September,2017 |  

  • Guests of The GlobalGrandparent

The last time I moved overseas, I was 22 and carried a 17kg backpack. That’s about as complicated as it got. In hindsight though I think I may have broken my Mother’s heart a bit by not having a return ticket and vaguely stating that I may never come home!! Being a Mother now, I can see that was a rotten thing to say. Fast forward almost 20 years and I found myself moving overseas again, this time it was much more complex. I am now a proper grown up (I think) with a husband, two young children and bag-loads more responsibility than that 17kg backpack. Moving the whole family was a bigger deal and the move meant I was also responsible for the separation of physical bonds between family members. It felt truly selfish.

Our move from Australia to Hong Kong all happened very fast, only 5 weeks between the job offer and moving AND with Christmas in the middle! Looking back I can’t recall why we volunteered to host Christmas in amongst those weeks! In hindsight it was lovely the 3 sets of Grandparents could celebrate with the kids – it was rowdy and imperfect, but special as it was possibly the last time both our little ones would be ‘believers’ & the last time we’d be seeing all Grandparents together in the one place at the one time for some time. We were so busy arranging and rearranging our lives and those of our two little people that we really didn’t have much time to question anything! Decisions had to be made, stuff had to be cancelled, 591 farewells had to be attended, a small renovation had to be completed and a new life planned for. Ordinarily I think I’d have been operating with some sadness at each cancellation of a service, sport or membership and the thought of leaving behind another part of our lives but in amongst it there was a vague feeling of excitement for the unknown.

For the last week, we moved in with my Husband’s parents who were amazing – allowing us to turn their orderly empty nest into a noisy, messy hotel. Thank you for that Pat and Chris! It was only at the airport, where the wait time between check in and customs is a real leveller, that we were forced to stop and consider what we were doing. That’s when the tears & doubts started….what if this was absolutely the wrong thing to do? To everyone’s credit, there were no sobbing children to contend with, just lots of squeezy hugs and promises to visit…..then it was off…..

Our life in Hong Kong has been fantastic so far – the kids settled in well to their new school, work is great and Hong Kong is interesting and an easy place to live. One thing that surprised me was how easy it was to make friends – the benefit of having children! On the down side, Hong Kong can be overwhelmingly busy, humid, there’s the odd typhoon and the Milo is different (in a bad way) – but all in all, if it was a balance sheet it would be a positive one.

Staying connected to the grandparents back home is easier than we thought, thus making the distance not feel so great. The school is also aware of the importance of staying close to family overseas and they recently had our 7 year old complete a project on “the lives of your grandparents as school children”. We had a great giggle when we read the assignment after our son interviewed his grandparents; he’d written down ‘Mimi was good at swimming and Pa was really good at pole dancing’….wait, what? It took us a few minutes and some funny text messages to understand that our Son had left out a word; apparently it was MAYpole dancing. Easy mistake to make!

I’m blessed that we get to travel back and forth, always getting a great send off and welcome by the now GlobalGrandparents in our family. The time we spend together is also truly together as we are now international couch surfers. This Sunday we get our first visit from the GlobalGrandparents – two weeks of extended extra spoiling for our little ones and then Xmas in Australia to look forward to…….this year not hosted by us!

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About the author

Jo is an Australian mother of 2, now living in Hong Kong. She has started a private blog; '1000 Days in Hong Kong' which is a mixture of tales and fails Hong Kong style. So far she's learned that 'Cannot' can be a whole sentence, Hong Kong museum passes are the biggest bargain in the world and that the price of mince will make your eyes water!

She's enjoying making new friends and watching her kids absorb a new culture.

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The world may be getting smaller, but staying in touch with family, especially when separated by large distances, still proves a challenge.