more ups than downs

Peeking my head up from the new momma trenches down here in sunny Luanda. Snakes is in Rio de Janeiro for a temporary assignment. He left last Friday and will return the 18th. He told me he can’t remember the last time he felt so free. Staying at a hotel on the Copacabana Beach, he’s able to get out and run, finally! Passionfruit caipirinhas and churrascarias for dinner and a gorgeous breakfast each morning with fresh fruit, juice and plenty of prosciutto to go around. The one thing getting me through my days is the promise of his daily reports of culinary adventure (headed over to lobster fest tonight?), activity (samba club on Saturday and hang-glliding on Sunday?!?) and deep satisfying sleep (yawn). Can you tell I’m a little jealous and lonesome?

Much time has slipped by since the last post. My birthday was on the 13th. We went for an early brunch at one of the restaurants near the marina which was pleasantly surprising. I still haven’t gotten around to formulating this year’s resolutions. I’ll likely write them here again, if only to keep myself honest. We ended up hosting a Thanksgiving dinner here since a last minute housing emergency had the majority of our embassy’s staff temporarily displaced. Just a small group to feed, 5 adults and 4 munchkins. Snakes handled the turkey and gravy, a friend brought garlic mashed potatoes and 2 gorgeous pies and I took care of the rest. As our second major American holiday abroad, we certainly missed family (and Snakes’ mom’s cooking!), but I felt alright about it in the end.

I’m heading into the holiday season with a heavier heart than usual. Very few of our ornaments made it here. I was really looking forward to decorating the whole house, surrounding ourselves in all of that sparkling familiarity. I found one small box of older stuff (what a difference the Christmas pickle makes!) and a bag of things my mom and I scooped up in the post-holiday sales. Our ebay fake tree arrived last week, blessing counted.

Lately I feel like I’m operating with one foot dipped into a pool of depression while the rest of me clings to the thirsty towel promise of a better life elsewhere. For the record, the foreign service is not at all what I anticipated. (Have I become a broken record?) I am romantic to a fault with a wildly active imagination. I thought I’d feel like a part of something. I feel isolated. I miss my mom and sister. Let’s face it, no one but your mom and sister really care about trivial baby stories. No “mommy groups” here to unwind with and compare notes. No power-stroller walks to work off the baby flab. No mingling with the culture. If I didn’t before, I now fully understand the importance of family and envy those who have them close.  This feeling is nearly overwhelming as the holiday season heads into full swing. My tenuous composure is exhausting.

And just when I think I couldn’t possibly feel more sorry for myself, I look over and see this.

And everything dissolves as I realize that I am blessed beyond measure. This sweet little diaper rump needs me and I need her too. How can I set a good example moping around the house thinking about what I don’t have? She couldn’t care any less about the things I find so infuriating. Shouldn’t we be able to maintain a positive outlook despite our circumstances?

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23 thoughts on “more ups than downs

  1. It is ok to be homesick, especially during the holidays..we all have stories of eating a peanut butter sandwhich alone on Thanksgiving (crying), setting up a comedy club show room in Houston alone on Christmas day (crying) , hosting the 3rd annual Sisters’ xmas dinner while the cooks cool their heels in Africa, (crying)….but you are correct. Count your blessings!!! April will be here in a blink..and boy will my tail be wagging…I love you to pieces…

  2. Adjustments to first posts are hard and first posts with an infant is incredibly challenging. I felt the same way you do our first posting – and that was in The Netherlands. The cold damp weather and lack of community made everything feel so much more difficult and overwhelming. Best thing I can recommend is to dance with your baby. Put on some funky tunes that make you feel great and cut the rug. Guaranteed mood lifter and holiday cheer instigator!

    1. This makes me laugh! We got our samtrex order in yesterday (that south african grocer) and I was cleaning berries, peaches, cherries while dancing all around the kitchen. She thought it was the funniest thing she’d ever seen. It totally brightened my mood and was the closest thing I’ve had to a work out in months!

  3. I feel your lonesomeness and your desire to share the baby stories with people who care. Even in Brussels, Foreign Service life is not what i expected and i find myself wishing I had read “realities of foreign Service life” a bit more earnestly. But alas, we have our girls (and yours is stunningly beautiful) to keep us from falling into self-involved pools of grim depression. Thank god. I look at them every day and remember that I do, in fact, have a purpose no matter how much I sometimes feel i do not. Love and miss you and wish so so much that I could hold that baby of yours. What a doll!

