I just received my first hate mail and it absolutely blew me away. Who hates the PTA? LeeAnn Rimes. Sure. Gwyneth Paltrow. Overachiever. Madonna. Of course. But the PTA? Give me a break. We are the moms organizing the Harvest Festival, popping popcorn, and selling school sweaters after school. Lady, do you really want to hate on us?
Collectively, we resolved that she probably isn’t very happy. She’s an American living in Saudi, and understandably, life can be difficult for an expat woman. First we are lured with the promise of big money and adventure. The world is at your fingertips. Six hour flight to Rome, to Greece, three hours to the Maldives, five to Germany — for an adventurous person this is a dream come true but for some it is not. They miss home. They miss their old life. Their old friends. They miss everything.
For others, we thrive. We find new friends. We make new memories. We move on. But still there are those moments when it is a little difficult and nobody at home seems to understand because we always look so happy in our Facebook pictures. And we are. But there’s a bookshelf somewhere full of studies that prove when people are thrown together in an unfamiliar environment that survival instincts kick in and people do what they need to do. Okay, so the PTA does what we need to do and more, but there’s always those days when we miss our sister, our parents, or our friends.
Some women are starving for friendship so they sign up for every ladies luncheon, girl’s night out and volunteer for every school function. Whatever it takes to keep them busy. Just hoping they will discover their overseas BFF and life will be full of Cosmos, reruns of Bridesmaids, and incredible shopping adventures. And sometimes that is exactly what happens and sometimes it is not.
Sometimes husband’s careers are sidetracked, kids are yanked out of school, and families are uprooted because it is all too much. It is a culture outside your own and it isn’t always easy to adapt. It may be a country in development that does not follow the same familiar patterns. And many times it can be too much constantly asking Why? Learning to go with the flow isn’t always easy for some. So they try to create work-arounds or a new system for doing something but it is exhausting. The reality is not everyone is suited for this type of lifestyle. You really need to know who you are as a person before you commit yourself to something so challenging.
So back to my hater. I am so very sorry you’re having a bad day. A bad life. Or you made a bad decision. Possibly the expat life isn’t for you or you simply miss your family. But before you pack your bags and go you should join a ladies luncheon, a girl’s night out or even better; maybe you should join the PTA.