What It Means to be a Trailing Spouse

trailing spouse

foreign-correspondent badge finalI am moving to Norway in a few days with my husband and young toddler son.  In the midst of the chaos of moving, my mind is alive with thoughts of the future and past, and flashbacks and hopeful dreams preoccupy me.

When I look at the boxes and objects cluttering my current living room in Singapore, I see the stories of my life that are intricately tied to the country I am about to leave behind. Stories of my life as an adult, as a teenager and as a child bubble to the surface in the places I know.

packing

Memories of hunting for a rental home with my husband and finally finding this amazing place with the prettiest kitchen, of getting my first oven and slowly acquiring the kitchen equipment of my dreams. All the memories of crepes on Sunday mornings, meals prepared and meals eaten, parties with friends and dinners with family come to me when I place my hand on my oven-top. Memories of being pregnant on the couch at night and unable to sleep, of bringing home my newborn and sitting on that same couch feeding and holding him. Memories of my son growing to be the strong toddler that he is now in this space that has been mine for the last few years.

Reaching further back in my mind there are other memories that have shaped me, both good and bad. The influences of society, culture, family, and community on who I have become.

Sometimes we value the time we spend with each other more when we don’t see each other frequently.

I wonder how the move to Norway will influence my son. How will he see himself and identify as a person who belongs to different worlds?

I think about the family that I will be leaving behind in Singapore, and how I can continue to be close to them while being physically far away. We live in a connected global world now and that is only to my advantage. Sometimes we value the time we spend with each other more when we don’t see each other frequently. The time that we do spend together will be of a higher quality and I shall be comforted by that thought.

I want my son to have a close, loving relationship with his grandparents. My father is very close to my son, and moving is going to be difficult for both of them. My son has not had a chance to get to know his grandparents in Norway, and by moving closer I hope he is able to have a relationship with all of his relatives.

Fortunately, it is possible for my father to travel to be with us now and then. With that, they will continue to grow their relationship despite the distance.

The beauty of a life-changing event like moving to a new continent is that others in similar situations are open to new friendships.

On a personal level, I will be leaving behind a successful career as a general practitioner in Singapore. I have mixed feelings about this. There is some sadness with leaving behind a career like that and fear for the future. Will I continue to pursue my profession in Norway? At the same time I feel relief because I have an opportunity to be a stay-at-home mother to my son right now, which is what my heart wants at this time in my life. It is a small emotional struggle to be a trailing spouse, but I’ve decided to embrace this change whole-heartedly.

The beauty of a life-changing event like moving to a new continent is that others in similar situations are open to new friendships. Sharing a common, unique experience with others is a great way to make new lasting friendships. Having the rug pulled out from under you in terms of your current social network makes you open to new possibilities and new friends.

With all of these thoughts fighting for attention in my head, I am noticeably distracted these days. Walking into rooms looking lost and wondering why I am there is a common occurrence this last week. However, underlying all of these emotions is one overriding one: hope. That one thing carries me through all of the uncertainty and change occurring around me. I know that as long as I am with my family, I will be home.

Move to Norway

Photo credit: halfrain

About Rita Brekke

Rita BrekkeRita Brekke writes at Norway with Love about relocation, parenthood, life, and living better.

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