Monday, September 9, 2013

Coffee Talk - Expat Wives : WHen is it Ok to UNFOLLOW?

It’s been three days and I’m still jetlagged. The upside to lag in this beautiful weather is that, unlike everyday of my life, I actually look forward to an early morning activity and am usually ready to pounce by 8 am.

Hanan, as upbeat and energetic as ever, suggests we make use of the weather+ my sunny humor and go for a brisk walk by the beach instead of the usual first coffee after a long summer break.

We talk about anything and everything, our vernacular speed matched only by our fast steps on the grass. We mention the number of UN and foreign-service spouses who, this year, have decided to NOT follow their husbands wherever they were posted. 

One friend decided to stay behind because her son is knee deep in IB, her private business also on the rise. One friend landed a dream job and has also decided to stay on. Another survived the Saudi experience for a whole year and has vowed to not go back.  The examples were too many and we started to analyze why we, the expat spouses, have suddenly decided to rebel!

The cycle goes like this…

Our moms all shared a common denominator: a relatively traditional upbringing geared towards a woman’s ultimate goal to become a dutiful wife and a great mom.

For some reason, along the path to womanhood, our parents realized that life did not quite always work this way.  Some moms hesitantly tasted the forbidden pleasure of life outside her domestic duties.  Some have even managed to establish flourishing careers and have achieved huge success.  Other moms, thrown into a world that forced them to rely on their limited skills and provide for themselves, have also, along the way, realized that we are not as sheltered as our ancestors used to be.

End result????

They all invested in their daughters, us, to become well-rounded, highly educated, very skilled and autonomous individuals.  They equipped us so well to face a world that is usually unfair and harsh.  But then, our lot decided to go the traditional way and married roaming career-driven spouses.  We didn’t just hit a brick wall.  We all collided into that huge Dam that is called Sacrifice, head on!

So here we found ourselves, molded into a traditional role we were neither tuned to nor trained for all our youth. We were expected to follow, nurture, support, pack and follow again.. and again..and again….

A few girls I know have actually fit perfectly into that domestic mold.  Most however, have fought viciously at first, given up when kids popped out one after the other, waited it out with a small job, a consultancy, a degree here and there. And when it was time to rise, like a dormant volcano that has suddenly risen from its slumber, they have revolted.

They are the girls who truly hunger for a little more than domestic gratitude, a lot more than what their spouses can offer ( I mean intellectual input rather than $$$$ and Egppps). 

They are the girls who believe that they can and should pursue their own path rather than follow and accept another person’s path.

On the outset, you’d think what a selfish generation. Do they think they can have it all? A man, a house, good kids and a career of their own??

The truth is YES! We are that generation! Educated, Rebellious, Strong and Confident (not that much!).  And I don’t see that selfish! We only live it once and we – in many cases (not always) – have a choice!

From all my peers who have already made the leap and stopped following, I don’t see an ounce of selfishness in their blood.  In fact, I see a zest for life so strong, that it somehow overflows and reflects on their motivated and focused kids. The few wise men, who have accepted and supported, have so far, maintained a very critical balance and thus have kept their marriages quite stable. Hint Hint J

Admiring each and everyone of them, Hanan and I slowly fall into silence as each drifts in her own thoughts! I just turned 40.. but my baby girl is only 5! When will my time come?  I didn’t dare ask her what she was thinking at this point.

Minutes after, Ramadan TV series and silly commercials overtook the rest of ourtrek. As expected, I went back home quick to cook for the kids before they came home… hmmmmmmmm.. Did I just confess that I turned …… Better get working on that bucket list!

1 comment:

  1. I feel your ambivalence and commend your soul-searching. As always. Keep the blogging, thinking - and honest communication, going.