    1. Devon- skype is such a lifesaver. After I wrote this I had a 3-way chat with my mom and aunt. It made me feel so much better. I think it’s funny how posting a sad little blog post can lift ones spirits- the act of writing, then of course the reminder that there are many people who understand what you’re going through. I hope you get back to your blog soon or at least that you’re writing for yourself. Love to you and yours….xo

  4. Eve, I know it must be lonely being so far away from your mom and sister, but as you said, you are truly blessed with a happy, healthy baby and from the sound of it, a wonderful husband. I also know you must be very busy with the new little one, but you have also been blessed with the gift of words and the gift of writing! Have you ever thought of writing a book? I read a lot of books, and I really enjoy your posts – I think you would make a terrific writer!! Something to ponder. Love, Auntie? Rosie

    1. Thanks Rosie! I think a lot of bloggers dream of someday writing a book. (Myself included.) However, a 500 word post enhanced by splashy pictures of a cute kid is far easier than crafting one cohesive book. Maybe someday I will, when I’m not such a wet blanket of complaints!! Hope you and your girls are well- Lord knows your football team couldn’t be any better! ox

  5. I have been wondering how you are doing. It must be even tougher than usual with Snakes away. I’m glad you’re able to keep counting your blessings. Your baby girl is the sweetest. thinking of you.

  6. I hear you. I was just dancing around the room with Will this morning to Judy Garland’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Now” and trying not to cry those bittersweet tears of “how lucky am I to have this little boy” and “how much do I wish his grandparents were here to see him too.”(btw the way Judy sings that song I’m pretty sure its the saddest Christmas song ever!)

    The foreign service is definitely not the romantic adventure that we all imagine it to be; but, if it makes you feel any better, 20 months in to our first post, I fee like I’m hitting my stride a bit more. It’s about finding new goals and new things to learn and figuring out how you can feel fulfilled even when you aren’t able to do all of the things you thought or hoped you would.

    I think your post is a lot harder than most but truly, the time does go by far more quickly than you can imagine and places change the longer you live in them. Your aunt is right, you should write, you are great at it! For a long time writing and observing this place were what kept me going (even if I couldn’t put it on my blog because that would be seriously unwise here in China). It’s harder with a little one but I think it also makes us more motivated to use our free time wisely, don’t you think?

    Sending big hugs your way!!!

  7. Nothing insightful to say — just that it’s not only you. Anyone in your situation would feel the same. I think sometimes knowing that helps. Oh, and she’s adorable!

  8. have you thought about more dog snuggling? What if your husband brought back a spider monkey from Brazil? You should try the book — seriously.

  9. Oh, we miss you girls so much!! Yesterday Camille was having a bit of a tender day, weepy and clingy, didn’t want to go to school. I finally cheered her up by promising that today for Girl Day we would go pick out a few special things for Colette, she brightened up immediately :o) Love you to pieces~ your Big Sister

  10. Sorry Mama 😦 Good days and bad days. We are on #2, so that automatically makes it easier, but being a Mama aint no cake walk, that’s for damn sure. You rock at it! Mama + Luanda = even harder. And I know about missing family… I miss my sister all the time. Thank goodness for Skype. Happy holidays!!

  11. I read your posts and I wish I could have you over for dinner or maybe a glass of wine. You are physically far away, but its obvious by the response that you are never far away in our thoughts. It goes without saying you, Snakes & Lady C are loved and many hearts pine to put their arms around you..:o)

  12. foreign service was a 2nd career for me…and the one I retired from when I was 55. no, it wasn’t exactly what I had anticipated and there were several perfectly horrible, ugly and lonely moments I somehow endured. Post partum blues, foreign living blues and isolation seem very far away now. I just enjoyed a flotilla trip in Belize with 33 new friends, live in tropics and have a wonderful pension arriving on time. I wished I had fully enjoyed all my time in foreign service-as it turned out, the lasting and enduring memories are very very good. It was a little like searching for the good things at each post and finding something that made the rest ok. inane hobbies turned to passions -I found I liked sailing, yoga, cooking, wine, reading, painting-as I moved from one idea to the next trying to stimulate the happy gene. It worked enough of the time. Glad I am out? oh yes, but glad I was in, too. That is enough for the ‘now’ of life. I read, ‘the rainbow is more beautiful than the pot at the end of it, because the rainbow is now. And the pot never turns out to be quite what I expected.’ Every experience we have is absolutely necessary. I’m still seeking to clarify and understand how my life is changed from the experiences I had–as a solo fso. we probably can’t order ourselves to be happy and content with our lot but i also don’t take what you say lightly-‘you must be happy as you have a baby, food, a roof, a love’ doesn’t address sadness or isolation. As a seeker-recognizing your wonderful existence and understanding how transient this moment is in the entirety of our experiences-give yourself a huge break-you are doing magnificently! It sounds like you have a handle on it all and know that when you don’t, it will pass.
    Hope so, as you have alot of virtual and real friends depending on that. peace and love

  13. Thinking about you and just wanted to let you know. Hope you have had a great holiday so far and all the best for a happy 2012!

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