Saturday, November 26, 2005

Your life is what you make it, wherever you make it

I was reading Sunflora's post on being an expat's wife, and I am reminded of how I had felt when I first got here.
I think my experience might be slightly different (and less stressful) since I have my kids to ocupy my attention, but yes, I did feel depressed at first.
Imagine, I had friends and family all around me when I was in Malaysia, I was in constant contact with at least one adult everyday (excluding my husband), and suddenly, there I was cooped up in the house, with no other adult to talk to but my husband.
What made it worse was that I did not have a computer nor internet connection.
I started thinking, "Is this it? Is this what my life has boiled down to?"
I was lying down on my bedroom floor pretending I was doing my pilates when I started to feel like if I were to disappear, no one would even notice. As I lay there quietly, wondering when my kids would come looking for me I actually believed it.

Then I met other Melayus. The first group I met were mostly .. urm.. ibu2 mithali lah kira.. Their family is their life. They talk about how they take care of their kids and husband, tell me where to buy groceries, where to shop, talked about jewellery, talked about cooking, exchanged recipes and such.. I mean it's not bad, but, there surely must be more to life as an expat wife than this.
Then I met Shali. Here was a woman who has totally engrossed herself in being an expat's wife. She's a member of the compound's commitee, she teaches aerobics to some of the ladies, her kids enter swiming competitions, she learnt how to play tennis, she's actively involved in her kid's school activities.. In her I saw great possibilities of enjoying my life here.
After meeting her I made a resolution. I will not depend on my husband. I will not put my happiness or freedom into some other person's hands.
I decided to become a bus monitor in hopes that I can meet other expat's wife. I made muka tak malu and was not shy to say the first hello, to be the one who breaks the ice. Some might have rejected me due to my 'asian-therefore-maid' appearance, but I don't take them personally.
I noticed how the men here respond to the way a lady is dressed, so I dressed accordingly so as not to invite unwanted attention, disregarding other people's comments on how 'extreme' I look.
I learned the bus schedule and routes and took the bus to go shopping. First with other mothers I met on the school bus, then later, on my own.
I got involved in my children's school activities. I joined the Parents Volunteer Group so that I am updated whenever they need help, and offer help whenever I can.
And when my computer arrived, I blogged :)

Of course lah everything was not a bed of roses..
There were many a times when I practically had to coax my husband to bring us out, somewhere, anywhere. At one point I even complained to him, "I imagined moving to a foreign country would be exciting, full of adventure, of new discoveries, of learning new cultures.. tapi ... habuk pun tarak!". He knew I was dissapointed... but he asked me to be patient. He promised me he'll give me my adventure, sooner or later.
And then when you're at home, you have more time to melawa and stuff and you get all psyched up and turned on, and bila your husband balik, dia penat.. nak rest.."tunggu weekend boleh?".. ces.
tapi dapat gak buat lagi satu.. tee hee
Lagi teruk if you have a husband like mine, who is very very careful with money (read: borderline kedekut). Orang lain punya rumah, lawa dengan hiasan2 nya.. and diorang cincin besar2, gelang tebal seinci berutas2, abaya mengerlip-ngerlip..
kita? rumah kosong furniture standard, abaya ada 2 helai aje, jewellery jangan tanya lah.. blender pun tak mampu nak beli.
Memang takda gaya expat lansung. Patutlah bila I keluar orang ingat I ni maid..
Tapi kisah lah kan.. Those are all material things.
To me, what matters is that we're together as a family.

When we sit around the dinner table and I watch my family eat the food that I have cooked myself, watch my kids have a lively conversation with their father and me, see them break into a huge grin when they see me waiting for them come out of school, see them rush to hug their father when he presses the doorbell and opens up the door when he comes home from work, I think perhaps, this is all worth all the trouble after all.

6 comments:

  1. bensi la, kiter dah comment banyak tadi. i said kalau bosan, start writing islamic children books la. i went to saba and was so teh veery the disapointed waaaan.

    Ummiku sayang 'kinda' help. Jawab phone marah-marah (claimed she was working, probably i called at a wrong time). She promised to call me on Saturday which is 3 days after my call. Tapi ni..tarak pun.

    In case if you're wondering, we're having a familyday and each staff/parent will get a goodie bag. Based on my wise opinion, heh, they agree to give books/toys..and while we're at it why not promoting those islamic books/toys kan? This also means that..im buying in bulk.

    aahh welll....

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  2. Anonymous6:31 PM

    Joe,
    Amboi, marah nye... jgn macam tu. Bila rasa macam tu aje kena ingat, kalau kita susah, ade org. lagi susah dari kita tau. So, bersyukurlah dgn ape yg. ade. Mungkin ade hikmahnya. Dia nak uji kita ke, ape ke. Cool k?

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  3. nusayba6:10 AM

    its been DAYSS, and only now i can see the updates on this blog. before this, although you mentioned on ppls comments about you updating, tapi, takde ape2 pun. and i was thinking, kak elisa ni ada blogspot lain pulak ke.

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  4. saya akan cuba berfikiran positif. tetapi saya sangat rasa beruntung kerana ramai rerakan yang didalam situasi yang sama. Kita patut adakan expat's wife support group for bloggers

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  5. *hugs*

    elisa, i sukalah your pic, top right..woo hooo..cool!

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  6. reading your post makes me feel they are ppl who is actually in the same boat with me... heheeh

    takpe la sis elisa yg penting husband kite bagi unconditional love to us and to our child/children kan, of course la ada duit lebih tu bonus la

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