The emotions that come with being an expat are difficult to explain to those who haven’t experienced them. But I’ll try. There is excitement at new opportunities. Hope that you’ll learn many new and fun things. Loneliness from being so incredibly far away from friends and family. Confusion and frustration at trying to understand something that should be second nature, but because you didn’t grow up learning it, seems downright weird and difficult to grasp. Exasperation with the constant language barrier. (Even if “everyone speaks English”, it gets old asking people to repeat what they just said so you can understand them.) Elation when you finally, FINALLY get it. “It” being anything from how to weigh produce in the grocery store to figuring out how to get a stroller on a tram with stairs. (Pro tip: it takes two people.)
There are days when absolutely everything goes wrong. Days when you’re reduced to tears because you couldn’t find the music class you signed you and the baby up for, even though you KNOW you’re in the right building. (Would a sign really be so difficult?!) You’re running on too little sleep, there’s no coffee creamer, it’s snowing (in May!), the dishwasher is mysteriously clogged, and Husband gets stuck working the longest days since relocating. Oh, and the baby is super fussy for seemingly no reason. Days when finding the energy to leave the house feels like a monumental task.
Days when all you need is a win. Just one. Even a little one. I’m talking a miniscule, hardly seems important to anyone else, but might just give you your sanity back, win.
Maybe I had a change in attitude after an amazingly sunny weekend. (Vitamin D works wonders!) Maybe I was simply determined to get out of this funk I felt myself slipping into. Maybe I had a mission. I needed to exchange the cartridge for our soda stream, which gave me a great excuse to go to the mall. Little Man was also in need of some more pants (kids really do grow like weeds), and I was searching for a pair of jeans that fit my post baby body.
With lunch time coinciding with the best time to leave the house, I decided to stop at Pasta Box upon arrival at the mall. Little Man and I were able to share a nice lunch in a surprisingly non-crowded restaurant. Win! Then it was on to Kahp Ahl, a store I haven’t previously been to, to search for jeans. I don’t like venturing out of my comfort zone, says the girl who moved across the world. No, really. Once I find a groove, I stick to it, unless I have a partner in crime. Somehow, doing things with another person makes me braver. So I decided to let Little Man be that other person and get on with my mission: find pants.
With the sheer selection Kahp Ahl offers, I’d be surprised if I DIDN’T find jeans. They’re pretty much a European Old Navy when it comes to pants. For those of you who don’t know, European sizing is greatly different from US sizing. A few of the stores I’ve been to don’t even carry pants that fit me. Talk about disheartening! I used to be a solid, dependable size 12. The average American is now a size 14. I lost the baby weight a few months ago, but things have shifted, as they will, and wearing anything without an elastic waistband can still be incredibly uncomfortable at times.
And yet, I persevered. I found jeans! They’re comfy, and super cute. I even managed this as Little Man began to spiral into his tired/fussy stage and I had to entertain him while doing the pants dance in the fitting room. Win! A relatively quick stop at H&M for baby clothes, and I decided to call it a day. There’s only so much I’m willing to put the baby through before giving in and letting him sleep. (Something he finds very difficult to do in busy places.) I still needed to stop at the grocery store on the way home. Amazingly, Little Man stayed awake for that venture, and for the walk home. He’s notorious for falling asleep in the final stretch.
As I’d hoped, but was too realistic to think possible, Little Man took a nap after we arrived home, leaving me free to prepare dinner. I hate dinner. I hate having to make it, I hate having to think about what to make every day, and I hate having to shop for ingredients. Dinner is the bane of my existence. So the fact that I not only figured out a meal, but had it prepared at a normal dinner time, was a definite Win! Oh, what a glorious day!
When you suffer a week of lows, these seemingly inconsequential victories can change your entire outlook. It’s amazing. Of course, this happened to be Husband’s longest day of work, so that dinner turned into leftovers for breakfast, but he still got a meal out of it. #silverlining I’ve definitely learned that you can’t win them all, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying. Which is good because I never did exchange that soda stream cartridge.