a newsy sort of update..

Oh hey there, remember I used to write this blog? Oh and (affectionate chuckle), remember how I had lots of lovely plans and a schedule even for writing 3 times a week. That was cute. I believe that the schedule was the last thing I posted for about 6 weeks so now we know that a schedule is not the right way to go. Live and learn. You tuned in with the promise of news.
We’re moving back to South Africa.
It feels so weird to type and say those words. We’re moving to South Africa.
Although my desire to return to SA has never been a secret it’s now a solid plan and since as we are working toward that things are sort of leaking out in dribs and drabs I figured I may as well share the plan officially. 
Yeah so it feels weird to say..but I have to say it. Because this time is different and talking about things in a definite solid way makes them definite and solid.  But yeah…I’ve been putting off putting it out there in an official way…for a variety of reasons..
One major reason is because we have nothing solid whatsoever in place to facilitate this plan. As in, Aaron does not yet have a job, we have not sold our house (nor is it even on the market yet) we don’t even have our kids in schools over there yet and we have not yet booked our plane tickets. We do have a couple of things which make it real though: we have an exit date a real day in early August crossed off on the calendar, my parents have organized where everyone is going to sleep in their house, and we all have real hope that all is going to work out the way it is supposed to.

Look, I’ve lived long enough to never say never and because we have not been able to get to the Temple yet (where LDS people tend to go for spiritual clarity and enlightenment when they are making life changing decisions) to get a solid confirmation on our decision, I am going on record as leaving a loophole for God to say “no this is not the way it’s going to go at all really” but other than that,  I feel pretty solid about the idea that this is how it’s going to go and so far I feel that He is with me.
Here’s the plan as it stands right now. We are bidding adieu to Ohio in August. In a perfect world it will be all of us on that plane.  If A doesn’t have a job by the time it’s time to go and we haven’t sold our house by that time (both of these probabilities are highly likely) me and the kids will forge ahead and he will stay behind (sniff) until both of those things are accomplished.

I’m hoping to get the kids settled into the final semesters of school over there so they can repeat a part of the year they will have just completed here. It’s my hope that this will get them acclimated and more ready to hit the ground running in January when the new school year starts in South Africa.  Decent schools there are tough to get into though particularly mid-year so that’s going to take some doing and obviously I don’t want my kids (or myself) on the opposite side of the world to their father just twiddling their thumbs so if we can’t nail down schooling over there our departure might be delayed.
I hope not though since this is a natural stopping point for Gabe who is graduating from middle school in June, and it will be hard for all of them to start school here with the knowledge that it’s just for a few months. I also feel like if I am over there it will be easier to lock down a job for Aaron and 6 more people aren’t in the house trashing it on the daily, it will probably be easier to sell..
If this all seems crazy and rushed and foolhardy well maybe it is in some ways but in other ways not at all.  The truth is that we’ve tried to wait for the perfect job to manifest itself in South Africa with everything all squared away and in place for like…19 years…but it just never happened. We’ve worked on it in this prudent fashion to no avail. It made me feel so sad and impotent and frustrated.
Then one day not long ago I woke up and had an epiphany.  I realized that we had been waiting for life to give us the go ahead to follow our dreams. Newsflash. Life almost never does that.  Suddenly I realized that if we wanted this to work out we had to go with another tactic.  Time with kids does not stand still and windows of opportunity are closing.  I’m not waiting for life anymore. It’s time for the take charge approach.
That day something shifted for me and I decided that I was going to go ahead with my dreams and life could follow, ready or not.  It’s not optimal and yes of course I wish things were nice and neat and squared away for us but wishing doesn’t get you where you want to be and so we are going to work with what we’ve got.

And now for the why’s although whenever people ask me that I am inclined to answer, “SERIOUSLY??”
Disclaimer: I have been in a ton of physical pain  (like worse than unmedicated childbirth) due to a badly botched dental situation pretty much constantly for the last two weeks (another dull story for another time) and so perhaps it’s the edginess from all that taking it’s toll, but I have to say I do get a slight surge of incredulous outrage when people who know that we have no family here and know that I am from South Africa casually ask in all good faith why we would want to go back to South Africa. 
So I’m going to lay it out here so I can refer people to these reasons without getting pissy and hostile and all, “SERIOUSLY???”

