So, it goes a little something like this…
We were living a busy, happy, life in the fresh, green Wiltshire countryside. Happy children, the perfect part-time job, a long-serving Army wife of a long-serving soldier of 25 years. ‘Proud’ is an understatement. We’d had our fair share of ups and downs (it’s only normal after all). We’d spent time apart, worrying times, months at a time, a time we will never get back.
Then one afternoon…
D: Hi babe, how was your day? How do you fancy moving to the UAE?
Me: Come again darling? What was that? Did I hear you correctly?
Turns out, I had! We talked at length through the pro’s and cons of expat life, leaving the family, starting new schools, a new home, new friendships, a new life. And we talked, and we talked, and we talked some more. After the panic, the tears, the joy, followed by more tears, a year and a half later, here we are.
This is it, I thought. Embrace it, this is OUR time, quality family time. Let’s enjoy every single moment.
Now I can’t knock the Military. We have had a very lovely life thus far, but from my perception of others living in Dubai, now it felt like all our Christmas’s have come at once! No more scrimping and saving for days out and Birthdays, no more budget supermarket shopping. Life would surely become a financial breeze. Think of the savings, the holidays. Think of all the delectable, divine designer handbags! I deserve this surely?
We’d had 2 perfect, fun packed weeks settling into our new home. Trips to the beach, eating out, ordering in (far too convenient), eating out…again. The most strenuous part of my day was loading and unloading the washing machine.
But, eventually D returned to work and the first day of school arrived. Mixed emotions: Crack open the bubbly or cry like a baby? How must the kids be feeling? How will I keep myself busy? ‘
Woman up Jill’, I told myself. I took a deep breath, jumped in the car (after attempting to get on the wrong side), and off we went.
School run done…GO ME!
Feeling brave, next stop the supermarket. I’ll fill the fridge and produce the perfect family meal to celebrate my accomplishments. ‘I am winning in life!’ After 10 minutes or so perusing the endless aisles of international delicacies, exotic fruits and more choices of rice than you can shake a stick at, I stop and calculate. I couldn’t help myself, out comes the calculator app and I start totting it all up…£4.60 on 4 nectarines, £3.70 for milk, £6.20 for eggs, £5 for 1 tiny pack of mince, as for toilet roll!! You have got to be kidding me????
Heart rate through the roof, I can feel my palms getting sweaty. Cue mini-meltdown in the middle of aisle 25.
How can this be? I can’t possibly bring myself to pay these prices, no one warned me about this!
Turns out the confusing, complicated, time consuming tasks of house hunting, choosing the right school, renting a car, buying a car, setting up and paying the utility bill, trips to Ikea for flatpack furniture, don’t even compare to that first dismal and daunting experience of food shopping over here.
Give me back my budget supermarket any day. If this is to be the ‘norm’ I can see those designer handbags going out the window and fast.
Meltdown aside, I scramble the ingredients for a spaghetti
I guess what I’m trying to say is that nothing can really prepare you for every situation, no matter how trivial.
So, when life gives you lemons…pour yourself a large G&T and count your blessings.
How lucky we are.
Love, Jill xx