Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Dark Side of Being an Expat

I often feel really torn. I know that most of my readers are "Rah! Rah! Russia!" people, back in the USA, or they're people considering moving to Russia—or still getting used to living there.

And I know that my parents and in-laws are reading, just waiting for bait they can use in their on-going campaign to get us to *finally* move back to the USA.

So I inevitably censure myself, trying to focus on the positive.

Then again, I also have readers who are expats well into their time living abroad... And if I limit myself to the upside of living overseas, they may very well sometimes feel that they're the only people having a hard time of it.

They're not.

I cried myself to sleep last night. I feel so utterly alone and tired.

My kids are old enough that they realize that they're getting a Russian childhood INSTEAD of an American one. There have been repeated instances this summer where they have "Ah hah!" moments and then take it out on me.

I actually have black and blue bruises on my right side from when Natalia hit and kicked me this week, completely losing control in her frustration (and sleep depravation).

And I'm alone in it. Because my husband is working, BACK IN RUSSIA. He doesn't have enough vacation time to be with us while we visit all grandparents... While I try to think of everything we'll need for the year—and then purchase and pack it, taking into consideration how the airlines have halved our baggage allowances.

And when we get back to Russia? Well, everyone at work will think, "Wow! You had a vacation all summer long in America! So now you can DIG IN!"

In actuality, I get back to Moscow utterly drained. It's not a vacation staying all summer in other people's houses, invading their space, trying to follow their rules, planning for your year's needs, and tending to your kids. NOT A PICNIC. NOT AT ALL. And I'm trying to actually work during all this, since I need to do ALL planning for the literature and history seminars I'm teaching for our seniors, procuring all necessary materials.

And I'M STILL SICK. STILL HAVE STREP THROAT, SINCE THE BEGINNING OF JUNE. I went to a clinic today, desperate for help. And they didn't know what to do, didn't want to give me antibiotics since I've had three unsuccessful courses in the past six weeks... My lab results come back in two days; we'll figure out what to do then...

I'm SPENT.

In reality, the only break I've had in over three years were the few days we had in Greece in June. That's it.

And last week I learned that we've lost our beloved babysitter/housecleaner in Moscow who makes it possible for me to work full time. Her mother is ill and she had to move home to care for her.

Then when I got to my in-laws' last night, I learned that my sister-in-law's three kids are here for more than half of our time here. And she'll be on an emergency business trip, leaving me and my exhausted and stressed-out in-laws with her children—including a ten-month-old who has never slept in a crib. I can't really fault her; her husband was laid off when she was a month pregnant with the baby and he still hasn't been able to find anything! He's a great guy, and this has been so hard on them all...

I want to leave, though. I can't get more worn down. No one will take care of me, and I have to get my family back to Moscow, and commence another grueling year at work. I wish I could escape to a resort with childcare (not like I've ever really been to one elsewhere, but I know people who have!). But those don't exist in the USA. I can't go visit friends, since I'm contagious. And I'm too tired to fly back to Russia yet, and I haven't finished our necessary packing. And my husband? Considering that I'm staying with my in-laws? His passport and visa were stolen, so he can't come. Maybe he'll get a replacement in time. Maybe not. And why was it stolen? Because he most likely left them in his briefcase in our car, unlocked--an understandable oversight, given that it's around 11o degrees Fahrenheit in our apartment (with no modern windows that open, and no air-conditioning... gotta love Moscow... it's super hot "chez nous" ALL year round... ) and he had driven to the fourth store praying to find an air conditioner or more fans...

So I'm stuck. Five kids means more stress. More mess. More planning at meals, more laundry. More responsibility.

I'm feeling really, really nasty because I'm not joyfully jumping to pitch in and care for my nieces and nephew, and because I'm SICK, and also sick of the whole "expat summer."

I'm Scrooge. Sick Scrooge.

I just feel like crying. In America, but not where I am right now...

p.s. I TRIED and TRIED to figure out day camp options today, but everything my kids would be interested in is filled. It's not fair for me to punish them with "day care" options... THEY never chose to be expat kids with this lifestyle... They can be bitter enough as it is!

