No, for the umpteenth time, I am not pregnant.
The Christmas before last I said to my husband that we had to decide whether we were going to move back to Ireland or stay in Belgium because, if we were going to stay in Belgium, we had to buy a house. A three bedroomed, second floor flat is not ideal for bringing up three small children. We decided that we would move to Dublin in September 2008. Now, obviously, it didn’t make much sense to tell anyone about this decision in December 2006, so I have been not telling employers, employees and children for a long time. It’s exhausting.
Last week, Mr. Waffle told his employers. On Friday we told the Princess that we are moving back (some of you may consider that this is a radical solution to our difficulties with L). On Monday we told our childminder and our babysitter. And today I formally told my employer and colleagues and now I am telling you.
Mr. Waffle and the Princess are in Dublin this week. In an excess of efficiency they have visited her new school (an Irish language school – please don’t ask). After hearing her father and the headmaster converse in Irish for ten minutes, she ran from the room telling her grandmother that this was “pointless and useless”. I can tell it’s going to go well. What do you think? She’s also got her school uniform, this is more pleasing. It has a tie. There will be photos.
I am very sad to be leaving this great job and my lovely colleagues. I am very sad to be leaving Belgium and my friends here. On balance though, I think we are doing the right thing. We are very fortunate in both having lovely families with whom we get on very well. We want to see more of them and so do our children. I want my children to be Irish not Belgian (though I see that the Princess is testing this enthusiasm by already adopting the nastiest of Dublin accents, she said to me on the phone this afternoon “Oi don’t want to talk to you, Oi don’t loike the phone”). One of the best things about going back was how our friends in Dubin reacted; they all seem to be genuinely delighted. Despite all its shortcomings (and oh they are many), I do like Dublin and I know I will enjoy living there.
For obvious reasons, the move has been very much in my mind since Christmas but I didn’t want to blog about it ar eagla na heagla (see how I’m taking to this Irish thing?) but I have been taking notes and now I’m putting them here. Because I can.
Ask my mother what she did with all our furniture when we moved from a large detatched Georgian House to a much smaller semi-detatched Edwardian one. Answer: Moved it all and got rid of none. My mother points out that result has been 20 odd years tripping over pieces of furniture and an attic which strikes terror into her heart. On the plus side, she says I can now have the Nelson sideboard, if I want it. Point out that I have more than enough furniture of my own for my tiny house.
Prepare first spreadsheet.
Asked the garage whether they would sell us a car with the steering wheel on the wrong side. They were reluctant. They said that it would be expensive and we would have to wait a year. In inimitable Belgian fashion, 6 (yes 6) people behind the reception desk ignored me for some considerable time but finally, to their evident regret, had to relent and pay me some attention.
Consider for the umpteenth time the amount of our stuff. My mother often says to my sister (to the latter’s intense irritation): Helen, you have too much of this world’s goods. She’s not the only one. Wonder what size is the attic in our house in Dublin. Curse myself for never even having looked in the attic when we bought the house. My sister says to me, “Mummy is delighted that you are coming home”. I am touched until she adds, “she says that maybe finally you will take all of your stuff out of her house”. My father-in-law is also anxious that we should remove all our stuff from his garage (barbecue and large outdoor heater – a wedding gift from the time when they were a sign that you were trendy rather than a sign that you are an eco-terrorist). My mother-in-law has, however, volunteered to mind our antique sewing machine until we have a house large enough to accommodate it. I suspect that my father-in-law is unaware of her kind offer.
After much humming and hawing decide to travel to Ireland for interview I am most unlikely to get on the basis that, if I did get it and the job came up in September my family would be able to eat every day rather than just every second day. This problem would mostly affect me and Mr. Waffle as the children prefer not to eat anyway.
Mr. Waffle hands in notice to the creche. The boys will be finishing there at the end of July. I will be a little sad to end our relations with our excellent creche.
Flight is delayed and arrive, Cinderella like, at friends’ house in Dublin at midnight. My friends are up awaiting my arrival with tea sympathy and advice. I love their house. It is a home from home as I used to live there. In fact, due to the many parties my husband and I held there, many people still think it is ours. Alas, it is not. I have stayed in the spare room many times and always enjoyed an excellent night’s sleep. On this occasion, I do not. Some vagary of their security system means that the overhead light flashes on every two hours and wakes me in considerable alarm. It is distressingly like being with small children.
Interview is, as expected entirely brutal. At the end, I ask about how many people they expect to appoint and they tell me that they give comprehensive feedback. I say I will look forward to that to general laughter from the board. I’d like to think that they were laughing with me but, I doubt it. [Didn’t get the job].
Princess and I go round to Glam Potter’s house and I reveal to her sum total of our likely income in Ireland for first two years. She is appalled. How will you survive? I am not comforted.
Having refused to think about or organise anything for the move in two months in the hope that, oh I don’t know, it would organise itself, I am jolted into action by a series of questions from my mother and brother who are visiting over the weekend. The heart surgeon rings from America and asks a series of hard questions as well. I am now worrying actively.
The Dutch Mama asked whom I had told about my plans to return. I explained that we was waiting until the end of April to tell our children, our employers and our employees about our plans and that I was slightly dreading this event. I was comforted her reply:
Sure it will be brilliant.
Employer: I’M LEAVING! (implicit, for something better, didn’t I always say you don’t pay me enough)
Employees: I’M LEAVING! (implicit, for something better, look at what an exciting international life I have)
Children: Guess what? Brilliant news. Mammy has got a great new job in Ireland, and we’re going to live in a house with a garden, and you can have a swing of your very own, and we’ll be able to see granny every single weekend. Won’t it be just great! And we’ll come back on lots of visits too. And we can invite your friends to come and play on your swing. And we’ve found you a lovely school.(I’d leave out the gaelscoil detail for now if I were you).
Life will be way easier for you in Ireland, and lots of fun.
Mr. Waffle has told work he’s leaving. I’ve told my boss informally and will hand in my notice next week. Tonight we decided to tell herself. At first, she was very excited but then as the implications sank in, she became distinctly apprehensive. “Why can’t we move to a house with a garden in Brussels; Brussels is my home”. This is true, she has never lived anywhere else and we have never given her any reason to believe that we would move somewhere else. That was, perhaps, foolish in retrospect. “Where will I go to school?” “In Dublin.” “What language will they speak in school?” If I had realised that I was going to be asked this quite so early in proceedings, I would have prepared a different answer from “Irish”*. She started to cry. She was scared, she wouldn’t understand and all her friends were here. This was the first time I really, really realised that we are definitely going and I felt like crying myself. I love Brussels. However, we perked her up as best we could and stressed the advantages which are many – well, otherwise, why wouldn’t we stay here? I am afraid for her. Mr. Waffle says, I can’t have it both ways, saying that she’ll be uprooted from all her friends one minute and agonising that she has no friends the next. Actually, he’s wrong, I can.
* There is a reason why we are sending her to an Irish language school and it’s largely and embarrassingly to do with the fact that Ireland isn’t quite the classless society it once was.