Thursday, April 14, 2011

Split Personality

Sometimes I feel like that's how I have to live - with two different personalities. In order to essentially live in two places at once, I must only be half-involved in each place. The other day was Peanut's nyuenshiki or "entry ceremony" for her preschool here in Japan. I love that she gets to create this memory for herself - something so quintessentially Japanese. But as I sat through the PTA meeting following the ceremony, I became sad. As I watched the other mothers preparing for a new school year filled with playdates, field trips and the like, I was a little relieved that I wouldn't be pressured to be in charge of some distasteful task for the PTA, but I was sad that I won't have the chance to be really involved either. It's not so much that I want to be in charge of all things PTA, it's more that this signifies an opportunity to get to know people in a more lasting and meaningful way. And given our current lifestyle, I have to repeatedly suspend friendships and relationships with people while we travel to the other side of the globe.

Yay for world travel and bringing up our kids multiculturally and bilingually! Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to be this fortunate. But I keep wondering, "How do you know when you've sacrificed too much?" I think this is a particularly thorny issue when kids are involved. I want to offer my girls the world (literally) at times, but I don't want to sublimate my own needs to the point that I end up regretting my/our decision years later.

I'm happy to think that we head back to Seattle in just a couple of months where I can renew some friendships, but we're already thinking about preschool for Peanut and that means contemplating how long she could reasonably be enrolled before we leave again. And this raises all these questions again, and again and again. How long can we keep this up? Can we really be this nomadic and still satisfy the needs of the girls? And what about my needs? Gboy is very adaptable and doesn't really mind either way. Having lived half his life in Japan and half his life in the U.S. I think he feels we've pretty much achieved the perfect balance by living in both places half-time. I wish I could feel the same, but it's not that easy for me. I need people. I need friendships. I need community. I need to be involved in my community.

I'm just not sure how to unify the two halves of my personality and existence in two places.


  1. Yeah, I don't know how you do the going back and forth. It's hard enough staying put!

  2. Such a thoughtful post and I can relate to it. I lived in S. Korea and Thailand for 2 1/2 years and while I really enjoyed it, by the end I was ready to come home as when a culture is so different, it makes it much more difficult to integrate into the local community. I'm finding it easier in Germany, but there's still the language barrier. There's a lot of wonderful things about being an expat, but you give up a lot as well and sometimes it's the "little things" that you miss the most.