3.03.2010

"Congratulations ... You're Going To Baghdad!"

... is the e-mail that welcomed us early Tuesday morning. It was the e-mail we were anxiously awaiting to receive, yet after several months it was very bittersweet. Moreover, to have the words... "congratulations" and "Baghdad" used in the same sentence seemed an oxymoron, rather it should have read, "Congratulations ... you're getting out of Chennai", to be more apropos.

I never imagined myself ever looking forward to being separated from my husband. To wishing, no scratch that, accepting an unaccompanied tour. Not to sound like Tony Robbins here, but life IS all about timing and seizing the opportunity when it presents itself.

These past two years have been rough for us. Although we left Israel for Chennai full of excitement, with the brightest outlook, and ready for adventure, arriving with a lost bag and settling into a house we didn't like set the tone for our three year tour. Sure, we've had some amazing experiences and traveled to places we'd never get to while living in the States, but it isn't enough. Add in our daily calamities, the girls frustrations, and you start to realize that maybe it's time to take one for the team, and quietly exit stage left. To be brutally honest, I just got tired of waking up and wishing every day away. I was becoming depressed. And living here felt more like we were serving a prison sentence.

Living overseas for the past seven years at three different posts has given us a little perspective. We've lived in a 1st world country (Israel), a 2nd world country (Oman), and finally this 3rd world country. We've come to accept certain limitations and inconveniences. Nevertheless, the day to day obstacles and frustrations we've felt here in southern India have truly brought us to the breaking point.

Like New York City, there are those who love India and those who... well... don't, (with very few people falling in between the two extremes.) One generally isn't ambivalent. When you see our lifestyle via our blog through our photos and experiences, you'd think this place would be a virtual Shangri-la. But it's more than that. Once you begin scratching the well patina'd surface, you'll uncover the stark reality; it's a tough place to live and raise a family.

It was a joint decision to curtail. A tough decision. One that was not made without hours, days, weeks, and months of discussion. Endless deliberation. Heated consideration. In the beginning, the middle, and more importantly the end, it was a decision made in the best interest of our family.

I don't want to even remotely kid anyone, especially myself. I am well aware that Matt leaving for one year will not be easy on anyone... on him, definitely not on me, and certainly not the kids. However, his time in Iraq will be well spent. He will have the opportunities to get out from behind his desk and re-enter the fray; the exciting stuff that attracted him to this job in the first place. Me? Well, I get Starbucks, Trader Joe's, a little religion, a lot of convenience. And the kids have the fantastic opportunity to be near family and friends.

We get the best of everything we all want and need. We just sadly don't get to do it together. For one year. For one exciting year. For one LONG year.

But we're lucky. We have a strong marriage. We are closer than we've ever been. We know we can do this and be okay. And there's always Skype... thank goodness for Skype.

So we now have a lot more stresses to add to the ever growing pile. A move coming up in mid-June, just after school ends. Matt's possible extended 6-week TDY in DC for training. Selling off all of our "weighty" personal belongings and shelves of consumables. And the last few getaways to experience Incredible India.

Feel free now to ask your questions... shoot me an e-mail, write me on Facebook, tweet me on Twitter, or leave me a comment. I'm going to be relying on all of you for moral support to help me through the highs and lows of being a "single" mom to three kids and a dog as we make our way through one more nomadic year in Southern California. If you have any great leads on renting a place, if you love your car and think it could be a good fit for us, or if you just want to tell me how excited you are to have us living near you, I'm all ears.

But be kind... I'm on a high and I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel...

37 comments:

Robin said...

Wow, pretty major changes. I hope this year brings you all what you both need and want, and then passes quickly with your family reunited somewhere you'll be happy to put down (temporary) roots.

As for the shoulder to lean on, you know you've got mine. I just wish that Chennai and Israel had been switched, I'd have loved to have known you when we were actually living on the same continent.

Mom24 said...

(((Hugs)))
It will definitely be hard, but you've done hard. This will be hard with lot of benefits and I believe you'll be just fine. A year's a long time, but in the big picture, merely a blip. I wish you all the best, and I'll be a listening ear whenever you need it.

I would think selling the consumables should be pretty easy--you have great stuff!

How are the girls doing? How's Matt doing? I'll pray for all of you.

fsowannabe said...

Best of luck with the transition. Hopefully the year apart will fly by.

DelhiBound said...

Oh you darling dear. I could read INTO all of the words that you wrote ... minus the foreign service part.

We were only separated for three months .. and I ... get it.