We have two girls from church coming to babysit during the day for the next few days--but they can't just stay in the house, since my mother-in-law teaches lessons here. Only three kids can fit in a car, so I can't take them all somewhere; and the sitters don't drive. So some kids will stay here, others can come with me. But that still means I have to be active, not just sleeping on the couch while my kids quietly read/play/ watch TV. My kids would actually do that if it were just them, but not when you add three more kids into the mix...

I can't just leave Colorado since Katya can't see her doctor for the next year's supply of Ritalin for her ADD until *next* Friday (he's on vacation this week). UGH, UGH, UGH!

And this Friday the girls have their dental/ortho intake appointments rescheduled since we missed them on Tuesday—when we missed our original appointments because we missed our connecting flight Monday night (but got to visit my best friend from college for the night while stranded in Atlanta! Yay! There has to be *some* upside to this tale of woe!).

READ THE COMMENTS TO SEE MY RESPONSE TO A COMMENT CRITICIZING ME FOR MY LACK OF PARENTING SKILLS. IN MY RESPONSE, I ADDRESS HOW EXPAT CHILDREN CAN FALL THROUGH THE CRACKS WHEN THEY HAVE MEDICAL/BEHAVIORAL NEEDS, AND HOW I'VE DONE THE BEST I CAN FOR MY GIRLS.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have you not taught your children how to behave? Sounds like a lot of your problems you have nobody but yourself to blame? I knew better than to ever strike my parents and if I ever did, my father would make sure I never did it again, by putting a belt to my behind, its a shame that many parents today think they should let their children do as they please.

MoscowMom said...

WOW. I was about to delete this comment, but I've chosen to leave it in case it could help another expat parent.

When you move overseas, it's easy for children to get overlooked. Your doctor back home no longer feels 100% responsible for your child, since you now also have a primary physician in your new country. In our case, we had no more contact with our pediatrician--we only saw the pediatrician near my mom's house when visiting her.

As a result, Natalia's impaired hearing went undetected for two years. This lead to delays in speech, speech impairment, and Anger Expressive Disorder.

It took another expat mom to figure out what was going on. I simply suffered through it all, believing all our doctors that Natalia's behavior and difficulties were associated with bilingualism, and completely normal. They weren't. Thank goodness that mother, now a dear friend, felt comfortable enough to reach out to me with her observations. Her son was getting professional help for similar problems in Moscow, and we started to work with the same professionals.

For two years, my life was entirely devoted to the schedule of various speech and behavioral therapy appointments... Natalia also got tubes in her ears, which reduced the swelling in her inner ear and restored her hearing to normal. I did everything a mother could do to meet her needs, to help her.

She is now done considered "better," and thrives in school. She's a happy, lovable child.

But stress is still hard for her... And this summer has been difficult. If I go for a noticeable period without blogging, you can assume that something particularly hard or "unbloggable" as been going on... And Natalia snapped. And I got hurt.

She feels horrible about it... She has sobbed with regret...

Added to this, Katya has grown two sizes this year and the dosage of her ADD medication is no longer correct--and she unintentionally provokes her little sister, sometimes making life more difficult for us all... We can't see K's doctor until next Friday, though!

I planned to dole out the punishment once we got to Colorado, and my sister-in-law would have left with her children today—but now they're here until next Wednesday. My in-laws are FRIED from stress and not exactly up to dealing with how my children react to their punishment...

So what do I do? Wait until we're back in Moscow? That's ridiculous! So I have to instead figure out how to dole it out, while not impinging upon my in-laws and my husband's great-grandmother. There are also my nieces and nephew in the picture, and that certainly complicates matters.

My kids ARE being punished for their various transgressions in the past week. I'm doing the best I can.

It's MUCH HARDER, though, since we're not at home...

in my experience, it's very easy to judge other parents... But it's wise to hold your tongue, since you never actually know the whole picture...

garnet said...

First, nice and easy to leave a comment as anonymous, isn't it? To offer only criticism, no support.

