This “update” has been a long time coming. Or, should I call it, a wrap-up. Our Dutch adventure is over, for the time being. It was an unsatisfying ending. More an unravelling. And here we are, six months after our exodus, living on Cape Cod temporarily while we put our American life back together.
We are grateful for the experience. And our health. And the new family member we brought back home with us. (Lillian will be a year old in just a few weeks!)
But the past year has been a challenge, to put it gently.
Last October, after Mike’s graduation when it was clear we couldn’t stay in our campus house much longer, I booked a flight for myself and the girls to stay with my parents while Mike remained on campus (in a single dorm room) to continue looking for work in Holland. Despite my hopes to spend our last weekend in Europe finishing packing up the house, maybe spending a last afternoon exploring Amsterdam or Utrecht, and making a video recording of the bells that rang in the school’s castle each hour (and were the soundtrack to our Dutch lives that year), I instead caught the flu. There are friends I didn’t get to see before leaving, and a home and life that I could not muster the energy to bid goodbye. I almost didn’t make the flight (I asked about the possibility of rescheduling for a few days later – I felt that badly – but the $1,000+ cost was more than enough for me to suck it up and HOPE and PRAY that I could make it through 15+ hours, two layovers and about 9 hours in-air time with two small children and the flu). Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. The girls were wonderful, and when we finally arrived at my parents’ house, I had help and care while I spent the next weeks recovering.
And then, when the sickness faded away, the real trouble became clear. The postpartum depression that had been lingering in the background for the previous months emerged fully and clearly, and finally it demanded attention. Treatment. Help. Which I got, thankfully, under the worried wing of my mom. My treatment continues now, but I am so so much better and I am so grateful.
By mid-November, we made the difficult decision that Mike would need to return home from Holland. Our savings was nearly gone, the nearly two months apart were terribly hard for us and the kids, and we had no idea how how long it might take for his job search to work out given the declining European economy.
So he flew home, to Boston. The girls and I flew out to meet him a few days later. It was wonderful to be together again. And yet. Nothing has worked out the way we expected. It’s been a period of adjustment. We are incredibly thankful to be living here, in Mike’s parents’ cottage near the beach. We’ve spent the winter pulling ourselves together a little bit at a time. We still have a long way to go, but we’re working on it. We have each other, and our families’ support, and wonderful friends who call and visit and check in.
We’re not ruling out returning to Europe again someday. But for now, we’re focused on building a life however it happens. We’re still at the mercy of luck, or timing, or fate, or whatever uncontrollable force you imagine pushes and pulls our lives away from the path we expect it should take. As the saying goes, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” This is life.
I’m not going to be writing in this blog anymore. This adventure is over. Thank you for sharing it with us, for keeping me company during some lonely times, and sharing in our excitement and fun as we lived our Dutch life.
I just can’t give up this kind of outlet, though, and have been trying out a new blog. It’s giving me a reason to learn more about photography, and a place to share my stories. I’d be honored if you’d like to check it out.
We hope you are all doing well. If we haven’t been able to see you or catch up yet, we hope to soon.