Kudos to you for being strong enough to say "I can do this" ... bravo to you for being woman enough to be excited for Matt ... and MANY gold stars to you for being the mother that will make this upcoming *stuff* memories that your children will remember and be proud of you for.

I'm here ANYTIME you need to email frustrations, celebrations or struggles ...

Stock up on the vino, chicka ... and get to packing!

Congrats!!!

A Daring Adventure said...

Beautiful, honest, wonderful blog post.

Just like they always are!

Blessings to you all in this new venture. Thank you very much for the details and behind-the-scenes explanation. I love hearing about people's decision-making-processes!

Lollyblogger said...

Hey Jill! We are sad you guys will be apart, but thrilled at the idea of future playdates! What school system did you want to be in? I can certainly help you find a rental. Let me know!

The Bald Guy said...

You're going to CA! YAY you! Sorry that you'd be away from your husband, but still, YAY you!

Can we trade places? Can I go back to CA!

Sigh! Envy you!

Good luck Jill! Safe travels.

Eve Grey said...

Even with the stresses & sadness of separation, I think it will be fun too! You get to experience life "alone" for awhile & do things on your own terms while still having the love & support of your husband. I know there will be difficulties but it will all be fine. (:

Natalie said...

My heart bleeds for you; reading this made my stomach hurt. Jill, we are all so proud of you and your positive attitude. Your kids and husband are lucky to have such a great woman in their lives. Sending you a big hug, and the very best of best wishes.

LeesOnTheGo said...

Thanks for your transparency. It is such a hard decision to make regarding an unaccompanied post. But like most choices in life, there are benefits and drawbacks. You seem to be someone who is exceptionally skilled at maximizing the benefits. (This is a choice that we foresee making in the next couple of years as well...already weighing and measuring the benefits and drawbacks).

You're going to do great.

Christy said...

Wowzers I am so impressed with you and I can't wait to see you this summer even more now! You have the best attitude and that's SOOO important! So where in SoCal? Will you be coming to DC at all when Matt is there? That's where I'm from, you know! We moved to the Philly area four years ago - I lived in the DC area all the rest of my life (except school). Now I want to plan a family vacation to CA while you're there! Matt (my matt) and I haven't been there together, YET!

I'm so excited for you. And sad for you to have to live apart for a year. But I know you'll make it, and hopefully you'll get to see each other during the year?

Jen said...

If there is any woman in the world that could do this, it is you. I know that you will pull through this smiling. You are an amazing person and a wonderful mother.

So I guess all that is left to say is, welcome home.

Kirsten said...

Wow. Honestly, I don't know that I could have lasted as long as you have in India. It's an amazing place, but, yeah.

It will be a tough year, but you can survive. You have such a fantastic attitude. You have given your kids so many valuable experiences.

Let me be the first to say (a little early perhaps)... Welcome back to CA!!!

Jen said...

Is it wrong to say that I feel comforted knowing someone else is going through the same thing at the exact same time? Craziness, but so exciting, too!

C.C. said...

Oh, Jill. You could have substituted "Abuja" for Chennai and that would be me talking! I completely understand your frame of mind about being in a tough post. We have had two one-year-long separations and they really do fly by. It's not easy, but it's doable. All the best to you, Jill and your beautiful family. I do love your blog and can't wait to see what happens next! Hugs to you, C.C.

Kat said...

I am so curious as to what your girls will think of living in California for a year...will it be a new adventure for them? And then where will ya'll head after the year is up??

Kash said...

I feel for you! But happy you will be home. The one year will go by fast, esp if he comes home on R&Rs!

Emily said...

Again I say there is a special place for DS spouses. Not only for being willing to go all over, but when our spouses WANT to go and do the job in places like Iraq, it takes a special kind of support. You are awesome!
Good luck with the logistical side of everything. Sometimes that can be the most difficult, the only thing that helps is knowing that you are making the best decision for your family.
Good luck!

Danie B. said...

That nearly made me cry.

I can completely relate. I don't regret our decision to move to India but I was so ready to leave. It's a very tough place for a North American family to live. Most of the time we felt like we were just existing.

I'm excited for all the new opportunities before you (and Matt). Best of luck with another move!

Jenn said...

What a wonderful adventure for your family. It will be hard, to be sure, but it sounds as if you've thought long and hard about what it will mean for your family.

I hear so many people my age talking about how their dads did tours in the Middle East during their childhoods (Operation Desert Storm) and there is so much pride in the way they talk about it. Your children will be so proud of their dad for his work in such a war-torn zone. And the year will really fly by in so many ways.

I wish you the best of luck, and I'll continue lurking here to see how this new chapter of your life goes!

The Mom Jen said...