Second, you have all my prayers. I can't know all you're going through, but I think I can understand a bit. Someone who hasn't lived this kind of life can't understand what it is like for kids. We were only traveling five weeks that summer, but five weeks is still rough. From one person's house to another. No regular sleeping or eating schedule. People continually showering my kids with presents since this is the one time a year they see them -- and doesn't matter how much you ask them not to do so. It really came home to me this year that my kids have no established routine to their lives for so much of the time because we simply can't. There is a routine, if that's the right word, for the whole year, but not one for day-by-day. And I have one child that really, really, REALLY needs stability and routine. She was horrible much of the time we were in the U.S., largely because of this lack of routine -- and yes -- it is SO hard to discipline kids in someone else's home, especially if you are really going to follow through. I don't have much else to say -- just talking about this brings stress and guilt and so on. Just want you to know I can sympathize and believe that -- despite what some commenters might want to think -- there is no quick, simple solution to these kind of situations. If there were, we're not stupid -- we'd get working on it right away.

Oh, and third -- no way in the world is the yearly U.S. trip a "vacation".

Tami said...

My dear, you are not only doing the best you can, you are doing an EXCELLENT job raising the girls. They are creative, thoughtful, intelligent little girls who, just like any child, has a breaking point. (I'm not saying the health concerns aren't an issue...they most definitely are. ;) Anonymous needs to walk a mile (or ten) in your shoes before passing judgement.
I'm sorry you're still so sick and having to deal with all of this on your own. If we were closer I'd bring the kids down in my HUGE SUV and take all the kids to the park for awhile so you could take that nap on the couch. ((hugs))

Rozmin said...

Oh my. I will never understand why people are comfortable saying things on the internet that they wouldn't say in real life. I agree, it's all too easy when you're anonymous.

I'd like to thank you for posting both the positives and the negatives of expat life.

The negatives make me feel better about the fact that it is very often difficult for me (and I don't even have kids yet). But it is also helpful for me to see the negatives this can have in terms of children, as it's very likely that I will be shuffling back and forth between the US and Switzerland for the next 6 years ... and during that time I plan to have children.

Also because I know my future kids will be living an expat life, I like hearing about the positives. It makes me look forward to the kind of life I can have, the unique opportunities my future kids will have.

I think you have a great blog, and definitely don't need any unsolicited parenting advice. :-)

Please don't get discouraged, and keep doing what you're doing. I genuinely do look forward to reading your blog, I know many others feel the same way.

Rozmin

Tina in CT said...

This is Moscow Mom's mother and this is directed to Anonymous:

Go to Hell! Until you walk in someone's shoes, who are you to judge?

Sara said...

Everyone needs to vent sometimes. Parenting a high needs child isn't easy and you do a good job with it.

I hope you're able to get some rest.

Tina in CT said...

To all the readers: Sorry for my explosion to Anonymous but I am MAD!!!!! Who is she to criticize my daughter????

Anonymous said...

HI
Ohhh I know exactly how you feel - I am an expat in USA(We came from Denmark 12 years ago). I hate going back to sleep, eat, and visit like we are expected to do at every single relative in their homes, NEVER feels like a vacation. Sleeping on matresses on the floor, sleeping in crammed little spaces, expected to sit and eat all day long and do it again the next day while the kids are getting more and more antsy....
And now to the best part..we are moving to China in 2 years, so we will be expat-expats...how to deal with where to visit(still not a vacation)...where is home...is this really a good idea??? Maybe I should start blogging??
Sending you a wave of energy and a speedy fix for the streep:)
Susanne

Annie said...

Tamara - oh, my heavens you need a break! No chance you could just go back to your mom's for the rest of the summer?

However, if I ever got to Russia we'd never have the money to go back and forth. There we'd be and somehow it seems like it would have to be (at least for a while) more interesting than working 24 hours a day here, in Lansing, Michigan - and seeing nothing but the same McDonalds and strip malls, and the inside of my office.

Regarding Natalia - Be grateful she is sorry! (Nastya never is, I don't think.) And, I recently read something which I think is important - "Connection is more important than compliance." She sounds stressed out and may need less to do. Maybe just more "mommy time" - sitting home and being with you would be more beneficial for her than all the camps and so forth. Your girls may feel just like you do. Exhausted and needing a lot less to do.

