Small Victories can Change Your World

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.

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9 thoughts on “Small Victories can Change Your World

  1. Gee Emily this brought back alot of memories as when l moved from Canada to southern calif. With 2 small children ( your dad being 5 months ) and Julie hanging onto my skirt , one huge advantage for me was everyone spoke English … Love your adventurous stories ..

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  2. Your positive attitude and humour is inspirational πŸ™‚ You’re doing so well considering you are adapting to not only a new country but also life as a mum (or mom!). My experience has shown that sometimes all you need is to go for a walk to remind yourself how beautiful the place you live in is – something that will be much easier to do when summer finally arrives!

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    1. Thank you! I try to get out at least once every day, even if it’s just to go to the grocery store and take a walk. If nothing else, Little Man usually naps in the stroller and I can relax for a bit.
      Speaking of summer, it’s snowed here the past two days. Somehow it’s still sunny, but it’s unacceptable May weather.
      I look forward to hearing what else you’re doing in preparation of your move!

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      1. I wonder if it’s true what the Finns say about babies sleeping better in the cold air?

        It’s so hard to believe that there’s still been snow there! It’s so odd for May – but I guess you never really know what to expect from Finnish weather πŸ˜€

        Thanks, it feels like the countdown is going both quickly and slowly at the same time!

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      2. I’ve really loved having the baby sleep on the patio! Of course, it never lasts longer than half an hour, and he has to fall asleep while being pushed in the stroller first, but the fresh air is wonderful!

        I keep hearing how wonderful the summers are here; I hope I actually get to experience one!

        I know what you mean. You have this big build up to a life changing event and when it actually comes time to get on the plane, you can hardly believe it’s really happening.

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  3. Thanks for posting, Emily! I relate to so many things you mentioned. Thanks for the positivity and perspective this morning! πŸ™‚ Also, can we go shopping together again soon, it’s so much more fun with you and Little Man!

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  4. Ok for real I loathe having to think of dinners and make them too! That’s why I splurge and get Blue Apron delivered every other week or so. Just the not having to think of dinners seems like a huge win! I love following your adventures btw 😁

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    1. Thank you!! Blue apron sounds like a dream come true, but I don’t think it’s available here. 😦
      I’m trying to start at the beginning of your blog, it sounds like a fascinating/rewarding experience. I seem to have limited time, so I’ll get there eventually. πŸ™‚

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