Thursday, September 6, 2012


So, would you like to hear a funny story?  Actually, I’d better qualify that statement, because it’s not really very funny (in fact, it’s rather long and a bit heavy) so I wouldn’t want you to get your hopes up and then have them dashed.  However, this not-so-funny story does begin with some really big news, so are you ready?  (I know… what big news could I have when I already just announced I am pregnant?  No I am NOT having twins (unless the doctor missed that in the ultrasound, which I highly doubt), so what could it possibly be??)

We are staying in Switzerland for the next few years!!!!

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Yes, I realize I already presented this news quite a while ago—in April, to be exact, but it’s still actually new news.  Let me explain.   No, there is too much, let me sum up (name that movie).  Okay, I really will explain.  Remember when back here in July I was talking about a house we loved that we wanted to rent?  Well, the lady actually DID call us back and we went again, I think basically so she could see us again and have her daughters meet us.  We walked through the entire house again.  Did I mention it had lots of room, a great kitchen, more bedrooms, another bathroom, a huge attic, a cellar, its very own washing machine!, an apple tree, a pear tree, an AMAZING view of the mountains AND two lakes!!!!, and was very affordable for such a great place?  About the only drawback we could come up with was that it was in a such a tiny little village that the kids would have to go to school in the next tiny village over, so they would have a much longer walk and perhaps need to be driven to school.  Anyway, we figured we could work that out.  So, she had emailed Brett and wanted to see one more form and to know if we would be willing to take two of her cats, and then I think everything would have been set. 

HOWEVER.  Right before Brett emailed her back to confirm everything, I got cold feet.  Not just of the house—the house was fantastic—but I told Brett we had to talk (always scares him to death) and asked if we could possibly reopen the consideration to move back to the U.S.  Truthfully, at first he was a bit upset, which was pretty justified, as we had just gone through the whole decision process a few months ago.  But I asked him just to think about it, and shortly—I mean, within a matter of a day and a half—he said, okay, let’s do it.  He called the lady and told her we had changed our minds about the house.  He started looking for jobs that very night, and he said that even if he didn’t get a job quickly, he would still like to move to the States in April, because 1- he wouldn’t want to hang around being a lame duck, and 2- our rental contract is really weird, and if we don’t leave in October or April, we’re responsible for paying for it until new renters are found.  Plus interviewing for jobs would theoretically be easier if he’s more available to get to them. 

I was soooooo elated.  I knew that just because we got a job in the States wouldn’t mean that it would be exactly where we would like it to be, and we may end up very far away from family still, and somewhere not at all ideal, etc.  but I was still so excited.  I felt like even though we have a lot of good things going here in Switzerland, I was ready for NEW things, and being on the right continent would be, after all, a step in the right direction (towards getting a little closer to family).  And I can’t even explain how knowing that we were going to be leaving soon just changed all of my thought processes.  It’s not so sad going without something—Halloween, or cub scouts—if you know it will only be for a short time longer.  I was already changing my plans about what to get the kids for Christmas, what I would like my brother and his wife to bring to me when they come in October.  Just, so many things were exciting to me. 

And then, Brett told his boss, which he had been dreading a bit (for again, we had just made this decision a couple months ago), but his boss was really super nice about it and supportive and wanted to help him with his job searching and everything.

So, this was all maybe a week, week-and-a-half.  Long enough to tell the kids—they were THRILLED (of course, I think they think that moving to the States means moving to Grandma’s house, or at least next door to some of their cousins), long enough for me to call my sister-in-law Lindsay Ann and gush the happy news, and since a lot of the rest of my family was in Canada for a family reunion, I told her to spread the news when she went up. 

And THEN Brett came home one night and said, “Guess what.  [My boss’s name] talked to me today.”  (Suddenly my stomach dropped.)  They offered Brett a pretty considerable raise if he would stay and be a part of the forging of the company.  Enough money so that we would be able to take a visit home every year if we wanted to.  I was like—WHY?  Why did it have to become difficult AGAIN?!?!

Now, if it were JUST money, whatever.  But the thing is, Brett really does want to stay and see this company-and all of the work he’s done the last 3 years- through, and the kids are happy and content and learning, and I’m MOSTLY happy and content.  That is to say, on weekends and vacations.  So really, moving back to the U.S. was just for me, so this second (third?) chance to decide was just… arrrrgh.