Samantha said...

To Anonymous -

Did your parents also teach you to kick someone when they are feeling down - both mentaly and phycially? Perhaps this is what you learned by fearing violence from your parents.

Why did you not sign your name? I think any educated adult is open to discussion and can respect different opionions. I have seen people disagree on blogs, but they do it with dignity by offering suggestions and signing their names.

I bet you are the same person who passes judgements about kids misbehaving public places without tyring to understand why a child is acting out. Is the child hungry? Is the child tierd? Is the child hanicapped? Is the child jet-lagged, missing home, drinking different water, eating different types of food, and not feeling like herself because she has been traveling and living with someone else?

Tamera is an great mother and teacher. I have had the privilage of observing Natalia in action at school on multiple occasions. I can tell you she is a well adjusted child and has always behaved beautifully. She is well liked at school by her teachers and peers. In fact, her teachers praise Tamera and Natalia even when neither one of them is around.

Tamera will respond to this situation and take the correct course of action for her duaghter. The last time I checked - hitting a child is illegal. She will teach Natalia how to handle this situation, help her understand why it is happening and not to do it in the future. Imagine doing this as a parent! And let me tell you a secret - it can be done without beating Natalia with a belt.

To Tamera -

Hang in there! Try to get some rest, enjoy the AC, and be positive.

You will be back in Moscow soon and on a normal routine. A big virtual hug to you! I promise..this to shall pass!

Anonymous said...

Sending you a HUGE HUG from California!!!!!!!

~Donna

kristin said...

Thinking of you and wish you could get some much needed rest. Those doctors....lol. I'm always dealing with them too! I have one question...if the husband is out of work, why can't he take care of the kids, while the wife is on a business trip? My husband was out of work for the past year and just found a job in Atlanta. Now we are living separated from him, us in Boston, him in Atlanta until the house sells. I know how hard it can be to be a "single" mom. Just know I'm thinking of you. Take care and go and try to eat at Panera.

Rob said...

To Moscow Mom, kudos for having the restraint and courage to leave Anonymous' nasty comment.

We had an extended stay in Moscow of just a bit over 3 weeks and I got the slightest glimpse of what it must be like for expats. You have my respect!

katbat said...

Yikes! Unfortunately I doubt anonymous is reading the follow up comments - easy to post and then walk away.

Fist things first - you got to get your health in order - hopefully those test will give you some answers. You know the saying - if mama aint happy . . . ?

I know the feeing trying to plan for extended time away from the US - but I mostly try and get clothes for the baby - other than that, we try to do without - maybe think about trying to start traditions using stuff you can get or make in moscow? weave paper baskets and color eggs with onion skins instead of trying to remember to bring easter baskets and plastic eggs (just as an example). My kids started taking about what costume they wanted for halloween and I said - you can be whatever you want as long as I can make the costume from an Ikea bedsheet - ha! :-)

I know I try to keep a lot of traditions and stress about my kids missing out, so I try to make up for it by going over and above in other things, but I do try to simplify. It is hard because everything is so expensive in Moscow. I try and remind myself and my kids that experiences are better than things.

Medical issues are difficult to deal with away from the US. We have driven to seattle and back (3 hrs each way) too many times to count this summer for M to see her team at childrens hospital, and we just found out we may need to come back late september to get M fitted for an appliance. Not in our plans and expensive, but what can you do?

Well, I am thinking about you and praying for your whole family! safe travels back to the US - I sure hope chris can join you- sucks about everything being stolen, what a pain to replace! - So far Leo is coming in a week (unless of course he gets too busy with work - I know you know how that goes!). we are coming back mid august - would be great to get together - p and m are always asking when we can see your girls again.

katbat said...
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katbat said...
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Jennifer said...

