In January 2011 we moved to South Africa, leaving 3 adult children in the UK and taking 2 with us.
I've moved a lot as a child and as an adult pre kids, and 8 years prior to our move abroad we'd moved to a new area with all the children, all still in school.
It's hard moving, not just the physical side but integrating often into a new school, neighbourhood, work place and knowing how things work and where things are. Sorting out new football clubs for the kids to join, finding out about swimming lessons and arranging play dates to help the move go smoothly are all time consuming and can be frustrating.
Moving abroad is a whole different issue.
There were so many things I found out on arrival in South Africa, no amount of research or even a visit can prepare you for the reality of actually living in another country. Forget everything you know about how to do things and learn from scratch, financially, physically and mentally.
I went from Mother to 5, with a career and an OU course on the go, to a mother of 2, unable to study and prevented from working. It wasn't helped by lack of promised support from the company, the cultural differences, the safety aspect and my inability to work. Also the internet was slow, limited and endless power cuts.
It took 9 months to settle in fully, then the following year the youngest child left home to continue their education in the UK, the following year, the last child left home and then suddenly with only 3 months notice we were unable to renew our visas, so we moved to Dubai.
On arrival in Dubai we had to relearn how to do everything, I didn't have time to deal with empty nest syndrome, I got a job at last, then left as my father died, I didn't have time to grieve, was too occupied with helping my mum move and dealing with a move of our own.
I never settled into Dubai, it had taken so long to achieve in South Africa then it abruptly ended, I never thought it would be almost 7 years in Dubai, I made little effort settling as I thought it would end much sooner. Then the authorities blocked all voice over internet and I became cut off completely.
Then in 2021 we moved back to the UK full time, Peter retired. We were supposed to have another 18 months, but covid isolated us in different countries, so we moved our plans forward.
We're back in our old home, but it's not familiar, no longer filled with 5 children, we're not using the community in the same way. Everything we knew is now different. Everything is done differently in the UK, not just only compared to Dubai, but compared to 11 years ago.
I'm still a wife, I'm still a mum, I'm also a grandmother twice over. But I'm struggling to work out just who I am all over again.
Peter and I have reconnected with friends, spending more time with family. We enjoy dog walks, outdoor life, seasons, gardening, coffee shops, the scenery, but I still need to find something for me.
I'm hoping to enter the word of work again, not a career, I'm done trying to prove myself to others, there is no need for that, there never was, but I had to wait until I was 50 before realising this.