It’s been a tough week. The kids are tired and so am I. The boys started school 3 weeks ago, and with it came Charlie starting kindergarten and Spencer starting high school or college as they call it here. We decided to start Charlie on half-days and the exhaustion of starting school in another language, is apparent right about 6pm when want to sit down to eat. Life can be hard when you’re 3. Overall though, he’s happy and toddles off to school each day and comes home with new words, numbers and friends.
Spencer’s transition to College has also been good, and overnight he’s become an older boy. Thrust into life with teenagers, and in a small town where everybody knows everybody else, he’s logged onto Instagram & Snapchat in a flash. “I have 14 new followers mum, how many do you have again?” The difficult part of the transition is adjusting to 8 new teachers, taking the bus at 740am and finishing at 445pm. Homework follows and eek, I’ve had to brush up on fractions, not to mention french terms and ways of teaching. We’ve had tears, yelling, tantrums, walk-outs. It’s going to be tough and a bigger undertaking for me, than I anticipated. I’m sure we’ll find a groove and his understanding will keep improving, but for a while, it’s going to be a collaborative effort.
Oliver has risen to the occasion of being the older brother at school and seems to be enjoying school more this year. He speaks well and is starting to read and write in French too. He gives us reports on how Charlie is doing, and I think he likes the added responsibility of being the older brother at school. His homework requirements have also gone up, and tonight he was reciting French poetry. Three paragraphs later and he’s got it memorised for tomorrow, amazing!
Coming back to the house we rent at the end of August, felt really comforting and like we were coming home. After being away in Spain and Portugal for all of August, we fell into our beds and the comforts of home. We are 3 months into our 2nd year, and of course, we’ve had many conversations about what we do next. All of last year, we contemplated, talked at length about what we liked and disliked about France and missed about Melbourne. The pros and cons were laid out, list were made, goals were talked about.
We did an exercise I did with a personal/life coach Shannah Kennedy, going 5 years back, we laid out the coming years on a piece of paper and filled in a column for each of us and the kids. I used a small notebook as were on the road, coming back from the UK. One the first page, I wrote the years 2018 – 2026 as that is what fit on that page. 8 years. On the flip side, I wrote out another 8 years from 2026 – 2034. Yikes, that seems like a long time from now. But there it was on 2 small pages. The most formidable years in our kids lives and most likely ours. Then it dawned on us. After the first page, Spencer will be 18 and may be leaving home. After the second page, Charlie will be 18 and may be leaving home. Tears well up at the thought. It does fly by so quickly and it will.
What we realised is that this chapter in our life feels good. It feels softer. Brighter. Slower. With more feeling. More family. It’s what we need more of and want more of. And so, there is it. Without too much surprise I would think, our decision to stay on in France, made. At least for now or the next few years. Maybe more.
We are excited by the adventures that await us. We have fallen in love with the beautiful old buildings here and hope to call one of them our own. We hope to carry on our serial renovating and are searching for a project now. There are lots of logistics to work through as we will need to send our container over, we will have to deal with what Brexit means to us. We will have to find out how to get Australian citizenship, having not done so in the 20 years we lived there. We will have to set up a business here, pay tax, work out how to keep our businesses going in Australia, for as long as there is some revenue coming into them. So the list is long of ‘things to do’ but it doesn’t deter us. We will find a way and one thing at a time, we’ll turn challenges into completed tasks.
And so there you have it. Some of you said to us before we left ‘you’re not coming back are you?’. I always knew there was a possibility we would stay on, but I really didn’t know how our journey would unfold. Just as I left for Australia for one month in 2001 and stayed 17 years, this journey may too take a life of it’s own. Our boys are Australian, we say we are Australian and home is still proudly in Australia. The country that gave us a chance as expats also helped give us this opportunity to come to France. I firmly believe one path in your life is preparing us for the next and we are so thankful for this opportunity and life-changing trip we’ve embarked on.
I hope you will keep following our journey which I will keep documenting here and over on Instagram on my stories each day. I hope you find some inspiration in knowing that you too can make a leap, big or small. You just have to say it out loud and then do it.
Want to read more about us and Habitots. You can do so here.
We’ve been documenting our journey and Adventures in France here.