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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

And 6 Months later...

Today marks the anniversary of our 6 month return back to the United States. I wouldn't had even thought twice about this date and anniversary, but Riley made me think of this last night.
I was up late last night, since I've been on this schedule of going to bed late, and getting up later, because of Christmas Break. Last night, I knew I would have a difficult time going to sleep, so I watched TV, listened to the news, and did some things on the computer, as the rest of the family was nestled in their beds. About 10:00, Riley came down the stairs, with tears in his eyes. At first, I thought it was because he was sick. But he kept repeating, "I miss Germany. I miss Germany." My heart just broke upon looking at his little innocent face. I want so bad to fix this. What can I do, as his mom, to make him feel better, when I have the same feelings?
I asked him what he missed the most, and he simply said, "Everything." He continued to tell me he misses the trams (we all know that), his old school, his old friends, and living in the city. He misses the excitement of our lives, because that's what it was; exciting. We were always so excited. We went on one or two vacations a month. It was a "Good Life."
I admitted to him that I miss it too, but he already knows that. I admitted crying earlier that day when I was watching a reality TV show in which the woman on the show was visiting Paris. "I just kept looking at her and the streets and remembering how we were there, and how much fun we had there." I was honest with him and my feelings, and I found that we both started crying as we hugged. Riley is just 9 years old, but as a 9 year old boy, he knows so much about the world. He has been in 15 countries, all with its unique cultures, languages and customs. He has plans to visit Germany and his friends he met there when he is of high-school age, and he is challenging his German teacher to teach him more German, writing her a note last week, "Please challenge me. I plan on moving to Germany again and you need to teach me." Now, his teacher strictly speaks to him in German, which he prefers. His motivation to return back to Europe is impressive, and I don't think he will ever relent on this decision. But at this moment, as I'm hugging him, I honestly don't know what to say to him, because I miss it too, and it saddens me. I surprise myself and give him good advice. I tell him that he is aware of how big the world is, and how he has seen so much. How lucky he is, to do something that some people never get to do; to travel the world. I tell him to look at the positive. And since he knows how cool Europe is, I tell him, "I know someday you'll be back there. You already know where you want to go." I encourage him to keep skypping his 2 German friends, Mark and Karl. I tell him that I hope someday that you will be reunited with these friends. These friends are your connection to Germany. Stay in touch with these friends, and you will feel closer to Germany in this way. I also encourage him to keep up with his writing. Since 1st grade, Riley has been writing in a journal and since 2nd grade, a blog. Writing about your feelings will help too. He looks at me, still shaking, sad and upset. I just hug him again. I know we all feel helpless when our kids are sad, and there seems to be nothing we can do to help. This is one of those times. I actually feel my heart breaking as I look at his sad eyes and his quivering lips.
Riley sits at the computer and he writes to Mark and Karl, making an appointment to skype with them on Saturday. I tell Riley that I would love these friends to come visit us in New York. We talk about this for a bit, and I promise Riley that I will talk to his friends' parents, so see if this is a possiblity. I say good night to Riley, and as he slowly walks up the stairs, I feel so sad for him. He fell in love with our life there too. Riley and I are both waiting for this...this go away. When will we stop missing Germany and Europe so much? When will the hurt gradually go away? At Riley and Maggie's International School in Germany, I attended a class on returning to your country, after being an expat. Those speakers told me that it would take 6 months-1 year to fully feel happy. I also learned that when you return back to the same city you lived in, it is even more difficult. All of my expat friends that I met in Germany, are all new to the NY area.They may be experiencing NY as they did when we were in Germany; as a new and exciting adenture. So, we just, today, reached the 6 month point. It is obvious that Riley and I need more time.

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