You see, I’m pretty much a textbook case of Expat-Wife Syndrome.  The family moves to a different country, the husband has a job to keep him busy and involved, the kids have school and new friends to keep them busy and involved, and the wife gets dull and lonely.  Now, it’s not always as bad as that sounds, but really, during the week I DO get lonely; it boils down to that.  My ward is WONDERFUL and I really like lots of women in it, but almost all of them work or live too far away to get to, or have their own things they’re involved in or whatever it is to spend any time with them during the week.  And Brett works SOOOOO MUCH.  I usually don’t see him before I get up at 7:00 or so, and while I used to want him to call if he was going to be home later than 6:30, now it’s more like he should call if he WILL be home by then, as that’s the more unlikely.  So by about Wednesdays, I just feel… kindof ragged.  So I wanted to move to the States where even if we were far away from family, and in a place we never would have picked, at least I could SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE as some other women and occasionally TALK and HAVE CONVERSATIONS with them.  (Now I have to say that when I lived in Indiana in a college town with a ton of other women in the same stage-of-life/situation as me, and there were tons of opportunities to get together, from play-groups to aerobics to book clubs and womens-night-outs, etc. etc., I often thought it was a bit overdone, and I would really feel it unnecessary to go to three-fourths or more of them.  I just want to say, you don’t know how important it is for women to have SOME kind of conversation with other women fairly often until you don’t have any.  (I realize there are some very introverted/hermitish women out there who defy this, but in general it is true and scientifically backed up.  I don’t know how women on the prairies in the old days did it, without phones or blogs or anything.  Some of them did actually did go crazy, you know.))

Also, sometimes it’s just a bit WEIRD living here.  In some ways it is so temporary, and after all, when we came out we had a 2-year-contract, and so that was what I was prepared for.  I could do without a lot of things for that amount of time.  (I just recently remembered how back years ago, when Brett and I would talk about someday moving to Switzerland (without a lot of real belief that it would ever happen, on my part), I would say ‘one year’ and Brett would say, ‘no, five’ and I would say- ‘NO.  Two at the most—only two.’  Why is Brett always RIGHT?!)  And it’s weird in just little ways too, like the fact that Hazel doesn’t know how to spell in English, and Jethro’s learning piano, but he won’t know any of the terms like ‘treble cleff’ or ‘quarter note’ or anything in English- he’ll only know the German words.  I mean, mostly I’m used to living here, but every once in a while something just REMINDS you how weird it really is.

So, there we were, back at square one.  Only, it’s just so aggravating to have to be going through it all AGAIN.  (Rather reminiscent of our decision to come out here in the first place- first we thought we would get the job for sure and were really excited, then we didn’t, so then we changed our minds and got excited for staying close to family for once, and then unexpectedly they offered the job to us so we had to adjust our thinking all over again.)  I was pretty saddened and didn’t really want to give in to staying, but I just kindof felt like it was futile.  Also, I called a friend of mine who is a very very wise woman, and she told me about how where she lives, there are also not very many- like none- other moms who can get together with her, and how she thinks it’s very important for a guy to really like his job, and how life is a lot the same wherever you go- you get the kids breakfast, you clean up breakfast, you get them off to school, you make lunch, you clean up lunch, etc.  And deep down I knew this—life is life and it has it’s ups and downs (although I still do believe that even though in such situations it doesn’t FEEL like she’s having good talks with other women, I bet she still does a bit more than she thinks, like with the librarian who recognizes you and your kids, or the neighbor down the street who will exchange a few brief hello and how are you’s, whereas if you didn’t speak the language, you don’t even really get that). 

Anyway, we’re staying.  Although we lost the house, and that’s a real drag.  Now, I just read a friend’s blog post about how she finds it frustrating when she hears people saying how they hate living where they live, and how she backs the philosophy “Bloom where you are planted.”  Now I agree 100% with that, but I was going through all this because it was a choice, and as long as it’s a choice, why not go where you think you’ll be happier?  And anyway, you can’t actually ALWAYS be happy.  But I do need to be more proactive, making sure I’m doing things that will promote a better attitude, like getting outside every day, calling up the women that are home and trying to see them more, those kinds of things.  Also I sure wish I could SOMEHOW figure out a way to get Brett home earlier in the day.  Like this week, on Monday he came home at the usual 6:30ish time, Tuesday he had a dinner thing for work and wasn’t home until about 10, Wednesday he had bishopric stuff, so he wasn’t home for dinner or bedtime, and tonight he had more meetings or something for work, and he’s not home and it’s 10.  The funny thing is, mostly we are happy on weekends, and you’d think that if we don’t really see each other during the week the relationship would stay at that happy-level, but actually somehow it deteriorates, so that we have to repair it before it’s back to the happy level again.  That’s pretty much me, because instead of being more happy and welcoming when he finally does get home, I am kindof bitter and stand-offish.  Gotta work on that.  Sooo, that was a tangent.

