“I’m fine, mustn’t grumble”…

I was messaging with a good friend back in the UK this week and happened to mention that I was feeling a little overwhelmed. With just three weeks until the end of the school year, followed a few weeks later by an international move, I am sure many of you can relate.

“What is it that’s stressing you?” she asked. “The actual logistics of moving back or being back?” She was well meaning and right now I really appreciate any kindness. But I realised it was hard to convey to someone who has never led this sort of life exactly how I felt.

“ALL OF IT” I wanted to scream. Saying goodbye to people and watching my children say goodbye to their close friends and having five leaving parties for the kids to organise and never mind any leaving do’s for myself and making sure the dog is booked on a flight and what if his crate isn’t the right size and when will his rabies certificate be ready and how will we get everything packed up on time and should we send our bedding in our heavy baggage or our air-frieght or bring it on the plane because what happens at the other end when we have nothing to sleep under and we have a car to sell and another to buy and I will be a single mother for months and I am already having to think about child-care arrangements for meetings in London in October and I don’t want to live in England but it’s the best thing for my children but oh the weather!

And will I have any friends left when I get home, will they remember me, will they care and how am I going to deal with one daughter’s very obvious stress about the move and the other’s internalisation of it and I have three articles to write and no time left and no-one is answering my calls and how am I going to cope being home missing expat life…..


You know what it’s like. Your head is a swirling mess of worry especially at 3am in the morning when everything seems gloomy. Yes of course things get out of proportion and compared to what so many other people have to go through this is a doddle. After all, I’ve done it several times before and with much younger children (but no dog) so why would it be so difficult this time?

I think what is hard to explain is the mixture of the physical and the emotional. The feelings of being overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done and the emotions about leaving a place and people behind. The fear that you won’t be happy when you get home, knowing that when you repatriate your novelty value wears off pretty quickly. You know your life is about to change pretty drastically but it is so hard to explain to someone what this actually feels like. It’s hard to pin down exactly what it is that is bothering you, it is a mixture of so many things, sometimes separately, sometimes all at once.

So in the end you fall back on that good old typically-British answer: “I’m a bit stressed but you know, it’ll all be ok.

“Mustn’t grumble”.

And back to moving preparations. It’ll all be over eventually.

Are you moving or repatriating this year? How are you coping right now? Are you at the panic stage yet?

17 thoughts on ““I’m fine, mustn’t grumble”…

  1. Ours is a domestic move and I’m so excited about it but man oh man the paperwork involved in house buying and selling is overwhelming. The uncertainty of it all is frustrating.

    I have to say England is not where I’d want to be right now so I can imagine what a hard move this is for you in that respect alone!
    Sterkte! As the Dutch say 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel like crying every day. The future seems so bleak. The Tories still haven’t told us how they are going to Brexit and not harm the economy – let alone all the other issues that Brexit will throw up like the hard border with Northern Ireland, Scotland having another Indy ref, Gibraltar being held to ransom, how they are going to deal with checks at the borders if we leave the customs union, the effect on our economy of cutting immigration, ditto the effect on our health services, how they are going to know which EU nationals are here legally and which illegally – it’s mind boggling, And still people think we are going to get all these wonderful trade deals with mythical lands (but they won’t get anything in return). Sorry can you see I a frustrated today?!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s absolutely unthinkable for me to go back right now. We are busy with mortgage stuff at the moment and there’s a request for ID related to the EU – in a few years time that becomes an issue for Brits here. There’s no clarity or hint about what the future holds for those Brits who have made a life in other EU countries. I now have Dutch citizenship so I will be fine – but others may not. It’s frustrating having your life played with like that!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I really sympathise! I remember just wanting to be able to either stress about the logistics or the emotional aspect – but it just seeming impossible to compartmentalise and it felt completely overwhelming. I was somewhat lucky the Brexit vote hadn’t yet happened so the political future I was moving back to wasn’t as bleak… but apart from the politics, the UK’s not so bad, and it’s really lovely to be close to family again. Sometimes you just have to forget about the politics (we can’t do much about it after all) and the logistics (it will all work out because it always does) and just sit down to write. For me that’s the only way I was going to be able to think my way through the swirling stress and emotion. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We’re at the ‘we could be going home in 4 months… or not’ stage where I’m mostly annoyed that they won’t give us any sense of direction. I have three possible future locations, one of which I’ve never seen! Stress. Good luck with your move and preparations!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know you’ve got this Clara! It just goes to show, no matter how many times we do this expat thing, it doesn’t get any easier when it comes to packing up and leaving. I’m sure that when the time comes to leave the UK (again), you’ll be feeling the same there. Enjoy your last few chaotic weeks and good luck with everything! Looking forward to hearing your re-patting stories!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think the hard part about expat life is that even when you’re ‘home’, you’re never really home, because you don’t quite fit any more. Life has gone on without you and you feel a little bit like everyone is talking about a Netflix show that you’re still trying to catch up on. I’m still trying to figure out whether to start my Master’s in the UK or commute to the Netherlands and do it there. #firstworldproblem

    Liked by 1 person

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