Over the last 60+ days, I’ve repeatedly gotten this question: So how are you adjusting to life back in the US?
Let me tell you what our last 8 weeks have been like: we’ve somehow put the apartment together, gotten the kids to school and to each of their extra curricular activities. We’ve been to Disneyland about 8 or 9 times (I think this deserves a post all on its own). We’ve also been busy making new friends and re-connecting with some old ones (If I’ve not been able to call yet, I’m so sorry!).
We’ve been to play dates, hosted a few, and have just randomly stumbled on others. We’ve had our first set of visitors and gotten through a 3-week school break for Sam (which actually meant I had ZERO downtime, as peacocks never really want downtime!). Somewhere in there I’ve managed to finish up some projects for work back home am currently helping push the Two Tots Christmas Catalogue and holiday orders.
Now here comes the shameless plug: if you haven’t ordered yet, please go ahead and do so! We’ll get it to you, no matter where you are in the world! 😉
But back to our regular programming. Like any big move, it is a roller coaster ride all on its own. The little things of getting the affairs in order and unpacking… it takes time, especially with kids. But I will say that moving back here from Manila (versus moving from Chapel Hill to Manila), I felt (feel) was easier… and for several reasons:
I begun my parenting journey here. The practices, the way of life of a parent with young kids here — I learned it all in NC once upon a time. It’s just the way I knew how to parent. I comfortable coming back to it. The place was different, the state was different, and there are other nuances too but essentially it’s of the same philosophy. Also, there are no yaya-woes which as I’ve experienced, is quite a big deal in Manila. Don’t ask me about babysitters yet! I haven’t gotten that far. 😉
There’s no traffic. Well, there is. But somehow again, travel time has become predictable. And everything that we need or that we do can be found within a 5-7 mile radius, which is approximately a 10-minute drive. I know exactly which parts and which times of the day where more cars are on the road and I can create a routine around it. My MindPrint confirms that I thrive on predictability and structure and routine. It’s no wonder the Manila traffic drove me crazy!
The weather is more predictable. This has been very helpful, particularly for Jamie’s eczema. As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s practically gone. That’s been the biggest plus of all, since Jamie can go for hours on end without medication and just enjoy the day. We know way ahead when the weather shifts and we can be more preventive about her condition than reactive. With the wonderful LA weather, the kids get to enjoy one playground or another every single day.
We have the DV-R… and Netflix! These were some of the things I missed when we moved back to Manila. I’ve so many shows to catch up on I get all excited about them. My husband laughs when I animatedly talk about what I want to watch when the kids go to bed. It’s also our version of date night, or my version of “me time” (on the occasions he needs to work late).
The efficiency and the autonomy work in my (our) favor. Many have said this — but in Manila for things to run smoothly, there is an intrinsic need to be dependent on others and to relinquish a little (or a lot) of control over your parenting. It is an ecosystem of co-dependency, and there is totally nothing wrong with that. I realized that it was taking me longer to accept it because it’s just not how I’m built, and not how I’m used to doing things. In fact, I was still adjusting to it when we moved back here. But coming back here where everything is on you (including the making of your furniture!), and there is an efficiency to the system (even in the medical profession!)… it just fit!
And the girls are so much more independent now because of it. The nature of how things are forces them to do certain things on their own that they would never really do in Manila because of all extra helping hands around. Jamie for instance, dresses herself. All her clothes are within her reach, so she can go into her room, pick out what she wants to wear and come back to me fully dressed. Whether it matches or not is a different story. That’s not bad for a three-year old, no? Sam can prepare her own snack and pour her own drink. She also puts her plate in the sink when she’s done. The girls are forced to pack away on their own and help each other with certain things when I’m busy doing something else.
Do I (we) miss Manila? Yes of course — there are aspects to it that I miss. The people mostly. My chiropractor! Oh man, what I’d give to have him here for a week! The #BetterMe sessions. The food. The girls say school — they do miss everything about their old schools. Other cultural nuances.
I’ve come to realize though, as you move from one place to the next, wherever in the world it may be… you never really leave fully. I’ve always said, Chapel Hill will always be home. Manila for all that it is — has been and forever will be that too. And now we have a third place to call home.
So the adjustment? It’s been good. Tiring but fun. It’s also still ongoing. I suppose you can say our LA adventures are really just beginning.