi there. I have a blogging friend who sent me a link to this post, as she thought we had much in common. My little family moved back to the US last May after many many years in England. I had been there since 2001, and my partner had been there since 2007. We have a son who was born there and is a UK citizen. And moving back to the US was a complete shock. Especially for me, as my ENTIRE adult life had been spent in England. Added on to that, we had not planned on moving back quite so soon, but we wound up having to do it with only about 6 weeks notice. And then I got pregnant pretty much the second we got to the US. So it’s been quite a ride so far!

    Anyway, I’ve written a lot about our transition back to America on my blog (herpretty.com if you’re interested) and I’ve got a lot of perspective after 7 months. If you ever want to talk or compare notes, just let me know. I’m @snuggle_bubby on twitter, as well. 🙂

    • Hey Katie, thanks for coming by and commenting. Wow – we were only there for 3-1/2 years, so I can’t imagine the culture shock if you’ve spent your entire adult life abroad! (I’m struggling just picking out a flavor of salad dressing right now, tbh).

      I’ll definitely check out your blog – any perspective is good!

  5. Thom Higgins says

    Well written, Jenn. It is hard when people freeze you in a moment or place (hell, I still think of you as a high school junior) and you don’t pop back in to that role. I would hope most want to learn about life in Wales. I know I do. And I’ll be the kid’s accents rock!

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