Almost a month to the day my baby, my dog and I squeezed into the car with my parents and left Amsterdam for English shores. After five years of expat life, we were returning ‘home.’
Image: Unsplash / Buzac Marius
I should hastily add, my husband has moved back too – he was just staying behind to sort out logistics. Moving is one long admin and logistics-fest from start to finish. Life temporarily ruled by spreadsheets and checklists and boxes and packing and cancelling and signing and changing address and opening and registering and complaining and unpacking and realising-old-furniture-doesnt-fit-new-house-so-you-shove-it-in-the-garage-never-to-be-thought-of-again.
We’re no virgins when it comes to moving country. Our Dutch adventure, started five years previous, should have been the trickier move. We had no friends. We didn’t speak the language. Comparatively, returning back to England should be as simple as falling out the proverbial tall, woody plant. Right?
Not so much. I, at least, have found the move home is following exactly the same emotional bell-curve as the move out. It starts with a honeymoon-like excitement. Everything is new. There’s a small row of shops just two minutes walk away! People are so polite! Working from home is THE BEST! Look at all the great cafes, restaurants and pubs in town! Isn’t it nice to own a car again!
Then, after a few weeks, the reality of some of these sinks in, and I go all Eeyore on the whole thing. The little row of shops are absolute sh*te. The Post Office looks like a worn, threadbare teddy inside and doesn’t even sell milk. Yes people are polite but where’s the diversity? Am I going to have to re-stock my entire wardrobe with Cath Kidston just to fit in? Working from home is THE WORST. I hate my own company. Obviously. Because I’m a gloomy 100-Acre Woods donkey. And who cares about all these great places because WE’RE NEVER GOING TO GO TO ANY OF THEM AS WE HAVE A BABY. Oh. And I’ve hated the car bit all along. Give me a bicycle every day of the week.
One thing – or I should say, two things – that are completely different about our return move are our volume of hanger-oners. Out: just me and the boyfriend. Back: me, husband, three-year-old dog and one-year-old baby. Yep, we got pretty busy with the family expansion overseas.
I have some positive words to end with for anyone facing a similar repat situation and – now, thanks to me – thinking it’s going to be awful: babies don’t care. I’m grumpy. My husband’s grumpy. The dog’s a lunatic. But the baby is totally, blissfully happy. More or less unaware that her birth and first year were in a totally different country.
So. Screw O2 and their ‘Be More Dog’ campaign. In my house, we’re all going to Be More Baby. That’s the key to repat happiness.