First month home
My boys and I have been lost. Absorbed in a vortex of putting in order our lives back here, home in England. My family tell me I should feel proud of what I have achieved in such a short space of time, but I can’t say I do. This is a mothers natural drive and determination to have her children feel happy, settled and together. Leaving J, Daddy, back in Malaysia was tough, but not as emotional as we feared, each focused on what we were to do, and knowing in our hearts it was the right decision. Now this is no mean feat, if you have followed the blog you will know decisions are not always my forte, but this one I knew there could be no regrets.
We arrived back in London to a superb evening welcome from family, and then prepared ourselves for one Incredible Long Day. With several rejects from the closest schools to our rental apartment (which I had organised online from Malaysia!), we finally had word on those schools left in Bath with space to take both boys.
Jet lagged, anxious, exhausted, we set-off towards Bath to visit schools. The boys were pale, anxious and bemused as we checked out schools, but we persevered and accepted a good school just a short drive away. Next-up the new flat (seeing it for the first time) – inventory, keys, and finally to the garage to collect our newly named “Sally” Citroen car (organised from Malaysia!). My last ounces of adrenaline and energy following Mum down to her home in Somerset and swapping the chaos of the Malaysian motorcyclists to the twists and turns of country lanes.
Never have I felt so happy. To be in Mum’s home, so warm, comforting, homely. Mum had done her preparations, and we spent the next few days in a true British state of recovery – walks, talks, and the odd pint in the pub. Big O and I would wake so early, and what better way to start the day than a 5am walk as soul mates and companions on the hills behind the village. This was a week to regroup, recover and relax, and most importantly to convey to the boys a strong sense of family and security.
We still own a house in the UK, on the outskirts of Taunton. Before we even decided to return home, we had started preparations to put the house on the market as our life is set to be in Bath for the foreseeable future. We left this house a long time ago. Like so many, our lives changed overnight once the recession took hold, and within 3 weeks our possessions went to storage and we arrived at my mothers door with suitcases and babies in hand. This was really the beginning of our Sunflower Journey, learning a new way, without all we thought we had and should have, the opening part of our shift, our reshaping, our understanding. I know I digress, but the memories were so fresh walking round our house, I felt no emotion, just grateful to still have a house, and content in the knowledge once it is sold we can start our next chapter.
Yes, the move to Bath has been a challenge. In my heart I have been very, very happy, but this heart has been beating rather fast, a constant agitated state of mind at the enormity of getting our lives back on track. The flat is so very small. So many boxes and no space. So many boxes full of complete and utter rubbish from 9 years ago, and I soon followed the formula of 90% tip, 10% keep, determined to try to keep life simple. Cut down on belongings and free ourselves from clutter (watch this space). The flat is in the most wonderful location, and although small, absolutely perfectly formed. A few trips to IKEA and late nights putting together flat pack furniture has saved the day. I have been neurotic about having the boys room feel cosy and like home, and they have been so thrilled to see the return of their toys, and more importantly, teddies. Bath itself is incredible. Stunning. Beautiful. I have a new found appreciation for the old, the historical, the architectural beauty of this Roman city.
First day of school was always set to be a challenge, but they have handled themselves so well, and I am very, very proud of them. They are lucky to have each other, only one school year apart they are never far away from each other for a bit of brotherly reassurance. Settling at school has been a whole lot easier thanks to an old contact who spotted me in the playground when we looked around the school and sent a FB message offering all sorts of support, help and a friendly get-together with a few families before school started. Seriously, you have been amazing, and I am so very thankful. The school has been so incredibly friendly, the teachers fantastic and fingers crosse this all bodes well for the remainder of their primary years. There are names of friends being discussed at home, and the wonders of British Bulldog in the school playground. If you ask the boys the best bit about their new school, it is unanimous.. school dinners and the tuck shop. It is actually a great time to start a new school, events, parties, school trips and a general summer feeling of fun and high spirits.
We have joined a local Boy Scout group (originally started in 1939!). Both boys are in together and absolutely thrilled. As am I… Tuesday evenings have been firmly declared Boys Night (J included). I have also found the most incredible after school care where the boys get to roam free in a big old manor house experiencing everything from woodwork, blacksmithing, tree houses, race tracks and a whole lot more. It is total magic and the boys are reluctant to come home on a Thursday.
I gave in way too easily and the boys now have bikes. You may remember their obsession with bikes in Cambodia (in the absence of toys) and this remains unabated here in Bath. Our first outing, a family picnic to Castle Coombe racetrack to picnic and cycle the evening away with the school, the height of excitement particularly for Z the budding motor enthusiast. With the return to the weekly routine of school, my desire to rejoice in the Friday feeling remains, fish and chip Friday, and a pint in the pub (of course apple juice for the juniors) have both proved extremely popular.
An unexpected turnaround, and J has secured work here in UK and arrived home last night. Daddy is home. J is home. He has already started work, and there is such a sense of relief that we are all together again. I feel my body visibly relax, no longer solely responsible, and to start this next chapter.
What have I noticed? So much. Quickly I become tuned to my new reality. It is so sophisticated, everything works, everything is so high end. The TV. The Internet. And I am amazing how intuitive it feels to me. Of course, this is my birthplace. This is all so familiar, and that alone is to be respected. There is glamour attached to living in another country, but it is never without challenge and complexities.
What does it feel like to be home? It feels fabulous. Unbelievable. Terrifying. I love it. I have harboured a deep feeling of isolation from special friends and family for a long time, and to be back in the same time zone makes me feel so connected. These boys are happy. Very Happy. They have run free with the wind in their hair through the fields, they know they are home and it makes my heart sing.
You may wish to leave Sunflower Journey, and thank-you for giving me time, thoughts and support. For us, Sunflower Journey continues, in a different way with different challenges. I will still journal here, but don’t feel like you have to stay.
Thank-you. Seriously, thank-you.