Just Me and Steve

If you’ve ever moved country as a family, you know to expect the unexpected. For us, it has been a different experience for each move. But if I had to put seven moves together, it would look something like this:

You arrive in your new location in a state of exhaustion from packing and saying an emotional goodbye to your previous destination. As you attempt to inconspicuously peel a strip of packing tape from your bum while standing in the immigration line, your child announces you have more on the other cheek. You’re not sure what happened in the past three days, they were a whizz of farewells, packing, and jobs that were frantically crossed from lists. You reach into your pocket while your passport is being stamped, you’ve still got the house key. It’s too late to go back.

You arrive in your new house. It appears the squatters moved out just this morning. Your husband swears it’s only temporary and suggests a walk and a bite to eat.  As you wander down the street you realize you look ridiculous, the weather does not match your attire. You’re not sure if it’s hyperthermia or jet lag that has you struggling to keep your face from falling into your soup. It is soup? Isn’t it? You have no idea what it is you’re eating. As you wander around in circles you’re looking not so much like a deer in the headlights, but more a deer who has just seen a lion, followed by a hunter, with a really big gun. You grin in desperation at everyone you meet, they stare back at you wondering why you’re wearing open toe shoes and a sun dress in the snow.

You wake up on day one to find your husband dressed for the office. He has his best serious look on his face. He is very important and needs to go and do very important things. This is his way of disguising that he is ridiculously excited about his new career opportunity, as well as the promise of lunch with colleagues, and the fact that he is freeeeeeeeeeeeee. You kiss your very serious and important husband goodbye. As you look out the window to check the weather, you see your husband doing high kicks and singing oh what a beautiful morning as he makes his way down the street.

You walk back into the kitchen and discover you have no milk, no local currency, no idea where your husband works, no mobile phone, no hot water, no friends and four children who have all just woken up at the same time.

Your child turns on the television and discovers three people who are speaking a language you don’t recognize. They are looking very friendly, without very many clothes on. You quickly change channels to find something else, there is nothing else. Just more very friendly people without many clothes on. You reach for the Steve Irwin and the Wiggles dvd because it was the only English speaking childrens dvd you could find at the airport. Everything else is in a container that you suspect is somewhere near Azerbaijan. Which is a long way from where you are. You think. Or maybe it’s not. You make a mental note to find a world map.

Everything is new. It takes forty five minutes to work out how to turn the shower on. There’s a special button for the stove which is located in the upstairs bathroom, and you’re not quite sure why it smells of pigeon in the spare room. The microwave is bigger than the television and you have two forks and a spoon to share between you and four children. You are now singing “Crikey it’s a croc, toot toot chugga chugga” over and over like a deranged woman.

It takes roughly six hours to feed and get your children dressed for the day. No-one has a jacket, they were in the suitcase that didn’t make it. Someone has diarrhea from either the plane food or the new diet. Or perhaps it was the pigeon feathers you found them playing with in the spare room. You eventually head out the door to find groceries and snow gear. You flag down a cab only to discover there are no seat belts which you soon realize will not matter as you are squished like sardines into the back seat and everyone is firmly wedged together – your arms are trapped to your sides. You ask to go to a bank, you need cash. You go to five banks. No cash. When you finally find a bank that works, you and the taxi driver embrace, you’ve become best friends. You needed the money to pay for the taxi fare, which is now starting to look larger than your mortgage. The children have started to fight, someone is breathing on someone, someone is looking at someone, someone told someone they had fart breath. You finally have money and ask the taxi driver to take you to the nearest winter wear store, he informs you with a big smile that it is a “special day” in your new location and all the winter wear shops are closed. You ask to find the shop with the gin.

Your husband arrives home to find you dancing to hot potato hot potato and speaking to Steve Irwin like a long lost friend. You serve up cheese sandwiches for dinner (that’s all you could find at the corner shop). Your husband talks of a fabulous lunch, a vibrant office and a project that will have him in Paris for two weeks. He enquires about the hefty amount of cash you extracted from the bank account that day and suggests you need to keep an eye on the finances. You wonder if it’s possible to commit murder with a fork and spoon.

You bath the children and put them to bed. Mid story an angelic face asks if you’ll hop into bed with them. As you wiggle your way into the sheets you feel something hard at the foot of the bed and immediately sense the feathers are not from the quilt or doona.

You gently extract the child and announce there’s a special treat of a sleepover in Mum and Dad’s room tonight. As you snuggle in a child announces that they think they’re going to like their new home. The taxi driver had a nice smile. The soup was yummy, and you can watch The Wiggles all day.

Their optimism is infectious. You giggle about the taxi ride. Sing the words to Crikey it’s a Croc just one more time, and agree to try and hit the shops again tomorrow.

For those who are new. I promise it will get better. It always does.

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