I cried a river before leaving my home of 5 years in Doha. It started 6 months earlier than my departure date when we downsized our accommodation in preparation for our transition. This was the beginning of our new normal that I wasn’t actually ready for. However, timing was right for our two youngest to make the move with me to start their new school year in the southern hemisphere, whilst our eldest would finish school in the northern hemisphere with my husband. You would think I’d be ecstatic repatriating to the beautiful shores of NZ to return to dear family & friends so why was I not feeling so?
Moving home to New Zealand was far harder than I thought it would be.
Moving home to the motherland actually meant moving away from another home. Not much had changed – family and friends were still the same, we returned to our house that had been rented out. But I’d changed. Suddenly the conversations with Doha friends about travel & where our next adventure would be induced a glazed over look with the feeling that I was showing off to New Zealand friends. Sharing commonality with expats in regards to families living apart was now a foreign concept frowned upon. It was assumed we were rolling in money and offers of catch ups from long lost acquaintances were abundant due to this perception. Every conversation required careful censoring so as not to mention Doha this, Doha that. Yet this had been my life, and now I struggled to separate every last memory of it as if it never existed. Don’t get me wrong, I do love being back in NZ. I appreciate the beauty at our doorstep & that the kids have the independence & freedom they had yearned for. I never expected this to be easy, it took a full year to adjust to being an expat family after arriving in Qatar. Time will tell. One thing is for sure, I have absolutely no regrets. The experiences we shared as a family (good & bad) have created memories and resilience that are invaluable. I’d do it all over again any day.
Debbie Crowe is a New Zealander who has just returned home after a 5 year stint in Qatar.