A Hopeful, Tentative Yes

It’s been one month since our plane took off, and I’ve been thinking about the true beginning of this journey.

I’m taking about almost a year ago when my husband first mentioned this possibly to a quite pregnant me and I literally scoffed at him. Not because had anything against Singapore or even knew anything about Singapore, but because I had chosen the life we had deliberately and I still felt all kinds of uncertain and scared about adding a second child to our family. I loved my job. I loved having a flexible enough work schedule. I loved our town. Especially our local bookstore and walking there with Penny. Why would I risk sure things for something so uncertain?

Can you tell I’m not a big risk taker by nature? I was actually once christened “fun wrecker” in high school. This sticks with me not because it’s a particularly deep wound but because it’s kind of true. Early bedtimes are my jam. I prefer books to moving images. I have one alcoholic drink every few years. (Yes, you read that right.) The most adventurous thing I’m comfortable doing is loving people a little recklessly.

So, how did I go from a firm no, to someone who willingly, even enthusiastically signed up for this? It happened in pieces.

First, I had a lot to learn about what this experience would look like. I needed concrete details. Talking to people who had done it really helped. Literally no one mentioned any regrets except that they eventually had to come back.

More importantly, I needed to deliver a healthy baby. I refused to commit to anything until Harper was safely here. I do not possess the boldness that just expecting everything to work out requires, and I remember tearing up at her one month appointment as I asked the pediatrician if there was any prudence in staying in the states, any avoidable risks I would be taking on by relocating a six month old. She assured me there weren’t, and I could no longer convince myself that I was saying no to honor anyone or anything except my fear.

Lastly, I had to reframe my thinking. In the period of a few years, life had delivered several successive punches that put me permanently in a state of vigilance about what could go wrong. My first rodeo as a new mother was a maelstrom of grief and anxiety. Then I read something that pushed me. It said something simply along the lines of instead of imagining what it would be like if everything went wrong, try and imagine what it would be like if everything went right.

To be fair, they are equally likely (while still unlikely) scenarios. But it allowed me to see the fullness of the spectrum in the middle. It allowed me to imagine that this world is a place where some things are still mostly good. It pushed me to see that a no uttered in fear may actually be more risky than a hopeful, tentative yes.

Now that I’m temporarily out of the workforce and living in a place with one consistent season, time has gone a little wonky. I can’t believe it’s been an entire month and then I think of all the things that have happened and I can’t believe it’s only been a month. I always believed that two years would fly by, simply because my experience of life has mostly been that the older you are, the more paltry a year seems as a unit of measurement.

Seb mentioned at bedtime yesterday that Penny asked if we could stay here for a long while. She’s wondering who she will invite to her birthday party this year, but open to my answer that she’ll make new friends when school begins next week. I do feel sadness that I can’t hop in a car and bring her to see those she already loves dearly, but I’m no longer letting myself believe that she’s traumatized by the upheaval. People are adaptable, kids especially so. If experience is the only teacher, then new experiences just have to provoke new understandings about ourselves and our world.

And maybe, just maybe, my daughters, one of whom clearly has the telltale signs of my inborn prudence, will learn from this early experience that they have hearts big enough for bold choices and wild adventures. They can feel free to wreck all the fun they want, in fact most of me would prefer that to their father’s bungee jumping and disregard for speed limits. But I do hope that if they have opportunities in the future that scare them a little, they don’t let fear take up all the seats at the decision making table, that they don’t need to read it somewhere to consider that some risks are worth taking, that sometimes things can for the most part just work out.

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