So we’re moving in just short of 5 weeks. Not a shocker to many. We have been in Singapore for 4 years. 4 years is a long time to live in a place that is not where you “belong”. We actually haven’t belonged anywhere for 4 years – even in Texas we borrowed (rented) cars, houses, etc. Texas is our heart home but we didn’t have a place to belong. That is hard. There has been a lot of good and a lot of bad over the 4 years and we’ve made the best of both. You have to or you’d end up at crazy farm or need lots of depression meds. We’ve lived a whole lot of life in 4 years and have photos, full passports and friendships to prove it.
Here’s my take on our time overseas in regards to the length of time you stay for someone who knows their time is limited. You may agree and you may disagree but I’ve paid attention to others here, along with or own experience, and when they left and how long they were here and I think it’s generally true. Key words: “my take” and “generally”.
1 year – Not nearly enough time to get a good handle on really living life here, basically an extended vacation.
2 years – Enough time to settle in but you leave with a longing for more. You are changed and more open minded but it would still be pretty easy to fall back into your former way of life. Just not enough time for things to dig in deep.
3 years – Perfect amount of time! You’ve had time to see it all, eat it all, buy it all and you leave with a fulfilled sense of having lived a good life overseas. You are changed and life back home will most likely never be the same. And you’re grateful for that.
4 years – You are definitely changed. Very different. It will be hard to repatriate without frustration. But your time here feels like it’s dragging. It’s like Senioritis. You’re ready to get out of high school and move on to college. Or you’re ready to get out of college and move on to real life. You’ve seen it all, done it all, ate it all and it’s time to move on to the next adventure.
I’m not writing this post so much for me but maybe for others you may know who will be going through this transition one day. I hope I don’t offend anyone but I feel the need to say it since it’s part of my journey and this is somewhat of a journal.
If you’re a woman and have given birth to a child, you remember what it feels like to get to the end and just want that kid out of your body! You’ve appreciated the 9 months, it’s been very special, you are grateful for the miraculous gift of carrying new life inside of you, but it’s time for this kid to be loved from the outside rather than the inside.
When you were at this point in the pregnancy, do you remember people telling you to “enjoy every second of it”, “you’ll miss being pregnant”, “don’t rush things”? When ALL you can think about is how swollen your ankles are, how you can’t even see to put your shoes on IF you have shoes that even fit anymore, how even drinking a sip of water gives you indigestion and how every. single. day. was one more day of back aches and longing to feel your lips touch that baby’s sweet cheeks! And if you heard one more person tell you to be patient and that you’ll miss it when it’s over, you might punch them in the face? I LOVED being pregnant. Did it three times but I also LOVED when that baby came out. If I wanted to be pregnant again, if I missed it, I would do it again. If I could, which I can’t.
This is how I feel about leaving Singapore. I am grateful for the experience. There have been an uncountable (probably not a word) number of special moments and memories. But we’ve been there, done that and bought LOTS of t shirts and it’s hard to not want to move on to the next phase of life when you know that time has come. If we were going to stay here longer we’d continue to live well but we have a one way ticket out on June 22 and it’s time to go. It’s not like we constantly long for the next thing. We’ve been mostly content for the 4 years we’ve been here but now that we know we’re leaving, it’s just time to get this show on the road. There will be some things we miss (honestly, really only the people) but we are ready to “push this baby out” and give Texas a big ol’ kiss on its cute chubby cheek!
I say all this to say that we’d love for you to be excited for us for our future adventures rather than telling us all the things we’ll miss. Honestly, we’ve had 4 years to eat it all, see it all and buy it all. There’s nothing else we crave or feel like we’ve missed out on from our experience in Singapore. If we could take some of the people we love with us then we’d be in great shape!
No one can possibly know the ins and outs of our experiences just as no one really knows how that pregnant woman feels. Maybe she’s put on a face for a long time because she wants to have a positive attitude but maybe she cries at night because she’s so uncomfortable. Our experiences are each so unique and individual. In the 4 years we’ve been here, we’ve moved one child out of our nest and graduated her from college and started planning a wedding, moved another child out of our nest graduating him from high school and shipped him back to the US for college, our third has gone from being a 10 year old little girl to becoming a young woman. We’ve missed a zillion birthdays and holidays with our kids and our family back home, buried a parent, have sat by helpless while loved ones at home have gone through tough times and sickness. We’ve said countless goodbyes with thoughts of possibly never seeing that person again. We’ve gone through the hardest times our marriage has had to endure, and the list goes on… The good has helped balance out the hard but the hard was still very very very hard. We know we’ll have hard in Texas. We’re not delusional. Life is hard no matter where you are but we won’t be a world away from those we miss being close to.
I’m just saying, when someone is going through a transition, just listen and encourage and hug and savor the moment but don’t act like you know how it is because you’ve “been there”. You haven’t been there like I’ve been there and I haven’t been there like you’ve been there. Be happy for us/them. We are sad about leaving but it’s happening regardless so help us leave well and move on with good thoughts ahead rather than listing all the sad things we’re leaving behind. We definitely do not regret having moved to Singapore or living here for 4 years.
Will we do it again? Maybe. Just like in pregnancy, we sort of forget about the swollen ankels and indigestion and want to do it again. We will get bored and crave adventure again, but for now, we are ready to go home and settle back into a familiar way of living. We are ready to live in our house. We are ready to have a garage and build stuff and fix stuff and hang our own pictures on the walls. We are ready to drive our own cars and park for free right in front of the grocery store. We are ready to hang out outside and visit with our neighbors over the fence. We are ready to be surprised by the doorbell because a friend or family member just decides to pop by. We are ready to be in the same time zone as our kids, family and friends. We are ready to have this “baby”. It has been a long “pregnancy”. We’re not bitter and we’re not miserable and we want to finish our “race” well. We are “look ahead” kind of people. We’re not the kind of people who get bogged down in the past or in the craziness of the now. We’re moving forward. It’s just how we roll.
… And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2