back to school for an expat mom

back to school crowns

It’s that time. Every year when mothers celebrate back-to-school, so eager to have time again to grocery shop on their own or do a little more of what we get done normally but with the precious silence we crave when children are fighting or tearing through the house wet and muddy. Excited to get back to a routine, we eagerly start back to early bedtimes. We shop up for back to school and begin planning our own fall schedules again.

Truth is this year I am a little less excited. I am feeling cheated out of at least a month of summer vacation. We didn’t get out until July 6. I haven’t had alone days since we arrived in April. I guess I have gotten used to it. One or both children are always with me. Our school schedules are totally different that in the states. BOO and Spartacus come home everyday for lunch. CoCo, well she only had 2 hours of play group on Friday afternoons (after her older brother arrived home for the day). While I crave a little alone time, I have become accustom to always having them with me. I realized now that in a funny way it has  provided me the luxury of relaxing a little. I am able to  keep them more watched over and enjoyed the short summer of sleeping later, traveling more, and the reassurance that my kids are spoiled and safe.

During early days of our relocation here we experienced some bullying almost immediately. It left me feeling very un-easy and guarded. During the summer months however my children have enjoyed my watchful eye and endless entertainment, but Monday it all comes to an end once more. I will send Gabriel off to walk to school by 7:45 am (truth is I am usually just starting to wiggle my toes and blink my eyes open at about this time). When I send him out the door I will pump him up with as much confidence and excitement as I can muster. I will feel worried and guilty after I close the door. I can not help myself, I know it will be difficult. I know he is not going back to school to reunite with old friends and compare stories of summer vacations like he would be if we still lived “back home”. I hope he will not feel too terribly different as he quietly sits in his assigned seat understanding little of what will be said that day, or that month. I pray the children will be kind and remember that he was the 2nd fastest runner in 2nd grade last year, and hope that will help his chances of being respected and winning friends. I hope he will remember these hard days and come to the understanding, someday, that he is better for it. I hope that he will also remember how he feels to be an outsider and that he will always see the child that needs a friend. I hope he will be that friend. I hope he will always have courage to do hard things.

I will make a special dinner on Sunday night, we will sit around and talk about each child’s strengths and talents. We wear crowns and eat on a table cloth. We will also remind them of our families privileges and how we will always stick together. I hope if they feel alone for a few hours during school that they know, once they are back home they are loved and supported and safe. My husband will say a special prayer with each of them. They will be reminded to work hard, have courage, remember who they are. We will act excited and hope for the best.

For the first time ever I might just cry when I send him off to school.

Any of you moms ever feel this way? Remind me what a great experience this is for him again? Tell me what an opportunity it is for our family? Remind me not to feel guilty for making him do hard things.

3 thoughts on “back to school for an expat mom

  1. Hollee, this is an awesome experience, not just for your kiddos, but your entire family. Sometimes we are put into uncomfortable situations just so that we can grow. I love that y’all just got to “be” this summer, and spend time seeing the beauties of the world and sharing it for those of us who may never get there. Gabriel is already kind hearted (as your story pointed out) but these experience will make him even more so. It’s hard watching your child being bullied or not the most popular, but from my own experience, I know the bad experiences that I had as a child who had no one to play with at recess…no friends, (and a bad home life on top of that) helped me become the person I am today, and I would not change one of them, and yes, I still remember them, 30 some odd years later, and sometimes I still cry about them, but I also realized they made me stronger. He WILL make friends b/c of his great qualities (and he’ll make the best kind of friends), and until then, he has the greatest thing a kid can have…a family who loves him! Plus, the greatest thing, that you already touched on, is that this time will also help you to strengthen your family bond. So many blessings you are having/going to have…if I could trade places, I would in a heart beat. I’m dreading school starting as we probably only have about 3 years left w/ Ariel before she moves off to college. And, I worry EVERY SINGLE DAY that I drop her off. She is in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program here as well as an engineering program. She is getting a great education, but everyday she is surrounded by some of the worst things imaginable. I thought about homeschooling, but realized I can’t shelter my girls forever. They have to learn to cope with mean people, learn to know there is evil in the world and realize they don’t have to be like that. That there is so much better! I worry about her safety everyday, and I pray. I pray hard. I found solace in Matthew 10:16 and Mormon 9:28 b/c I literally feel like I am sending her to the wolves (so thankful for seminary!) I’m sure you and Dave prayed about moving your family there, just as Mike and I prayed whether to keep Ariel at that school…whenever you feel the guilt, remember, you alreafy received that answer, and you are where The Lord wants you to be at this time….so no guilt. I have to do that. It’s hard, really hard…some days more than others, but it will be okay because you have The Lord on your side. Sorry, I’m so long winded. I hope this makes sense…it probably wasn’t even what you were wanting in a reply. Sorry if that’s the case! You can ban me from commenting, if you want! :), but know this- I love you, and you are a GREAT mom!

  2. This is so sweet I cried! Yes, he is learning how to treat others kindly, I never thought about that. And, yes, he will be better for all of his challenges, including not fitting in with everyone else. Thank you always for taking the time to write back and leave comments. I know the struggles you have faced with the girls school and I know that it is so hard to let them enter these situations with out US by their side!

  3. I love that your response to the anxiety you pre-feel for your child is to make a special dinner- you are my soul sister!! Handmade food will feed their soul. I pity the women our boys fall in love with that cannot cook.

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