By this point, I am sure you have read about our plans to come back to Canada at the end of our year of traveling. Since the announcement, we have received a lot of wonderful messages and emails from family, friends and strangers. The most common question we have received is, “How did the rest of the family react to this decision?”
I will start with myself. I am not going to lie and say I was Miss Supportive as soon as Matt brought it up. Here is how it all went down. . .
I was minding my own business in Vietnam, when . . .
Matt returns from the gym with a questionable expression on his face. I am just about to do yoga but pause to ask him, “What’s with the face?”
Matt – “So I just listened to this podcast and I am really thinking I may want to go back to medicine.”
Me – There are no words. . . just a look of shock and possible eyebrows raised so high that they have disappeared from my face (or so I’ve been told).
Matt – “I am just wondering if I am permanently closing a door that I am not sure I should close just yet.”
Me – “Okaaaay”. . . pause . . . “I think I get it . . . We should consider this but I am a pretty hard no on moving back into our old life.” I think I even said, “I am NOT going back to Whitby!”
Sidebar: there is nothing wrong with Whitby. I was just really afraid we would be sucked back into the life that we left. I couldn’t let that happen.
Here’s the thing with me. . . I am pretty confident when I’m talking (even when I’m not – it’s genetic). I will throw around things like, “I am 1000% sure” or “I am a hard ‘no’ on this” when in actual fact, I don’t really mind being wrong or changing my mind. Matt has learned to take what I say with a grain of salt. Give me time and I may come around.
Matt – “Totally! I don’t want our old life either but I am wondering about finding a balance that we will all be happy with. We don’t need to decide anything right now. I just wanted to let you know where my head is at. Do your yoga and we will talk about it later.” Exits room with a loving face. I, on the hand, had a less than loving face.
Bomb dropped . . . the aftermath
Now I am too grumpy to do yoga. Actually, I was probably looking for any excuse to get out of it. Instead of stretching my body, I spend the next hour stretching my mind, trying to get my head around everything. This is how I roll. I need to research the living daylights out of all possibilities. I close off all of my sailboat research tabs and open up new ones about a potential life in Canada (schooling options, locations to live within 90 minutes of a certain hospital, cost of living in certain areas so that Matt doesn’t have to work very often, etc.).
Matt and I are used to agreeing on most things. Part of that is due to the fact that we think in a similar way. The other part is that our default is to find a compromise when we don’t agree. We look for common ground rather than digging our heels into our own ideas. It works for us.
An hour later, Matt comes in to check on me. I confess that I was too grumpy to work out and that I am trying to figure this all out. This is a big change and that we need time to process it all. We go about our day, exploring Hanoi with the kids. We walk, we eat, and we talk in code so the boys don’t catch wind of this potential change.
Two days later. . .
After several conversations, a super geeky “pros and cons” list, and hours on realtor.ca, Matt and I have come up with a pretty good idea of what we would like our life to look like – at least for the next few years. I say this because we have realized that we like change. . . a lot! I think the only things we are lifers on, are our marriage and our kids. Everything else is up for negotiation as we try to make the most of these family years.
Here is what we think we want:
- A smaller home on a smaller lot that requires less day to day maintenance and cleaning. Chances are high we will be renovating but that is only because we love it
- Buy in a less expensive area where there are more opportunities for outdoor family activities. We are leaning towards Peterborough, Ontario. It is surrounded by hiking trails, lakes and wonderful amenities. It is still close to family and friends.
- Homeschool the boys. We have definitely witnessed the benefits of our kids learning outside of our school system. We would like to try this out for another year.
- Continue to travel. Homeschooling will give us the flexibility to take trips whenever we can. We still love traveling and hope to travel several months out of the year.
- Matt will go back to Emergency medicine. He is planning on working 4-6 shifts a month while pursuing other things that interest him (believe me when I say his list of interests is too long to write).
The dust settles
After a few days and a whirlwind of emotions, we have both come around to this idea. A home base is sounding great! We have discussed the many “what if’s”. What if Matt still dislikes Emergency Medicine? What if we fall into the trap of consumerism and accumulate a bunch of unnecessary stuff? What if the kids want to go to school instead of homeschool?
We have discussed all of this and we think we have a pretty good handle on what we will do. Of course there is no crystal ball and we can’t be sure of anything but we are okay with that. Matt needs to find out if there is a way to practice medicine that is fulfilling again.
I think after a year of traveling, we are very aware that we don’t need a lot of material objects to be happy. We are happiest when we are experiencing new things with each other. It may be harder to do from a home base but we are up for the challenge.
Now that Matt and I had come to terms with everything we had one more thing to do: