I have been struggling with "Am I doing enough?" and "What should I be doing as a 31-year-old woman?". For most the answer would be either working a job or if you’re not working that means you have kids that you stay home and take care of them. Well, I don’t work a 9-5 job and we don’t have kids. When I was 24 I packed two suitcases and of course two very large carry-ons to go with my fiancé (now my husband) to Dubai where he had taken a job at a university. For him it would be returning home after 7 years of being away from his last visit and for me it would be the first time living the comfort of everything I knew. The adventure began and things were hard but I was making it work. I was staying with my fiancé’s family and learning a lot. I had gone home twice since we left once for Christmas as I was missing my family and the second time I left I wasn't sure when or if I would return. I returned to Dubai 5 months later on September 23rd 2011 and we were married September 29th. We continued to live with my in-laws, which allowed me to be immersed in their family culture and gain a different perspective of other expats in the city. Although those two years were tough I'm grateful for them and sometimes even miss them. We moved into our own place in 2013 which I was super excited because that meant we would have our own space and I would be able to create a home for us. I wasn't working and I was ready to take on the roll of the housewife, but I prefer to call myself a Domestic Engineer has a nicer ring to it. So there I was 26 living in a foreign country trying to be the best wife and support my husband, as he was working. In Dubai it was common for the spouse, which was typically the woman but not always, to stay home and take care of the kids. Which I've since learned is called a Trailing Spouse. Here is the definition of that term from https://en.wikipedia.org "The term trailing spouse is used to describe a person who follows his or her life partner to another city because of a work assignment. The term is often associated with people involved in an expatriate assignment but is also used by academia on domestic assignments." Of course some found it a bit odd to why I wasn't working, as there were no children to be taken care of. I did eventually do some part-time substitute teaching but other than that I was just taking care of the house. Not working full-time allowed me to be with my husband when he was/is home, as he doesn't have a typical 9-5 job. As most University Professors his teaching hours would change semester to semester and in the summers he would travel for conferences and work on research. We enjoy being together and not working has allowed me to be home whenever he is. Since our 5-year adventure in Dubai came to a close in August 2015 we have moved to France. Little did I know the struggles we would face and the culture shock we would have to work through in the last 16months. We are still learning and adjusting to life in France. In Dubai people would come and go all the time and it isn't uncommon for people to be gone for 2 almost 3 months of the summer. In France that is not the case. We go back to Dubai every six months and in the summer we travel to the US to see my family as well traveling for my husband to attend conferences. So out of the 16 months so far in France 67 days we spent in a hotel and we traveled for a total of 4 months through out 2016 so we have actually only been living and getting to know the place for less than 12 months. Frustrated with my progression with language and feeling like I start from the begging again every time we leave and return from our travels I wouldn't change our life.
Although lately, I have been caught up feeling like I have to explain myself and respond to the questions of why I'm not working. People in France find this very odd since we don’t have kids and thus I should be working. I do work everyday! We have “traditional” roles and that doesn't make me any less of a strong independent woman if not working a job and we don’t have children. The other night I was expressing to my husband about what I felt I should be doing instead of what I’m currently doing because I feel like it’s not enough his response gave me the best encouragement and reassured me that what I do for our family dynamic is important and as long I'm doing that I don't need to worry about anything else. Yes, there are things I would like to accomplish but until those doors open and the opportunity presents it self I’ll be supporting my husband and being the best Domestic Engineer I can be, not perfect, but the best I can be and always trying to improve.
So I leave you with this. Some people may not understand your situation and some maybe jealous of it but just remember no-ones life is perfect and although sometimes you wish you were wearing someone else’s shoes be thankful for journey and don't take it for-granted.