Choices. Inside the life of an expat.
|Sara and her friend, Bridget at MIT/WHOI. Thanks to Bridget's blog post, "A Defense at WHOI", I was able to see a key moment in Sara's life when she flipped over her photo to signify the completion of a successful defense.|
I recently learned that "Out and About in Paris" was nominated for an expat blog award, which kind of confused me because I don't really think of it as an "expat" blog. It's more about Paris than about my life in France. Just for today, I'm going to write a more personal post about one slice of expat life for those who may be contemplating a move abroad. I'll be "Out and About" in my next post.
Choices. All people are confronted by choices, but quite often the stakes seem a bit higher for expats. It's the nature of the game when you marry someone from another country or accept a job that is far from family and friends.
Nonetheless, I'm still trying to come to terms with the fact that I wasn't in the auditorium when my daughter presented her research for the defense of her masters thesis in October. Saying that it was too far for Stéphane and me to travel for a thirty-minute talk and that she would rather have us come to Boston for her graduation, Sara convinced us to stay in Paris. I'm still not sure it was the right decision. As a bit of background information, this is the same daughter who spent her last year of high school at a boarding school in Switzerland - not because she was a wild child that we wanted out of our house, but because we were transferred to the United States when she still had one more year of the two-year British A-level program to complete. As a result, I missed being there when Sara came home from school, I missed comforting her when she had a hard day, I missed making sure that she ate healthy food as she prepared for her A-level exams. Most importantly, I missed her. But accepting a 3-5 year assignment in Ohio that started during her final year of high school was the compromise that we made in order to be closer to our daughter when she started university in America.
Sara hasn't lived at home since she was 16. She'll be 25 on Christmas Day. So, imagine how happy I am that she's going to spend a couple of months with us in Paris! Of course, I'm already scheming of ways to extend her visit by dropping hints about possible jobs. I know, however, that the choice will ultimately be up to her. She was born an expat and will have to go wherever her job takes her.
Choices. Another choice that I made was to stay with my terminally ill mother in the United States after she was diagnosed with brain cancer. Considering all that my mother had done for me throughout her life, returning to Switzerland, which is where we lived at the time, wasn't even an option. I'll never forget the sinking feeling in my stomach when the hospice doctor told me during our initial consultation that he would have to admit my mother to a hospital if they felt that I couldn't cope with caring for her on my own at home. Assuring him that my siblings were committed to spending as much time with our mother as their work schedules would permit because we all knew how much she abhorred the thought of dying in a hospital, the doctor explained that he was still concerned because I wouldn't have the day-to-day support of my husband. Nonetheless, we made it work. Stéphane's voice on the other end of the phone gave me the strength to cope with caring for my mother's intimate needs. The decision to be with my mother during her final days is one of the best choices that I've ever made, even though it meant being away from Stéphane for three months.
On this day after Thanksgiving, I'm thankful to be an expat. While it's rarely the glamorous life that others seem to believe, it's the way that Stéphane and I chose to live many years ago. It was another good choice.
If you would like to discover lots of other interesting blogs written by expats in Paris, please click here to visit Expats Blog. While you're there, please feel free to leave a comment about "Out and About in Paris". You'll have to scroll down because it's listed near the bottom of the page.