Niamh’s Story: What it’s like to live in a different country to your family (by Niamh Bickford)

530km. That’s how far it is from London to Dublin. Not ridiculously far, but far enough away that I can’t pop over to borrow milk on a weekday evening! Myself and my husband grew up in Dublin but moved away 9 years ago.
Oh how I love our trips back to Dublin to see our families. I get to walk on the beach, have ample family babysitters and have home cooked meals from my mammy. There’s also no raised eyebrows when I say my children’s names are Saoirse and Cillian! Everyone wants to catch up and the kids are spoiled with attention and more, often than not, treats.
The down side is that it can be quite intense. I feel that I need to make as much of the time with our families as I can since we won’t see them again for a few months. Each day is exciting and filled with visiting relatives and friends but by the end of the trip we’re exhausted! It’s particularly hard for my husband as he’s straight back into work after the holiday but he often doesn’t really feel like he’s had much down time.
I found it particularly hard living abroad when I was pregnant for the second time. I was so ill with morning sickness but still had to entertain my daughter, who was almost 2. I longed to be able to have someone drop over to take Saoirse for a few hours so I could rest. I didn’t want to ask my friends, even though they’re lovely. Your family can see you when you’re feeling rough and you don’t even need to be particularly smiley, if you’re not feeling up to it. However, I have since realised that if I ever really need it, my family are always there. Last February I had a bad dose of the flu and was bed bound. My mother in law dropped everything and flew over to stay with us. She helped out with the children, cooked and made sure I slept a lot. I know that my mum would have been over too in a heartbeat if it weren’t for the fact that she was working.
Anyway, what I’m trying to get at is that although I’m occasionally homesick or missing my family, I know that they really are just a hop, skip and a plane ride away. We’ll always be there for each other.
And, as a final note, I feel that my own little family of 4 (6 if you count our two dogs!) is a stronger unit as a result of our living abroad. We are very close and spend lots of time doing things together. We also have many friends here and are lucky to have some amazing neighbours too. Now if I could only get some Tayto crisps here, then I’d be properly sorted!
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