Memories over stuff

Today I had a discussion with my mother; something that we’ve talked about before, would talk about in the future and, probably, would never be able to decide on what would be the best. We were talking about us settling down, finding a place where we would finally grow roots and live happily ever after.

It’s not like I don’t want to ever settle down. Actually, lately I started thinking a lot about it in connection to the girls, their education, their friends. My mother thinks that they would be happier, if they have all their toys in the same place, all the surroundings stable and unchanged, being able to see their friends grow up together with them. I agree with her and it saddens me that they might feel deprived of certain things due to the life on the move. On another hand, I hope that this life could also give them something else.

I hope, they would grow to value experience above material things. With every move we made, I learnt how to let go of things. I cannot say I’ve always been good at that. You can get used to a favourite vase or chair, that’s for sure, but our relocations were not paid by anybody else, so when it came to ordering a container, it was our call on how to minimise the costs. One of the hardest things for me to let go of were books. Yes, I’m funny like that, I like reading, I like the smell of the pages and it makes me sad to leave them behind. But did you know that if you send a container with things, your own personal things, to Russia, you have to pay tax by weight? So yes, the books had to stay in Shanghai. For now I decided to stick to e-books. What I would never leave behind, some of the most valuable possessions, are photos. I put them into photo books, as I don’t trust them to be saved on a computer only. They actually document these experience, so they are really important to me.

I hope, my kids would realise that it is possible to be happy and content almost anywhere, it all depends on your attitude. You know how a person can be really depressed in a luxury area with a high paid job, but some of the happiest people actually live in a small tribe in the Amazon rainforest? I hope, they would search for the positive things around them, then that’s what they would find.

I hope, they would find out that they can make friends anywhere, thinking of language and culture differences as interesting bonuses rather than as obstructions. So far, I’ve met wonderful people all along our way. We might live miles apart now, but I know they are out there and I can reach them even if only by phone or email.

I once read a post by a lady coming from an expat family. She wrote that she chose the same life style for herself, when she grew up, but her sister actually decided to settle down and travel only for summer holidays, so it depends a lot on a personality. I guess, I’d just have to wait and see what my children would turn out to be. Whether they would have warm memories about their childhood or regret what they didn’t have. I just hope that in the end they would still learn to value memories over stuff.

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Seychelles Mama

22 comments

  1. How I can relate to this all! We have the same issue, same thoughts about our children growing up in different environments and cultures. So far my kids have enjoyed moving and living in different Countries; they seem to be open minded and they have no difficulties in learning new languages. They have our love and when they see us parents happy, they are happy wherever we live.

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  2. This is fantastic!!!
    I think its such a difficult decision to make as parents of expat kids! I’m sure we all question our decisions about it many many times!
    I hope, like you that the life skills, experiences and lessons we are giving them will outweigh the “stuff”. My husband lived in the same house from birth right the way up to going to university, he has a group of friends that he has literally known since birth…..i have to say i envy that. But on the other hand I feel that living abroad in my teens opened my eyes to so many things, made me such a more well rounded person that I will be eternally grateful to my parents for that opportunity!

    Ahh I could go on about this forever! Basically, there are ups and downs of both and like you say we just have to hope that our kids look back fondly on the memories we are helping them create!!

    Thank you so much for sharing this post with #myexpatfamily I absolutely loved reading it and found myself nodding along the whole way through!!! Hope to see you again next month :) x

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    • Thanks a lot for this comment :) I’m glad to hear that you’ve got fond memories of your expat years! And I think this expat link up is a great idea to share our experiences :)

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  3. This is always going to be a hot subject with expats and there’s no one answer fits all. I grew up all over the world moving every few years, have lived in 9 countries and loved the experience, wouldn’t have it any other way. My hubby however lived in the same place till he left for uni and has a solid group of friends in one place. I like to think we make a good team. I’m quite sure your children will appreciate their upbringing when they’re older. I’m eternally grateful for mine. (You can read more about this in the #MyExpatFamily linky!)

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    • I already did! And left a comment there :) I really like your story :) I think, I myself would’ve enjoyed such a life style. Hopefully, our children would sence our excitement about moving around and would find it enjoyable as well.

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  4. Like Phoebe I grew up all over the world (we were actually at schooll together!), whilst my husband lived in the same place (London) all of his life until his twenties. I am pulled constantly in both directions – we almost didn’t take our latest posting because I thought I wanted the girls to have what I didn’t growing up – stability and friends all in one place. But in the end we decided we would gain more than we wouldl lose (I hope!). So we continue to move around, whilst my brothers all settled in one place. We are all different. Lovely post x

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    • Thank you :) Yes, that’s what I hear – expat children choosing different paths. I wonder how mine would turn out :) What are your kids saying about moving again? Excited?

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    • They swing between excited and terrified. My youngest is panicking that she will be “ahead” at school because formal school starts later in the American system….I feel huge pangs of guilt about taking them away from their friends and school but we will gain so much! I have already booked a safari in Kruget National Park next Christmas and that ha got us all very excited ;)

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  5. Oh I know what you mean about books – when I was a kid we dragged a small library of thousands of books round with us – now we have about 400 and our kindles – that is all! Self funding moves or having only a portion paid is a pain. Our last move from KZ to Malaysia meant everything had to go by air – there was no other option. $8,000 for a measly 5 cubic meters!

    I grew up as an expat kid though and can honestly say that people mattered more to me than place or things. I love my home comforts and having my own things about me makes life better but ultimately it is the family that makes life worth living.

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  6. Sounds amazing. I always thought I’d keep moving because that’s all I’ve known since I was a child. I never thought coming to England would be the end of my travels. And in many ways it’s not. But we are settled here in that we have a house and the kids are in schools and we don’t have any plans right now to move anywhere else. I do also hope my children value memories over ‘stuff’. I think that’s so important. My eldest has an idea in his head that he wants to spend some time in the US after school. This would be wonderful for him. My girl wants to travel the world. I’m sure we have and are influencing them for the better :-) Like you are with your tiny expats. Wonderful blog :-)

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  7. Did it ever happened to you that you begin to get scared to acquire things because you are bound to lose it? I was just wondering. This is a lovely post. I tend to be scared of getting or buying something big cuz I dont want to have something that will stop me from going from that place before. I am beginning to settle down where I am now. #myexpatfamily

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    • Absolutely! We always think in terms of how easy it would be to pack and move, when we buy things! I think, I would really enjoy choosing some pieces of furniture and my girls really want a dog :)

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  8. What a great post…I can feel what you’re saying…point one the BOOKS! I love my books and when we moved from the US to Munich I had to think about the weight too and I ended up giving so many away, they went to friends but they really are my memory keepers, I still think about a few I should have just kept! Your kids are getting quite a childhood! Beautiful for them and you guys! As a child of expats and have continued that life with my own, I can only say good things about it!

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  9. Great post ! I had the exact same discussion with my Mum last week :) Still pondering about our next move. We have been expats for more than a decade, and our kids are much more Asian than European, they are so easy going and at their young age, everything is so easy! This time, we are in the Philippines, and I think is too far from Europe, we hardly see our family hence all the questions about where next… Idealistically a country with direct flights to Paris, less than 12h, so everybody would be happy!

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