How to be a Tower of Strength

I should have seen it coming but I did not. I guess I
am not in Goodbye Mode yet – I don’t think any of us is. But it seems that the
dreaded process has begun.
This weekend, my daughter had a farewell party organised
in her honour by her schoolmates and their parents. She had been excited about
it for weeks. During the actual party she was in heaven, running and jumping –
or rather floating – around with her friends. This was the first party she has
had thrown in her honour and she was incredibly proud and happy. I was also very moved, especially by all the love and effort put into making this
happen. We all have busy lives after all.
As my larger-than-life little blond whirlwind danced
around the room, smiling and interacting with everyone, it was wonderful to see
how popular and loved she is, but I also could not help but feel a familiar pang
of sadness. I was sad for her – for having to say goodbye. Of course she would
make new friends in a flash – I knew that; but I also knew that she would miss
her current ones so much. I was also sad for myself, realising that the goodbye
process had officially kicked off. I am so not ready for this.
That evening, after the others were done with dinner,
my girl and I were left alone in the kitchen. I was busy clearing the table and
suddenly I realised that she was sobbing. She was not able to explain why, but when
I asked her whether it was because of her friends, she nodded. It all went
downhill from then on, because I started crying as well and, before you knew it, wet tissues were piling up on the floor. She looked at me a bit surprised – as in
“why on earth are you crying?”
I have read several books and articles on how to help
your kids cope with international moves and how to make
the transition smoother for them. I know the theory: while admitting that I am also a
bit sad – and therefore human –, as a parent, I have to show enough strength to
inspire confidence in them that everything will be all right. Breaking down
myself does not quite fit that model
of behavior. Still, I cannot bear to see another person – least of all a child
of mine – cry (yes, I’m a total softie), particularly when I share their
feelings completely. For the moment, I seem to have implementation issues
with that theory.
Moving alone is completely different from moving with another
person or persons. It’s not just the more complex logistics, but also all the
emotions involved; you always have to think about the impact yours have on others’.
Maybe I should have added a question mark to the title
of my post. This is not about how to be a tower of strength, which I obviously
am not; but if you have the answer, I’d love to hear it – ideally sooner
rather than later.


  1. Anonymous

    …and I cannot bear to read this post of yours without getting emotional as well…(Gianluca sitting next to me wondering why on earth I have tears rolling down my cheeks..8-)
    I think it's perfectly all right to cry with your daughter…moving is difficult, you are strong but hey, as strong as you can you can be, you still need to bend in order not to be collapse (like anti-seismic houses in earthquake regions…;-)

  2. Thank you for this. It's nice to see that there are more of us 🙂
    I like the "bend, in order not to break" analogy!

  3. Anonymous

    I know why it is difficult: your last move was a long time ago!
    Think of people like diplomats who move every two years: These guys teach themselves that moving is part of life.. In fact, such people feel strange when they don't move…
    Yes, moving with a family is much tougher than alone and kids don't really forget.. I thought they do! My son still remembers his friend from Geneva..
    I still remember my friends from my primary school but I trained myself to think that one doesn't say goodbye.. One just takes his/her friends everywhere..And now that communication is so easy and hopping on planes isn't such a nightmare: you can see/talk to your friends whenever time allows you..Time is another topic altogether..

  4. Anonymous

    Dear K,
    definitely moving with kids is another story…but that story started when you became a mother, because as of that moment you turned into a different person from the one you had been until that day (or at least I experienced that).
    I react completely different in front of many situations in life after having children – not that I was not sensitive or emotional before ;))… but things did not affect me the same way (news, movies, music…)
    For me the point is: our children will have to confront probably several "challenging" moments in their life and it is good if they know they have strong parents to lean on…but I think most of all it is important that they know their parents are HUMAN 🙂 and yes, sometimes they cry…and that is OK as long we are able to talk about it share our emotions.
    And I agree that distance today with the new technologies is not the same as before, when the chances to keep a distance friendship were reserved to those who really were constant "writing letters" 😉
    As I once said, by moving you will not be getting rid of me!
    A hug from a little samurai

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