Nine years ago I met my baby boy. On one of those days where the usual ceases to be important and you have absolute clarity over what matters most. Today I wished I could go back and experience our first evening together just one more time, on a stormy Oslo evening where the rain poured down outside, but we were cosy inside, getting to know each other, mother and son. It seems like yesterday, but when I think of all we have done I realise that time has indeed passed as it should. I snuggled with my boy as he went to sleep for the first time as a nine year old, mindful that these are precious moments that pass by too quickly.
We got our Christmas tree at the weekend and set about making our home feel festive. There were a few reminders that we were in a new place this year – decorations made by smaller hands in Australia and Switzerland, and an array of lights that don’t fit our London sockets. But everything found its place in the end, and when we were done it was hard to imagine them anywhere else. I wrote about our Christmas traditions for Mothering Matters: A taste of Christmas
If Sydney has the beaches and Zurich has the lake, then London has the parks.
Since arriving in London, we’ve seen the leaves in our local park change from spring green to vibrant shades of yellow and orange and red.
For the longest time I’ve been living in limbo, but something has shifted.
I like the view where I am right now and want to be still for a while.
A while ago I was asked to write a piece about ‘our Swiss neighbourhood’ for an online Swiss parenting journal. The deadline seemed ages away, so I agreed and waited for inspiration to strike. When the time came to write it though, we had recently moved and it felt as if I was in the midst of living two different versions of my life.
It’s now several months since I wrote the piece, and the sense of bewilderment that comes through is now fading. My love of my Swiss neighbourhood however, remains the same. Here’s what I wrote for Mothering Matters: Living a local life.
The summer holidays are almost at an end. The days are still warm, but the evening light is fading that little bit earlier. We are gearing up to a new school year, trying to remember times tables and locating schoolbags.
The kids started their new schools before the long holidays, a taster before a proper break, we said, justifying starting them in a new system on some random Thursday.
We assume kids are adaptable, but I wonder at which point that changes. Our first move as a family, to Australia, seemed so much simpler with a baby and a toddler. Now we have three small people travelling with us, each with their own unique personalities, two who seem fine with change and one who prefers the familiar.
My big girl recently visited her Swiss friend in our old village. It was interesting to gain a ten year olds perspective on the differences between the places, now that she has been living in London long enough that she is no longer just a visitor. London was busier she noted, well that wasn’t so much of a surprise. She also mentioned how people in Switzerland seem more friendly and greet each other on the street. I’d forgotten the frequent sound of Grüezi mitenand as we walked along, and quickly adapted to the London way of avoiding eye contact.
Sometimes I’ll overhear their conversations with each other, where do you like best, Sydney or Zurich? They are still trying to figure out where they belong in the world. They aren’t English kids yet. It’s too soon to tell if London will make it into the mix, but I’m hoping it will charm them in time.
I’ve been a bit quiet lately.
Repatriation is a strange mix.
I speak with no accent, but look the wrong way when crossing the road.
I’m the person sitting quietly on a bench, or in a cafe, while conversations happen around me.
I’m the one standing in the supermarket with an inner calm at the realisation that the ingredients in the recipe match the ones on the shelf.
I’m nearing the end of a phase. I’ve had time to reflect and the words are coming back.
Faces on the street are becoming familiar, and there is the promise of friendship.
Change is scary, terrifying, but sometimes you find what you were looking for.
I am home nowhere and everywhere.
But for now I’m right where I’m meant to be.
The month that began with pranks will end with our family unlocking an unfamiliar door and stepping into a new chapter in London.
The goodbyes are almost upon us, and now a date that once seemed so far off suddenly feels too close.
My mind is rather muddled at the moment. I try to be an optimist, but really I’m a bit of a worrier. I hope the kids will be okay. Perhaps one day they will be thankful for their globetrotting childhood. Maybe they will just wish they knew the answer to where they come from.
Now it is time to focus. There is a lot to do. Probably the most important is to make some memories of these beautiful April days in our Swiss neighbourhood.