Oh Dear!!
First of all, I so understand where you are and what you are going through...it is very hard to try and cram everything into the short summer months, and make sure you see all the relatives, and do everything you think you should to get ready for another year back in Moscow. I'm sorry N was having issues, and it is very hard for you to have to absorb all the stress on your own.
Anonymous, I think, does not have the same kind of plateful, so we'll just try to understand that and not feel that that this is something you need to take on board in addition to everything else.
Aside from sending you good karma and all my empathy, here is one practical piece of unsolicited advice, which I daresay you've already thought of: spend some time organizing 2011: take the girls to see some of the day camps and involve them in the decision making for the next year.
Hang in there...you ARE superwoman, as you know, but every superwoman needs a night off. You take one if you can get it, or just have a large glass of wine and a nice DVD.
Hang in there!

Rachael said...

Oh, Tamara, I wish there was something I could do to lighten your burden right now. Hard to do from miles away, but you know if you ever need an ear just to vent, I'm here for you!!

About your throat: are you sure it's strep? Was it culture confirmed each time? Because it SHOULD have responded to the antibiotics, which is why I'm wondering if it's something else. Mono? Viral? Your immune system is probably run ragged by now. How about I write you a prescription for a spa weekend. Would that help. =) Think your insurance would cover it? =)

You are a great mom, I have witnessed first hand how delightful and bright your daughters are. Those girls are going to do great things with their lives. Stress brings out the beast in all of us...kids too, so don't beat yourself up on top of the other bruises!

Much love, my friend. Hang in there.

Katie (and Tony) said...

Hang in there Momma! I know not helpful, but I think you are doing a great job! My (expat)uncle, aunt and cousin are visiting us. I know how it is on this side of things....

And thank you for being real and honest! I will soon be an expat wife and mommy myself...springtime, but not sure where. Hubby jokes Moscow as a position is available. Me? Let's move on from that shall we? But I would say I have big thoughts and exciting times planned in my head. I know it won't be like this and I need a reality check every now and then. So, I would love for you to let your guard down more and tell us how it really is sometimes!

Hugs to you! Hoping you are feeling better and feeling the love...

Katie
Mommy to Jack:Chely, Russia
and
Grace: Czestahowah, Poland

tlc2000 said...

Hey, this is Laura from Gymnastika! I found your blog! Yippee! Can't wait to meet you guys either at the parade or Monday at 5pm. Bring the whole crowd, it will be great! Valeri works all day on Tuesday so your daughter can have a nice conversation with him then and surprise him with some Russian:-)Great to meet you over the phone and I hope we can break up your day a bit and get some "wiggles" out of the kids!
See you soon!
Laura

Anonymous said...

Yow, wonder if Anonymous has kids to feel so bold to make that comment. Your kids seem like they are just normal and fine. You seem like a great mom, even more so than many moms who don't do close to what you do for your family, plus figure it all out living overseas. Your kids will realize later what an extraordinary adventure they've been living.

2 more things - unfortunately, visiting relatives is not a vacation (sorry to the relatives).
And, have you had your kids checked for strep? A friend of mine kept getting strep despite several rounds of anti-biotics. Turns our her kids both had the virus and kept infecting her. Once they all got on meds, it cleared up.

Cheryl in Idaho :)

The Expatresse said...

Boy, I never even had consistent peds for my kids here in the US because they only lived here for 18 months (the oldest) and never (for the younger one). I have had a devil of a time getting anyone to deal with any of us without having had some sort of relationship. I cite, for example, the time I wanted a second opinion on a mammogram I had done in Slovakia where we lived and no one in Columbus, Ohio would look at the films for me.

Can you say "Stress"?

So I totally relate.

No: the summer in the US is NOT a vacation. No, no, no. It can be a lot of nice things. It has many delightful moments. But it is NOT a vacation. Anyone who thinks otherwise has never done this.

My two cents: look for something, anything you can eliminate from your plate. You bring such high standards to everything you take on. You are so thoughtful and reliable and thorough. But you can't do it all. Your health is suffering. And, as you said, who will take care of you?

Sending you lots of hugs and love and strength. You are my hero, you know.

Amy said...

I feel for you, but I work at a summer program and I don't feel like daycare is punishment!! We work hard to make it really fun for our kids. We have activities or field trips every day. We play in the gym, do crafts, and do tons of other fun things. We have space in Lakewood, Arvada, and Wheatridge... all fairly close to and would love to have your girls. There is also a place they would like that is not daycare, but it's farther away called jungle quest here is a link http://www.junglequest.net/camps-programs.php Shoot me a message if you want space at a great daycare!

