|Yas Island, one of my favorite places in Abu Dhabi.|
Well, it's hard to believe, but the 29th marked our one year anniversary here in Abu Dhabi. This move has changed our lives in more ways than I could have ever imagined it would, and it continues to change life as we knew it in America. I remember the first night here at our villa, my husband and I were up on our larger balcony looking out at the lights of the city off in the distance. We were both having the same "wow, we really did this" moment, but even then I don't think we realized just how much moving halfway around the world would change our lives.
For me, the biggest and most obvious change is that I am now a stay at home mom. I've always had some type of job since I was 16, so not having one has been a huge adjustment for me. I know most stay at home moms will argue that being a stay at home mom is a full time job, and if you are a stay at home mom in America or any other country I agree that it can be. I on the other hand live in the UAE, the land where almost everyone has a maid, a gardener, and a driver. The only daily tasks I have are meeting my husband for lunch, grocery shopping, cooking, and picking my kids up from school, all of which I enjoy doing.....maybe not the grocery shopping part. My daughter recently told me that all the years I worked she always dreamed that if I was a stay at home mom I would bake cookies and have them waiting for her when she got home from school. Well, this month when I was doing my Christmas baking almost daily, I fulfilled my little girl's dream of cookies and other baked goodies waiting for her when she got home from school. Her big smile was better than a paycheck. I'm still adjusting to this new role, and it bugs me when people here ask me what my husband does for a living, not what do I do. I usually give them the quick "he's an engineer" answer, and then tell them what I did in the states before moving here. Not sure why I feel the need to do this, but I do. Don't get me wrong, I'm not in any way ready to go back to the 5 day a week working world. I am learning to relax and enjoy life more here, and my stress level is almost non existent. My kids are both teenagers, and I have worked their whole lives. I want to enjoy the years I have left with them before they go off to college. Abu Dhabi has given me the opportunity to do this, and I'm thankful.
I'm not the only one that has changed since moving here, my kids have changed and grown in ways I never would have dreamed. When we made this move several people told me what a great experience we were giving our kids, and I saw that as the experience of another country, culture, and language. What they actually have learned goes way beyond that. The kids share a classroom with kids from all over the world, not just the UAE. This past year when their school had it's International Day festivities to celebrate the different countries represented at their school, there were over 60 different countries represented in the student body. Just talking to their friends has opened up their eyes to current world events that most kids in America don't normally give much thought to. Here it's different, because the events going on in Libya, North and South Korea, Egypt, Palestine, etc. actually affect the lives and families of their friends here, and they talk about these events with them. I don't ever recall discussing the plight of the Palestinians with the kids prior to moving here, but here it's actually a subject that they've brought up for discussion. They also talk about religion and tolerance in a way that most adults aren't even capable of doing. I'm so proud of both of them, and I can see how this move is shaping the adults that they will become.
As a family, I think the biggest change has been the time that we spend together now. To me, it alone has made this move to Abu Dhabi more than worth it. We now sit down to a home cooked family dinner almost every night together. Even better than that, all 4 of us have lunch together on Tuesdays, because the kids get out of school early every Tuesday. This is something that maybe happened once a year when we lived in the states. We also do a lot more activities together on the weekends here than we did in the states. There are so many things to do in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and most weekends I feel like we are on a family vacation. We also live a lot closer to Europe now, and we're able to take some really cool vacations like our recent trip to Germany and Austria for Christmas. In addition to family outings, my husband and I also have a lot more time for just the two of us here. We do have teenagers, so while they like hanging out with us, they don't like doing it 24-7. It's nice to just be able to go sit and relax and have coffee in a cafe with my husband on a Saturday morning, or one of my favs are the times like we had tonight where we sit on a comfy couch by the water overlooking the city and enjoy a dinner of delicious Arabic food at one of my favorite spots, Le Boulanger.
I'll be honest when we took this big step and moved 7500 miles away from our friends and family it was a bit scary...exciting, but scary. Today, looking back on the life changing year we've had, I'm so glad that we had the courage to take this step. I look forward to what adventures life in Abu Dhabi has to bring us in 2012.