Well.  We’re staying, so now instead of looking at the list of things I feel like I’m missing out on (seeing family, being able to read the notes from my kids’ teachers, libraries with more than 12 books in English, mint-chocolate chip icecream, scouts for Jethro, etc.) I just need to look at the list of awesome things about living here ( the really great opportunity for our kids to be bilingual (starting out on trilingual, unless you count Swiss German as it’s own language, in which case they’re already trilingual), really cool trips to places we would ordinarily never go, raclette for dinner, different customs such as Fasnacht, hiking the Alps, Waldspielgruppe, etc.). 

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Okay, I have to now make it clear that I know my problems are really small (and I know maybe a lot of people are like, Oh, you have to live in Switzerland- you poor baby!!)—it’s not health problems, fertility problems (you’ll notice), employment issues, custody issues, or a multitude of other things that I would classify as WAY WAY WAY harder than my own small concerns.  And I really am blessed, in sooooo many ways.

So cheers for staying in Switzerland!

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p.s. My new goal is to look as awesome as these guys when I hike:

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ETA: And oh yes—I forgot to mention how very very ironic all this will be if the the company doesn’t get funding, and we obviously wouldn’t be staying after all.  We won’t know that for sure until December (although there’s only a pretty tiny chance that it wouldn’t get funded).


Rachael said...

It's interesting reading this because I am so envious of the fact that you guys DO get to live in Switzerland! I guess I always just focus on the cool stuff (hiking in the Alps!) and not so much on the day-to-day of living somewhere where you don't speak the language.

I think your friend is very wise, though, and that also isn't something I've thought about before. Right now I'm stuck in this thing where I feel sorry for myself because I don't see much of my husband and all my friends are moving away. But will probably be the same wherever we go, and like Maren said, it really is a matter of blooming where you're planted.

I have no idea where I'm going with this post other than to say I'm trying to commiserate with you without actually having the expat frame of reference to do so...but I hope that the next few years are even better than the first couple have been, and you can look back on this as a totally awesome time for your family and for your own personal growth (does that sound cliched enough?)

Anonymous said...

Hey but you can always enrol for a language course for expats (there should be some available on weekends when your husband would be able to say home with the kids) and join some of the meetup groups in your area to get together with like-minded people who you could become friends with (have you heard about Don't worry. I can absolutely relate to the way you feel as I have spent over 4 years in the Netherlands away from my family and friends. Yes, it may get extremely lonely at times (especially at the beginning), but as the time passes and the years go by everything starts to feel somehow familiar and homely, suddenly you notice there are more and more people who recognize you, smile at you and throw random hellos, lastly you find yourself having new habits and new routine and it feels so natural. I have to say from my own experience that language course helped a lot, and so did the meet ups and daily playground visits - these are the places where your social life get a great chance to bloom. Don't be afraid to try. Wish you best of good luck!

PS#1 'Bloom where you are planted.' - So very true and valid statement. Agree. Very well said.

PS#2 Sometimes there are also some pretty nice neighbours to befriend. It's a very comforting feeling to know that there's someone who likes you and you can relay on next door.


Lynn said...

I appreciated your thoughts very much. I can relate.

Well.....actually I can't relate to the living in a foreign country far far away....or trying to relate to people who speak another language or some of those others things like that......but when you mentioned the looooong hours that Brett is away, while you manage the home and the family's entire life and schedule.....well, yeah...I can totally relate to that. It does suck somedays. So sorry to hear that it's the same for you. And being pregnant on top of's just plain hard.

I do have to say, my hats are off to you though for handling {well it seems you are] so well. For the "pick up your boots and carry on -- or put them on whatever the case may be" attitude I read between the lines you have. Inspiring! I need to do more of that. Seriously.

Thanks for sharing.

And hang in there. THere must be a multitude of reasons why everything points to your family being there for a few more years. Eventually maybe those reasons will stare right back at you fully and it will be a sense of relief to know. : )

Andrea said...

It is hard living in a place when you don't know the language. Random--but I was recalling falling asleep during discussions in the beginning of my mission because I was SO tired and I had no clue what was going on. I think it would be hard to be isolated somewhat as a mom. I agree--it's good to have some socializing somewhat...and I'm a pretty low-maintenance gal when it comes to 'girlfriends,' but I agree,it is needed. I believe in the Bloom Where You're Planted theory, too, but it doesn't mean it isn't hard to sprout up. Maybe we're just supposed to sprout without complaining? Peoria still isn't home for me, but I do love my home and Elise's school and Tyler just loves his job, which is worth a lot (as you mentioned)! Like your family, I wish you were coming back, but you are having some amazing experiences! Thanks for sharing.

