We’re back to the inescapable heat of the United Arab Emirates where temperatures vary from 100-115 degrees Fahrenheit from dusk to dawn. We are back to camel crossings and the multiple daily sounds of calls to prayer. We back to date trees and sand dunes. We have returned home.
For the past 6 years, we’ve visited our family in America and have had to say goodbye after, what feels like, too short of a trip. We come each time, usually with an additional child or after one of my children has reached a major milestone, and become used to East Coast time, our city’s weather, and our mothers’ perfumes. My children become reacquainted with their grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and my husband’s and my childhood friends and their children. They get into a routine of having visitors daily and exploring outdoors relatively comfortably.
Then, suddenly, time—with very little consideration for us—seems to speeds up and we stand, again, in tears, bidding adieu until the heat of the next summer returns.
When my husband and I originally decided to move to the United Arab Emirates from Columbia, we did so without a care. We were newlyweds, children-less, and young. We had plans of seeing the world and then returning back to our hometown to raise a family. Six months after we moved, we became pregnant with our first child. Eight months after her birth, we became pregnant with our second child. We, unintentionally, followed that exact pattern for the births of our next two children.
Our plans undoubtedly changed, and a 2-year plan easily turned into a 6-year plan, with plans of an additional five. Our home abroad became our home. This sandpit has been the birth place of our four children, the place of our first home together, where we picked out our first car together, had our first couch sleep after a fight, celebrated first birthdays, and had many a budget talk around our kitchen table.
It has become us, who we are as a unit and family.
Yet, as of late, I have been reminded of our initial selfish decision as our children become more aware of the distance and time between them and their other family members. My oldest is four and she often asked if we could stay in America this past visit. She felt our time winding down, watched me gather our things, and ran off a list of things that she would miss when we left. Family was at the top of the list and “bigger” toys were a really close second.
I could relate and sympathize with her; I miss going to my mom’s house, having dinner with my dad, and meeting friends for lunch. I also miss the familiarity of my hometown: having breakfast at a local restaurant, heading to my favorite supermarket, and traveling down recognizable interstates. Even more so, I miss the presence of grandparents at birthday parties and school functions, weekends surrounded by cousins, unplanned play dates, and family members’ important events and happenings.
I, for sure, understand how she felt and I am taken aback every time my eldest son has asked, since returning, if we can go to grandma’s house today.
Unfortunately, for the two of them and the rest of us, our time here is not up. While the decision to move here was initially one of spontaneity, it has now become one of economical sense. Yet and still, every year I count down to traveling stateside and often dread our returning to the desert. And while the dread decreases more each year, the sadness is still ever present.
I know that we will, terribly, miss our parents, siblings, in-laws, and friends. But for the time being and next couple of summers, we will continue to say goodbye and with heavy hearts we will return, once again, to the business of living life abroad.
Refusing to wear a cape (as that brings about too much pressure and unwanted attention), South Carolina native LaAisha Lorick, mommy of four and full-time educator, takes each moment and day one at a time. Raising four children all ages 4 and under in the United Arab Emirates definitely has its challenges, but she and her husband are enjoying the ride and are hoping that these experiences will create well-rounded and passionate little people. When she isn’t changing diapers, stepping on Legos, figuring out dinner, or lesson planning, she enjoys reading, writing, and date nights with the love of her life. She currently blogs at The Expat Parent.