A friend recently asked me if I’d known what I know now before our move to England, would I have done it? (That is, if it were an option.)
The short answer, yes. The long answer is contained in this letter I wish now-me could have sent to then-myself a year ago, as our Omaha house was being packed into hundreds of boxes to vanish for a few months.
Remember, you? I know things are just crazy right now. And I know you’re hoping that as soon as you hop on that plane, it will all magically just be perfect because you’re finally leaving.
I hate to break it to you: your husband’s right. It’s going to take a while.
You’re in the midst of one of your hardest years yet. OK, OK. Hardest two years. But when you come out of it, you’re going to be amazed at who you’ll become.
There are so many silly things that you don’t need to be afraid of. Military bases aren’t scary after all, driving on the wrong side of the road will feel natural in no time, you’ll find all of the baby supplies you need when you get there. You aren’t going to do anything to get beheaded and the people speak English, for crying out loud.
It’s true that your husband will leave for a few months shortly after you arrive. You know how deployments sneak up on you like that. It’s just going to be a lot different this time, with the baby, no work to go to, and just a few new friends. There are going to be a lot of loooong days and lonely nights. Read a lot and blog more!
Speaking of the baby… you’re going to find that spending all day every day with him and no one else is sometimes really challenging. Find a routine for the things you need to get done, and figure out how to work it and some new adventures with him. You don’t want to have all of the chores waiting for you at night. Use the quiet time to do things that make you feel good about yourself.
And speaking of feeling good about yourself… don’t beat yourself up about not getting to the gym. One day (SPOILER ALERT) he’s going to stop napping in the mornings and you’ll make it a part of your new routine. Get outside and explore as much as possible, though! Summers go really fast there. And your stuff isn’t going to arrive for a while so you don’t need to worry about being around to get settled in.
There will come a time when you hope your household goods have been lost in some tragic shipping accident, because you’re getting tired of waiting and you’re afraid it won’t all fit. This won’t happen. The accident, that is. You’ll have to wait three months to get your stuff, and it won’t all fit.
Also, if you get a chance, write a letter to your three-months-ago self and tell her to start going through the basement and closets to get rid of even more stuff.
Since it will be a while before that amazing glider arrives, be sure to ask FMO for an extra chair for the baby’s room so you don’t have to feed him on the floor in the middle of the night that whole time. That’s the worst. Trust me.
There are 42 million steps between now and getting settled. They might tell you it’s just 20. Expect tasks to subdivide, expect offices to be closed, and expect everything to be a little difficult. You’ll get through it, it’s what you do. Think about starting a binder with folders and checklists at the beginning – treat it like you would have an event back at the office.
You probably already know it’s going to be really hard to be so far from family, but you’ll be stunned at how quickly the time flies. Go track down the other spouses at the squadron – they’re very welcoming and are an invaluable resource for dealing with getting settled. They’ll take you out for a proper tea and become your family away from family. Plus, they’ll encourage you to get out and see so many cool new things!
You’re embarking on a big adventure with your sweet little family, and you’re not going to want to change any of it. You’re about to discover how strong you really are, how amazing your husband really is, what a piece of wonder your little guy is, and how much you love where you’ve come from. And in one year, you can tell yourself, “you’ve come a long way, baby!”
PS: You’re going to hate street parking.
PPS: There’s nothing good on British TV, either.
I’d like to give proper credit where due, to Courtney @ larking. for planting the seed of a letter to myself. Cheers!