We’ve been in Ireland two months today. Two months ago, about this time, we exited the Dublin airport and were hit with gale force winds and rain. As we stood outside, waiting for our car rental shuttle getting pelted with rain, Collin kept it all in perspective and said “Well, at least it’s not snowing!”
It has been an interesting two months, two months added to the emotional roller coaster we’ve been on since early November, when Josh called me and said “Do you want to move to Ireland?” and meant it. Before the move, it was all somewhat surreal. We packed, we purged, we researched online. But it didn’t quite sink in. Even the first few weeks, it was still not quite there yet, that we were in Ireland. Not until Josh and I sat in our local pub on St. Patrick’s Day with a couple of pints – that’s when our “Holy crap! We’re in Ireland!” moment hit.
I’ll admit, I feel like I’ve been put through the wringer a few times. I know everyone expects every update to be fabulous because let’s face it – it is amazing that we’ve gotten this opportunity to come here. But I’ve had my moments of doubt and pity. I miss my friends. Sure, I see them on Facebook and stuff. But I haven’t gotten a single “Hey, coffee at the Mill?” text that so often appeared on my phone…or was sent from it. I miss being able to drop kids off at their thing and chat with the other parents, or call up one of my friends on my drive to Target. I miss being known.
I also miss my car. Wow, do I miss my big old gas guzzling SUV! We currently don’t have one, and that has made life very interesting. Back in Michigan, I lived in my car. It was sort of my zen place, where I could have an uninterrupted phone call, sing along with the radio, drink my mocha or iced tea. We won’t mention how easy it was to fill the back of that thing up with groceries and shopping (yes, we’re probably saving hundreds of dollars just because I can’t get to a single Target from here!) Here, I have to think about shopping, on what I’m buying. Can I carry it home? No? Forget it then.
The biggest moments of doubt is when it comes to Maura. Oh, Maura’s been great through it all, considering she has no clue what we’ve done. All she knows is that we went on a plane, and everything’s been different. She was asking to go on a plane every day for weeks, but since our stuff arrived, she’s barely asked about it. When I made her bed with her bedding, she squealed and laughed and flopped on the bed with delight. She’s been rediscovering her toys and dolls that she hasn’t seen in two months. We were able to easily get her an appointment with a GP (general practitioner) who refilled her meds without issue.
The big problem, as it turns out, is finding a school for Maura. We found a great school for her – the one Sean and Miriam are going to. But they can’t take her without an aide. I understand that completely. The catch is, they just cut special ed funding here and the school actually lost a couple aides. The special ed consultant met with us to get a feel for Maura’s needs and go figure – that’s the day my usually outgoing social child decides to be a non-verbal introvert. So they suggested one of the special schools for Maura.
Once upon a time, I thought I wanted lots of school choices for Maura. Now I’m missing the forced Least Restrictive Environment. At least then, they’d have to deal with Maura. Oh, not that they’re not dealing with her here. They just aren’t sure what to do with her. I can understand. On paper, she’s moderately impaired. Which means she qualifies for the moderately impaired school. We visited this school and I’ll admit, I left depressed. I had a hard time picturing Maura there. We sat in on a music time. Maura sat down, folded her hands in her lap, smiled, clapped after every song and was engaged in what was going on. The other children looked either bored, wishing they were any place else or in their own world. Then the principal revealed that yes, at least half the kids in the room Maura would be put in are non-verbal. Well crap. We’ve worked so hard on her being verbal! Yesterday, I almost convinced myself that it would be okay to send her there, at least for the time being, but then Josh raised his doubts and now I’m doubtful to.
The problem is, she’s high end on the moderate scale, but low end on the mildly disabled scale. So she’s a hard fit here for a special school even. Couple that with not being toilet trained, and we’ve been met with a lot of raised eyebrows. I can fix the toilet trained part. I can’t make an aide magically appear. In June, we’ll know if we get an aide for the local school, so if you’re the praying type, pray hard for this!
I will say, despite all of the bumps in the road we’ve hit, even on the days I’m feeling down, I’m still enjoying living here. I like the house we found. I like the area. Everyone has been friendly and willing to help out. The kids who are in school have all settled in instantly – it’s almost scary how smoothly that transition went. I was more worked up about it than they were. Even Collin has adjusted quickly to having to wear a full uniform, tie and all (though the first thing he does when he gets home is change.)
Slowly but surely, we’re settling in. I have an alarm clock again (boo), and am back in the morning routine of knocking on doors, getting groaned at by children who don’t want to wake up, nagging at them to brush their teeth, don’t forget your back pack, yes, you can empty my wallet for whatever school thing you need money for. We’re still surrounded by piles of our possessions, and while I think we should have gone for the “match and gasoline” version of packing, slowly but surely we’re finding places for things. I’ve gotten used to hanging laundry to dry, though today – as I watch it drizzle and have towels to wash and sheets to dry – I’m missing my big dryer. Most days I don’t though. I’ve gotten used to little things, like how the washer works, recycling as much as possible, bringing my own bags to the grocery store. I counted out 99 cents in change with almost without thinking the other day.
Michigan seems like a lifetime away. The first few weeks here seem like a dream as well. I think with the arrival of our stuff, seeing our things scattered about (thanks to Maura), our shoes piled by the door and my beloved Fiestaware in the cupboard, I’ve transferred over to life here. Maybe I just adjust well. I don’t know. But it doesn’t seem like we’ve been here for only two months. I know people say “Oh, a new chapter in life.” But it doesn’t feel like that. It’s more like life is a book series – and we’ve started on the next book.
It’s funny – thinking about it, my life does seem to change drastically in two month time periods. In May of 1995, I was just graduating from college. Two months later, I was married and pregnant. I gave birth to my first in April of 1996 in Ohio, still sort of living the life of a college student. Two months later, I was living in Arkansas, a stay at home mom and Josh was working in the IT industry. In August of 2004, Maura was a perfectly normal baby and we were living in one town.. Two months later, we had done genetic testing, had moved to a new town and I was taking Maura to Early Intervention for significant delays.
It is interesting how much can change in two months. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel that different. And then I look out my front window, see the mountain, watch a big blue double-decker bus go by and think “Oh yeah. We did this.”