1. Almost all of my family remains in South Africa. I have one sister in Australia and I am doing everything in my power to have her and my brother in law come home too. My family is not without its tensions and conflicts but we are close. I miss my parents and siblings terribly.  I feel as though their influence will be invaluable to my children.
My greatest sadness is my children grew up without extended family in their lives and that my family have not got to watch my kids grow up. I have the opportunity to fix that now and I’m taking it before it is too late. My oldest son is 2 years from leaving home to go to college or on a mission. He was just BORN you guys! Time flies. Windows close.
It devastates me to think of him losing any more time without having extended family as an intrinsic part of his life. I am sad for myself that I did not have the support and joy and sharing raising kids with my family to participate. If you have family on the same continent as you or even if your family lives on another continent but they are allowed to visit you on your continent, (long not dull but very long story for another day)  I don’t think you can fathom how tough it is to raise kids with your family that far away.  Trust me, it sucks. A lot. Logistically, emotionally…it’s rough. I have ALWAYS wanted to have my family close by when I raised my kids. It was always very important to me and like I say, it’s a terrible sadness that it has not turned out that way so far.
2. South Africa is my soul’s home. It’s where I’m from. It’s where I belong and it’s where I feel the most alive and authentic. It’s in my blood and it always will be.  I never ever planned to leave South Africa permanently, I never had any desire to leave at all really. When I did leave for school I always intended to be right back. I often, often regret not having returned immediately.  I never became an American citizen because I could never imagine pledging an allegiance to a country that wasn’t South Africa (and frankly I think pledging allegiance at all is odd and nationalistic but that’s another rant for another time…what? Ok moving on.)
We have magnificent friends here. Truly the best friends anyone could ever hope to have, the closest thing to family anyone could hope to have and for that we are immeasurably grateful.  They have contributed to the success of our family in hugely significant ways and we will never be able to repay them or express to them how much they have done for us and how much a part of our hearts they are and always will be. But in the end…they have their own families.  When the summer comes they leave us and go and visit them. On holidays they go and visit them. And we stay here alone. We are not their family.
Finny tells me wistfully all the time that his friends have gone to visit their grandma AGAIN. He is openly jealous of the fact that they get to do that.  He has met his grandpa once. He doesn’t remember him. He has met his granny a handful of times. And much as we delight in the visits of my family members it’s not the same as growing up with them.  It’s different, the dynamic is not natural, we’re all in vacation, this is going to end, let’s squeeze it all in quick mode. I want my kids to be able to confide in my parents, in their uncles and aunts after a rough day of school, after a fun date, to go bike riding with them on the weekends. To watch them give talks at church. To attend their ballet recitals and concerts and soccer games. I want Sunday dinners and playing with cousins.  I want that very badly But mostly I feel an urgent need for their support and influence on our kids at this critical stage of their lives. They need that concentration and investment more than they ever have. And I just don't feel like we can lose any more time.  Time does not stand still. Time flies.


My older kids did not have the benefit of growing up with cousins nearby but at least they had each other. Ella being so much younger stands to be an only child in a few years when her sibs have left for college and in South Africa there are cousins her age and soon there will be more!  The idea of her having family to pal around with makes my heart sing I have been so worried about her being lonely and bereft after being so intensely surrounded with people in her young childhood and now I won't have to. Ella truly is the luckiest girl ever.

So many people say, “but you have such a perfectly nice life here, it will be so much harder in South Africa!” and I do not disagree. It will be much harder in many ways I already know about and many I have yet to discover.
Frankly, we aren’t motivated to do this because we think it’s going to be easy. We are motivated to do it because we think it will be worth it and because we think it is the right thing to do.  We know that there are so many things that are more rewarding, more character building more enriching, more memory making than ease and complacency. Don’t get me wrong I am so grateful for the idyllic circumstances that we do enjoy here but it’s not all idyllic. And it won’t all be idyllic in South Africa.  I do not go into this wearing rose coloured glasses, or without major concerns and some trepidation. But I am not afraid. Because I feel like it’s the right thing to do.  Almost everyone I have spoken to about this has reminded me that South Africa has changed since I was a kid there. And I like to remind them that I have in fact visited South Africa several times in the last few years. I know that it has changed.  Here’s the thing, nowhere is the same as when we were kids. Twenty years changes things. 
There is a lot of bad scary stuff in South Africa. There is more wonderful, amazing fabulous stuff in South Africa. I’m going there for that.  This is my mantra lately:
choices hope
(It’s a good one I think.)
How do the kids feel about this? They are surprisingly keen. All but one and not the one you think. He is opposed but he will come around.
It will be an incredible adjustment for the kids and it will probably be rough at first in lots of ways.
When I was 15 we made a move which was similarly culture-shocking. It was hell, one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. The worst. For about a year. And then it was amazing.  Pretty much everything I most value in my life hinged on that move. It was pivotal for my entire future. I have a great testimony of the value of getting out of one’s comfort zone. The next few months…maybe year are not going to be comfortable for any of us I predict. Already things are uncomfortable, stressful, logistically nightmarish.  Almost every day I am tempted to toss this crazy idea and settle back down into what I know, the comfortable, pleasant and easy but then I think about this…
what might have been
So that’s the (not so) quick and dirty lowdown. I don’t feel the need to justify or defend this decision to anyone but I did want to explain some of our thinking because it is natural that people will be intrigued or curious. I know there will be people who will despair at what they perceive to be our stupidity and think we are making a terrible mistake and that is their prerogative. 
Maybe they are right, I don’t think so but I guess we will never know til we try…
greatest misstake
So that’s where we are right now.  In Mayhem. We are all crazed with all the insanity the month of May already brings, I have been mostly dysfunctional and crazed with pain (or drugged and asleep) for the better part of two weeks (with minor surgery on Friday to look forward to) and we’re also trying to find jobs, do the jobs we already have, get 5 kids into schools,  make travel/moving plans, apply for passports, fix up a house to get on the market….not much really.

It’s good to be back.  I’m not ready to give up on this blog. I still have so much to catch up on, so much more to talk about but this is probably a good enough start. I’m pretty impressed that I managed to get it out at all considering how sore/high I am. I think it might be funny to read tomorrow…
What do you think?

I'm reading: a newsy sort of update..Tweet this!


leah said...

how exciting! :) so happy for you!

Anonymous said...

I think its amazing!!! I do not (by far) live as far from my parents and in laws as you do but we have fervently been trying to relocate near someone we call family for over two years now. It's tiring and frustrating, but it will happen someday. I love that you are grabbing that "someday" and making it yours! You are so right, friends can mean a great deal to us, but it's always different. It sounds so cliche, but family really is everything. I hope and pray that things go as smoothly as possible for all of you in the coming months! -Bethany H.

Heather Kuypers said...

Well I for one am STOKED that you are coming home, and I will continue to do EVERYTHING in my power to help you. I love your reasons and I love that you are coming into this eyes wide open and I love that you want such important stuff for your family.

Thalia Randall said...

Hooray :) xxx

Sisters From Another Mister said...

Wonderful post - full of heart and love and truth and faith ...
So thrilled for you to get to plan out your hearts desire ... wishing you so much love for it all, and look forward to reading all about it on this blog that i know you will never give up.
and schedule schmedule ... pffft.

nyn said...

I am so very happy for you! This has really been a long time coming and good for you to make your dreams a reality. I can't wait to follow your continuing journey. All my love to you all. Love, Carolyn

Jo said...

Even more people for us to visit if we get to come again! :)

Sue Vickery said...

Kristy, so much of what you said is exactly what happened to us. We moved to Ohio for what we thought would be 2 years. It turned out to be 15. We missed our family and also felt disconnected from them when we did see them. Morgan was 17 months old when we moved to that area. We moved home because I didn't know how time I had left with my father (who had just turned 90 and had a heart attack) My mom died after we had been there 5 years and it was awful! So we moved. Katie and Amber were just out of college and they too wanted to go home. Morgan was in 11 grade and was very nervous about starting her junior year here. On her first day I promised her it would be great. She was going to the school I graduated from. After 1 month I asked her "Ok, so it's been one month. What do you think"? She said "Mom, for the first time in my life,I feel like I belong". Leaving what I had come to know so well and not being sure what awaited us in New York made me feel like I was jumping out of a plane and I was putting my faith in God that the pack on my back held a parachute! You have made the right choice. It will be awfully hard but it's not to late to blend your kids into where they belong!