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Saturday, March 31, 2007

What the Fuck Have I Done – One Year Later

  • Today is my blogoversary. I wrote my first post (What the Fuck Have I Done?) one year ago.

    When I wrote that entry I was scared out of my mind. I had just agreed to jump into an abyss. I was preparing to move to Tanzania.

    I would be lying to say that I didn’t have any idea what would be ahead of me. I had a vague idea that ex-pat life can be nice and the child care would be cheap. I had heard a constant refrain that Dar es Salaam was a family-friendly and safe post from a whole choir of people who knew someone who knew someone who lived in Dar.

    I also had some friends who were pretty unhappy living in Tanzania.

    So I didn’t really know what to think.

    I was obsessed with the things that would be missing from my life in Tanzania… friends and family first and foremost, of course. But I was also focused on material things – like tampons and blue cheese salad dressing and Elmo DVDs.

    I spent a lot of time calculating how many Super Plus, Super, and Regular tampons I would need to last me two years.

    The answer is, more than I thought.

    But guess what? It turns out they have things like tampons here. If I run out before my post is finished, I’ll buy some.

    I can also find blue cheese salad dressing (although not my preferred brands), an infinite supply of DVDs (although not Elmo – but the kids have long since decided that Elmo is too juvenile for their advanced age of 3 years 3 months) and almost anything else I might be searching for. (But with one caveat – I might have to go to 3 stores and 2 markets before I find what I want.)

    Before you think that all of my concerns were material – there were other things I was worried about….
  • Malaria
  • Sunburn
  • Exotic wild animals
  • Really large bugs
  • The 24 hour airplane ride out here
  • Living well among poverty (and all the various dimensions of that)
  • Electricity
  • Finding adequate housing
  • Finding a decent preschool and nanny for the kids
  • Making friends
  • Getting our friends and family to visit us here

    And the most dominant concern: Whether or not I had lost my mind deciding to leave FHI after 13 years for a mega company like AED.

    It was a giant leap into an abyss. I wasn’t (and still am not) a risk taker.

    (Don’t tell me I am because I decided to have kids on my own. That was more of a biological/emotional/physical/need for a legacy thing – not really a thinking decision to leap. I only realized I jumped into an abyss AFTER I was pregnant.)

    On March 31, 2006 I was way way way outside my comfort zone.

    What the fuck did I do?

    I made a decision that turned out to be wonderful for my family. The kids are thriving, our life is semi-exotic and semi-adventurous, I have all the help I need to be the best parent I can be, and finally, 11 months into this adventure, I am actually enjoying my job.

    And to do my job I don’t have to leave the kids and travel for two weeks every three months like I did before we left.

    That’s not to say that there haven’t been challenges.

    I miss you all so much.

    And the 7 months of no electricity was no walk in the park.

    But we survived. And we have thrived.

    And I also discovered (maybe really rediscovered) writing and my creativity. I like it. The act of keeping a blog has been good for me and helped me stay in touch with you.

    This is my 67th blog entry. I don't know that I've ever managed to stick to something so religiously for so long. I'd like to thank Liz (Mom-101) for the inspiration.

    But really, today is less the anniversary of Mahlers on Safari, and more the anniversary of a decision well made.

    It was a great fucking decision.

    Thanks for coming along with us for the ride.


Blogger Mom101 said...

WOW Hal, I had to do the math in my head like a hundred times - one year? Is it even possible? I look at your archives and I still don't believe it.

You're such a wonderful, funny, and introspective writer (and I'm sure your friends and family who read here but don't comment would agree) - that it's we who should be thanking you.

I love that you're enjoying the journey. Of Tanzania, of motherhood, of writing, of life.

5:03 AM  
Blogger Mothering Mini said...

Wow Hally! I can't believe how grown up the kids look! I can't believe it's been almost a year since I've seen you (and them!) I'm glad you're still writing, because I love following your adventures. Happy blog-o-versary!

Claudia (and Margot)

5:21 AM  
Blogger suburban dyke said...

Felicitations! It's been a long strange trip your readers have enjoyed. May the next year's blogging be as entertaining, informative and inciteful. We miss you stateside and really do talk about whether we can realistically schlep all of over there next year.

Our kids we just talking the other day about Jaden and Rowan. My kids say that they live really far, far away. Give yours a hung from ours and us.

3:09 AM  
Blogger debbie Segor said...

I can't believe it's been 1 year. Time flies. I'm glad that things are going well for you and thekids. I lover hearing about your adventure.
Bernard will be in South Africa for 3 months. He'll come home every 4 weeks or so.
Can't believe the kids are 3. Chloe will be 3 in June and Sam starts Kindergarten in the fall...crazy.
Miss you.

5:54 PM  
Blogger KatBliss said...

One year? Wow, thanks for sharing your adventures with the rest of us. Looking forward to another year!

7:24 PM  
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9:31 AM  

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