Karolien – There's Life After Kids

#Mauritius - Doing The Expat Thing
‘Moving houses, Moving lives’…by Karolien

‘Moving houses, Moving lives’…by Karolien

18 houses in 12 years…..did you clock that or did you just skim over it and then do a double take? 18 houses in 12 years, yes that’s what I said.  Pretty much the story of my life…pack up, move, get comfortable, make friends, get a life………….pack up, move, get comfortable, make friends, get a life…..repeat, repeat, repeat! Nevermind the fact that you are not only moving your family of four and all your belongings but also the three dogs, two cats, the budgies and the hamsters.

Never did I think I would be one for crisscrossing the country moving after a man but crisscrossing I did…well the coast in any case if not the inland parts. I have officially lived all along the coast from Namibia to Natal which incidentally on the map are opposites and along the way we have gotten to know St Francis Bay, Langebaan, St Helena Bay as well as Mtunzini and Richardsbay very intimately. To such an extent that we have left wonderful friends behind whenever we’ve had to pack up and move.

I have, albeit reluctantly at times learned to make do with whatever is around in the way of homes, shops, schools, etc as not every town we have lived in was adequately stocked for raising two littlies…I have gotten to know the cities of PE, Durban, Windhoek, Cape Town and many more very well as often times we would frequent them for a getaway from the beautiful smaller villages we normally chose to live in.

During those 12 years, I discovered that I am actually reptile related as I became a wonderfully adaptive chameleon….now I can see you frowning! Have you ever moved so much that changing towns and making new friends make your head spin? Let me tell you…each of us have that chameleon quality hidden deep within….that helps us to adapt to the new town and the new way of doing things, and the new circle of friends whom at that point normally consists of the fellow moms at school, sometimes friends you immediately click with and some you grin and bear because you so desperately need the grownup conversation after weeks alone with the kids and hubby working offshore……

Well being a chameleon helped me survive the new towns, the new friends, the bitchiness that shone through from time to time but it caused me to lose me…the real me…In-between raising the kids alone and trying to fit in…I disappeared…it was much easier to just fit into every new mold and to pretend to adapt, that after a while I didn’t know the real me anymore.. Anyone here that can relate?

According to psychiatrists moving house never mind moving provinces or across borders are some of the more traumatic things that can happen to a human being. Do I agree? Partly yes and partly no….do I regret it? Same answer….yes and no. Did it stuff up my life? Yes and no.

My apologies if I seem stuck on the yes and no thing…..  From my children’s perspective, I regret it because of the fact that they frequently changed schools and never stayed long enough to have lifelong friends…their opinion…they have lived in more towns than some people have managed to visit in their lifetime. According to the brats….they have gotten to know more people and lived through more experiences than the average teenager their age. Clever brats that I have, to reason that way! My influence or their worldly experiences? I wonder sometimes.

Nevertheless…I do agree. Moving is horribly traumatic. reliving every box I have ever packed and unpacked, every house I have turned into a home for our family that I have had to leave behind….  every removal truck that I have had to arrange, every school my kids had to leave behind, every newly made  friend that we had to desert….it’s traumatic, it’s sad, it breaks your heart. Month after month and year after year that you are away from your own family, in strange new towns with strange new people move after move. You leave a piece of your chameleon self behind in every place you leave. Until you are stripped bare and the true you, sometimes not so confident and not so sure of yourself shines through again. But maybe next time more about that…

On the topic of moving, I would just like to say…my most recent move was to Cape Town. Last move? Probably not but not thinking about that now…was sure to sign another two year lease on top of the one year we’ve already spent at the current address….given time it might just beat the 5 years we have spent in Natal, longest period of time spent in one province if not in one town.

Being a born and bred Capetonian I think I can say with safety that I have come home, seeing Table Mountain on a daily basis makes me happier than lots of other things…no more moves. I am now in my happy place, the reptile skin of the chameleon shed and long time lost somewhere during all the moving…

Much love


ps; I have recently moved again…this time to an island. A rock in the ocean. Mauritius.

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