Meghan said...

Someone with such cowardice as to not even show their name has no right to criticize someone who has gone through as much as MoscowMom has. I have no kids, but I don't think I could ever go through so many changes and stress without going insane. MoscowMom, keep up the excellent work and don't let the turkeys get you down.

Ian said...

So my general thought on Anonymous is that you can't let people like that bother you. They carry their own punishment around with them.

So I am the parent of 4 children and my wife and I have never lived close to our parents. So we have become creative about finding child care alternatives.

I don't want anyone to think I endanger my child. I do not. However, sometimes it is nice to find a lace they can roam free and you can relax.

1) YMCA is your friend - $81 a month and mine provides free day care as long as you are in the building. They also have child age appropriate areas.

2) Vacation Bible School - I should encourage you to pick a Catholic church but in the end any church will do. $100 bucks or so and they take your kid all day for a week. and it is good for them.

3) Fancy Movie Theaters - 9 dollars a child and they take your kid while you watch the movie. This may not work with older kids sorry.

4)We have these places called Monkey Joes and Jump Zone. Huge indoor bounce houses (Google it and you will see). $9 a child and it is good for 3-4 hours of sitting by the entrance reading a book. Sort of loud though. The one by my house has leather seats and a big screen for the parents.

Children's Museums - Some of them are good for letting kids roam, so not so much. But a good alternative.

Maybe other people can chip in with some ideas!

Anonymous said...

Oh,
I wish I would have a magic word of wisdom for you. Unfortunately, I do not have one.
I am with Annie, as usual, you do need a rest. Have no idea how you can get it, but I think it is very important. Your stress adds to children stress too. They always know and feel it.
I am big on vacation planning, so, how about for next summer I will find you a house rental on the East Coast. You will be in charge of the house, kids will have their own place and anyone who wants to see you will know where you are and can come an visit you.
And you do have to lower your standards, not every embroidery has to be frame worthy. It is a long howl. Give yourself a break.
Love,
Olga

Katya said...

You know you are welcome here any time. :-)

Anonymous said...

Just to add for the thousandth time, as an expat in Bangkok, a trip home, no matter how wonderful, is not a vacation. There are so many moving parts and expectations (from all sides) to manage that you'd have to be superhuman to emerge unscathed, child or adult.

Hang in there, Tamara. We are all rooting for you.

Love,

Anasuya

Chris said...

Oh my, I'm exhausted just reading your post and everything you have to cram into your "summer vacation" in the states! I bet it feels better to just get it all off your chest. It has to be just as stressful for your kids having to live out of a suitcase and always be "on" for the relatives. I hope you'll be able to get some rest this weekend and get on the mend. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts.
Chris

The Expatresse said...

The more I think about this, the more I think about how many American traditions I have just let drop by the wayside. We don't do Halloween (well, we finally will this year because the Women's Club in Lux handles that). I barely do Easter. (It was easier in Russia because of all those lovely egg wrappers.) Birthdays are a combination of what we can get locally and what Dad gets on a business trip.

The problem for you is that you have a precedent of exemplary standards. It's tough to ratchet back.

Liz said...

There are resorts in the US that offer a daycamp atmosphere for kids and allow the parents to relax. This one in Vermont has a great reputation, if it's a possibility for next year. http://www.tylerplace.com/
Sometimes having the tonsils removed can reduce the instances of strep. Has a doctor ever recommended this?
You're doing the best with what you have, what more can you ask of yourself? I hope you feel better and get a chance to relax at some point! Many virtual hugs to you!
Liz

Jojo, Julz, Julianne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jojo, Julz, Julianne said...

How can we/I help you? I have tons of scholastic points and can easily shop for the books on subjects you need...And Go Get Em tina!! A love a grandma's rage!!

Take one thing off your plate T, and hopefully you will feel better soon. It's hard to get anything done when you are sick..

You really make me think about me moving my family over...BUT what I see here is I have MUCH LOWER standards on dealing with things!! hee hee!
Bless your heart, I am thinking of you and will honestly help if you need it!

