Our first Thanksgiving together very nearly caused some family strife. S’s parents had invited us to spend the extended weekend with them shortly after we had started dating – many months before the actual holiday – and when D’s mom got wind of the plan, she laid on a massive guilt trip, accusing D of sabotaging her favorite family holiday over “some girl he barely knew.” We wound up doing two Thanksgivings to mollify her, flying from Chicago to Connecticut and then driving to Maine, making sure to spend equal amounts of time with both families.
Posts tagged ‘Africa’
Despite being located in the same geographic neighborhood as Kenya, where we started our Foreign Service career, Rwanda strikes us as more dissimilar than it is alike its regional neighbors. In one respect, however, our experience in Kigali parallels the two years we spent in Nairobi almost exactly: being an expat in East Africa is a study in contrasts.
It pains us a bit to admit it, but there is no denying that we have become homebodies. Munchkin was barely three months old when we strapped him into his car seat for his first international road trip – and we stamped him into ten other countries by his first birthday. Junebug just turned four months and we’ve barely taken her out of our neighborhood.
There are only so many hours in a day, and they clearly are insufficient, especially on weekdays. We want to play with our kids after spending a long day at the office, but we need to get them fed, bathed, and into bed. We want to unwind, perhaps with a glass of wine or our favorite album on full blast, but it’s hard to get ten minutes of quiet time when one kid persists in popping out of bed with a litany of requests and the other requires constant, hands-on attention. Books? Movies? Going out? In an alternate universe, a short lifetime ago we used to enjoy these things too, but given the current state of play it’s hard to imagine how we ever had the time or energy for them.
The distance between New York City, where D grew up, and Mahama, nestled against the bank of the Kagera River, which serves as the natural boundary between Rwanda and Tanzania, cannot be measured in miles and feet alone. A barren parcel of tse-tse fly-infested land just a couple of years ago, Mahama now hosts more than 55,000 refugees from Burundi, who began streaming into Rwanda in the spring of 2015 and continue to arrive in smaller numbers more than two years later.
By the time Munchkin was a couple months old, we had already spilled a considerable amount of digital ink chronicling his every squirm, coo, and nascent personality quirk in the pages of this blog. As Junebug’s due date approached, we talked about the need to ensure that she does not get second billing – that we devote at least as much attention to her as to him so that she does not feel like she is growing up in his shadow.
Serving in Kenya, shortly after we got married and before we even thought about having children, we tried to take advantage of every extended holiday weekend to get out of Nairobi and explore the country. We continued to travel a lot after Munchkin was born, using our posting in Moldova as a springboard to explore Eastern and Central Europe, but we also came to appreciate the value of spending long weekends at home to soak in the wonderment of new parenthood.
The first week passed in a haze of cruel jet lag. The next was marked by Rwanda’s presidential election – a week full of long days at the office that seemed to persist long after the final ballots had been cast. The third week was blissfully uneventful and marked in its passing the midway point of our separation.