Normally, the part of me that wants to make sure all the toys are put away or grab the tv remote after the kids are asleep would have protested, but I love Dan Pink, and not just because he grew up in the same community as my hubbie.
“What’s your sentence?” The words flashed on a black screen and then Liam, a young boy from Tasmania, smiled into the camera and said: “Be a loyal friend.” Person after person from various places around the world shared their sentence, the motivation for their lives.
“She never said she couldn’t because she knew she could.” “She learned to help kids love literature and learn to love themselves.” “He wrote music that affected people around the world.” And even “He ate tomato soup with a fork.”
Neither R nor I came up with a sentence that night after watching the video. We were feeling tired and lazy. But in the days since, we’ve both been pondering our sentences, a process that’s brought up the usual questions about expat life, the sort that can keep you up at night. “What are we doing here?” “Will the kids be OK?” “Are we crazy living so far from our families, in a culture we will never truly understand?”
As expats, the process of creating our sentence involves asking not only “What do I want to do with my life?” but also “Where?” And, in some cases, especially for those of us who are trailing spouses, “How?”
Back in 2005, R and I made the decision to move overseas together, before kids were in the picture. In Thailand, he could pursue his career and I could focus on my writing. Not working a full-time job, initially, had been my choice. But this handful of years later, after having my adorable little boys and telling myself I would stay home with them because that’s what a good mom, especially a good expat mom, does, I realized that was not the best choice for me or my family.
So what’s my sentence? “She wrote stories that helped and inspired others.” Maybe if I weren’t an expat, my sentence might be different. But right now, despite the challenges, I see the gifts that being an expat can bring.
What’s your sentence?