My personal transition to Kuala Lumpur has been absolutely wonderful, yet absolutely confusing all at the same time. Before making the decision to relocate our family internationally for my husband’s job, I too had a career. A 16 year career with the same company since graduating college. I was a working woman, a wife and a mom. I had everything figured out for the most part, although my husband may beg to differ. But honestly, things were relatively routine. I was proud of what I had accomplished thus far in my life and now I was giving up a lot of it to relocate our family to a city that I knew very little about.
And just like that, here we are just shy of 10,000 miles from that life that I once knew. I no longer have a career. I am now a ‘stay at home mom’. Everything that was so normal and routine for me is no longer normal and routine. We obviously faced an adjustment period of acclimating to the new time zone, but once we began to settle in and my husband was routinely going to the office, I was challenged with trying to figure out what to do with myself. Initially I was spending the day with Ari, which for the most part kept me busy because she is a toddler and is quickly approaching the terrible twos, but there were times that I felt like I was walking around aimlessly and not quite able to figure out what my purpose was and what I was supposed to be doing on an everyday basis. Don’t get me wrong, I have been incredibly happy ever since we touched down in Kuala Lumpur. It is a beautiful city and I am with my 2 most favorite people in the world. But things were different. I was different. I wasn’t quite sure who I was.
So I don’t have a career, I am a ‘stay at home mom’ and now we made the decision to enroll our daughter into an educational daycare program at a Montessori school. She would be there Monday-Friday from 9:00am-3:00pm. Some may be wondering why we would do this given the fact that I am not working, but our daughter thrives in this environment. We have seen the impact that it has had on her and were even more excited about the fact that she would be surrounded by so many different people and cultures. This was a good thing for her.
Ariane eating breakfast at school
Ariane’s school reading center
So to sum things up, my husband is at work everyday Monday- Friday. My daughter is at school everyday Monday-Friday. And I am home everyday Monday-Friday.
Did I mention that we hired a part-time cleaner/helper/nanny? Alright stop rolling your eyes! I know what a lot of people are thinking. “She’s not working”, “her daughter is in school for the majority of the day” so why in the hell would they need any help? Well, hired help is very common here. Whether “live-in” help or “live-out” help, many families, specifically expatriate families hire some form of help. I personally did not want full-time help and I absolutely refused “live-in” help. I want privacy with my family and I want to be the one, along with my husband caring for and raising our daughter, so to have somebody there all of the time wasn’t an option for us. I was okay with having someone come in for a few hours a day to routinely clean our place, occasionally help with Ariane and have a presence in our home so that Ariane can build a relationship them. This would also help us so that our help could watch/babysit Ari when me and my husband want a much needed night out. Well we found somebody and she is great. So great that let me tell you that my purpose here became even less defined. The lady who helps us out can iron & fold clothes like nobody’s business. Not just that, but the way that she sorts and organizes our closets is quite amazing. My husband literally comments on how amazing his closet looks every single time he opens a closet door. She folds towels perfectly and just does things in a way that makes our home feel so great all of the time. Needless to say, we are now addicted to things being done a certain way, so I guess I have 2 years to learn how to properly iron & fold clothes, fold towels, organize closets and clean like this chick. There you go, perhaps that is my new purpose.
The Much Needed Night Out!
Drift Dining & Bar
Okay so my husband is adjusting relatively well to his new job. It has been an an adjustment for him and not necessarily an easy one, but he is doing an awesome job. We are in a completely different environment, the culture is different and things are just done extremely differently here. However, in true Antoine Wade fashion he is working incredibly hard to accomplish all of his goals that he has set and his company has set for him while we are here. Ariane is adjusting really well to her new school. She is surrounded by toddlers similar in age everyday and has incredible teachers or “aunties” as they call themselves here and we are just so happy that she is able to balance learning and playing on a consistent, everyday basis. And then there is me…..still trying to figure things out day by day, but patting myself on the back when I have small wins along the way!
Let me walk you through my grocery shopping nightmare. I had no idea where to buy groceries from. I was told by a few people to go to a store called ‘Cold Storage’. Okay perfect. Cold Storage is at Suria KLCC mall, which I frequent just about daily. I couldn’t believe a mall had a grocery store in it that was so convenient to where we lived, so I was excited. I walk in, I see food aisles and I am feeling a lot better about being able to buy food from somewhere so I can make a home cooked meal that my husband will love. I have my recipe in my hand and now all that I have to do is find all of the ingredients at my “new favorite grocery store”. Epic Fail. Their fresh meat was pretty much depleted. They had none of the produce that I needed. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I got blank stares when I asked where the applesauce was since my daughter is obsessed with applesauce. In fact, I believe they led me to the condiments section. Okay I can do this, my husband and I might not eat tonight, but I am sure they will at least have a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese for our daughter. Nope, they had Magicaroni & Cheese. Guess this will have to work! Hope Ari loves it! It’s going to be Magicaroni & Cheese for The Wade Family tonight! I left almost in tears, because I really was so excited to cook for my family and even grocery shopping was no longer effortless or routine or normal. Something as simple as grocery shopping was making me feel like I had never gone grocery shopping in my entire life.
Magicaroni & Cheese ended up being fierce competition for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
Finally found grocery stores & am cooking away!
Chicken Lasagna 🍽
Chicken Lasagna with a View 🏙 🕌 🕍
I guess I really was feeling like a foreigner. I like to have things figured out and so this all challenged me in a way that I have never been challenged before.
