Just Call Me An Expat


The expat wife is dead. I killed her today.

She’d arrived in a moment of flippancy. I’d tapped her into existence on my keyboard thinking I’d return back with something better. It never came. I’d been unhappy with all of her alternatives. A trailing spouse? No, I’m not a trailer. A STAR (Spouses Travelling And Relocating Successfully) too corny, and I’m more than a spouse. Nothing seemed to fit. Why wasn’t there a better alternative? What would I call her?

I went old school, vintage if you like. I wrote a post about my life and the lives of many others and I called it, with a sense of irony, The Expat Wife.

And off she went. She was read over fifty thousand times and shared often, but her name continued to haunt me.

I stopped to grab a coffee the other day and ran into a male friend on his way to the office. There were a group of women over in a corner, they’d dropped their children at school and were meeting for a quick coffee. “What’s the collective name for a group of school Mums?” he asked with a tone which hinted towards mockery. I shrugged and smiled as I knew he wouldn’t have liked the answer I contemplated – a punch in the face.

Last week I met with friends, women I have met here in Doha. In the room were teachers, hairdressers, journalists, librarians and veterinary nurses. Some were new mothers with strollers parked behind them, others had been on the road for years and had sent children off to University. These are the women I write about every day. Women who bravely set foot on a plane ready to leave family and friends behind. Women who have birthed in labour wards where another language was spoken in between contractions. Women who sat with children with broken limbs and escalating fevers in hospitals far from home. Women who created new businesses out of necessity. Women who study online and sit exams on foreign soil in between school drop offs and pick ups. Women who find themselves in a new country with a flat tyre, a trolley full of shopping, two children in the backseat and a husband in China.

What do you call them?

Women. Expat women. They are not expats with vaginas. Not expats who trail. They are the same as their male counterparts. It’s plain and simple, let’s not confuse it. You don’t require a penis to be an expat.

We are all expats.

I am an expat.

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