Karolien – There's Life After Kids

#Mauritius - Doing The Expat Thing
A peak into me – Introduction time

A peak into me – Introduction time

It’s been a while since I’ve done a proper introduction of who I am and where my blog started so here goes for those who’ve been following my journey these past 4 years.

I am a born and bred Capetonian but have since lived all over the show. Some 3 years in Namibia, 5 in KZN, 1 year in St Francis Bay, most of my life in the Western Cape all the way from Cape Town up to Velddrif, Langebaan, and St Helena Bay and for the past 2 and a half years in Mauritius, As you can imagine it’s been quite the journey and my friends and family think I am completely batty from all the moving, They might be right at that. I recently learned that there is a term for someone like me; I qualify as a ‘trailing spouse‘ as I am always packing up and traipsing after hubby, kids, animals, and furniture in tow, I think the title is quite befitting.

J and I’ve been together for going on 26 years this coming December but what most people don’t know and something that I’ve NEVER shared on any social media site is that we’ve been divorced since 2014 due to a slight hiccup in communications and relations ….. a long story needing a vat of wine and lots of time. We obviously traumatized the kids, the close family, and ourselves during these trying times but it only took us a week to reconcile admitting that we are soulmates for life, (something we knew before the shit hit the proverbial fan but you know, life happens), to the chagrin of all around us. This is the first time ever I am sharing this publicly, I am sure there are even still some friends and family who never knew this about us. Sorry if you have to read it in print…It is a blessing that we can look back on such a traumatizing and potentially horrible experience and laugh about it. It makes for interesting conversation at parties though…

You are probably wondering why I am choosing to share it now after all these years? Well, on this journey of mine these past years I’ve come across a lot of people hiding a lot of hurt and issues thinking that somehow it disqualifies them on many levels to be happy or to be valued. I also think that after almost 7 years I’ve finally managed to process and deal with it on a different level. We often embrace our mistakes as if it is the only things we’ve ever accomplished in life and that is so not true. If by sharing my story I can make only one person feel less of a failure because of past mistakes then I will be happy. Mistakes shouldn’t define us. We should learn from them, be grateful for what we’ve learned because I find they often open up doors to other perceptions or opportunities once we can move along from the hurt and disappointment it may have caused.

We are the proud parents of M and X who you’ve gotten to know as the girl-child and the X-man for the sake of their privacy. I mean, they didn’t really sign up for this public life so not fair to pull them all the way in but I enjoy posting a bit of them as they are my pride and joy. I see including them in my blog at times as my just dues after raising them as a solo parent, tough times.

Solo parenting vs Single parenting; As a solo parent you have a partner but said partner is often absent due to work/long-distance employment etc, single parenting is just that. NO partner. I was blessed to have hubby all these years albeit from a distance I’ve always had his support, emotional and financial if not always physical. It was hard going at times but we made it through to the other side in more or less one piece, which to me is a reward in itself.

I’ve had my children fairly early in life, I was 24 when M was born, a Millenium baby in December 1999, and immediately following a miscarriage I fell pregnant again and had X in February of 2002. So he’s my rainbow baby. M has turned 21 in December of 2020 and the X-man is already 19! I honestly don’t know where the time has gone. It feels like just the other day they were still in nappies and then toddlers and all the phases in-between which I can recall so clearly. Currently, the girl-child is in her second year of studies for her Bachelor in Social Science and the X-man has some plans in place for his imminent arrival back in SA which will hopefully be soon. The past 2 and a half years spent on the island have been hard on them. No friends, no jobs due to not being able to work as dependents, it surely took its toll on them in some ways. having said that, we are happy that we had this time with them before they embark on their own life journeys in the months that come.