We are finally getting settled into our 2 year home, which feels great. I am sure many of you are wondering what in the world I do on a daily basis since I am not working and am for the most part by myself, except for our hired help that comes from 2:oopm-6:00pm. Well my typical day consists of getting Ari ready for school, dropping her off by 9:00am, getting a workout in, which is something that I had strayed away from for over a year and that situation in itself will have its own blog, I then shower, run the necessary errands and then it all gets a little bit cloudy. What do I do with extra time? Well a few times I have gone to lay out at the pool. I felt guilty as hell! Just laying there, reading a book, soaking up the sun. How is this even okay? You judge yourself. You feel guilty. You question your purpose. I will even go out to lunch by myself following my workout or pool session before going to pick up Ari from school. It really does take time to realize that my life here is simply different then what it was like in the States. But that is okay!
Welcome to our new home, The Avare
An impromptu video of our new home
Me laying out poolside feeling a bit guilty
Getting my workout in!
I remember a few times before we had left that my husband had told me that this was my time to be selfish. To spend more time worrying about me, taking care of me and doing the things that I wanted to do. He even said, “if you feel like taking a nap, take a nap”. It all sounded wonderful and I was very appreciative that I had his support, but it still makes you feel like you aren’t contributing enough. I try to have a daily checklist of things to accomplish, but I swear when my husband asks me every morning what I having going on that day, I try to spew a to-do list to try and validate myself and to have him feel like I am contributing something to our family and our life here in Kuala Lumpur. That is important to me. I want to feel like I am doing my part.
At the same time, I am seriously convinced that my husband thinks that I have lost my mind since living here. I have had some serious fails since moving into our new place. The other week, I clearly put too much detergent into the much smaller washing machine then I am used to and suds were literally pouring out of the top and sides of the machine. Go ahead and laugh, I eventually did and just blamed the machine for being too small. I also put “dish washing liquid” into the dishwasher and had water and suds all over our kitchen floor. In my defense, I couldn’t read the bottle, but really thought that it was intended for the dishwasher. My Dad had did this once and I never let him forget it, needless to say I am fairly confident that my husband will never let me forget it. It is new brands and new products and it is just a never ending learning curve. We finally stumbled upon an Ace Hardware and I was in heaven! They had just about every cleaning supply that I was familiar with. Needless to say, I filled the cart and walked out of their feeling a bit of relief.
And then this happened!
My life has done a complete 180. But I have started to tell myself that it is okay. Since I have a decent amount of time to think, I have started to ask myself what I can do while we are here to make myself better for me, for my husband and for our daughter.
I have decided that I need to stop thinking about what I am not doing and focus on what I am doing, what I am learning and what I could be doing and could be learning. I recently signed up for a Malaysian cooking class and I can not wait to do this. I love cooking and want nothing more then to be able to bring back some Malaysian recipes that I can share with others and enjoy with our family as a way to reflect and think back on our time here in Kuala Lumpur. My husband and I are going to take Bahasa classes, which is the official language of Malaysia. I am doubtful we will be speaking it a lot, but we think it is important to do since we are blessed with the opportunity to be among so many different cultures and it just seems important out of respect for the city that we live in and the respect I feel for everyone here that does their best to speak to me in English, which is just about everybody thank God.
I became a part of a Facebook group that has 100+ incredible women from all over the world that are here for one reason or another, but join together in an attempt to make friends and grasp on to one another for the few years that you have together in the same city. They host family BBQ’s, brunches, ladies night out, sports teams and more. I also began following another woman’s blog that moved to Kuala Lumpur in 2015 that has 5 year old twins and writes about their experiences, particularly their travels and the places she takes her kids. She calls it ‘a KL city guide for families’ and it is awesome! It has given me so many ideas for things to do as a family like places to go bike riding, kite flying, strawberry picking, not to mention the National Library of Malaysia, the Bird Park and the many soft play centres that are available for kids. Someone I don’t even know that will have a big impact on my family making the best of our time here in KL. I would one day like for my experiences to help another family or a Mom that ends up here, who early on feels just like I do, a bit lost and confused.
Fortunately we have been able to meet a few families since living at our new place and I am excited to get to know them even more. As an expat, you will meet people, like them, become close and in the blink of an eye they are gone and either headed back where they came from or headed someplace else to start all over again. I met a Mom of two this past weekend that has been here for 2 years and has 1 year left. We discovered that we both blog and I told her that I was going to be blogging about my transition and trying to find who I am since my life has changed so much since leaving the States. She said, “If you have found yourself already, I totally applaud you! It took me a year here to figure out my KL self”. So she’s saying that I have time! Plenty of time. There is so much to do here and so much to learn, I am just grateful to be here and to be in a position that is pushing me to grow as a person and to become a better me for myself, my husband and our daughter.
I will end this blog by thanking my husband for the incredible opportunity to be here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As a family we will be able to have unforgettable experiences and for that I am thankful. Not everybody is given this opportunity and not everybody would be willing to take the leap and move to another country on the opposite side of the world. I will even admit that I am a bit proud of myself for being brave enough to leave my career, move further away from family & friends that I love dearly and for supporting my husband with everything that I have. It is a blessing to be be able to grow closer together as a family as we go about this journey, to learn more about a beautiful city and the people that live here, to learn more about ourselves and the people that we want to be and will strive to become and to create everlasting memories that we can cherish forever.
It just doesn’t get old
My 2 Favorite People ❤! Love them both so much!
XOXO until next time!