It’s A Family Affair

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I was told growing up that many things will test you and your family as you yourself grow older and that because of that life becomes invariably tougher.  ‘Don’t wish your life away’ I was told metronomically by my Mum and Dad as a kid and lo and behold, 35 years on, how I wished I had listened to them and taken heed of their great advice.

Thankfully, as I grew older and I would argue personally wiser, I did start listening to some advice and that was centred around family and friends.
My parent’s were three months short of their 25th Wedding Anniversary when my Dad so sadly passed away and in the years that succeeded that tragic event I have asked Mum how it lasted so long to which the reply usually involved talking about working hard at a relationship.

She was right. So right. They are hard work but not in the sense that you put in hours of work for no reward but in the sense that you are constantly adapting to each other’s nuances and quirks whilst trying to raise children or work all the hours that God sends you just to make ends meet.

There are also some huge milestones that will test even the strongest of relationships.  Getting married, buying a house together and the biggest of them all has to be having children.

I genuinely believe that if you can be selfless enough to change your free spirited jaunting as a couple and give up life as you know it for a completely different being that harnesses a severe lack of independence then you have to stick together and never forget why you as a married couple got together in the first place.

You may think the word selfless isn’t appropriate in this scenario as we chose to have children but that transition is tough.  If you use an analogy that time is money and that you have loads of money and one day someone takes that away from you then that would be a huge change in your lifestyle wouldn’t it?  I’m not saying you can’t be happy but buying beautiful items or eating at nice restaurants is rather lovely isn’t it?

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Having the two girls is the best thing that we have ever done and believe me, I wouldn’t change it for the world because we are an extremely tight knit family and having children has only made Mikaela and I stronger as a couple.  I have regretfully also seen it pull friends’ families apart so decisions like this cannot be made lightly.

So if we can survive that then surely we can survive moving the whole family and our worldly possessions to Africa like a duck would take to the lake.

Well it turns out that Mikaela and I are gluttons for punishment as moving to another country with a different culture is most certainly not for the feint hearted.

The best way of describing your emotions is that they seem to be slightly off kilter.  When there is a day that you are bouncing around then the other seems to be homesick or stressing about money and how long it needs to last.  The next day could be the complete opposite and the positivity is flowing the other way.  You just have to try and manage these emotions the best you can.  Stop, listen to each other and simply talk.  Talk constantly. Don’t hide anything away because fighting  challenges as a pair has more power than fighting on your own.

I’ll give you an example that affected me last week. I’ve been job hunting in South Africa for months now both from the U.K. and here and I knew that with me being British it was always going to be hard but the frustration of brick wall after brick wall seems to be festering away inside of me.  The plan was to give Mikaela a break whilst I worked so that adds to the internal turmoil of course.

Then out of the blue, Mikaela gets offered a great job and accepts it.

You’re probably expecting me to say I am jealous of this now and I feel useless but genuinely that is not the case.

I’m so happy for her and it is perfect for us as a family with location and working hours. It’s my ego that is the problem. I’m a modern man and I love that Mikaela has always been a high achiever. It’s one of the things that attracted me to her in the first place if I’m honest but in some ways I can still be a bit old fashioned in that I am the man of the house and I should be looking after and providing for my family.

So I allowed the ego to kick in big time and I started planning all sorts of hair brain schemes to make my millions without thinking what effect that may have on my family. I am starting a new project myself but it is a small acorn at the moment and oak trees take a long time to grow so I need to realise that.

To cut a long story short, it ended in tears and they weren’t Mikaela’s.  I am in a foreign land where things are so different and finding a job is hard for a Brit and although the plan of me to work first didn’t work out it is fine because as a family we are making the right decision for us. Mikaela brought me back down to Earth, we regrouped and changed the postcode on the Sat Nav that is our life. That’s all.

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We’ve had to support each other daily through this transition as you try and rationally relieve boredom or things you crave. Mikaela tries to bridge friendship voids with convincing me that she needs a kitten and I have to reason with her that now is not the right time whilst I am always up for a lunch out somewhere to break up the banality of midweek routine but money talks sometimes and you have to play the long game.  Hopefully one day we won’t need to question these things and that is where we want the Sat Nav to guide us.

It’s not been plain sailing by any stretch but yet again I have learnt so much about myself, my family as individuals and my family as a group.  They’ve become an ever stronger dependant in my life and hopefully they view me in the same way but as this test goes we are passing it with the utmost distinction.

Moral of this story: Always listen to your Mum.

Andy

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