Wishing you the very best on all of it, the move, your husband's year, your year...HUGS!!

kismet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kismet said...

My gosh Jill, I so feel for you although I have no idea how tough this situation must be (although of course I can understand and relate about India!). I really don't know how you cope and remain so strong, you're an amazing inspiration. I just wish you'd been living in Mumbai, where life isn't so difficult for foreigners, than Chennai. Anyway, I wish you the best for the future and will continue to avidly read your blog. Hugs.

Sharell

Natalie Buda Smith said...

Thank you for sharing this decision.

Crystal said...

Wow, big news indeed!!!! I said to Kelly who will be traveling there again over the period we live in Kuwait, "if you meet Matt Perlman while there you must get his autograph"!!!!!! I am one of The Perlman Update's biggest fans and cheerleaders.

I am sure this was a difficult decsion, but you will do wonderful with just like you do with all your challenges so far!!!!! I am excited for you and praying for you all. I hope that you end your time in India on a high note~

Crystal said...

Wow, big news indeed!!!! I said to Kelly who will be traveling there again over the period we live in Kuwait, "if you meet Matt Perlman while there you must get his autograph"!!!!!! I am one of The Perlman Update's biggest fans and cheerleaders.

I am sure this was a difficult decsion, but you will do wonderful with just like you do with all your challenges so far!!!!! I am excited for you and praying for you all. I hope that you end your time in India on a high note~

melissa said...

my in-laws live overseas in india and we've visited them with the kiddos. i can totally relate -- it was a hard place. we've lived in china and i'd have no problem taking my kids there... but when we were in india i told my husband that i'm not sure i could do india.
its an amazing country, but with kids...
all the best!

melissa said...

(i also rarely share that my husband travels for work a lot. A LOT. so i'll be here encouraging you as a married 'single' mom!

Robin said...

So you say that India is an amazing place but that is incredibly hard to raise children there, well girl you are way better that me. I felt that way about Los Angeles. lol

Living separately sucks, but it can be done. Be as gentle as you can with one another.

Denise said...

Our best for the next year! We've only been apart for 5 mos (training US not Iraq), but still feel you.

We're always patriotic, but sometimes these types of stories make you even more conscious and proud. I wish all Americans always understood the sacrifices some make.

Yay for Skype- daily family and those nice weekend dates :)

Shannon said...

Wow! I hope and wish all the best for you guys!

Kat said...

Oh wow. That is a tough decision to come to, but it certainly does sound like it is for the best. Keep us posted. We'll be here for you!

Michelle said...

It obviously wasn't a decision made lightly and with everything going on and what you've been through - it sure sounds like the best decision for your family.

And while one year does seem like a LONG time, an endless time, to be separated... I have to tell you, after just completing our own one-year deployment (and still being separated until the end of Jun when we're all finally living together again) that one year actually does pass rather quickly. When Joe came back to the states at the end of Jan I was surprised to realize a year had passed 'already'! You'll find that with as busy as you'll be with raising 3 kids on your own that time will pass before you know it.

Congratulations on getting out of Chennai - and just know that you can do this year apart and survive it!

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

In my move I missed this post completely! Aiya!

Well, I'm happy for you to be out of a place that was weighing you down. I know how that feels to some degree. You'll be near family and friends to help you through it when you need it most.

Being seperated for 8 months from my hubs myself, it isn't easy. You have to learn to rely on others (something I don't like to do myself). If you keep in mind that you don't have to do everything, you can lean on someone, even if it's just to vent the frustration, sadness, anger...

If you need anything in the coming year, you've got my email. Feel free to use it :)

Emma said...

WOW Jill!
(I'm way behind and catching up!)

I am happy and excited for you all on the next stage of your journey. You're so right, India is a tough place to raise small children, which is why I can feel your excitement at the prospect of leaving! It'll be tough being separated as a family but it'll not be forever and it sounds as though everyone will 'win' in the end.

Good luck packing up and shipping out!

♥ Braja said...

Obviously you're not meant for India. I don't think it's a "tough place" to live at all. It's life as it really is, not the polished delusion you get in the west. But that makes people more comfortable and they tell themselves that it's better for the kids, it's safer, it's cleaner, it's healthier, and all those things that are lies that hide the filth that lurks beneath a far shiner patina than India owns....

I've lived in countries all around the world, and while India has its difficulties, they're far more realistic than other countries....especially the US.

Goya said...

the fact that you'll be near your family while he's gone will help both you and the kids. just pray that it all goes well for him in iraq and soon enough, you'll be reunited and on to your next adventure...as a family:-) best of luck!!

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