Alisha Erin said...

Well, although you would probably love to trade me places and be in Arizona, I have to confess that I feel more or less the same about my experience here. Although the language and culture (sort of) are the same here, I miss my family and friends and the awesome house I used to live in and knowing everything about the area because I grew up there. Jeff is gone ALL the time now that he is in grad school and all I have to do is stuff with the kids, which is fine and all, but boy do I miss home. And I feel REALLY lame, because I used to be really critical of someone in our ward back in WL who couldn't get over not being in Utah anymore, and I am trying to like Arizona and enjoy the hiking and other cool (as in interesting, because otherwise everything is very HOT) things here, but it's still hard.

In the meantime, Jeff wants to move to Khazakstan or something after this.

But I would come visit you again in Switzerland!!

Sare said...
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Missy said...

Amen sister!
I can't tell you how often I have had these exact thoughts. Being a mother is lonely. Being and expat is lonely. Combine them and you are really are in for it.

After one year in here I got really sick when Ben was out of town and almost fainted with Addie here at the house. And I thought to myself: If I fainted and didn't wake up for hours or DAYS would anyone check up on me? Or notice? What would happen to my child?

And the sad answer was no. Because I didn't speak German and didn't know any of my neighbors and all of my friends were online or far away. It was a real wakeup call for me and I realized that if I didn't reach out and make friends with people in my neighborhood that I would be miserable for the next 4 years. So I made a rule that I had to say yes to every social engagement - every grandmother who asked me for coffee and every playdate, even with moms who only spoke German and it was really really awkward. I joined an expats group in the area and made Ben invite his married colleagues over for dinner - especially if they had kids or spoke English. And I studied German. And a year later, everything is different!

Now your situation is harder, you have more children and Swiss German is more frustrating than regular and on and on. But it can be done! Hang in there and make your social life a priority :) Women need other women and mothers need other mothers.

Brooke said...

Has anyone commented on your most important ?, What movie the quote was from. Princess Bride!!! Yeah Baby. Doc

Benjamin D. Crockett said...
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Benjamin D. Crockett said...

Geez, I don't even know what to say. Your post and the comments pretty well covered it. I guess I just wanted to grant you that, yes, I do get to talk more with neighbors and random strangers, and yes, I'm glad that all the ladies in my branch speak my language. And part of the reason I read your blog is to (1) be jealous of you and all the cool travelling and stuff you get to do, and (2) remember how blessed I am to be so comfortable with my own situation here in the U.S. Plus, I really like you, and you make me laugh. The end.

P.S. This is Allison, of course.

Carlie said...

you are way braver than me to live there. I get lonely being 20 minutes from my friends and being in a ward with not many people my age, but I still speak their language. Good Luck!

p.s. you have been nominated for an award on my blog
check it out.

emily ballard said...

"That is to say, on weekends and vacations." So funny.

And I am thrilled that you are staying. Because I am going to come visit you :)

Christal said...

Big hugs I kind of know a small part of how you feel when we lived in florida though that was only 3 months but you do get lonely and you feel like your missing everything at home. Hard to be the wife it kind of feels like middle ground you get everybody off and they are all happy on there schedules and your sitting there going well what about me?? I want to be happy too:) Its hard to be thinking of one thing and excited for it only to have plans change no matter what it is its always hard!~ So I agree with most of the other commenter's! Hang in there:) Love your thoughts somehow it feels all better getting it out doesn't it! We love you and your adorable family!!

Kris said...

My heart goes out to you! The trouble with being the expat wife. Maybe it's got something to do with being pregnant (nasty hormones!) but I have recently been going through something very similar. I feel pretty much done with a life abroad. I'm just so sick and tired of England! My hubby still has two more years that he is committed to staying here, and I always just assumed we would just renew our contract and stay for much longer, but I told him the other day that when his contract expires I want to go back home (we'll have lived here for 7 years by then!) I know a lot can change in two years, so who knows where life will take us, or if we will just end of staying put. I have decided to fully embrace the moto you mentioned "Bloom where you are planted" I've always loved that. I would hate to look back with regrets one day, that I didn't take full advantage of my opportunity to live abroad. I think your family is the perfect example of fully blooming where you've been planted. Anyway, it's nice to read your honest thoughts. It always feels better knowing that there are others going through the same thing. Good luck dear!

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