After about 3-3.5 weeks there is a point where you start to miss your regular world. At 2 weeks you are not ready to go home, but at 3+ weeks you are ready to pack up forever. You just miss a little slice of normal life. You are ready to finally hit the Americanized grocery stores for macaroni and cheese and spaghetti because it feels like a direct link to your living room, even if you don’t even eat those things at home. Everything foreign all the time is hard. From my experience if you stay just a little longer you get over this hump, eventually really settle in, and everything stops seeming foreign all the time. Matthias was not ready to leave after 2 weeks, and at about 3 weeks all I could think about what going home. We have a week left and I feel like I’m settling in. When we go around town I recognize many places and am starting to feel like I know my way around. I recognize people at the stores, and they know us, too. I’m just on that cusp where I miss home, but am starting to feel like I will miss it here.
The last week and a half has been rough. The weekends (when the kids are home 24-7) are exhausting. Since Matthias left I am the only person my kids turn to when they need something. They need a glass, they come to me. They need a snack, they come to me. They are wondering if it would be better to become a ghost when you die or just die straight out, they come to me and want to discuss every aspect of this topic. Their constant bickering wears on my patience and I feel like I’m constantly nagging. Part of parenting is reminding kids to pick up their shoes, clean up after themselves, take their dishes to the sink, and on and on and on. This is a part of parenting that I hate, and it seems to have gotten the best of me. It’s just not fun, and although 5 weeks in Mexico sounds great, being here alone without anyone else to help out with these types of things in addition to making dinner, doing the dishes, brushing teeth, reading stories, etc, has been hard. I can hardly go a minute without some sort of request coming in from one of them, and many times I’m sitting there with two or three kids talking at the same time needing something. When I write and reflect about it, it does seem somewhat charming and I feel like I should be savoring the moment, but many times I just find it annoying and taxing.
The first two weeks of our stay here were vacation for me. But for the last three I am working from “home.” Since home is currently Mexico I sit at my laptop and work while they are in summer camp and fit in an hour or two after they come home. That alone is hard enough, but then there are just things that seem to go wrong, which makes everything difficult. For example we went to a cooking class early on in the trip and learned how to make these great marinated onions. The recipe calls for a habanero chile, which is a super-hot chile. I’m slicing away, being careful not to touch the flesh of the chile. I do a quick test and touch my lips just to be sure I didn’t get any on my fingers. Of course my lips start to burn and I wonder what I should do because I am still wearing my contacts. Do I just take them out ASAP, or do I wait and risk that the spiciness might spread to the rest of my fingers? I was able to get my contacts out with my right pinky finger (the finger with the least direct contact to the habanero), but then the question was, would I have fire in my eyes the next morning when I put them back in? The next morning, it turned out to be fine and I walked into the kitchen and noticed that I’d left the onions out on the counter all night long and had to throw them out. You see my digestive system has been in a bit of an upset lately and I wasn’t going to risk making things worse by eating food that has been left out all night. Eventually I took a dose of Imodium and that cleared everything right up. But why didn’t I do this sooner? I’ve been suffering for a few weeks and had the cure right in front of me all this time. Because of this I’ve also been wary of the street food exacerbating the situation and street food is one of the best things about Mexico. So now I’ve had so many days of missing out on the great food here. These are the types of things that compound themselves and make me miss home even more.
Lately I’ve been shopping at the Walmart, and LOVING it! I hate Walmart and would never go to one in the States. What’s wrong with me now? We can get a few things at the Oxxo across the street (Oxxo is like a 7-11), but since we don’t live within walking distance of any grocery store it is easier to get everything in one store and just haul it back in one taxi ride. Walmart fits that bill. At least I call hail a taxi for and from Walmart with finesse.
We’ve also gotten to know an urgent care center here. On Tuesday Theo fell and cracked his head open which resulted in 3 stitches on the back of his head. Yesterday he slipped and fell onto a glass table in our bungalow and we had to return for 6 more stitches on his cheek. The stitches also necessitated another trip to Walmart to stock up on Band-Aids and gauze so we can keep his wounds clean. When Theo hit his head the first time I knew right away he needed stitches. William and Julian asked me if he will need a shot, which I knew he would. “Oh my gosh!!!! Shots are the worst!!!” replied William. That is the last thing I wanted Theo to hear on his way to the hospital. Theo also got a prescription for antibiotics and William tasted a small drop left on the table. “Eeewww! That is disgusting!!” 3 year-olds just repeat, repeat and repeat. I knew I had 7 days of medicine 3 times a day ahead of us and William was just about to make the ordeal much harder. If he hears from his older brother it is disgusting, then for Theo it is disgusting. Luckily I turned the situation around quickly so he still looks forward to his medicine. The chocolate afterwards helps too, I’m sure.
After Theo and I left urgent care yesterday we took a taxi home. While looking outside of the windows things looked foreign yet familiar at the same time. We know the streets, we know the different routes the taxi drivers can take and we know if someone is giving us a gringo rate for a taxi ride. I think it is this feeling of knowing and understanding your surroundings that can fuel an extended exploration of a place and I wish I felt it sooner than I did. I can feel that I’m coming out of the funk and I hope I can make the most of our final week here.