After living halfway around the globe from where I was raised for the last 7 years, it’s safe to say that Germany has become my home. And in many ways I have become more German than American. Anyone else who has lived for a substantial amount of time in a place different from where they were raised will understand what I mean.
Still, there is no denying that the country in which I was raised is still very much a part of my life. Not only will certain aspects of my personality forever be influenced by my American upbringing, aside from a cousin of mine, my entire family still lives in the states.
Last year, we had to deal with the death of my grandmother, but for the last two years before her passing as we saw her grow older and weaker, I began to think about the kind of impact ex-pat living has has had on me as a daughter.
Although I am fortunate enough to make one to two trips each year back home, I do sometimes wish my parents were simply a car ride away and feel pangs of regret or guilt for not being able to spend more time with them.
And as part of me slowly starts to entertain the idea of settling down and starting a family (jumping the gun clearly, as ideally I would like to have some kind of stable relationship and established career before introducing kids to this brave new world…), I feel the impact of distance more and more.
Not only do I wish that I myself was able to spend more time with my family, I also wonder how it will be to start my own family so far away from my own. Weekends with the grandparents isn’t really an option when there is a 6 hour time difference and 9+ hour flight separating me from my parents.
Two weekends ago on Mother’s Day, my brother and his girlfriend went to brunch with my mom and dad to celebrate. And although I got to facetime with my mom that day and wish her a happy Mother’s Day, it just wasn’t the same. I sometimes feel as if there is a whole second life ticking on by that I’m missing while I’m living on the other side of the planet.
Don’t get my wrong, I know that it is my decision to live on another continent and I love Berlin – it’s a place that really feels like home to me. But as any ex-pat knows, you sacrifice the proximity of family and the comfort of familiarity by choosing to throw yourself into a new country with an entirely different culture to that which you grew up with.
Since teleportation is disappointingly still not a thing yet, it looks like I will have to get by with the help of Facetime and phonecalls to keep up with my family and loved ones back home. Still, I’m pretty sure that once I have kids, setting up an ipad with facetime with my kids on one end and my mom on the other will not qualify as babysitting.
I guess this is one part of ex-pat living that I’ve never really thought too much about until now. After all, everything has been kind of a fly by the seat of my pants kind of thing – as someone living life focused on just trying to adult correctly for more than just 14 consecutive days in a row (my personal best so far), I hadn’t really given too much concrete thought into what being a parent in a foreign country would be like. But it is clearly something I have finally started to think about and will eventually be dealing with in the future, should I choose to stay abroad.
To be honest, I a not sure how I will manage it all, but I am sure that just like everything else in life, I’ll find a system that works for me. And you can bet that I will be blogging about all the ups and downs here in Love from Berlin. But don’t worry, I’m still just a 20-something-year-old hot mess trying to figure out what life is all about who still gets freaked out if the hall light is not on and seems to think that a can of Pringles and Ginger Ale is a viable option for dinner – bringing little ones into the world is still a long time coming.