(MY DOor is open if you want to send your girlz to NAples!!) MY girlz would love some company! Honestly, the condo is pretty big, and we are all have our CPR training!!

Diana said...

Um has anonymous ever been a parent? Had they been...I think not. Sounds a lot like the person that wrote this article to The Washington Post.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/22/AR2007052201554.html

I find it perfectly normal for every Mom to have a "freak out" moment. We aren't perfect, especially with the extra strain of dealing with traveling, kids, a mile long list and being sick on top of everything. I don't believe Moms that pretend they can do it all. We can't. We know they are lying and smile under gritted teeth back at them. Even under the best circumstances most of us only finish 50-75% of what we want to accomplish during the day and for me that a huge feat.

That all being said, you need a break. You need a "me time" so you can relax and unwind. You need to ask your in laws to watch the kids after a dinner time or for dinner even and go do something just for you. No errands, no making list, no nothing. Watch a movie, drink a nice cup of Starbucks while reading a trash magazine. Something. You'll come back a better person. All Moms need this and it sounds like you are past due for it.

Hope tomorrow is a better day for you.

Anonymous said...

i agree with ian, annie & olga - find a monkey joe's, pick 1 vacation spot and ask people come to you, and scale back a bit. also, don't beat yourself up so much that "the kids never asked for this life". no kid gets a choice - i never asked to grow where i did, nor did my girls ask to grow up where we are now. have to make the best of where you are - do not feel guilty!
miss you! jeannie

Elle J said...

I can honestly say I have always seen the love and affection you have for your entire family, and being torn is normal when you love and care so deeply. Not only that, you are Superwoman when it comes to all the juggling you do in your life with family, work, friends because you just don't do something, you give it 110% of what is expected. Wishing you health ~ I am sure that is the main point of your stress. How could it not be? When you don't feel right, things in life just don't seem right. Hugs to you and to your mom too (I miss her blog writings). Keep strong. This too shall pass....

Banker Chick said...

I am so sorry that you are so down. It is hard enough to make a trip like this when you are feeling well, that strep has been going on for a while hopefully the tests will show something and a great perscription to get it cured. Bless you and your sweet girls.

Leigh said...

I'm scared too! We are moving to Moscow in 12 days - living in Houston, TX USA right now - I'm not so sure what's in store for me! :)

Henry said...

Hey Tamara, you're former French student from Cranbrook. I'd suggest you go "up North" for a vacation with the girls. Perhaps you know of some people with a cottage? I understand your stress and hope that you can relax a bit. Go and just sit on the lake and enjoy the cherries. Sometimes being away from it all helps you appreciate all the parts that you actually miss from the US.

Otherwise I think that with this continued stress that you're having, you won't be able to recover. You really need to just take it easy. If you're in Colorado. Go for a couple days to Aspen and bask in the beauty of the landscape. I hear they have a great classical summer camp with concerts in the summer, and the deals are great as well as the restaurants. Sometimes it just takes two or three days of peace.

Lastly, I've learned this through my own experiences living abroad, sometimes it's worth the money to make your life easier. In the case of the baggage, just spend the money to get your things home. You'll be glad you did, because you realize that you just made your life easier. Spending wisely is important, but also making life easier and less stressful have a value to it as well.

Tracy said...

I'm just an occasional lurker with no good advice other than to say Good Lord that sounds like a lot to deal with!! You definitely need a vacation from your vacation, on top of a vacation from your expat life. Hugs to you and your girls!!

~Karen~ said...

We are also expats spending the summer and some of the fall in the US. It definitely is not easy!

Our kids are older than yours, but we still have to think of things to take with us that we can't get there. Things like school curriculum (we home school), school supplies, books to read for enjoyment, office supplies, and baking supplies that we cannot get. We also try to get clothes here - everything except winter outerwear and boots! Kind of hard to buy stuff for a growing teenager, however!

Hope that you can get all the medical issues taken care of! By the way, is there someone who can travel with you? Maybe a friend or relative who always wanted to visit Moscow? Besides having someone to help you on the trip, they also have baggage allowance you can use. :-)