Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans

So, my PLAN was to write this blog. To write about “a range of subjects”, such as gender, equality, parenthood, living abroad, society, culture, politics and economics. That is what I put down in my first post on 4 October 2013. After that, only two more followed. Post number three starts with “It has been six weeks since I wrote and published the last blog on” Accordingly, this one could start with “It has been nearly four months”. But I am not doing that, as otherwise you might expect the next post not before 2015.

A friend of mine told me last summer that when you move countries as a trailing spouse and parent, the first year is usually consumed with settling in. I thought she was exaggerating. I had moved continents twice over the last twelve years by then, on top an inner-European move, and then last summer crossing the Atlantic again to go back to Mexico. The settling in during our first time in Mexico in 2002 had to be turbo-charged, as I was 30 weeks pregnant when I arrived. We had to do so many things in little over two months to be ready for when the baby was born. When we moved to The Netherlands in 2004, it was a bit like in the movie “Groundhog Day” – I was expecting my second child, just that this time round I had another six months to go until the due date. Both moves and adaptations were intense.

When we changed from The Hague to Vienna in 2009, I thought that things would be so much easier. Being German, I considered settling in in Vienna a home match. But little did I know, that Austria and Germany are actually quite different in some aspects. Looking back on our first year there, I was on constant information collecting mode: school, kindergarten, babysitters, apartment, dealing with bureaucracy (registering a car bought in another EU country; dealing with the Finanzamt; etc.), football teams, swimming lessons, music class, doctors, winter tires, skiing vacation (for a Northern German and a Mexican definitely a new experience), the list goes on and on. I managed all that really well, but when the first school year ended in June 2010, I felt drained – and I had “only” been a “homemaker” and a mum. It took me two years to find a fixed employment in my profession.

This time with our fourth move, I find the adaptation process much easier. I am hugely profiting from the fact that I had lived in Mexico City before.  And that my husband is a “native”. For a European who has not spent time in the developing world or an emerging country, coming to this place is a challenge: the sheer size of the city, the distances, the traffic, the noise, the density of concrete buildings and asphalt streets, the amount of people, the lack of green spaces, the poverty and the stark differences between rich and poor take time, emotions and energy to get used to. Some people never get accustomed to it, and remain feeling foreign and alienated forever. And even though a lot of things are not new to me here, eight months after we arrived I am realizing that what my friend said last summer was actually not exaggerated. All of us – my husband, my two boys, and me – are still to a certain extent settling in.

So, in September of last year I made the PLAN to do this blog. And then life happened. But in line with the motto of this blog, I am keeping on trying. I am failing (when it takes me four months between posts), and I am believing that I will improve my output (next post in days or weeks rather than months; write about something else than moving and settling in). This blog is a proof of my daily imperfections. But it is also the source of satisfaction and joy when I finally come around and create something.


  1. arnemebus · March 25, 2014

    Sounds all very familiar 😉 After three months in São Paulo with a “trailing-spouse” and three kids I see your point! Still searching for the slot to write our next blog entry. So far – no luck, but (after reading this) not giving up… Viele Grüße Richtung Norden!


    • karenkleinwort · March 26, 2014

      Gut, dass es nicht nur mir so geht. Grüße Richtung Süden. Ist euer Container schon da? Eine Freundin von mir musste leider mehrere Monate auf ihren warten, bis der endlich durch den Zoll war. Ist aber auch schon rund vier Jahre her. Entonces, mucha suerte!!!


  2. Elizabeth · March 26, 2014

    ¡Me alegro de que hayas vuelto a la pluma, o a los dedos…! Las imperfecciones diarias son necesarias y útiles, lo importante es “keep on going”!


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