Expat Post-Holiday Blues

I can’t believe it’s been 2 weeks since we have been back in Dubai and one more sleep till school starts…..the summer holidays in the Emerald Isle seem soooooo long ago.  I miss my homeland.  Don’t get me wrong, I love our life in Dubai, apart maybe from a few, how shall I say, odd characters at work,  the blank looks you get when you ask a standard question in a shop, the lack of consumer protection….oops! I digress!

Post-holiday blues are hard on everyone, but for expats who save their holiday for the summer, usually to return to their homelands to visit family, friends and more favourable weather, it is a rollercoaster ride of emotions.   In a way it is comparable to waiting for Santa.

With the onset of the new year, the FAQ of ‘how many more days till Santa comes?’ is replaced by ‘how many more days to Ireland?’ or some variation like, ‘how many more days till we see Nana and Grandad?’  And, this is only around 6/7 months before we actually leave for the summer break….We tick off the days on a calendar and do a mental countdown every few hours.  I even find myself  ‘using’ the holidays as a weapon of discipline: ‘if you don’t do your homework now……..you might have to stay here over summer to do extra schoolwork’!!!!  Instead of threatening to call Santa, I threaten to call Nana and Grandad!

By the time we board the plane to Dublin, the excitement levels are uncontainable.  The kids rise eagerly at 4:45am to take the taxi on the one hour journey to Abu Dhabi.  By the time the plane touches down on Irish soil, the kids are as energetic as ever…….and by the time we reach Nana and Grandad’s house, it is like we have not been away for 11 months.  They rush to find their old toys,  have a kickabout in the garden and wonder how it can still be bright at 9pm.

During the holidays the kids marvel at the rain, the sea, the lush landscape, the outdoor adventure playgrounds.  They love eating ice creams by a blustery coastline, wearing wellies and eating Nana’s roast dinners.  This is what summers are made of. (Note: I know sentences should not end with a preposition but it doesn’t sound right any other way!).

‘Why can’t we live in Ireland’ becomes the new refrain.  DH and I struggle to offer an answer they can understand.

DH and I get to spend some wonderful quality time with family and friends, and with each other.  For me, getting back to my roots is going back to the fundamentals, getting back to my core.  It’s a time to just ‘be’.  Without work and school runs, I have time to breathe.  My head is clear (DH would probably say ’empty’ is a more apt description!).  It is a golden opportunity to re-connect and remind myself of the track on which I want to put my life, to think about my hopes and dreams for my family; to think about 3, 5 and 10 year plans (Note: I am not a control freak!).

I especially enjoy my time with my close friends, some of whom have known me since Kindergarten.  They free themselves up from their busy, and often stressful schedules to meet up, chat and catch up. They listen, advise, encourage and share the good and the not so good times.

I love seeing the kids spend time with Nana and Grandad even though my cooking is constantly compared (and not favourably to Nana’s) and DH’s football skills compared (again, not favourably) to Grandad’s!

As with 1 January every year, I get to make new resolutions each summer.  This year will be all about revolutions (not the bloody, dictator type!).

But then comes the time to be torn from all these wonderful moments.  The return flight nears.  I get antsy.  3-4 weeks of much needed rich, organic soul injections must see me through another 11 months.  The night before we flew, DS2 woke throughout the night because he was so upset to have to leave Ireland.  Two hours before landing in Abu Dhabi, DS1 burst into tears saying he missed Ireland.  I hugged him close and we sobbed together.

I am happy to be home, in our own space, our own routine but, for the expat, post-summer blues are about more than missing blue skies, sunshine and white, sandy beaches.

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