Hubby, well, he’s been in the fishing industry for the past 30 years. He’s been most recently been working in Mauritius as a captain on a fishing boat which means he does literally everything to do with the boat. He manages the boat, the crew, the paperwork, the fishing, the discharge of the fish once the trip is done as well as the repairs. This is in no way an easy or remotely romantic way of life. What it was was many weeks and even months on my own with the kids, bad comms on the boat so often no way of speaking or emailing for days and weeks at a time leaving me to make ALL the decisions re; the house, the kids, the cars, etc, to say that we have a bit of an unconventional life might be an understatement at times. Fishing can be lucrative but it can also be detrimental to the finances so it is often a bit of a roller-coaster ride, never knowing what is waiting around the next corner. It wasn’t always easy and looking back with hindsight there are probably many things I would have done differently had I been able to go back and change things. I was a young wife and I young mom, pre-Google and support groups, moving cross-country with 2 kids and I did my best at the time with whatever knowledge and resources I had at the time. I will say one thing, life has been many things but for certain, never boring!

I started this blog in 2018 as the empty nest was looming, not even knowing at that point that we would be moving to Mauritius in less than 6 months of starting this journey. When it came down to it it was decided that the whole family would partake in this adventure so ‘there’s life after kids’ sort of became life with young adults in the past years. Often people would question the name and say but it can’t be ‘life after kids’ if they are technically still living with us. My argument was always that it is immaterial. They weren’t small kids anymore, they are young adults and as such we live together yes, but my life has definitely undergone a huge change since they’ve ‘grown up because as young adults I’m definitely less responsible for their well-being, I am not needed half as much except for stocking the fridge and buying clothes and stuff….whenever we do spend time together it is almost as friend vs mom and dad and the kids. We all now have a choice whether we want to be doing stuff together or not which is as it should be at this time in their lives and ours. I can still see and feel the empty nest bearing down hard and fast but although I am nervous I am not scared. This is a part of my life that I can either choose to embrace or I can choose to let the fear of letting my children go control my every fiber and just whither away. I choose to embrace!

The how and what of finding my purpose in life is still a bit unclear to me. I lie, not a bit unclear, it is completely unclear and a total brain fog in that area. For the past 2 years, I’ve been beating my chest about who I am and what my purpose in life is, and to tell the truth, I have yet to have a revelation. Truth is, I know I am not alone in that. I clearly know what I like and don’t like to do but ask me what I want to do for the rest of my life and I go blank. Is the question too heavy, the canvas too big, and too empty? I have no idea. I’ve worked as a teacher for almost 10 years but as life got underway, years of solo-parenting and working as a teacher simultaneously got harder I never finished my degree. Not sure I want to return to that right now, the teaching or finishing the teaching degree. I am sort of a jill of all trades but the mistress of none. I’m making my peace with it that somewhere in this something is waiting for me. Something that will just be the right fit for who and what I am.

If you follow my blog you know I love love love people, I love to share, write, take photos, be creative, learn and even teach. Now all I need to do is to channel all that into something productive and income-worthy. Easier said than done. I tend to always try and bloom where I am.

During our stay in Mauritius, hubby and I’ve since realized that we are ‘ex-pats in limbo/transit’ as we are already looking for the next away adventure. We are pursuing some other overseas options but we are also satisfied with staying in Cape Town for the foreseeable future until the ‘next thing’ takes us off in a new direction! Cape Town is my happy place so journey with me as we rediscover some of my old favorites and perhaps some new ones too.

For the time being though I’ll embrace the pleasures, luxury of time, and new experiences that ‘life after kids’ brings. I’ll embrace whatever the next few months bring and keep sharing my journey with those who are interested in following. There is truly life after kids. However much I love my children and have enjoyed my time with them and still enjoy them, there is a new life waiting for me to step into it and bloom brighter than ever. Expect many posts on exploring a variety of things like always, occasional day-drinking, and definitely some oversharing of my life and goings-on.

On that final note;

Thank you for following this journey and for all the love and support I can always expect from all of you. You guys have no idea how far that support carries me daily!

4 comments found

  1. This was a very touching read. I admit I am in tears. I can feel every word you say. As a grown up woman with healthy and happy family I think a lot of WHO AM I and WHY and WHAT NEXT . I followed your story before you left SA and all the excitement of moving I can relate to. Thank you for sharing your story. I don’t feel lonely anymore.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting!! I’m so touched that you found value in what I’ve shared. I appreciate your support, every like and comment is invaluable support for me. Thank you ❤️

  2. Hi
    Just read the blog and it’s really nice to know through it who you are. I wish you lots of success in life.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.