This morning as we were Skype-ing with Waliya, my sister, Anya suddenly grabbed the laptop and ‘hugged’ her Walu, and as she did it she had the biggest smile on her face! It left me and my sister both teary eyed and quiet for a second. I thought of this road we have ended up upon, a lifetime of living so far away from the ones we grew up around.
On our last visit to Pakistan, even though she was having the most fun with everyone all day every day, at night when I would lie down with her she would tell me how much she missed her home, her room and her baba and that she needed to go back. And once we got back home, she was so excited. As I was drowning in nostalgia and missing my family, Anya was all happy! And yet now though, almost a month later, at random times she will tell me that she had so much fun with her khalas, or that she misses her nani, or wants to go her phupo’s or apa’s1 house, and sometimes with such a sad tinge to her voice that my heart aches, knowing specially that that cannot happen in the near future.
It broke my heart a little as I tried to explain the bittersweet reality of our life and how it feels like our heart is always being pulled in two directions. When we’re in Pakistan we keep thinking of our home and our life as a family, but when we’re here back home, it aches so much many times for simple every day moments with loved ones. For a 4 year old, the concept is probably hard to grasp but it seems she’s already begun to understand this reality of our life.
Some days each of us living the expat life wake up thinking of our families and questioning our choices. It does become a part of our life, of who we are. And we learn to make the most of whatever time we get with our loved ones. I always tell myself, I would rather have them happy and healthy even if I don’t get to see them for months or even years at a time. Hopefully Anya will grow up to realize that sometimes near at heart is what matters more in the end.
So thankful that we have been able to visit every year since she was born Alhamdullilah2 and that she already has so many memories of our families.
If you live away from family, how do you deal with it? Would love to know.
Thanks for reading. Lots of love.
Photos from our visit to Pakistan in Winters of ‘13-‘14
Also if you missed it before: Sharing ideas for keeping your baby/toddler connected to your families when you live away from them and how to celebrate big days the long distance way.
1. Urdu is a beautiful language in the sense that it has specific words for each relation on the mom’s side and the dad’s side. Khala is for mom’s sister, Nani is for maternal grandmother, Phupo is for dad’s sister, Apa is for elder sister which Anya calls her cousins.
2 Alhamdullilah is an Arabic word that is commonly used by Muslims and means thanks be to God.