Friday, January 13, 2012

Expats, Goodbyes, and Where Are the Grandbabies?!


Saying goodbye to my parents is a difficult thing. The fact that after 3 weeks in my small apartment neither is going home in a body bag is a testament to how much I actually do enjoy their company.

The thing is that when you are married to a foreigner you only see their family for blocks of time. Take Mr. Rant for example. He spends about 3 weeks a year straight with my family, if we are lucky. The only reason it is that much is because my parents are awesome enough to travel to Rio de Janeiro over and over again. They could be normal and say that this year they are going to Italy but no, my Mom won't have it. There are no grandbabies in Italy.

And Grandbabies really do mess up the expat system. There is no "it's only been a year" when kids are involved. In a year a kid has passed through 37 personalities, 2 difficult phases, a million photos, and about 3 honestly cute moments. That is a lot for an expat's family to miss. Let's not even get into close friends.

My saving grace is my life here. I have a life in Rio de Janeiro. I have my Mommy friends, my Brazilian friends, my Brazilian Mommy friends, and my fellow expat friends. I am doubly lucky because I have Mr. Rant's large extended family to top it all off. I'm talking a mega social 3000 calorie banana slip with around 3 cherries on top.

None-the-less, they aren't my history. Growing up you imagine raising your kids with their cousins, their aunts and uncles coming over for birthdays. Your best friends are supposed to be there to see you get fat... I mean really pregnant. You miss the people who, when your 3 year old storms off and slams his bedroom door (only to open it again for a second dramatic slam), laugh at you because he is just like you. The feeling is somewhat lost when your husband's family would give you that curious look like who did that come from. Thank you very much but we all know it came from me. At the very least you could mock me about it like my kin do. ;)

It is a fact of life when you marry someone from a different country. Someone is always far from home. Home also has a special definition as the expat just may have more than one. I, for example, call Rio de Janeiro my home. It is so my home now. I am only getting in deeper people.

In the end you resign yourself to the facts. You even come up with coping methods. Of course people will visit. You will also go back. Your children will be multicultural, how great is that. Skype rocks even with a slow connections. And lastly, who needs personal contact when Grandma is an awesome box sender.

Truth be told, I doubt I would ever have appreciated my family like I do now if I didn't move to Rio. It isn't just the distance but what the country has taught me about life. As hard as goodbyes are, I'm a better person than I was. I suppose that is what life is all about, right? Bettering yourself, learning, and living.

Whatever life is about, I miss my family. I love seeing my parents. I miss my brothers desperately. It breaks my heart daily that they aren't my boys' best friends. At least I have perspective, damn perspective, to remind me that I have a damn good life. Missing people means that I have a lot of people who I love and love me in return. I suppose there is something to say about that. 

21 comments:

  1. I agree with a lot of what you're saying about the benefits of a move far, far away from home. I feel that there are opportunities for travel, sightseeing, and cultural education I'd never have had if we hadn't moved to New Zealand. The flip side is that for us, people are most definitely NOT going to visit. From Scotland it's a 30+ hour trip, charged at around $2500 per person (and that's economy). Given that most of our friends now have 2 children under 4, there's just no way it's going to happen. We are having a very, VERY hard time with that. So much is happening that we are just not part of anymore, and to be honest NZ is really not the easiest country to start from scratch in socially. In actual fact, this last 18 months has been one in which I've barely socialised with another soul other than my wife. My parents are coming for their first (and quite possibly only) trip next week; I can't wait to let them see this stunning country but I am also really curious to see if they "get" why we'll almost certainly be moving back to the UK. I'm glad your folks are getting down there as often as they can.

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    1. The problem with friends with kids is that we have to weigh out the adventure part against the pain in the ass part. 30+ hours of travel is high on the pain in the ass part!

      I'm sure they'll get it

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  2. Huge lump in throat... = ( I'm so glad you all got to spend 3 wonderful weeks together. May the next year pass quickly and find everyone in good health.

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  3. "Oh how I wish I were a trinity, so if I lost a part of me
    I'd still have two of the same to live
    But nobody gets a lifetime rehearsal, as specks of dust we're universal
    To let this love survive would be the greatest gift we could give
    Tell all the friends who think they're so together
    That these are ghosts and mirages, these thoughts of fairer weather
    Though it's storming out I feel safe within the arms of love's discovery"

    Indigo Girls - Love's Recovery
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjeRaOgDFnk&feature=related

    Hang in there kiddo.
    It gets better. Doesn't it always?

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  4. My mother doesn't even send a Christmas card (or email)... My brother and sister - who are they?

    Lucky you... bjs

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  5. my parents went back at midnight on christmas eve. it was the first time they came to visit and i was a wreck afterward. i just kept telling them to take me to seattle with them. a rainy soggy Guarulhos didnt help the matter, nor did the beer-soaked frat house party my inlaws call their christmas eve party. youve been here longer so i can tell it gets better, but for me after only two years, i felt such a hatred for having to live here with people who call themselves my family but who i know are not. ive gotten over that since but the initial feelings at the moment of being left behind are so rotten. im relieved to know that it gets better the second, third, fourth time. my husband and i are thinking about spending two years working in a third party country (neither US nor brazil)just as an experiment to see how we are with both of us being the odd man out. anyway, your post made me cry, must be hard for your kiddies. enjoy your sunny day! we're in for some rain. coffee day ;)

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    1. just reread my comment--i sound mean to my inlaws, but what i meant to say is that in the moment of leaving my parents at the airport, thats how it felt. maybe its shameful, i mean i love my inlaws, but when youre in the moment it just seems "not fair" you know what i mean? haha, i dont even know what i mean :P

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    2. I knew what you meant. Yesterday I was irrationally annoyed with my in-laws... actually it's more like bitter. They get to be here whenever they want, and they really go on the whenever THEY want. Not to mention the fact that my MIL likes to take little pokes at me. I can normally ignore it but yesterday... it was tough

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    3. And they left on Christmas eve?! OUCH!

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  6. It's really hard. My daughter talks about my mother all the time and I wish she could play with her cousins in Chicago. My my daughter also loves her "Opa" (German for grandfather) here in Brazil and has plenty of cousins to play with in this country too. So we are lucky - but I still dream of going back "home."

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    1. I know exactly what you mean. My boys have their little cousins (actually second cousins), friends, and "uncles" here. I still wish they new my side.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this. I am not in the same boat as you, but my husband is. He never complains, never says, "I miss my family", but I see it. I think it is harder for his parents than it is for him, however, because he is living a much more stable life here in America than his parents are living in Brazil (due to major illnesses and therefore major lack of income, etc), and he (like you) considers his new country his home now. We don't have kids yet, but I believe he and his family will feel the distance much more at that time. We do what we can -- go back every year, pay for one of them to visit us every year, make skype calls often -- but distance is a tricky thing to "fix". I don't know if it can ever fully be done.

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    1. *QUICK FIX -- I meant "He never complains, OR EVEN SAYS, "I miss my family". Not trying to imply that expressing feelings is complaining!!! :)

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    2. It is tricky but thank goodness we have these "fixes" right!

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  8. ...hugs from afar. It's always tough saying goodbye to the folks.

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  9. Love your posts! What makes you special is the positive spin you put into things. Great perspective!

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  10. Rachel, querida!
    I do not know how I ever got through this first year alone in Rio...Jan 9th to be exact! But I do know your blog has given me strength and LAFFS when needed. I sat on the beach Saturday (in a tsunga!) for the first time...and wailed to Michael Buble's "Home"...and finally felt that I was home...thanks for this lovely post and reminder of what we left behind...Kevin

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