It’s been a month since we returned from our nine-day trip back to the States. It finally feels like we are settling in here, and this is feeling like home. Even E looked around a couple weeks ago and said, “This looks like our home.”
When I went to apply for my UK bank account, for the first time, I had to tick the “Homemaker” box in the employment category. Titles like that always rub me the wrong way—Stay-at-Home-Mom, Housewife; I prefer “Chief Domestic Officer,” thanks—but actually, I thought about it, and homemaking is really what I have been doing as my main job lately. Trying to turn this rented house in a foreign country into our family’s home. I’m nearly there. Once we get the pictures hung on the walls, I think I will feel like the house is put together. Hopefully before baby arrives!
This week of being off my feet because of my knee injury has felt like a big setback. I don’t do “taking it easy” well. Especially in the midst of the nesting phase of pregnancy. I realize this is probably a big fat sign that I have been doing too much and need to slow down, but did I have to come to a full stop? Fortunately, at least there’s hired help. If there is a silver lining to this week, it’s that we found an amazing nanny who can do flexible hours and is willing to take E to and from school and gymnastics class and even over to her house to play with her daughters. She has been a God-send. And E loves her! She’s probably going to be upset the first day I’m able to walk her to school again, ha.
Anyway, we had a great trip to Oregon and spent lots of quality time with family and friends, and made multiple trips to Target to get my fix. When we came back here, it felt more real, because we knew we won’t be Stateside again till February. Walking through customs at Heathrow, I felt like I had to flip a switch in my brain, to get back to saying and doing things the English way. Everything is just a bit more difficult here. Being in the States felt so easy; everything was so familiar and I didn’t have to think before I said something to make sure I was using the proper terminology, and I always knew where I was going and what things meant, and it was just… easy.
We’ll get there, though. We learn as we experience the cultural differences and we adapt. We try new things and go new places and meet new people and ask questions and then we know. People have stopped me on the street and asked for directions and I have confidently given them. I now know to order “turkey mince” when I want ground turkey and “shortcrust” when I want pie crust dough and and “filter coffee” if I want an American-style drip coffee instead of something made in an espresso machine. I know which stores stay open after 5 on Sundays. Just a few weeks into school and E has already started to develop an English accent. She’s softened her R’s and sharpened her T’s in her words, and it makes me laugh and I love it. She likes her new school, takes public transit like a pro, and proved to be pretty adaptable this week when I’ve asked her to go with near-strangers when I couldn’t walk her to school.
And I’ve made some friends. E and I have had lots of playdates with people who live nearby, and I’ve had a couple coffee and lunch dates with other mums while the kids are in school, too. I attended a four-week NCT (National Childbirth Trust) birth refresher course for mums in the area having their second baby this fall, which was educational but also social in purpose. So many people say they still get together with their NCT group years later. An instant group of friends with kids the same age, perfect!
So we’re settling in. Just gotta get the damn pictures hung.