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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Another Chapter Closes

As our time is Dubai is ending I have been forced to reflect on this journey that i have experienced.  If you want to see an actual tangible object of our time in Dubai, just look at Leighton!  I arrived in the sandpit in my third trimester of my pregnancy with Leighton..... She is literally the physical representation of our Dubai life.  When I look at her I don't know if we have been here forever or just a blink in time.  

This chapter of our lives started with just Jon, me and our two dogs.  Yes, I was super pregnant but we really only had to worry about ourselves.  We are ending this journey with Jon, me, three kids and one dog...... A lot has happened in less than five years for sure!

Doctor Braithwaite, my awesome OBGYN that delivered all three of our munchkins. 
Our pediatrician, Dr. Khan... Pakastani born but went to college at A&M... he is great!

So people have asked me how I feel about this move..... Well, I honestly have mixed emotions!  I love my family and I love my friends back home, don't get me wrong...... But I am leaving the place I have called home for almost five years.  A place I have been 20% longer than my college experience.  A place that has categorically changed me as a person. I am leaving the place where I became a mom and the people that helped me to become the person behind that title. How do you begin to attempt to describe that to someone who hasn't experienced it?  I am in my comfort zone here.... I have a core support group that can lift me up when I need a boost and knock me off my block when I get a little too big for my britches.  Friends who are honest and helpful and there at the drop of a hat.  We love each other and don't judge our life/parenting choices.... Well, we save the judging for behind each others’ backs.... Only joking.

These ladies are pretty awesome!

We sure did make a bunch of kids.... or should I say, Rhonda did!
and let the goodbyes begin....


I remember leaving Texas for Dubai.  My sister dropped me off at the Austin airport and I literally felt like someone had sucker punched me in the stomach...... I couldn't breathe, I couldn't speak, I just sat in the airport with my sunglasses on sobbing like a fool.  I have tried to learn from that experience.  I have tried to keep my head held high and my chin up during this transition home. There are times I have totally broken down.   When Jon and I finally made the decision to move back home to TexasI literally went through an entire box of Kleenex in 15 minuets.   Granted, Axel was only a week old and I had a few hormonal issues going on to say the least.  Life is all about these moment, right?!  These extreme feelings of happiness, sadness, gratitude, anger, love, passion, camaraderie and contentment are what makes life.... well…  If I tried to block these emotions out, I would be doing myself and this experience I have had in Dubai an injustice.  Let's be honest though, I make a freaking ugly cry face.  Seriously, it's bad! So I have tried my darndest to save my blubbering and crying for my car when I am by myself with my own thoughts.  

Life is good for a white and Western expat in Dubai.  I had live-in help..... Gina was my angel who made my life so easy.  Those issues that cause marriages to have a layer of tension were taken away.  We never had to worry about laundry, dirty dishes, sweeping the floor, making our beds, cleaning the toilets.... All that work, all that effort, all that drama was taken away.  When I needed to take Leighton or Corby to school, I could leave a child or two behind.  No worrying about unbuckling and taking in multiple kids for school drop off only to have to re-buckle them back in to cart them home...... Gina took away that stress.  If Jon and I wanted to go on a date night, we had a built in babysitter.  I was only able to train for my marathon because I left Corby with Gina during those long-run mornings.  If I was stressed beyond belief with my kids, I could ditch them with Gina and go grab a solo coffee or meet a friend.  I know how lucky I was and I thank my lucky stars everyday, but I know it was not reality.  That said, it was my Dubai reality and I will miss it dearly.  Saying goodbye to Gina was one of the hardest things I have done in a long time.  I love her for helping me transition into the life of multiple children.  She loved my kids more than I did sometimes and she always helped me to see the good In them, even when I wanted to give them (aka Corby) shaken baby syndrome. 

The thing that can be a blessing about Dubai is also its biggest curse.  Meeting friends is easy since 80% of the population are expats. Everyone is in the same boat.... Everyone comes here with a pretty empty friend bank and you get to fill up that bank as you go. Sometimes people leave or move and you aren't too upset and other times people go and you have a massive hole to fill.  I really fell into a very happy place over the past few years.  I had surrounded myself with friends that I genuinely loved and cared about.... My friend bank was full and I was fulfilled, but now I have to start all over again.  Yes, I am from Austin and I already have a support group with friends and family, but I really haven't been around them since acquiring this new role as an international mom.  Living abroad changes you and I hope when I move home I don't come off and an arrogant, know-it-all!  

The last 7 years of my life have changed me in more ways then I can ever explain in a simple blog post.  My way of thinking will forever be influenced by the variety of cultures I have experienced and places I have been.  I grew up an upper middle classes white girl in America..... I basically won the lottery just by my birth right. My short time teaching middle school in the inner city of Houston started the ball rolling and then living in a city and culture in the Middle East with such haves and have nots changed me and my perspective.  In some ways that you would expect and in others that you cannot even imagine.  

Looking back on everything I think I have learned two main lessons and have only one regret.  Let's get the regret out of the way….it is that we didn't visit Petra and until we eventually go, I will always kick myself for that.  The first realization was that we are all more alike in this world and people seem to have no clue! Just look at the Humans of New York posts over this past summer from Iran and Pakistan...... We are all chugging through life with ups and downs striving to be the best we can be for ourselves, our families, ours friends and our society.  People are inherently good no matter where you call home or what your religion is or who your family is.  Second, I have learned through this whole metamorphosis that no matter what you have or you don't have, no matter your situation or you trials, your successes or defeats, your wealth or your lack there of..... You determine your own attitude and your own outlook on life and path forward.  I have seen people with so little share the very little they do have.  People with circumstances that should break even a strong person, keep pushing forward with a smile!  So I have learned you get to choose and I have decided that I choose happiness!  This process of leaving the world behind where I became a mom and surrounded myself with people that made me better was awful..... I could have locked myself in my room and cried for weeks or held a grudge against my husband for making me leave my comfort zone, but I didn't.  I chose happiness!  Whenever I feel anxiety, resentment, fear, sadness or loneliness I think of the positive that is coming out of this move and I choose to be happy.  

This transition back to Texas is going to be a hard one, I know.  I have changed so much but I weirdly feel like home has been frozen in time.  Obviously it hasn't..... My nieces are 5 years older, my siblings have made 4 new cousins for my kids to play with, my friends have gotten married and had babies, and the city I love and was raised in has morphed into something that is partially unrecognizable to me. 

I am sad that this will realistically be the only time we will live abroad for an extended time.  I will miss seeing, hearing and experiencing so many cultures everyday (even though some days it will drive you crazy and you crave being home). Now we are moving into a homogenized bubble and that scares me.  I was not ready to leave Dubai, but I am making the best of the situation..... 

But seriously I am being a brat..... The "situation" is an awesome one! My kids are all healthy and happy, Jon and I have a ridiculously great relationship (we actually like each other), I get to stay at home and raise my kids (I actually don't know if that's a good thing or a bad one for them;) and Jon has a new job he is excited about.  We are in a great place and I need to keep reminding myself of that.  It's all going to be overwhelming and stressful, but I am ready for this new adventure.
As long as I have these guys, I am good!

So to my Dubai friends..... I know I will see yall again, inshallah....Don't be strangers! And to my friends and family at home.... I can't wait to experience life with y’all again!

Thank the Lord above we don't have to do this again anytime soon! 

Until later.....