We’ve been here 3 weeks! How guys, how. And it’s been a steep learning curve. Some days have felt like a struggle. The hardest part has actually been trying to manage the home schooling and get some work done ourselves. Lockdown here (and the closure of schools) has meant that our family of four is kept inside in close proximity for around 8 hours each day, as you attempt to get all the schoolwork completed in time.
We’ve been in The Netherlands for over a week now and I’ve spent much of it decompressing. Undergoing a release from the most intensely stressful few days before we actually arrived here. Remember when I wrote this? Well, that was nothing. Covid yanked the pressure switch up a notch, for everyone around the world really, but the timing was such that the switch got yanked just around our departure date.
It’s been a whirlwind. A rollercoaster. All those handy cliches. I will also say though, that these past few months have been some of the hardest of my life. I’m hesitant to write about my personal struggles, because it seems so self-absorbed. Everybody is under severe stress this year. My feelings are nothing unique. Plus, it seems that when I see people lately, they always ask about me and I’m tired of talking about myself.
But writing is what I do. It’s how I process my world. So here’s what it’s been like planning this move to Europe from an emotional perspective, in the hope it can help some of you if you’re going to be doing the same.
I’ve been clearing out boxes of my mementoes, in lieu of our upcoming move. I’m not a hoarder generally, but the one thing I hold on to is paper: letters, postcards, photos (when we used to print them out!), ticket stubs, event programmes. I’ve got shoeboxes labelled per year, and each one is brimming over with words. We’ve moved so many times in the past decade and I’ve dragged these ten or so boxes around the country with me each time, so today I decided that enough is enough.
Let me tell you a little story.
When I was six I was sent from our farm to boarding school in Grahamstown. There weren’t a lot of girls in my Sub A class, so most of my friends were boys. Every break time we tore around that massive playground playing catches and even though I was pretty fast, I wasn’t a match for some of those boys. But I kept trying. And I have such a specific memory of running through this patch of trees chasing after my friend Grant and feeling this huge well of frustration because I couldn’t catch him – he was too damn fast.
Sorry (not sorry)…had to use that title – ’twas inevitable. So, we’re moving to The Netherlands soon. With the debacle that is COVID, our exact timing is difficult to lock down at this point, but we’re planning for late December, so the kids can start school in January. They will be going to an international school that is partly subsidised by the Dutch government, so they’ll be taught in English. These types of schools were established in order to encourage expats like ourselves to settle in The Netherlands for a bit, build businesses and contribute to the economy and society generally.