Rookie Mum Stuff

By Anna Dixon 2019-05-31 17:51:56

Things Change . . . and they ain't gonna stop

I have never really met anyone who loves change. I’ve come across many, many people who don’t like it, but never someone who says, “I know just what I need! For loads of things in my life to suddenly be totally different!” We are creatures of habit, and whether we care to admit it or not, we crave some sort of stability, some constant in our life that we can rely on. Whether that’s a job, a partner, a pair of boots, a phone, or a house, suddenly when it isn’t there anymore, when our favorite shoes get too old and fall apart, it can make us feel . . . uneasy to say the least. Sadly, part of being a real grownup is having to just get on with it and embrace the change.

But of course, there are changes that are good, like having a baby, which is probably the biggest life change any two people can make. You decide to bring a whole new person onto this planet, putting their needs before your own, and it’s your job to make sure they’re healthy, happy, and turn out as a functioning member of society. Every day as parents we face new challenges and changes – our child might have a new tooth, or lose one of their old ones. They might have started walking, or have fallen down in the playground and need a stitch that’ll leave a tiny scar, changing their face a little forever. One day they might decide they want to be a doctor, and the next, a lawyer or an architect. All we can do is support them and tell them they can do anything, cuddle them when they’re teething or hurting, and try to ride the waves of change with them, whatever they may be.

Being expats in Shanghai, I feel like we have more change to contend with than a lot of friends back home. Our transient lives mean we have to be constantly ready for something unexpected – your employment contract might end, the lease on your apartment is up and your landlord doesn't want to resign. One of the worst ones? When your Shanghai bestie tells you they’re leaving. That one really stings. And it happens more and more the longer you’re here. People come and go. And it’s hard and it’s exhausting and I don’t want to be grownup about it – I want to curl up in a ball and be mad at my friends for leaving me.

Having been in Shanghai well over five years, I often think it would be lovely to make the move back home, and this feeling is never stronger than after spending time in the UK with friends and family. We all get asked the inevitable question, “so when do you think you’ll finally come back to us?” And my answer is forever changing. “A year TOPS . . . maybe 18 months? Who knows . . . possibly in 2020?” Truth be told, I was a little worried about coming back to China after the festive period, expecting to feel more than a little down in the dumps, but we had a change of our own that actually ended up being a great distraction. We moved into a new apartment last week, which probably sounds fairly small and trivial, but our previous place was special to me. It was Theo’s first home. I remember so clearly the day we brought him home for the hospital. He looked so small and our apartment looked so big. Of course, it didn’t take long for our apartment to feel smaller and Theo to get a lot, lot bigger, hence the move. But it wasn’t easy to leave the place he’d taken his first steps and uttered his first word.

Of course, change is a part of life. We all know that. And there will be times when it all seems to happen at once; a move, a career change, going to a new school, the death of a pet, and that will be tough. That’s when we have to do really great ‘adulting’ for the sake of our children, who will be feeling the same way we do about all the changes that stand in front of them, but handling it like . . . well, like children.