I have always revelled in the fact that I come from a slightly nomadic family. By the time I was ten I had had more experiences than some people will get in a life time. Whilst many of my friends mark their teenage years with memories of freezing in an icy park whilst getting drunk on White Lightening, I fondly remember camping under Bedouin tents and watching the sunrise over Arabia. I could never really imagine settling down anywhere in particular and always pictured my children would have a similar upbringing.
My eldest daughter had a glimpse of my moving obsession, she had lived in four different houses by the time she turned three and a half. She started in one preschool only to be relocated to another. Yes, the Arabian nights and Mediterranean beaches were absent, but I felt we were preparing her for a future in a nomadic family. Then suddenly we just stayed put. My husband got a job he enjoys, we found a house we love. Our youngest came home from the maternity unit to a home we still inhabit. She attends preschool in a small town with children she has known her entire life. She had once been shy in the company of others, I was amazed she took to preschool so easily (so far so good at least). Then it dawned on me that no wonder she steams in, she is comfortable in a place she has seen every day for over three years.
As an expat brat I can proudly say that I have friends all over the world. If I needed to I could crash on a mates sofa in every continent. However, sometimes that is not all it’s cracked up to be. Moving so often meant that people moved on too, just without me, best friends I once had found new best friends, and while we will always be mates I will never be their chosen bridesmaid, or Godparent to their child. Staying in one place is allowing my children the chance to grow roots, to have lifelong best friends and to be part of a community.
Our world becomes smaller by the day, we are better travelled than we have ever been, yet we seem to be losing our sense of community. Many of us don’t know our own neighbours, perhaps it is time to become less obsessed with travel and more concerned with embracing what we have on our doorstep. As my family and I become ‘settled’ in one place the joy of community life becomes more apparent by the day. Not only is my daughter coming out of her shell and becoming full of confidence, but we have people to call on in times of need, friends who can do a school run, neighbours who can watch the kids if something comes up. I am beginning to see the true meaning of ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.
I know I will never stop googling sunnier climes. I will always have the ambition to run a vineyard in the South of France, and I hope to one day make it happen. For now, however, let us plant our roots and stop looking for greener grass, the grass here is lush, the people are wonderful and my family is truly happy.